Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Picture Books?

Last week I had an interesting experience. 

It was Friday---school ended for the kids Thursday, so I was at my desk working on genre-fying and fixing other processing issues I found on books.  I had just finished redoing the spine label on a picture book, making it P (for Picture) and set it up on my counter along with other books I had finished.

An adult came by, saw the book, and asked incredulously, "Um...Really? THIS is appropriate for a HIGH SCHOOL Library? THIS is rigorous???"

THIS, friends, was a moment to get snarky  educate at the point-of-need!  You see, I am a bookish babe.  I love books in all their forms.  I don't get uptight about what genre OR FORMAT I read. Basically, I am an equal opportunity reader.  I have had laugh-out-loud moments reading picture books to myself....but I really must remember that not everyone gets it...yet.
I'm on a mission to change the world one heart/mind/soul at a time, so here goes....

Reasons Why Picture Books Belong in High Schools 
(a list of a few of the many reasons Picture Books ROCK!):

  1. Rose Blanche & Erika's Story are two of the most powerful books I've ever experienced. These books, set during the Holocaust, each touch me deeply.  The combination of the words and the beautifully haunting illustrations are mesmerizing. Yes, I've read detailed non-fiction work on this time period, but THESE are the two that haunt me from year to year. Picture books allow history teachers, for example, to bring home a point in a POWERFUL way within a class period. 
  2. Picture books, like any great stories, must contain ALL the parts of the story---just like a novel--only they are compressed into 32 pages (give or take).  AGAIN, this allows teachers to USE these great books to illustrate writing concepts within a class period in a way that is FUN, let's kids grasp them, and still leaves time for practicing what they've learned in their own writing.
  3. Art.  Oh, the ART!  Check out the two picture books mentioned above for some seriously amazing art. The list goes on and on, of course.  Mike Wimmer is an artist who has visited 2 of my schools in the past.  Okay, both were before I was at a high school, but I'd totally bring him to my campus.  Art is important (despite what test makers would have us believe) and I want my students to know that people actually DO create art for a living.  Picture books are incredibly inspiring artistically. 
  4. All my students deserve awesome books.  ALL of them.  The ones way above grade level AND the ones in self-contained life-skills classes and ALL of them in-between.  I want ALL my students to feel included and important because ALL of them ARE.  For Andrew who loves Arthur books and can read them almost all by himself, (and others) I promise I will ALWAYS have books for you.  YOU do not matter LESS than anyone else. 
  5. Most of my high school kiddos have younger ones at home--some are siblings, and some are cousins, and some are their own children.  I especially encourage my students who are young parents to check these out to take home and read to their child at night.  We all know the importance of early literacy---having picture books in our library makes it a super easy, no-excuses situation for reading to their child at night.
  6. Picture books are awesome.  They are 32 pages of IMPACT.  Succinct writing.  Beautiful art. Sometimes witty wordplay, sometimes "the feels," and sometimes you even get glitter. ;)
I know that budgets are tight, and I believe in the importance of being a good steward of the book budgets we receive.  At the high school, I don't have a million picture books, but I DO keep a decent selection of up-to-date new stuff and awesome favorites in a special "Picture Book" section. I believe they are important.  

image from http://library.law.wfu.edu/files/2012/02/confused-face2.jpg


  1. Here, here!!! Bravo!! Great post - I hope you continue to fight the good fight. Picture books are definitely for all ages. This would make a great Nerdy Book Club post. :-)

  2. I love this post! Someday, before I retire, I want to teach a middle or high school social studies class, using all picture books. I'm pretty sure I could pull it off!

  3. I love this post! Someday, before I retire, I want to teach a middle or high school social studies class, using all picture books. I'm pretty sure I could pull it off!

  4. Well yes!!! Some people can get so up tight about books and which children are "allowed" to read them. I just want them to read!

  5. I used picture books with my high schoolers, too! They are great for teaching fables/parables/fairy tales. And yes, they are great models for good writing, on a small scale.

  6. Picture books are sometimes more appropriate for adults because the themes can be really complex. I love that they can be explored deeply and not just "looked at."

  7. I love this! I wrote a Nerdy Book Club post a while back about this very topic. To which I always say that middle school and high school students should have the freedom to read ALL THE PICTURE BOOKS! :)

  8. Thank you all for your awesome comments! I appreciate them all. YES! to freedom to read!