1. Picture books (even in high school) help students consider self image, peer pressure, conformity, and identity (Matthews, et al, 1999) in a non-threatening way.
2. Cognative thinking requires imagination. This is easily done with picture books. (Rosenblatt, "The Literary Transaction")
3. Picture books use rich vocabulary and well-crafted sentences. They are perfect to use as a writing model.
4. Picture books increase motivation, understanding of concepts and aesthetic appreciation.
5. Picture books are perfect for illustrating the literary elements.
6. Picture books often introduce complex ideas in a concrete way. This allows a teaching pathway into teaching complex ideas.
7. Picture books often introduce cultural viewpoint or moral issues. This makes them a perfect tool for discussion of complex issues.
8. Picture books serve as a terrific model for student writing.
9. Wordless books are very good as story starters. Many wordless books address the ideas of right and wrong in a very interesting way, leading to terrific discussions.
10. Students find picture books more interesting than text books. If you have a reluctant learner, jolt them to life with a great picture book of the subject matter.
11. Many picture books tackle very advanced ideas. For example, "Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War" by Tsuchiya is about the starvation of elephants in Tokyo during WW II. This was done because officials were afraid of the harm to the population if they should escape during a bombing raid. The discussion after this book would be very advanced and need true critical thinking. It's only one of many that offer students an opportunity to discuss very "adult" ideas.
12. Students who are reluctant readers can tackle a picture book they liked after it is read aloud. It brings the "chore" of reading down to size for them.
Don't overlook picture books. The teaching opportunities are endless!
Here are just a few picture books that will really get your kids thinking!
In this book two friends, one black and one white, imagine what the fields near their new homes were like in 1862, during the Civil War.
If you need to address the problem of stealing in your classroom, don't miss this one. It's fun, but really confronts the problem!
You can't do better than this classic to teach point of view!
Are your students working on writing a story with a good plot? Don't miss this one!
That's just the tip of the iceberg! There are hundreds (thousands) of great picture books out there to make any lesson more fun, more understandable, and to get kids to really think!