9 Picture Books for Any and Every ELA Class

It’s been a while since I posted because well, the panini really made me want to do anything but sit on a computer. I’m back and ready to share some ideas with you so you can also spend less time sitting on a computer and more time doing the the fun stuff! Here it goes…

Who doesn’t love the nostalgia that picture books bring about? Plus, they’re shorter stories that allow students to access the text AND practice specific ELA skills quite successfully! Students really need as much scaffolding and time to practice as possible (especially this year) to help them through a concept. Cue picture books!

Here are nine picture books that should be in every ELA classroom, whether you teach elementary, middle school, or high school, they offer a lot of value! Whether you use picture books to draw students’ attention to certain skills or as a means of practicing or even reviewing the skill, these are picture books you’ll want to have handy. Not only do they make great mini-lessons (especially when you may have sporadic student absences as I do now), but once students are accustomed to how you use picture books in the classroom, they can also make great emergency sub plans.

Here are the nine books that easily tie in to the ELA Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I used the 8th grade standards since that is the grade level I teach, but they are fairly similar even when you move up or down a few grades.

9 Picture Books & ELA Common Core Standards

  1. The Rabbit Listened by Cory Doerrfeld 
    Skills to practice: inferences, theme (RL 8.1, 8.2) Click here to read my blog post with questions I asked my students during Community Circle about this book
  2. Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
    Skills to practice: figurative language such as similes, metaphors, personification, and imagery (RL 8.4)
  3. Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor and illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
    Skills to practice: characterization, tone (8.3, 8.4)|
  4. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
    Skills to practice: perspective, point of view (RL 8.6)
  5. The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali and illustrated by Hatem Aly 
    Skills to practice: characterization and theme (RL 8.3, 8.2)
  6. Jabari Jumps written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall 
    Skills to practice: characterization, plot, summary (RL 8.3)
  7. Room for Everyone by Naaz Khan and illustrated by Mercè López
    Skills to practice: alliteration, rhyme scheme repetition, compare/contrast (RL 8.4, 8.5) *This would be great in a poetry unit!
  8. Wave by Suzy Lee: a wordless picture book! I find these so charming and an excellent opportunity to practice any and all literary skills!
    Skill to practice: evidence, inferences, plot, point of view (RL8.1, RL8.2, RL8.6)
  9. No Reading Allowed: The Worst Read-Aloud Book Ever by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter and illustrated by Bryce Gladfelter
    Skill to practice: Author’s craft/tone, compare/contrast (RL 8.4, RL 8.5)


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