Using Picture Books with Adolescent Readers to Enhance Literacy Instruction

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article discusses the benefits of using picture books with adolescent readers, describes strategies that can be taught with picture books, and provides examples of books the author has used. Some of the topics discussed include: reading comprehension, visual literacy, interactive read-aloud with facilitative talk, literary elements, and content-area reading. The advantages and disadvantages of using e-books and picture books that can be accessed online are also discussed. An annotated bibliography with more than 50 picture books is included in Appendix A. The books that may be accessed as e-books or audio CDs are also identified. Appendix B contains a list of books and websites where print, digital, and online resources can be found.

Introduction

For those who have spent any time studying children's literature, picture books are a familiar and well-loved tool for teaching reading. Many of us have spent hours poring over the most recent arrivals in the children's section of our local bookstore or library. We continue to collect picture books, fondly remembering the times we shared bedtime stories with our own children. However, if you have spent anytime reviewing picture books recently, then you know that many of today's picture books are not written for young children. Publishers now offer an assortment of picture books that deal with topics like interpersonal relationships, physical abuse, peer pressure, drug abuse, teen violence, and psychological issues such as suicide, cutting, and eating disorders (Lightsey, Olliff, & Cain, 2006). Picture books can be found in digital as well as traditional format, and in fiction and non-fiction. The vivid artwork engages visually-oriented youth who are used to learning through technology (Ammon & Sherman, 1997). Because there is less text for these students to read, and illustrations to support the story, these books work well with delayed readers, ESL students, and students with special needs (Carr, Buchanan, Wentz, Weiss, & Brant, 2001; Henry & Simpson, 2001). Yet, based upon my experiences and earlier research (Duchein & Mealey, 1993; Megyeri, 1993), I have not seen many middle or high-school teachers using picture books in their classrooms. Perhaps these teachers have not been taught how to use picture books with older readers or they do not know how to locate books that are appropriate for older students. Regardless, I believe these teachers are missing a great opportunity to supplement the materials they use in their classroom and support the needs of all their students. In this paper, I will discuss the benefits of using picture books with adolescent readers, describe strategies that work well with picture books, and provide examples of books that I have used. I will also discuss the use e-books and picture books that can be accessed online. An annotated bibliography with more than 50 picture books is included in Appendix A. I have also identified which books may be accessed as an e-book or audio CD. Appendix ? contains a list of books and websites where print, digital, and online resources can be found.

Benefits of Using Picture Books

Reading Comprehension

Twelve years ago, many researchers concluded that adolescent students were being short-changed by literacy educators across the curriculum (Moore, et al., 1999). Little research had been done in adolescent literacy and many of our students were in trouble. In their 2012 position statement on Adolescent Literacy, the International Reading Association (IRA) is more positive. An abundance of research has been done since 1999 and our adolescents are making some progress. However, these students still need comprehension and study strategies that can be used across a range of both print and non-print materials in all disciplines (IRA, 2012). Literacy instruction today must include skills like activating prior knowledge, predicting, questioning, summarizing, synthesizing information from multiple sources, and understanding key vocabulary (IRA, 2012). …

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