Magazine article District Administration

Picture Books Worth a Thousand Words

Magazine article District Administration

Picture Books Worth a Thousand Words

Article excerpt

You really can judge a book by its cover--a picture book, that is, says Keith Younker, an English teacher at Southridge High School, part of Indiana's Southwest Dubois County School Corp. Today's visually intriguing picture books can help students understand history and sophisticated concepts and ideas. Even juniors and seniors in Younker's classes have been learning through picture books for years.

For example, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (Houghton Mifflin, 2000) introduces transcendentalism and encourages taking a break when needed--or, as the bear character based on Henry David Thoreau does, stop for blackberries while racing a friend to town.

Meanwhile, in Williamsburg-James City (Va.) County Public Schools, fifth graders are using picture books in the Looking to Learn program to explore how images can expand stories, create moods and act as visual modifiers.

While educators are rarely skeptical once they see the connections that can be made with these books, sometimes students themselves are a tough sell. "A few wondered why we'd be working with books for kindergarteners," says Noreen Bernstein, youth services director at Williamsburg Regional Library and developer of Looking to Learn. But one child's post-evaluation shows a changed outlook: "This makes me see better visual images when I read longer books now," he wrote. The curriculum, which is similar to Bernstein's middle school reading remediation program using picture books, was honored with a 2004 Giant Step Award from Thomson Gale and School Library Journal. …

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