Why you need to use picture books to start the year {and a Freebie} | Mentoring in the Middle

Why you need to use picture books to start the year {and a Freebie}


Your students don't know what hit them.  They've heard stories and rumors and wonderings.  How long will you be in school/remote/hybrid?  Will you start off one way and end up another, even switching back and forth?

What can you do to make them feel more comfortable with you and your set-up?   Before you jump into the thick of things, read some picture books together.  There's something about the simple nature of a picture book that eases students back into content discussion and connections to themselves and their world.

The books I reference here aren't your typical "First Days of School" books, they're books with a more focused reading purpose.  So I use them over the course of the Fall to introduce and discuss concepts I want in their toolkits. 

What do I want for my students?

I want my students to know that readers come in all shapes and sizes; everyone is unique and no comparisons are made. 

I want them to know that books are magical.

I want them to know that books take you to places you'll never get to in real life.

I want them to know that books teach lessons.

And I want them to know the daily habits that make good readers.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, picture books
This is one of my favorite books and one of the few where I can't decide which I like better, the video or the book.  Both are so magical!  You can watch the video here.  Students often pick up on connections with The Wizard of Oz, which leads to great discussions.

This is a fun one and a quick read.  I want to drive home the point that while we talk a lot about books together, the one thing we DON'T do is give away the endings.  We discuss making "book commercials" on Flipgrid, iMovie, or just the camera on their iPad. Students can also present in person if that's an option and if they're comfortable with that.  

This is where I teach them to summarize using "Somebody Wanted But So Then" as a format.  For book commercials, they write out the entire summary (for me) but they stop at the "But."  That takes kids to or near the climax of the story.  If they want to find out what happens, they need to read the book!
Click here if you'd like the video I use and the graphic organizer for "Somebody Wanted But So Then."  

Finally, I like to read Each Kindness.
 Again, I have two purposes with this book, too.  I want students to think about how we treat each other, especially during these times - political and pandemic - when it's easy to be short-tempered with one another.  I also want to introduce them to all of the books I have where BIPOC are the protagonists. 

I want my students to know what I value as a reader and I hope they learn a little about themselves, too.

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