Sharing picture books with children leads to amazing conversations. In the best picture books there is a gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the child’s imagination.

Anthony Browne

When we refer to an illustrated picture book, we are talking about a text in which the illustrations play a key role in the development of the story. The images can clarify, extend, or even contradict the meanings in the printed text. A reader must read both word and picture and then interweave the meaning(s) of the two in order to construct a response or interpretation.

High quality picture books, written in a variety of genres, have the power to engage students of all ages in powerful shared reading experiences.

In this video clip, Abigail Anderson talks about how visual images have impacted the books our students read today and the kind of talk that leads to a deeper understanding of the way picture books work.

Through the use of picturebooks, including postmodern picturebooks, we can excite children about the reading process, the writing process and how these two processes can be linked together to provide meaningful, contextual literary experiences.

Kelly Booker, Using Picturebooks to Empower and Inspire Readers and Writers in the Upper Primary Classroom. Practical Strategies Literacy Learning: the Middle Years. Volume 20, Number 2. June 2012


Primary teachers know the importance of well-written illustrated picture books for teaching literacy.

Now, teachers of older students are discovering the many benefits of including picture books in their teaching.

Through read alouds, reader’s theatre, literature circles, author study, and writer’s workshop, these wonderful books help students become engaged readers and writers.

We invite you to take a look at this section of the website where you will find a wealth of practical classroom ideas for teachers to use with students of all ages.

Always remember that the first read aloud of any picture book is for pure enjoyment and the pleasure of the shared experience.


Making Writing Real with the Use of Picture Books by Alyson Beecher offers some concrete suggestions for using picture books in multiple ways to enhance instruction.

Kim McCollum-Clark, who is a teacher of future English teachers, is very aware of the time constraints on teachers. She advises teachers to consider using these powerful texts since "...with picture books, you can read the entire work aloud, model the focus you want students to concentrate on, let them explore the craft, have the discussion, and even try it out in their own writing- all in one period!"

Teachers can use picture books as:

  • mentor texts for craft and genre study

  • writing prompts

  • an introduction to complex themes and issues

  • texts for close literary analysis

  • a way into critical literacy

Teach with Picture Books blog by Keith Schoch is another must-read. Keith is an educator, presenter, and advocate for reading. Teachers will find resources and recommendations for using picture books with upper elementary and secondary students.

Some of Keith’s many topics include using picture books to teach:

  • author’s craft

  • inquiry through nonfiction

  • expository writing

  • figurative language

  • literary devices

  • persuasion

In the Reading section of the Literacy Today website you will find more classroom ideas for teaching including reading strategies with illustrated picture books and using illustrated texts with older readers.

You can also find ideas for using picture books as inspiration for student writing in the Writing section of this website.


These projects are based on actual integrated projects carried out by Québec teachers. We hope they will act as a springboard for your own ideas. Each of these projects can be adapted to the age and needs of your students.

When you read the following classroom projects you will notice that in each case the teacher has provided opportunities for students:

  • to read and respond to illustrated picture books

  • to explore and discuss the role the illustrations play and how the images and words work together to convey meaning

  • to use their discoveries and new understanding to create their own illustrated picture books

If I Were Principal

The goal for this project was to allow students to reconnect with some of the favourite childhood picture books that had an impact on them, as they explored the inquiry the question "What makes a great illustrated picture book?"

The Case of the Chocolate Egg

Elementary students explore the structures and features of picture book mysteries and use this knowledge to write and illustrate their own original collaborative mystery in a ’big book’ format.

Bird Sketches

In this project, Cycle three students sharpen their observation and research skills, write original poetry, and explore visual language as they create a class anthology of their personal responses to nonfiction.


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