I love picture books (I have a collection of Little Golden Books and Junior Elf books). They not only have gorgeous illustrations, but tell good stories. The trend toward great picture book biographies pleases me immensely.
Even though the “E” on a picture book spine stands for “Everybody,” sometimes it’s mistaken for “Easy.” That’s unfortunate, because many picture books are complex and thought-provoking. In their 2009 book, Teaching Literary Elements with Picture Books, Susan Van Zile and Mary Napoli write, “A majority of current picture books are particularly geared for adolescents.” Lately, a slew of fabulous picture book biographies have hit the shelves, all of them rife with possibilities for integrating into older elementary, middle, and even high school classrooms. These biographies offer brief and compelling introductions to historical figures, including some lesser-known women and people of color whose stories are rarely included in traditional history textbooks.
Teachers can use picture book biographies as activators; the lively writing and dynamic artwork will engage students and spark discussions. They can also be employed for more in-depth assignments; for example, students might investigate how the text in a…
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