In my classroom, I often used picture books as conversation starters. All classrooms can use picture books as conversation starters.
As educators, we have a responsibility to facilitate discussions in our classrooms that may be difficult or make us uncomfortable. If we’re honest with ourselves when we say our classroom is a community that fosters and promotes empathy and acceptance, then we have a moral obligation to share difficult topics and subject matters with our students.
Let picture books be gateways.
We must talk about racism and inequality. We must talk about wars and acts of terrorism. We must talk about the many definitions of family. We must talk about natural disasters. We must talk about disease and death.
No one is saying we’re required to develop in depth units of study. But we can’t deny the existence of these topics. Nor can we leave it to others to address them.
Introduce these subject matters with picture books. Let picture books be the launch pads for students so that they can engage in self-exploration. Let picture books be the gateways for their curiosity.
About Phil Bildner
Phil Bildner is the author of numerous children’s picture books including the Margaret Wise Brown Prize winning Marvelous Cornelius, Twenty-One Elephants, The Soccer Fence, The Hallelujah Flight, The Unforgettable Season, and Night at the Stadium. He is author of A Whole New Ballgame and Rookie of the Year, the first two books in the middle grade Rip & Red series, and he is also the co-creator of The New York Times Bestselling middle grade chapter book serial, Sluggers. A former middle school teacher in the New York City public schools, Phil spends much of the year visiting schools around the country conducting writing workshops and talking process with students. He lives in Newburgh, New York with his husband and dog. Find him at www.philbildner.com
November 26 – Sports
“Picture books provide a context which supports developing understanding of mathematical concepts such as measurement and time.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).
Conduct a survey in the class on students’ favorite sports and leisure activities. Collect the data and present it in numbers or in a graph. What do the numbers say? Interpret the numeric data into words and sentences. Point out commonality and diversity in the result of the survey and the importance of respecting the choices of others.
The Greatest Goal (Hockey Heroes Series) by Mike Leonetti, illustrated by Sean Thompson
Players In Pigtails by Shana Corey, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson
Winners Never Quit! by Mia Hamm and Carol Thompson.
Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia (I Can Read Level 2) by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Wallace Tripp
Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!