emerge

Learn to use books to foster critical thinking


Long after any test, students will remember the lessons that can emerge from the words and pictures contained in books

While I’m a far cry from a Newbery, once a year, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing a picture book for my nephew Knox. My goal is to keep the eight-year-old excited about reading, because what little boy doesn’t want to read a book about himself?

For the purposes of this article about using picture books in instruction, I invite you to listen as I read aloud to you The Great PunkaKnox.

When I was in school, my teacher would have read the book out loud and asked us questions to test our comprehension, such as:

Q) Who did Knox live with? A) His aunt and uncle.
Q) What color was Knox’s pumpkin? A) Green.
Q) What animal visited Knox’s pumpkin? A) A fox.

A slightly more sophisticated question might be:

Q) Who is the narrator of the book? A) The pumpkin.

In “old school” school, teachers would pass along information; students would listen, memorize, and regurgitate. Fast-forward (yes, a 1980’s VCR reference is highly appropriate) a few decades, and students today have answers to every question in the world with a click or a swipe. Content and information are readily available to everyone; therefore, standing at the front of the classroom and sharing information is no longer an effective form of instruction. 

Yet, books have never been a more important delivery tool.

In a recent webinar, Using Books as Mentor Texts, teacher and author Adrienne Gear shared, “The books are my teaching partners to get to deep thinking. You don’t have to be a proficient reader to be a proficient thinker.”

Britten Follett
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