When you think about picture books, who do you picture reading them? Most people think of toddlers and preschoolers and they’re not off the mark. Most picture books are written specifically for this age. The simplicity of text and pictures lends itself to a read aloud. But are young children the only ones who benefit from a picture book read aloud?
The answer is no. Many picture books work on multiple levels and can be read by or to older children. When I was a fifth grade teacher, I often used picture books to supplement the curriculum; especially in social studies. As the read aloud is relaxing for people of all ages, picture books can be a great resource for communicating information or for sparking great discussions.
I had a class one year that LOVED the old folk story, “Stone Soup.” They enjoyed the repetition and in a very preteen way would recite the phrases aloud. A bystander would perhaps think that they were mocking the story, but it was so much more than that. The familiarity of the story, the sing song voices in unison and the pleading for “one more time,” was not lost on me. Perhaps they knew that it was the beginning of the end of their childhoods and they were already nostalgic. I don’t know. What I do know, is that the picture book read aloud can be magical for kids-all kids- if you choose your books wisely and dig a little deeper.