Picture books are greatly underestimated in my opinion. Picture books are short, sweet, and not just for young children. I know when I started out on this homeschooling journey, I wanted to replicate traditional school, at home. I would fill our home library with mostly resource books and activity books. I made sure to get a few classics like Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carl, and Chica Chica Boom Boom by Bill Martin.
Of course, over these last two years, I have evolved and we have moved into an unschooled approach to learning. There was one book in particular that changed my perspective of picture books and their value. Yes, you guessed it, The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah MacKenzie.
Picture Books as Read-Alouds
When I began to value picture books as read-alouds, I overthought which books to get. Honestly, if you’re engaged while reading, the book can work. And sometimes a book will flop. The easiest way to navigate this is to display books regularly and allow your children to pick whichever book calls out to them.
I was listening to podcast episode #179 on the Read-Aloud Revival podcast where Sarah discussed how to look closely at a picture book.
Some of my biggest takeaways from this podcast episode are taking a picture book and asking open-ended questions, how easy it is to read a picture book a day, and how no lesson planning is needed. I recommend listening to this podcast episode if you are interested in using picture books as relaxed unit studies.
Child-led Unit Studies
What we do for homeschool is very child-led and self-directed. I personally love the idea of unit studies. I think they are fun and exciting ways to learn about a topic. The planner in me loves planning out a unit study, but I run the risk of taking over and the unit study no longer being child-led.
So, what I suggest, is having some basic resources in the homeschool environment readily available. For example, a bin of assorted animal figurines, playdoh, loose parts, color paper, crayons, etc. The reason I suggest doing this is that the picture book might inspire the child to explore what was discovered in the book. Brown Bear Brown Bear might spark an interest in recreating a farm and using animal figurines. You just never know and that is how your relaxed unit study unfolds.
Covering Traditional Subjects With Books
Depending on the age of your children, picture books, chapter books, and resource books that include great illustrations can last weeks, months, or even the entire year. The nice thing is that they can cover core subjects such as math, science, and history.
Julie Rothman’s anatomy collection is a really good example of a resource book used as a year-long unit study. Nature anatomy is most commonly used as a nature study. This is great for science. Diary of Anne Frank is good for a history study. Math can be studied with picture books like, What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras.
There are amazing booklist for read-alouds in many different categories on Sarah MacKenzie’s website.
Book List From My Blog
Are you a fan of picture books? What are your thoughts? Share your favorite part of Sarah MacKenzie’s podcast?