Picture Books to Fire the Imagination of Kids

“These journeys of the imagination explore what it means to be human.” J. Krauss, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

From Lali’s Feather Credit- S. Fizer Coleman

 

Excerpt:  8 Picture Books That Let Young Minds Wonder and Wander on Their Own, By J. Krauss, The New York Times

I Dream of A Journey, By Akiko Miyakoshi

Written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi.

“A plaque, next to rows of glimmering keys, reads ‘Solitude Hotel.’  It is late in the grainy black-and-white night, and the eyes of the anthropomorphic innkeeper, who stands still behind the desk, are soulful. Later, as he closes them, he yearns to go ‘far, far away.’ The pages turn to muted color. We see him with a ‘big suitcase,’ riding a bicycle, crossing a bridge…”

From When You Look Up By Decur

Written and illustrated by Decur.

“Children will pore over this moody watercolor-soaked story of an introvert’s creative awakening, which contains within it a bright collage of weirdly wonderful dreams and nightmares, while adults will covet it as a work of art that speaks to their inner child. A picture book-graphic novel hybrid by the self-taught Argentine artist Guillermo Decurgez (known as Decur),… it begins on “moving day,” as a boy who believes the world exists only inside his cellphone finds a mysterious notebook in the secret compartment of a desk in his new room…”

Lift By Minh Lê, Illustrated by Dan Santat.

“A girl who loves to push buttons loses it when her baby brother finally succeeds in reaching one inside their apartment building’s elevator. After the elevator’s repair, she secretly snatches the old “up” button from the lobby trash, tapes it outside her closet door and embarks on nightly ‘out of this world’ all-on-her-own adventures…”

From “Lift”Credit…Dan Santat

 

A Story About Afiya, By James Berry, Illustrated by Anna Cunha.

“This joyous celebration of childhood, culture and place by the late Jamaican poet follows a young girl named Afiya (‘health’ in Swahili) whose summer frock ‘collects’ what she sees as she dances across an island in motion: One day butterflies adhere to it, imprinting their vivid patterns, another day flocks of birds or fish in the waves. For its Brazilian illustrator each airy panoramic spread is a fresh canvas, like Afiya’s newly washed dress each morning…”

From A Story About Afiya Credit-Anna Cunha

LaLi’s Feather, By Farhana Zia. Illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman.

“When local birds disown the ‘lost’ feather Lali finds, she scoffs, imagining it can do ‘100 things!’— tickle, twirl, whirl — until a gust of wind lifts it high above the tamarind trees and it becomes everyone’s prize. Then she finds a button, and the pattern repeats…”

A Wave of Stars”Written by Dolores Brown. Illustrated by Sonja Wimmer.

“Two sea creature friends accidentally look at a moonbow and become human in this book that reads like a Scandinavian fairy tale. Mimbi the seal, clutching a mer-king doll, becomes a girl and Kipo the turtle, bereft of his shell, a boy…”

A Wave of Stars, Credit- Sonja Wimmer.

 

Sandcastle Written and illustrated by Einat Tsarfati.

The fun of this treasure trove begins with its tactile cover: a sandpapery castle against the glossy blue-sky antics of the girl who built it. Inside, the things royal guests love about it (‘It’s 100 percent sand’; ‘You can hear the ocean!’) presage its cathartic end.

From Sandcastle Credit…Einat Tsarfati

 

“Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., join hands as they watch fireworks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Jill Biden is seen on the left.” (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Vocabulary Word Inference 

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. A plaque, next to rows of glimmering keys, reads “Solitude Hotel.”
  2. The eyes of the anthropomorphic innkeeper behind the desk are soulful.
  3. There are scenes that hover between fantasy and reality.
  4. Children will pore over this moody watercolor-soaked story.
  5. It contains within it a bright collage of weirdly wonderful dreams and nightmares,
  6. The story was written by Minh Lê and Illustrated by Dan Santat.
  7. The little girl embarks on nightly out of this world all-on-her-own adventures.
  8. The story is about  a young girl named Afiya  whose summer frock collects what she sees as she dances.
  9. The fun of this treasure trove begins with its tactile cover.
  10. The story includes  the  antics of the girl who built the sand castle.

 

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article.You are to choose from the options presented.

Children will pore/pour over this mode/moody watercolor-soaked story/stories of an introvert’s creative awakening, which contains wither/within it a bright/bitecollege/collage of weirdly/weird wonderful dreams and nightmares, while adults will covet/cover it as a work of art that speaks to their inner child.

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, mark it NA. If the statement is false  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. In the story I Dream of A Journey, By Akiko Miyakoshi, the name of the hotel is Solitude Hotel.
  2. The inn keeper in the story is very happy!
  3. In the story When You Look Up by Decur, there is a boy who believes the world exists only inside his baseball glove.
  4. The story Lift by by Minh Lê, concerns a girl who loves to push buttons.
  5. The girl in the story secretly snatches the old up button from the lobby trash,  and tapes it outside her Kitchen door.
  6. Every time she pushes the ‘button’  the girl embarks on nightly ‘out of this world’  all-on-her-own adventures.
  7. In A Story About Afiya by James Berry, the young girl’s name (Afiya) means  happiness in Swahili.
  8. The story focuses on Afiya’s dress and the various things that adhere to it.
  9. The illustrator Anna Cunha is Brazilian.
  10. In the story Lali’s Feather, we see that local birds disown the ‘lost’ feather Lali finds.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Answer the following questions from the article.

  1. Have you ever written a book for children?
  2. Have you thought about writing a book?
  3. Out of the books listed in the article which ones do you think kids would like the best?    Explain why.
  4. Make a list of topics that would be suitable for children in this day and age.
  5. After reading this article, In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Extra Activity

Write A Children’s Book!

With your group (or alone) write a children’s book.

First, read: How to Write a Children’s Book Outline”