Picture Books for the Upper Grades?

Hello lovely readers! I hope most of you are enjoying your summer break and actually taking some time to relax. I thought about sharing a specific strategy, but if you're anything like me, you'd forget it before the time actually came to use it. So I decided to talk in more general terms about reading instruction.
When I first started teaching 4th grade a few years ago, I was very much against letting my students read picture books. My thinking was that picture books were for younger kids (and occasional read-alouds), but they were much too low for my students. Boy, was I wrong! There are so many great, and even challenging picture books on a variety of levels, and I think our students actually NEED to take some time with a shorter book every once in a while.

What are the benefits of giving our students picture books?

  1. Students who typically don't like to read are more likely to feel comfortable reading a book they can finish in one day rather than committing to a chapter book.
  2. The pictures help struggling readers with comprehension of the story along with keeping them engaged.
  3. It is easier to practice many comprehension skills because the story line is shorter and easier to follow.
  4. Students can share these books and discuss with their classmates a lot easier.
I have discovered some real gems and have slowly been building my picture book library in the classroom, but I'm going to share just a few with you!

Skippyjon Jones is too funny, and the kids really love it! But what I didn't realize is that the stories are actually at a level P, which is end of 3rd grade/beginning 4th. Perfect for some of those reluctant readers!


Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith are FANTASTIC at writing books that appeal to boys (and girls), which can be very difficult. These are just a few of my favorites, but there are many more!


Nonfiction is also a great resource. My students are big fans of animal books, but there are many great biographies and stories of historical events that I have begun collecting. Of course, I would also recommend collecting informational texts for students as well.

What are some of your favorite picture books for older kids?


  1. I love using picture books with big kids. I actually posted about it today too. :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  2. My kiddos love fractured fairy tales. My 3rd Graders tended to read my picture books way more than my 5th Graders. Now, graphic novels are another story. They all love those;)

    P.S. Seriously, email me about that Roku thing!

  3. I looooooove using picture books with my fourth graders! Another great non-fiction picture book is Koko's Kitten. My kids love that story and talk about it all year. Other than that, I have a lot of books based on our social studies content so that I can integrate history into reading. "Minty" is about Harriet Tubman and that's a must-read every year. Another every-year must-read has been "The Name Jar" for the beginning of the year/back to school!

    Fourth Grade Lemonade

  4. Melissa--
    Love this post ! Our topics seem to dove tail closely. One of my favorite picture books this year was "Baseball Saved Us". I have students who have snack during reading time. Instead of missing instruction time, I do an interactive read aloud. After reading this book to students in second grade, many of them had strong text to self and text to world connections. Hope you are having a good summer !

    Ms Ds Literacy Lab