One of the exciting resources available to us is the abundance of quality literature in picture story format that can be used to encourage our older students to question and think about world issues, identity, history and what is possible.
I have started a list of picture books I think every child should read before the end of Year 6 and the lessons in life that can be learnt from them.
Ziba came on a boat by Liz Lofthouse tells of refugees, the ‘boat people’ from Afghanistan. While your students are sitting complacently thinking it would never happen to them, read Home and Away by John Marsden and Matt Ottley. This is the story of a typical Australian family who find themselves as refugees, their happy, loving family torn to shreds by war.
Libby Hathorn tackles another type of homelessness in her picture book Way Home. The desolation of not belonging to family or community is probed through her dark illustrations.
On a more uplifting note is Rebel by Allan Baillie. (based on a true incident) Who doesn’t want to cheer aloud at this display of courage in the face of tyranny? Another true story illustrating the impact one person can have is The librarian of Basra: a true story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter. It is an inspiring story of one person protecting what is important to her and in the process uniting a group of people for a common cause. Both these picture books provide a segue into exploring periods of history as does The Red Piano by Andre Leblanc. The Red Piano is an extraordinary story of perseverance set against a cataclysmic period of history in China and it is also a story of human resilience, bravery, resourcefulness, and the power of imagination.
Students certainly get to use their imagination when reading Gary Crew’s The Water Tower. A powerful demonstration of how sophisticated stories can be told with few words. What is it about the words and visuals that create this sense of menace?
I am still adding to my list. What picture books do you think all older readers should have the opportunity to read?