Don’t make the mistake of thinking that when your child can read a simple chapter book, he needs to stop reading picture books! Reading ability and the content of the book are very different considerations. Yes, you and your child’s teacher will want to see progress in the length of books your child reads. Reading chapter books is an important step in helping your child to build comprehension skills. However, there are many picture (or illustrated) books that are most appropriate for older elementary students or even older. In fact, the first book I want to highlight is a favorite book of many adults. It’s funny and sweet and very moving. Preschool kids may think it’s silly, but probably won’t really “get it.”
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Some picture books may require kids to have a certain level of prior knowledge before they can understand what makes the book amusing. Fractured fairy tales are a great example of this type of humor. Unless the child already knows the original fairy tale version, you’re going to spend a lot of your story time explaining why the book you’re reading is supposed to be funny. Here are a couple examples of that genre:
Picture books often provide a gentle way to introduce children to difficult subjects. The following books discuss 9/11, the Underground Railroad and refugee families in a war zone. The careful phrasing of the text within picture books can keep these topics from becoming too overwhelming and opens the possibility for further discussion if your child has questions.
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy
A Good Night for Freedom by Barbara Olenyik Morrow. This picture book would be a wonderful one to use in a fourth-grade classroom because it introduces the Underground Railroad along with a famous Hoosier (Levi Coffin).
Gleam and Glow by Eve Bunting. Kids may have heard the adults in their lives discussing refugees. This book can help kids understand what a refugee is.
Here are three books that are perfectly fine to share with young children, but they have a more sophisticated humor that will really be appreciated by older kids (and by older kids, I also mean teens and adults).
A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea by Michael Ian Black
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown
Finally, picture books provide an amazing variety of art styles. For some kids, the artwork is the hook to get them to pick up a book. Help your kids to recognize the different art styles and to look for other examples of that type of illustration. Then provide art supplies at home so your kids can have fun creating! Here’s an example of a beautiful book that works best for grades 3 and up; it’s a bit wordy for preschool kids, although your child may be an exception. The Raft by Jim LeMarche will be a winner with kids who love exploring nature or drawing animals.