books, Literacy, notice and note, picture books

Great Picture Books to Teach Tough Questions – Notice and Note

One of the main texts we use to guide our reading instruction is the amazing Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst.  This book provides us with the foundation for having deeper reading conversations and a common language as we develop our thoughts.  While the book has excellent text ideas to use as mentor texts, I thought it would be nice for my students  to use picture books on the very first day of a new strategy before we delve into the longer text excerpts.  I have therefore looked for picture books I could use with the different strategies and will publish posts as I have them for the 6 different strategies since I cannot be the only one looking for ideas.

The first post was on Contrast & Contradictions, then followed Aha Moments, so this week it is Tough Questions.  Apparently, this is a harder one to find picture books for so I found a few, but then turned to the awesome Notice and Note Facebook group I am a part of to crowd source more ideas.

My Ideas

White Water by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein has several tough questions in it and also doubles as an amazing book to discuss a really powerful topic with students; racial segregation.  This is the book I used to introduce the strategy to my students with the bonus of having aha moments and a contrast and contradiction in it as well.

The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth starts out with three obvious tough questions and then explores them the rest of the book.

A book near and dear to my heart The Yellow Star By Carmen Agra Deedy.  Although the story is not true, it still speaks of my people’s fight against the Nazi occupation and opens up great conversations.  The tough question is when King Christian wonders what can be done to fight the yellow stars.

What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada is a book I use a lot in the classroom as it is great for inferencing, and inspiring creativity, but it also works well for this strategy as it starts out with tough questions and then has several more further in.

The Numberlys By William Joyce and Christina Ellis has several tough questions and is definitely a great way to highlight conflict.

The tough question is not posed as a question in Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine but instead as a desire to be free.  I would use this later in the strategy to teach students that tough questions are not always in a question format.

Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley only has one question int it but it will lead to great questions and will also be a great inference exercise.

Crowd Sourced Ideas

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting

The Gold Coin by Alma Flor Ada

Riding the Tiger by Eve Bunting

The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant

Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting

Bully by Patricia Polacco

Wanda’s First Day by Mark Sperring

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionnei

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

Which ones did we miss?

If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.  The 2nd edition and actual book-book (not just e-book!) just came out!

11 thoughts on “Great Picture Books to Teach Tough Questions – Notice and Note”

  1. Hi Pernille,

    I love your blog! Wondering what the name or link is to the Notice and Note group on Facebook?

    Thank You

  2. Thank you for this series. I love starting our lessons with picture books for so many reasons, and using them to underscore Notice & Note’s lessons are a perfect combination. Thanks for sharing–not just this series, but all of your posts–your blog is much appreciated. We need more teachers with your passion and caring.

  3. Missed this post. Some books I love – Henry’s Freedom Box and Boats for Papa – and some new titles I need to check out – White Water and The Numberlys. Thanks for these posts that link to the Notice and Note strategies.

  4. I was talking to my teen about Rainbow Fish and how I use it for it’s great Tough Question example. She wanted to know why I was using a book teaching kids that they had to right to bully someone into giving up bodily autonomy and now I can’t unsee that part. Had a series of interesting staff discussions about this aha. And mentioned to admin how this is a great example of making changes based on new learning. I used the book for my lesson that day (because I didn’t have time to find another), but I talked about way more than just the tough question.

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