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I am continuing with my updates of the picture book lists I made several years ago to accompany the teaching of a variety of reading skills. This time, the focus is on “Internal Conflict” or that moment when a character asks a large question in order to try to make sense of themselves or the story. This can give us a further clue as to who they are, the conflicts of the story, why they may be acting the way they are, the theme of the story, or even predict the future.
When I first started out teaching this skill, I was inspired by the language of Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. This book provided my students with the foundation for deeper reading conversations and a common language as we developed our thoughts and discussion skills.
I have updated two other lists so far. Here are my updated lists for Character Change (Contrast & Contradictions) and for Flashbacks (Memory Moments).
Thank you to everyone who offered up suggestions of what to add to the list.
The Talk by Alicia D. Williams and illustrated by Briana Mukodri Uchendu
Nigel and the Moon by Antwan Eady and illustrated by Gracey Zhang
Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson
All the Way to the Top by Annette Bay Pimentel and pictures by Nabi H. Ali
There Must Be Something More Than by Shinsuke Yoshitake
That’s Not My Name by Anoosha Syed
Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell and illustrated by Corinne Luyken
Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt and illustrated by Vin Vogel
A Bike like Sergio’s by Maribeth Bolts illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World by Michael W. Waters and illustrated by Keisha Morris
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson
Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly and illustrated by Lisa Brown
Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson
Stillwater and Koo Save the World by Jon J Muth
I Didn’t Stand Up by Lucy Falcone and illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis
I Hate Everyone by Naomi Danis and illustrated by Cinta Arribas
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan and illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Don’t Play With Your Food by Bob Shea
I’m Sad by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
What Do You Do With a Problem? written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mac Besom
What is Love by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Carson Ellis
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 in 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
Wanda’s First Day by Mark Sperring
Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionnei
Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Did I miss any? If you are wondering how I use these picture books, just ask, and I will gladly share ideas.
PS: Are you looking for coaching, in-person support, or virtual presentations? I am available and would love to support your work. Whereas I am physically located in Denmark now, I can travel if needed. In fact, I will be in the US and Canada in February 2023. If you would like me to be a part of your professional development, please reach out. I am here to help. For a lot more posts, resources, live and recorded professional development, please join my Patreon community where most of my sharing takes place these days.
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