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Using picture books with older children

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

How to choose a picture book for older children:

1. Explore the book before reading it to make sure it has content that may lead to deeper discussion.

2. Check for opportunities to predict, infer, hypothesise and change opinions as the story progresses.

3. Does the book offer opportunities to discuss the plot, characters, theme and story structure?

4. Will the illustrations engage an older child?

With older children you can ask questions that explore the characters and plot in more detail than with younger children. Examples of question include:

  • How do you know what the characters are feeling?

  • What is the character thinking? How do you know?

  • What is the character’s goal/mission? How do you think will they achieve this?

  • Why did the character make this choice? Could they have made a better choice? What would you have done in the same situation?

  • What do you think the character is going to do next? How will their actions affect the story?

  • What might happen next? Why do you think this?

  • Do you think the characters will have to face any problems/conflicts? How do you know?

  • What do you think will happen at the end of the story? What makes you think this?

  • What do you think will happen if…?

  • Why do you think the author chose to write this story? (For example, was it to inform, entertain, persuade, etc.?)

  • What message do you think the author was trying to convey?

  • Why do you think the author chose the setting of the story?

  • What do you think of the title? Did the author make a good choice? Why?

  • What is the main idea of the story?

  • What happened in the story? Can you tell me what happened in order?

  • What do you think was the most important part of the story? Why?

  • Did something happen that changed the outcome of the story? Did you expect this?

  • Does the story’s main character remind you of anyone?

  • Does this book remind you of any other books you have read?

  • How did the story make you feel, and why?

  • Did you learn anything from this story that you can use in your life?

  • Does this story remind you of anything happening in the real world?

  • How does this book compare with other books by this author that you have read?

Here's a small selection of picture books suitable for older children:

Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne

A Page in the Wind by Jose Sanabria

The Eleventh Hour by Jacques Goldstyn

Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya

The Hard-Times Jar by Ethel Footman Smothers

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen

One Small Island by Alison Lester

The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater

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