Teaching Theme with Picture Books

Theme is such a tough concept for kids to understand.  I use picture books to help my students identify the different themes and then use evidence to prove they have chosen a theme that works for the book.  I just found a picture book that was a total HIT with my students!  The book is, Barnacle is Bored, by Jonathan Fenske.


This story is so cute!  Barnacle is so bored just hanging off the dock all day and night.  He is envious of a little fish that gets to do all these fun things…until he gets eaten by an eel!  Yikes!


We read the book aloud and then charted the different themes from the book.  My kids came up with a great list, including:

  • Be careful what you wish for.
  • Be grateful for what you have.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover.
  • Focus on the positives.
  • Things are not always what they seem.


Students then worked on creating their own theme poster with examples from the book.  This lesson was a huge hit (and the book is really popular in our classroom, too)!



New Use for Picture Books!

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of picture books in my classroom and around my house that don’t get that much use anymore.  But, I found a GREAT way to use them!  I stumbled across this fantastically creative book on the Scholastic site.


This funny little book is really quite original and amazing.  It is an edited picture book, with added pictures, words, side bars, etc.  The pages look like this:


So, I gave my students some unused and no longer loved picture books from my own kid’s collection and then bought a few more from the used bookstore in my neighborhood. Today, each student got a black sharpie marker and a book.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with tomorrow!  You can get your own copy of the book, Battle Bunny, here.

Why not let your students upgrade some picture books?