Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Recommended Grades: 3-5

A tentative partnership blooms into an unlikely friendship between a girl and a flamingo in this wordless picture book.

Lesson Idea:


Close Reading/Making Inferences: Share Flora and the Flamingo with students. Provide students with sections of the story to “read.” What do they notice? Ask them to make inferences about the section they have. Ask students how words and pictures work together to help us understand what we read. Would words help them understand what is going on in the pictures? How? What emotions do the characters show? How do you know?

©2013 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Bluebird by Bob Staake

Recommended Grades: 3-5

A lonely boy meets a special friend in this wordless picture book. A beautiful story of how the friendship is tested.

The Common Core State Standards have placed a lot of emphasis on close reading. Here is a way to teach students how to “read closely” using pictures as a scaffold.

Lesson Idea:


Close Reading/Making Inferences: Share Bluebird with students. Provide students with sections of the story to “read.” What do they notice? Ask them to make inferences about the section they have. Ask students how words and pictures work together to help us understand what we read. Would words help them understand what is going on in the pictures? How?

©2013 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

Recommended Grades: 2-6

In the introduction, we learn that Chris Van Allsburg saw the drawings in this book at the home of Peter Wenders.  Wenders once worked for a children’s book publisher.  Thirty years ago, a man called Mr. Wender’s office, introducing himself as Harris Burdick and leaving 14 drawings with a title and caption for each one.  Burdick promised to return the next day with the stories he had written to go with each picture.  Mr. Burdick was never heard from again. . .

Lesson Idea:

Comprehension Strategies:


Making Inferences: Read aloud The Mysteries of Harris Burdick as part of a unit on making inferences.  Provide students with a picture and ask them to infer what is happening in the picture.  Use this book after modeling and making inferences with other books.     

Six Traits

Idea Development: After reading aloud The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, have students choose a picture from the book and using the first line that is written, continue the story.  How do they envision the story?


Note: Recently many popular children’s authors came together and wrote stories based on these pictures in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales / With an Introduction by Lemony Snicket.  After students write their own stories based on the pictures, share some of the author’s ideas and how they envisioned the story. 

©2012 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst

Recommended Grades: 3-5

Alexander receives money from his grandparents and really wants to keep it, but does he?    

Lesson Idea:

Reading Workshop


Comprehension Strategies: Making Inferences: Read aloud Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday and model how to infer what characters are feeling based on the pictures and text.  Create a t-chart that says Text Clues and Inference and use it as a guide to scaffold for students (or What the Picture Shows/Inference).  Once you’ve modeled, provide students the opportunity to make inferences with a partner (use a different book) using the t-chart.  Eventually, have students make inferences as they read without the t-chart.

©2012 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Tuesday by David Wiesner

Recommended Grades: 3-5

A nearly wordless picture book depicting how frogs behave one Tuesday night. 

Lesson Idea:

Comprehension Strategies


Making Inferences: Read aloud the first half of Tuesday.  As you read aloud, model how to make inferences by inferring what the frogs are doing on this Tuesday night. Explain what an inference is and how they help us understand what we read.   Create a t-chart that has two columns (What the picture shows/Inference).  As you read aloud, model how to fill out the t-chart.  After reading aloud the first half, provide an opportunity for students to work with partners to complete the second half with a t-chart.

©2012 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Blackout by John Rocco

Recommended Grades: 4-6

It was a normal summer night in the city. . . hot, noisy, busy.  Then the lights went out. The story of one family and what they do when the lights go out. 

Lesson Idea:


Making Inferences: Read aloud Blackoutand model for students how the pictures tell as much of the story as the text does (maybe more).  Model how to make inferences using the pictures as clues (Why might the lights have gone out? Why does the family continue to keep the lights out even when they are back on?)

©2012 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Encounter by Jane Yolen

July Theme: Using Picture Books to Teach Reading Strategies

Reading Strategy: Making inferences

Recommended Grades: 4th-6th grade

Encounter (Voyager books) is a fantastic picture book written by one of my touchstone text authors, Jane Yolen.  This book is the story of the Taino people and how they reacted when one Christopher Columbus lands on their island.  This is a fantastic picture book to use to model making inferences.  It’s written from the point of view of a young Taino boy.

Lesson Idea: Create a t-chart with two labels, “Text/Pictures from the Book” and “Inferences.”  Read aloud the first half of the book and stop when you come to a piece of text or a picture that you can use to make an inference.  Model for students how you use the text and/or picture to help you infer what you think is going on in the book.  Record the information on the t-chart.  Halfway through the book, ask students to write their own inferences from the text/pictures on their own copies of the t-chart, as you read aloud.  After you have read aloud the book and discussed the inferences made, ask students if they can determine what the story was about.  Then, read aloud the Author’s Note at the end to confirm.                 

©2010 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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