This week’s list was inspired by a pre-service teacher taking my online Children’s Literature class. Savannah is reading picture books for our class and enjoying them but wants to be sure she’s discovering titles that will work for her future upper elementary students. I think one of the beauties of the picture book is that picture books are for everyone. Nonfiction picture books for younger readers still work for older readers: my college students enjoy Lola Schaefer’s Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives or April Sayre Pulley’s Eat Like a Bear as much as Carrie Gelson‘s second graders.
But I take Savannah’s point. With upper elementary students, we may seek picture books that give us a little more to grapple with: more substantial text, more complex vocabulary and sentence structure, more sophisticated themes and topics. The picture books I’ve included on this list fit that bill: they are still true picture books, telling a story as much through image as through text, but their complexity and sophistication make them better suited for older children.