When are you too old for a picture book? Using picture books to develop thinking and writing.




Sadly though, I think that they are sometimes one of the most underused resources because they are assigned to the Early Years or only for ‘Emerging readers’.  Rarely do I see picture books in the ‘Free Reading’ section of a school’s shelves or the part reserved for upper Key Stage 2 children.


But so many picture books can be used to stimulate children’s thinking beyond first impressions and initial reading.  And the quality of writing that can come from those sessions is likely to be of a higher quality in terms of content. The elements of that process should include:


  • Setting aside time for children to consider the themes that can be discovered in a good picture book.
  • Supporting them to ask and form different questions.  Have some ‘juicy’ questions of your own ready to ask your children.
  • Spend time discussing, agreeing and disagreeing on the different possibilities and points of view arising from those questions.
  • If you are heading towards a written piece of work discuss the purpose and audience for the writing.
  • Teach/ consolidate the grammatical/ word level/layout features.
  • Draft, edit and publish.


Take a pop up picture book like ‘The Story of the little Mole who knew it was none of his business.’









These are the themes, questions and possible written outcomes:


Book Title/ stimulus: The Story of the Little MoleBy Werner Holzwarth/ Wolf Elbruch



Possible themes arising:

Revenge                       Wise Actions

Consequences              Intentions

Anger                            Intrusions


Possible P4C/ Thinking / Discussion Questions

When should we pay back good or actions?

Are there some things that are too private to talk about in public?

Should we always care what happens to other people?

How should we respond to anger?

What are the possible consequences of people always acting out their revenge?


Possible Literacy Links Dialogue/Role Play - e.g. getting each character to explain their actions and justify what they did.


          Letter writing: write to Mole or the other animals with some possible solutions:

  • e.g. a ‘revenge’ letter telling Mole to poo on the others.
  • warning Basil to be more careful


Explanatory text: to give to Mole  - how to build a poo shelter etc.


A cartoon strip that demonstrates the ‘snowball’ effect of revenge – i.e. Mole gets his revenge on the dog.  The dog then takes out his revenge on the cat, the cat on the mouse.. and so on until the whole household is at ‘war’. 


I shall do some more of these planning grids with other lovely picture books and make them available on the TC Network over the coming days /weeks.

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