Fight Picture Book Burnout

A school librarian wrote on LM_NET, the listserv for teacher/librarians, that she was experiencing picture book burnout. I felt pretty sad for her but then I thought we must help her get out of that rut…so I wrote back…

I am so sorry that you are burned out on picture books. My suspicion is that picture book burnout occurs when we have stopped having fun reading aloud, when you are looking at the same old books over and over and when you are having trouble finding the right book for the right class.

So, short of beaming you to my two-day Bank Street course, “Selecting and Evaluating New Children’s Books,” (even though we focus on just the best of the year, it’s still a challenge to fit them all in), here are a few suggestions.

Give yourself a break… a poetry break. Get a head-start on poetry month. Of course, there are dozens of old favorites I could recommend, but let’s just focus on a few new titles:

You could undo burnout with any of Lee Bennett Hopkins’s many titles, including last year’s City I Love:

City I Love
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Retail Price: $16.95
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers – (2009-04-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0810983273 / 9780810983274

Joyce Sidman; Grab her new book,

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
Joyce Sidman
Retail Price: $16.00
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children – (2009-04-06)
ISBN / EAN: 0547014945 / 9780547014944

Marilyn Singer- the brand new Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse
Marilyn Singer
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile – (2010-03-04)
ISBN / EAN: 0525479015 / 9780525479017

Here are a few instant class or program ideas for Poetry Month:

You don’t have to read aloud a whole book… read a few poems and plan a writing or drawing response lesson.

Provide paper (we use clipboards) markers or crayons or colored pencils (I keep these supplies in our Writing Boxes corralled in zip bags). Have the children create their own concrete poems. You can use this as an example:

A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems
Retail Price: $7.99
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Candlewick – (2005-03-03)
ISBN / EAN: 0763623768 / 9780763623760

Write colors paired with verbs and illustrate.

Break into groups to practice, then read aloud the favorite poems (3rd and 4th grade).

Break into groups and memorize a short poem. The following are great sources:

Here’s A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry
Retail Price: $21.99
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Candlewick – (2007-02-13)
ISBN / EAN: 0763631418 / 9780763631413


Douglas Florian
Retail Price: $7.00
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Sandpiper – (2004-04-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0152050248 / 9780152050245

Don’t forget non-fiction that reads like poetry.

My hands-down favorite nonfiction picture books this year are Andrea and Brian Pinkney’s Sit-In; fine for 3rd grade and up. It sparks amazing conversations about civil rights.

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
Andrea Pinkney, Brian Pinkney
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – (2010-02-03)
ISBN / EAN: 0316070165 / 9780316070164

Moonshot is a delight to read aloud.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover))
Brian Floca
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books – (2009-04-07)
ISBN / EAN: 141695046X / 9781416950462

One Response to “Fight Picture Book Burnout”

  1. chantal Johannesson Says:

    I agree with you Lisa. As school librarians we must indulge ourselves in reading many different pictures as often as we can.

    Here’s A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry

    This book is an absolute delight to read. The illustrations invites the reader to explore the meaning behind the poems and helps to add to their own imagination.
    The pages are large and the colors on each page is an added bonus when devouring the poems. I can’t keep it on the shelf.

    One of my most favorite poetry book is called, “Hey World! Here I Am! by Jean Little. I have been reading this book over and over again for the past two decades. It is a must read. I highly recommend it.

    Happy reading,