Picture Books for Teens (Really!)
In my own Catholic homeschool, we continued to read picture books well into the teen years. When we think of picture books, most of us usually think of books geared for preschool or grade school children. And, yes, that is often the case. However, picture books can still be enjoyed by teens (even if they won’t admit to it). A beautifully illustrated picture book is delightful to enjoy at any age. Honestly, I personally love a well-written, well-illustrated picture book.
Additionally, some picture books have an educational value that can be helpful in reminding teens of their own school lessons (for example, the Jean Fritz American history series). There are also picture books that are initially geared toward younger children but have multiple layers of meaning; these books can resonate with teens on a more meaningful level than when they were younger.
One big question is how do we get our teens to pick up and read a picture book. A few ideas for you…
- If they have younger siblings, this is an easy task. Simply have your teens read to the younger children.
- Set the example, and read picture books yourself.
- Use the technique of strewing. Leaving engaging picture books in places where they will grab a teen’s attention, encouraging them to pick it up on their own.
- Set aside a day and time, when you enjoy picture books together as a family. If you have a formal “morning time” that is a perfect time to do this.
- Have your teen read aloud to you as a homeschool assignment.
- Make the picture book a part of a larger research assignment or unit study.
Now, let’s take a look at just a few of my favorite picture books for teens, broken down by category.
History and Mythology
In this category, nothing beats the D’Aulaire books. Written and illustrated by the husband-and-wife team Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire, these beautifully illustrated books have stood the test of time and are the gold standard for illustrated works on mythology and history.
The David Macaulay books are also excellent picture books for teens. Macaulay’s books use extraordinarily detailed illustrations to explain the construction of castles, pyramids, and other great structures of history.
Art and Music Appreciation
For decades Mike Venezia has been producing illustrated works about famous artists and composers. These books are a joy to look through and teach you a lot about the lives of some of the world’s most renowned creators.
Here are some colorful, beautifully illustrated works meant to teach moral lessons:
The Princess and the Kiss: A Story of God’s Gift of Purity by Jennie Bishop
The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith by Josephine Nobisso (Author), Katalin Szegedi (Illustrator)
The Squire and the Scroll by Jennie Bishop (Author), Preston McDaniels (Illustrator)
A well-illustrated saint story is something Catholics of any age can enjoy. There are so many options out there, but check out these two to get started.
Saint Jude: A Friend in Hard Times by Michael Aquilina (Author), Keith Neely (Illustrator)
Saint Brendan and the Voyage Before Columbus by Michael McGrew (Author), Marnie Litz (Illustrator)
Illustrated math book!? Yes believe it or not. Textbooks and problem-solving are not the only ways to be get acquainted with mathematics. One of my all-time favorites is Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (A Math Adventure) by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan. If you like this book, there are eleven additional books in the Sir Cumference series!
I would be remiss if I did not bring up Miss Frizzle in a post about picture books for teens. The Magic School Bus books are packed FULL of science information inside of a fun story. I especially love the older editions as they usually include extra science facts in the sidebars and can be used to spark ideas for science research projects.
Training the imagination
One unique book for training the imagination is Ben Hatke’s Little Robot. This book draws out your child’s creativity because it’s all pictures; there’s no text, so they have to narrate. This is a great one for teens to narrate aloud to their smaller siblings—that subject could be a whole post in itself!
These engaging picture books help teach the true humanity of children even before they are born.
Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman (Author), Ben Hatke (Illustrator)
That’s Me in Here by Jean Darby
G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories are some of the most delightful detective stories penned in the 20th century. Nancy Carpentier Brown’s The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton boils down the Chesterton stories into language more accessible to young readers. With the jolly illustrations of Ted Schluenderfritz, this is a perfect introduction to the world of literary appreciation.
There are so many more great picture books, but this is a good place to start. Let me know the picture books loved by your teens at our Catholic Homeschool Community. And remember, no one is ever too old to enjoy a gorgeous illustrated book, including YOU!
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