10 Picture Books to Use in Your High School English Lessons


Picture books are often associated with younger children, but they can also be valuable resources in high school English lessons. Not only do they engage students visually, but they also provide opportunities for discussion, critical thinking, and literary analysis. In this article, we will explore 10 picture books that can enhance your high school English curriculum and bring a fresh perspective to literature studies.

    1. “The Arrival” by Shaun Tan:

This wordless graphic novel tells the story of a man who leaves his home and embarks on a journey to a new and unfamiliar land. With its stunning illustrations and thought-provoking themes of immigration and belonging, “The Arrival” can spark meaningful discussions about identity and the immigrant experience.

    1. “The Rabbits” by John Marsden and Shaun Tan:

This allegorical picture book explores the colonization of Australia by the British settlers through the eyes of rabbits. It raises important questions about cultural imperialism, environmentalism, and the impact of colonization, making it a powerful tool for teaching postcolonial literature.

    1. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein:

While often regarded as a children’s book, “The Giving Tree” delves into complex themes of love, sacrifice, and environmental stewardship. Its simple yet profound narrative can prompt deep discussions about the human condition and the concept of selflessness.

    1. “The Arrival” by Chris Van Allsburg:

In this mysterious and enchanting picture book, a magical being arrives in a wintry landscape and transforms the lives of the people living there. The book’s atmospheric illustrations and thought-provoking narrative make it a valuable addition to discussions on fantasy, magic realism, and the power of imagination.

    1. “Journey” by Aaron Becker:

With its breathtaking illustrations, “Journey” takes readers on an imaginative adventure through a fantastical world. By using wordless storytelling, this picture book encourages students to interpret and create their own narratives, while also exploring themes of friendship, courage, and the transformative power of the imagination.

    1. “The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain” by Peter Sis:

Based on the author’s own experiences growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War, “The Wall” provides a unique perspective on totalitarianism, censorship, and the struggle for freedom. Its blend of autobiography, history, and stunning visuals can enrich discussions on political ideologies and human rights.

    1. “The Arrival” by James Rumford:

Set in present-day Iran, “The Arrival” tells the story of a young boy’s dreams of building a new life for himself and his family. Through its vibrant illustrations and poignant narrative, this picture book sheds light on the challenges faced by refugees and immigrants, fostering empathy and understanding among students.

    1. “The Arrival” by Beatrice Alemagna:

This heartwarming picture book celebrates the power of imagination and the importance of

cherishing the natural world. Through its whimsical illustrations and poetic language, “The Arrival” prompts students to reflect on the beauty of nature, the value of creativity, and the need for environmental conservation.

    1. “The Arrival” by Jeannie Baker:

By using intricately detailed collage artworks, “The Arrival” tells the story of a migrant family’s journey to a new country. This visually stunning picture book explores themes of diversity, multiculturalism, and the resilience of the human spirit, making it a valuable resource for discussions on migration and cultural identity.

    1. “The Arrival” by Blexbolex:

With its retro-inspired illustrations, “The Arrival” takes readers on a nostalgic journey through the history of transportation. In addition to its visual appeal, this picture book can spark conversations about technological advancements, societal changes, and the impact of innovation.


Picture books have the power to captivate and engage high school students, offering a fresh perspective on literary themes and enriching discussions in the English classroom. By incorporating these 10 picture books into your lessons, you can create a multi-dimensional learning experience that combines visual literacy, critical thinking, and meaningful dialogue. So, open up these picture books and embark on a captivating literary journey with your students!

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