There are so many ways to create a web of learning with picture books. Literature themes are not just for preschoolers.
I strongly believe that parents and teachers can weave an inspiring web of children's books no matter what subject they're teaching. It's a great way to differentiate learning for various ages and levels of students.
So, when you first share a book about a spider, don't stop there! Why not seek out other related children's books with your child? It's like playing the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game! You just have to loosely connect the dots.
Take Charlotte's Web and Sophie's Masterpiece, for example. Here are just a few more links which could be made, with some book selections to get you started:
Silk (Material World), by Claire Llewellyn (out of print, but may be available at public library) - Great photographic nonfiction for understanding silk production, and why silkworms are used instead of spiders.
The Silk Princess (Picture Book), by Charles Santore - The legend of the discovery of silk in China - This beautifully illustrated book will open a child's eyes to real and imaginary worlds (some events in the book could have happened, but others are exaggerations). Great conversation starter for 8 to 12 year olds.
Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China, by Deborah Noyes - Forced to leave her home for an arranged marriage, a Chinese princess smuggles silkworm cocoons and the seeds of a mulberry tree in her hair! Another thought-provoker...Emma and the Silk Train, by Julie Lawson - Stunning illustrations make this story, which is based upon an actual train derailment near Vancouver, British Columbia, a must-read. A great way to travel ahead in time and distance, and bring in the concept of trade.
We're Riding on a Caravan (Travel the World), by Laurie Krebs and Helen Cann - Rhyming text makes learning the history of the ancient Chinese Silk Road fun.
Marco Polo for Kids: His Marvelous Journey to China, 21 Activities (For Kids series), by Janis Herbert - What does Marco Polo have to do with the Chinese Silk Road? Children between the ages of 9 and 14 can find out in a hands-on way.
There are so many subjects we could have connected Charlotte's Web with, but do you see how connecting the dots of children's books opens the door to critical thinking? Our selections here have allowed us to pull in science, language arts, history, social studies, and even art. With a little creativity, even math could be bought in!
It might seem outdated to use picture books to inspire learning, but with a little creativity, such resources truly can revolutionize how we teach and learn. Sometimes, to move ahead, what you really need to do is go back. So, let's not forget The Tortoise and the Hare.
Can you think of any other children's books which could be connected with the books we've weaved together so far? Please do share!