Reading is one of my favorite things to teach, and one of my favorite things to teach is figurative language. It’s not only fun to teach kids how to find and use different types of figurative language, but I also love finding and sharing beautiful figurative language in children’s books. A picture book can be a great way to show and talk about figurative language with your kids.
Here are some of my favorite ideas for picture books that I use to teach metaphors in my upper-grade classroom.
Picture Books for Teaching Metaphors: My Mouth is a Volcano
Great: The metaphor is right in the title. This book is a great place to talk about this metaphor. Pull the book off the shelf when you’re ready to teach metaphors. Because My Mouth is a Volcano is a good read-aloud for a first day, you can just do that. No need to read the whole book again. It will take less time if you only pay attention to the metaphors during your second read.
Teaching Metaphors with Barn Savers
This simple picture book is about a boy and his father working to save a barn. I love the way the author uses words to make the story come to life. This book has a great metaphor in the very first sentence. Besides, this makes this a great book for teaching metaphors. It would also be great for teaching creative ways to use figurative language as a hook for stories. These words, along with descriptive adjectives, alliteration, and similes, fill the pages of this great book.
Teaching Metaphors with The Lonely Scarecrow
Because The Lonely Scarecrow is a good story to tell your kids, it is full of clever language. There are a lot of great metaphors that you can talk about with your students or write down and use as mentor words. Love this story? Then you’ll love this one! Another good thing about this book is that it can be used to talk about the theme.
Teaching Metaphors with Owl Moon
Owl Moon is a classic picture book that can be used for a lot of great reading and writing lessons. One of the best ways to use Owl Moon is to teach metaphors. “I was a shadow as we walked home.” and “The mood turned his face into a silver mask.” Beautiful: The metaphors and figures of speech used in this book are just as beautiful as the story and the illustrations.
Teaching Metaphors with Hello, Harvest Moon
It’s hard to find a picture book with more than a few metaphors. The author of Hello, Harvest Moon has filled this book with a lot of beautiful metaphors for you and your students to enjoy and talk about. This book is very poetic, and it really captures the feeling of a moonlit night in its words. It is great for teaching poetic language and how to use visual images. You can learn a lot from these magic pages! There are so many ways to do this!
Teaching Metaphors with Saturdays and Teacakes
My favorite from this list is at the end. In case you haven’t heard of Saturdays and Teacakes, then this is a must-have for your library. He talks about how he and his grandmother spent simple Saturdays together when he was a child. In this sweet story, the author uses beautiful descriptive language, personification, similes, onomatopoeia, and of course rich metaphors to make the reader fall in love with the story. This book is going to be a hit with both of you and your students.
Figurative Language Posters
Having a list of figurative language definitions and examples in your classroom can be very useful to your students. This will make it easier for them to learn. You can use this beautiful set of figurative language posters to help you teach more than just metaphors. You can use them for similes, personification and more! Adding them to your reading class is a great idea. They are here.
Picture books can be used to find and talk about the meanings of metaphors. This is a great way to introduce, review, or encourage students to start writing their own metaphors, too. Soon after you start talking about metaphors with your students, they might surprise you.
AIDS in French Culture: Social Ills, Literary Cures by David Caron
When the first public reports of the AIDS epidemic came out in 1981 in France, there was a flood of metaphors that spread far more quickly and efficiently than the virus itself. To figure out why it took France so long to react to the AIDS crisis, AIDS in French Culture looks at how three different discourses (the literary, the medical, and the political) work together. It then traces the roots of French attitudes about AIDS back to nineteenth-century anxieties about nationhood, masculinity, and sexuality.
The Anatomy of Architecture: Ontology and Metaphor in Batammaliba Architectural Expression by Suzanne Preston Blier
When Blier talks about the extraordinary architecture of people in Western Africa, he shows us that these buildings are like books that tell us about their beliefs, traditions and social concerns. In this way, she looks into the role of vernacular architecture as an expression of culture. “Brilliant: This is a great look at how important architecture is in the daily lives of the Batammaliba and how important it is to show people how they should live. The story is told in a way that is in line with the best traditions of anthropology.”
Judith R. Blau, Contemporary Society, says:
“A remarkable book. Blier’s book takes the study of African architecture to a new level of scholarship. It adds a new dimension to the way architecture can be used to show off a lot of a culture’s beliefs.” In this case, the African Arts Lab is called the Labelle Prussin.
Excellent: “Blier gives a detailed and thoughtful account of how the Batammaliba of Togo and Benin see and think about architecture. This is the best account I have seen of the relationship between African aesthetics and ritual practices and the systems of beliefs, rituals, and African aesthetics and plastic arts that I have ever read.”