Picture Books to Teach Inference in the Classroom
Teaching inference is not an easy task. These picture books are a great way to teach inference to your students, no matter their age. You will also find a list of questions to use with these books.
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Why Use Picture Books to Teach Inference?
Making inferences involves reading between the lines by analysing what is not directly said by the author. Students can do this by using their own experiences and knowledge along with the text and illustrations.
Teaching inference with picture books, particularly wordless ones, gives your students the opportunity to use facts, reasoning and illustrations to make an inference about something in the book. (See example discussion questions below).
Inference and Prediction
It is easy for children to confuse inference with prediction, but there is a difference.
Inference involves the reader making an educated guess based on information in the book and their own knowledge.
Prediction is what the reader thinks will happen in the story and will be confirmed (or not) while reading.
Discussion Questions to Teach Inference
- What is [character] doing?
- Where is [character]?
- Why is [character] ….?
- Why do you think [character] …?
- When did the situation/event happen? How do you know?
- How do you think [character] feels about the situation/event?
- Why was it important to [character] to …?
- Why do you think [character] feels …?
- Why did [character] say …?
- What made [character] behave/react in that way?
- What is [character] thinking about/feeling?
- Why doesn’t [character] …?
- What can you infer from the illustrations?
- Why did the author …?
- Why did the author choose the title [title]?
Picture Books to Teach Inference
During a read-aloud session use these books to teach inference. Focus on asking your students to read between the lines when information is implied by the text or illustrations.
Wordless books are particularly useful books to teach inference. You can find more information about wordless books at 7 Reasons Why Wordless Picture Books are so Powerful.
The Barnabus Project by Terry Fan
Strange animals kept in glass bell jars in a mysterious laboratory are failed attempts to make the perfect pets. Destined to be recycled, Barnabus, half mouse, half elephant, takes action to reach his goal of freedom. Through teamwork with his fellow captives, he does what it takes to reach the outside world.
Use to discuss self-acceptance, cooperation, courage, following your dreams, friendship and embracing imperfections.
The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jen Wojtowicz
Starting school can be a daunting experience, and Zimdalamashkermishkada's lengthy name becomes a point of self-consciousness. Choosing to go by the shorter “Zim” isn't quite right. Thanks to his mother's wisdom, he learns to embrace his name, ultimately accepting himself for who he is.
The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name encourages conversations on appreciating our uniqueness, understanding and owning who we are and building confidence in ourselves
The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida
Emi, a young Japanese girl, wears a special gold bracelet, a gift from a friend. Soon after, she enters an internment camp because she is Japanese-American and looks like the enemy. While in the camp, Emi loses the bracelet, but learns that she doesn’t need it to remember her friend and better times. Use to teach about memories, WWII and inference.
Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
When Farmer Brown's cows stumble upon a typewriter, they start typing letters demanding electric blankets. Things escalate quickly as the cows strike, and Duck is the mediator. But the peace doesn't last long when the ducks have their own demands!
Click, Clack, Moo story promotes dialogue about fair negotiations' importance, communication's power, and the essence of compromise.
Dear Juno by Soyung Pak
Juno discovers the power of communication beyond words, connecting with his Korean grandmother through a unique language of drawings, photos, and toys. The book a celebration of bonds that surpass barriers of language and distance and will inspire your students to become more empathetic and effective communicators.
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
The Dot follows Vashti, a young girl who discovers her artistic voice with her art teacher's encouragement and just a single dot. Witness as Vashti's journey unfolds, from making her first mark to creating a collection of dot paintings and even inspiring another child to express himself through art.
The Dot teaches us that we can become great risk-takers and creators with determination, a growth mindset, and a little encouragement.
Draw! by Raúl Colón
A young boy uses his creativity and imagination to escape from the confines of his bedroom. Through his sketchbook, he embarks on an exciting adventure, exploring the landscapes and wildlife of Africa.
Draw! encourages discussions on coping with illness, promoting understanding and empathy and conveys how creativity can provide comfort, escape, and joy.
Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
Insects surround a new, green shoot and ask “Du iz tak?” They use a ‘ribble’ to climb the stalk and build homes on its branches. The shoot grows into a beautiful flower, but as the seasons change it wilts and the insects say goodbye to their home. Promotes communication, a sense of community, vocabulary and inference.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
Annabelle finds a box of magical yarn that never runs out. Through her knitting, she transforms her drab, monochrome town into a vibrant, colourful place.
Extra Yarn prompts discussions on creativity, transformation, and the power of small actions to bring about significant change. Annabelle's story reminds us that we can make the world a brighter place with a little imagination and the right tools.
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
A clown bounces off a circus train, landing in a gruff farmer's field. The farmer reluctantly hosts the clown and a unique friendship forms. Their bond deepens, and the farmer becomes a comforting figure. Their friendship is interrupted as the train reappears and the clown is returned to his family.
The Farmer and the Clown portrays kindness, friendship, empathy, acceptance, companionship, and how unexpected connections can transform us.
Flotsam by David Wiesner
A boy stumbles upon an old camera on the beach. Developing its film reveals an underwater world beyond imagination, a visual narrative linking children across time and space.
Flotsam, a wordless book, inspires discussions on perception, perspectives, curiosity, and observation.