42 of the Best Picture Books to Teach Inference
Inferring is difficult, but using picture books to teach inference makes the process easier for many children. Explore 40 of the best books to use, and a list of inference discussion questions you can adapt for any book.
What is Inferring?
Making inferences involves reading between the lines by analysing what is not directly stated by the author. Students can do this by using text, illustrations, and their own experiences and knowledge.
Using picture books, particularly wordless ones, are a wonderful teaching tool to give your students to opportunity to use obvious facts, reasoning and the illustrations to make an inference about something in the book. (See example discussion questions after the book recommendations).
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.
Picture Books to Teach Inference
During a read-aloud session use these books to teach inference and 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.
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy
AAAlligator! by Judith Henderson
The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach
The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida
Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Draw! by Raúl Colón
Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
Flotsam by David Wiesner
Fossil by Bill Thomson
Gleam and Glow by Eve Bunting
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
The Line by Paula Bossio
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
The Night Gardener by Terry Fan
Red by Jan De Kinder
The Royal Bee by Frances and Ginger Park
Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson
Smoky Night by Eve Bunting
Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
Tuesday by David Wiesner
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
Inference Discussion Questions
- 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 situation/event?
- Why was it important to [character] …?
- Why do you think [character] feels…?
- Why did [character] say…?
- Why made [character] behave/react in that way?
- What is [character] thinking about?
- Why doesn’t [character]…?
- What can you infer from the illustrations?
- What was the message of the book?
- Why did the author…?
- Why did the author choose [title] as the title?
- What does [author] want us to learn from the book?
What are your favourite books to teach inference? I know there are loads more than the 40 I have recommended. Also, check out this website, Once Upon a Picture. I came across it recently and it has a page with images and inference questions. Using individual picture is another way to get your student inferring.
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