A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: Exploring Illustrations in Caldecott Award Books to Increase Vocabulary Acquisition

Author: Klair McGlynn


Shawmont Elementary School

Year: 2011

Seminar: Children's Literature

Grade Level: Kindergarten

Keywords: Caldecott, illustrations, vocabulary

School Subject(s): English, Language Arts

The objective of the curriculum unit, A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: Exploring Illustrations in Caldecott Award books to Increase Vocabulary Acquisition, is to examine how the award winning illustrations capture the emotional appeal and responses of both young and old viewers and to provide a plethora of learning opportunities to build vocabulary in a kindergarten classroom.  It will provide an introduction to Children’s Literature through picture books and their illustrations with implications for educators to utilize illustrations to teach new words. After presenting a brief history and criteria for selection of this prestigious distinction, this unit will focus on the merits of using the Caldecott Award books to teach vocabulary development. Educators should recognize the elements of Caldecott books that appeal to children, which include their illustrations, characters, and genres. These books can be used to enhance student learning in a variety of ways.  The books can be readily integrated with different subjects, related to important character principles, and used as a source of inspiration. Understanding the appeal and potential uses of Caldecott books can help teachers to value these books as vital resources for their classrooms.

This unit is intended for kindergarten students in a self-contained classroom. It should be completed after the second marking period when students have developed basic concepts of print and can engage in and experiment in reading and writing. Lessons will feature selections of Caldecott Award picture books in multiple genres in order to analyze the sequence of the illustrations using vocabulary that illustrators, publishers, and designers of picture books use.  Activities will consist of familiarizing the students with the Caldecott medal, reviewing the criteria for selection of this award, discussing the various media in picture book illustrations, comparing illustrators, and creating individual picture books. The culminating event will be a Book Award Ceremony equipped with podium, microphone, presenters, and of course, medals for favorite Caldecott Award Books.

Download Unit: 11.01.07.pdf

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