My Favorite Picture Books for Setting and Story Elements!

September 21, 2016

I recently blogged about the books I read in August and September as we focus on illustration, print concepts, and characters.


As October rolls around we focus on setting and story elements and I wanted to share some of my FAVORITE picture books I use to teach these skills:



Owl Moon by Jane Yolen: Identify Setting (Time & Place)
This beautiful book has my readers looking closely at illustrations and descriptive language to determine the setting in this story. There are parts where I have my students close their eyes and just listen to me read Jane Yolen’s words and then describe what feelings they have when they listen to her describe the setting.


The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: Compare/Contrast Setting
While I love this book for MANY reasons and you may be thinking “why would I read Snowy Day in October?!” don’t be scared – we read this book a few times throughout the year!! I love to compare the setting in this story to Owl Moon. We take a close look at how the setting affects the characters in both stories as well and it always brings a great discussion.


Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco: Setting Affects Plot
Have I ever read a Patricia Polacco book I didn’t love?! Nope.
In this story, I have my students pay close attention to how the setting affects the plot and characters in the story. It is very clear in this story to see how the thuunderstorms and dark stormy, environment affect the little girl in the story! We also talk about how the story would be different if the setting had been entirely different.


Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey: Setting Affects Plot
Same as Thunder Cake, I read this story with the focus of HOW the setting of this story affects the plot of the story. The setting is very important to the ducks in this story and it is a great way for my kids to see how things change as the ducks travel in the story.


Stellaluna by Janell Cannon: Retell BME
This is a seasonal book I love to read in October to go over retelling. By this time in the year, we have certainly touched about retelling, but this book has a clear beginning, middle, and end . We also discuss which part of the book we find to be the most important to the storyline and why.


Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes: Retell BME
As we read this Kevin Henkes classic, I have my students not only retell the story, but retell it with a focus on Lily’s feelings and actions throughout the beginning, middle, and ending of the story. I always try to emphasize that we only retell the “important” parts of our story as well.


So there you have it! Six of my favorite read alouds for Setting and Story Elements!


You can grab the above books here:


I also spent all of last year creating one page lesson plans for all of the above books with stopping points and questions that relate to the skills I mentioned! If you want to see those and try a FREE one click the image below and download the preview:

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  • New to the blog 🙂 I'm working on story elements with my ELs in middle school but we use picture books as a way to introduce and reinforce the terms! I love the list you've compiled. My group this year LOVES to be read to even though they are entering their teens. Thank you!

    Maria // EducationChic