46 Picture Books for Teaching High School

I have always shied away from using textbooks to teach science, history, and geography in our homeschool.  I remember textbooks as being a bit dry, boring, and fairly shallow in their coverage of materials.  I wanted my boys to get excited about what we were learning about.

I find that picture books are often a great jumping off point for any lesson and through the past year we have enjoyed reading so many wonderful books together.

Here is a small sampling of some of the many wonderful picture books out there that would easily work at even a high school level to whet the appetite of any student.

1.  Redwoods by Jason Chin-- Learning about the redwood trees of northern California.

2. The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry-- We learned a lot about castle life and how falcons helped.

3. Falcons Nest on Skyscrapers-- Learning about how Falcons came back from the brink of extinction in the Eastern United States.

4. How to Be an Elephant; Growing Up in the African Wild- We loved this more in depth look at how elephant bodies help them survive in their habitat.

5. Bon Appetite! The Delicious Life of Julia child-- A wonderful summary of the life and works of Julia Child.

6.  Her Right Foot-- A book about the state of liberty.

 7.  Hawk Mother; The Story of a Red- Tailed Hawk Who Hatched Chickens-- With beautiful photographs the story was told of an injured red tailed hawk raised in captivity who hatched two chicken eggs as if they were her own.

8. Ada Lovelace Poet of Science; The First Computer Programmer-- A look at the very first computer programmer from a time before computers had even been invented yet!

9.  Balloons Over Broadway-  A look at how the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade got it's start and the life of Tony Sarg who designed the first balloons that made the parade so famous.

10. Marie Curie by Demi-  We learned so much about the advances in science that Marie and her husband were responsible for.

11.  Grand Canyon-- An in depth look at all the layers, animals and plants that make up the grand canyon as well as a wonderful look back at how it all has formed over time.

12. Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands-- A look at everything scientists know about great white sharks by watching the ones that hunt each year off the Farallon Islands.

13. Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail-- It was so inspiring to read about the first woman to hike the Appalachian through in one trip. 

14. The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs--  A look at how one man's ingenuity is helping to rebuild the coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

15. Coral Reefs-- A look at coral reef "cities" off the coast of Brazil.

16.  Ask Albert Einstein-- Based on a true story of how Albert Einstein once helped a school girl solve her math problem through the mail.

17.  Gregor Mendel; The Friar Who Grew Peas-- Based on the story of Gregor Mendel and his first genetic experiment on peas. We learned a lot about genetics and science reading this book together.

18.  Marvelous Cornelius  Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans-- A fun and peppy story about a sanitation worker in New Orleans that captures the spirit of the city.

19.  For the Right To Learn; Malala Yousafzai's Story-- A picture book about the young girl who took on the Taliban and fought for her right to learn.

20.  Silent Star; The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy-- We had never heard of William Hoy and enjoyed reading this short biography.

21.  Shep Our Most Loyal Dog-- based on the true story of a sheep herding dog at Fort Benton Montana.

22.  Our California-- A brightly colored book that taught us more about various areas and cities around California.

23.  Coat of Many Colors-- A story told by Dolly Parton about growing up poor in rural Tennessee.

24.  Paiute Princess; The Story of Sarah Winnemucca-- While quite long this detailed story taught us about the Paiute Indians and their years of moving from reservation to reservation.

25.  When Ester Morris Headed West: Women, Wyoming, and the Right to Vote-- Based on the true story of the first woman to hold office in the state of Wyoming.

26.  Tuttle's Red Barn-- We really enjoyed this story about America's Oldest Farm in New Dover, New Hampshire.  Passed from father to youngest son through more than 12 generations the books touched upon various parts of US history too.

27.  The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby-- A book about Jimmy Winkfield (Wink); the last African American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby.

28.  The Bear That Heard Crying-- My boys and I could not believe this book was based on a true story!  When 3 year old Sarah gets lots in the woods of New Hampshire in 1783 the townspeople spend days searching for her.

29.  Miss Colfax's Light-- Based on the true story of Harriet Colfax's life as lighthouse keeper on Lake Michigan. Miss Colfax kept the job for more than 43 years working through harsh storms and changes in technology until retiring at age 80.

30. Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson-- The First African American baseball player to play on an all white team, Jackie Robinson was fearless in the face of adversity.  This story told from the perspective of his daughter explains how she and her friends saw her dad.

31.  Journey: Based on the True Story of OR7, the Most Famous Wolf in the West-- Reading about one of the first wolves to enter back into California in almost a century.

32.  When Washington Crossed the Delaware-- A look at how Washington crossing the Delaware with his men (along with a few other battles that the United States won during that 3 week span) helped turn the war around.

33.  Shake Rag: From the Life of Elvis Presley-- Looked at how Elvis' music was influenced by the Shake Rag area he was living in as a young boy.

34.  Secrets of a Cypress Swamp-- We read this book when we were covering descriptive writing; we felt like we could see, hear and smell the swamp around us as we learned about life in the Okefenokee swamp.

35.  Pappy's Handkerchief-- I loved this captivating tale of one African American family from Maryland who head west for the great land race of Oklahoma.

36.  Brother Eagle, Sister Sky-- A pretty thought provoking book about man's place on this Earth.

37. Goliath: Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire-- Based off the true story of fire fighting horse Goliath who was injured helping engine company #15.

38.  Under the Freedom Tree-- The story of the slaves who escaped from the confederate army in Virginia fleeing to Fort Monroe just days after Virginia succeeded from the nation.

39.  Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion-- We learned a little bit more about World War I and why/how the United States and the United Kingdom painted their ships in dazzling bright patterns to disguise them from German U-boats.

40.  Grace Hopper Queen of Computer Code-- We loved learning all about the woman who changed computer programming for the rest of us!

41.  The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid-- Based on the life work of Zaha Hadid and her unusual building designs.

42.  The Shape of the World: A Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright-- A quick look at the inspiration and design of some of Frank Lloyd Wright's building.

43.  A Picture Book of Sam Houston-- We not only enjoyed learning about Sam Houston and what happened during his lifetime we also learned a bit about the history of Texas too.   I was thrilled to see a long list of similar books about other historical figures listed in the back.

44.  Counting on Catherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13-- After reading this book we decided to re-watch the movies Hidden Figures and Apollo 13!  We learned a bit more about Katherine's life and how she became so useful to NASA.

46.  In the Bag: Margret Knight Wraps It Up-- Story about the first woman inventor and patent holder in the United States.

Do you have any favorite picture books for teaching older students? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

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  1. What an amazing resource!! Pinned!

    Thanks for linking up with us this week @LiveLifeWell!



  2. YES! We did this, too! Starting with a picture book demystifies the subject and whets the kids' appetites for more!


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