9 Reasons to Use Picture Books in Your Homeschool


I have been a book lover for as long as I can remember. I grew up with my nose in a book and did my best to inspire my kids to love reading as much as I do.

One way I did that was to supplement our homeschool lessons with picture books as often as possible. When all three kids were homeschooling, we’d frequently leave the library with 50 picture books on various topics.

Using Picture Books in Your Homeschool

Picture books can be a great way to introduce or reinforce concepts within your homeschool. They can be used across every subject you teach and with any homeschool curriculum you may use.

Visualize Math Concepts

Picture books can help young learners visualize math concepts. Brian P. Cleary has a wonderful collection of living math books that help children “see” how math works in the real world. In addition to visualizing math skills, children are introduced to mathematical terminology so they become more familiar with the terms.

Plant Seeds for Classic Literature

Young readers can be intimidated by the language in classic literature or by the length of the books. If you can introduce a story with a picture book, you’ll plant seeds that may pique their interest. When they read the full version later on, they’ll be able to visualize the story from the shortened, picture book version they read before.

Introduce New Places and Cultures

Not many children have the opportunity to travel the world in real life, but any child can travel the world through a good book. Nonfiction books about different cultures and geographical places allow children to get a peek at life outside of their own lives.

Fairytales and nursery rhymes are another great way to introduce cultures and places in a different way. Choosing stories from different places gives readers a glimpse into what that culture is like. For instance, most children are familiar with Little Red Riding Hood.

Focus on Holidays and Seasons

You can get kids excited about upcoming seasons and holidays by filling your bookshelves with relevant picture books. You don’t have to stick with fiction books, though. Search for some nonfiction books that teach the meaning behind the holiday or the science behind the seasons.

Bring History to Life

History has never been my favorite subject to learn or to teach. You’ll never find me picking up a nonfiction history book to read for pleasure. So, I made it a point to pick out great picture books to use in my homeschool. No matter what historical time period we’re studying, whether Ancient Egypt or the Revolutionary War, I do my best to stock up on nonfiction and fiction picture books.

I use nonfiction picture books to teach facts about daily life in Ancient Egypt or to introduce the Wright Brothers. Historical fiction picture books engage students as they get a peek into the culture, customs, and lifestyle of historical figures and time periods.

Introduce Famous People

Older elementary students and even middle schoolers may balk at reading a dry biography. However, they’ll engage with a good {and much shorter} picture book biography. Whether you use these picture books to introduce a famous person or to set the stage for reading that longer biography later, picture books present a short and concise introduction to historical figures.

Learn About Animals

Kids can use picture books to learn about animals they wouldn’t ordinarily meet in their daily lives. Or, they can read about animals they love, want to adopt as pets, or saw on their last trip to the zoo.

Teach Social Skills

Picture books are a great way to get children to think about social skills that they may have a hard time discussing otherwise. They may not be able to verbalize exactly what makes a good friend, but they can tell you what made The Rainbow Fish a good friend in the book you read. Sometimes, it’s easier to focus on those skills when they’re engaged in a great story.

Learn to Compare and Contrast

So many classic stories, such as Gingerbread Man and Little Red Riding Hood, are written over and over again by various authors. When you read several different versions to your children, you can teach them to compare and contrast the different elements of each one.

Compare and contrast the artwork, the setting, the culture in which the story takes place. All of these similarities and differences can help children begin to see differences and similarities in their own world.

Children are never too old to engage with a great picture book. You can find picture books that will engage even middle and high schoolers if you look in the right place. They are great for introducing and explaining concepts in a non-intimidating way.

Tara Mitchell

About the author

Tara is a former elementary school teacher turned homeschool mom of three. She has successfully homeschooled her oldest two and is currently homeschooling her youngest. Tara has always had a passion for books, and she enjoys creating educational activities and content designed to bring books to life.

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