Teachers, use these picture books as mentor texts to teach your kids about grammar like parts of speech, figurative language, and punctuation.
Parents, you can do the same thing!
These books are a fantastic way to introduce kids to the fun of our crazy English language’s rules. (Yes, I said fun. I know. Writers are weird.)
Picture Books that Teach Grammar
Picture Books That Teach Parts of Speech & Language
From nouns to adverbs, there is a picture book that can help. Use the books to teach or review parts of speech.
A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun?
by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Jenya Prosmitsky
The author wants to show (not tell) you about nouns. Cute rhymes and playful illustrations illustrate his point. “Gown is a noun. Crown is a noun. // In fact, our whole hometown is a noun.
Nouns and Verbs Have a Field Day
Verbs Say Go!
by Robin Pulver, illustrated by Lynn Rowe Reed
Outside at field day, the nouns stick with the nouns and the verbs stick with the verbs. That is until they realize that if they partner up, things will go better.
by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Maira Chiodi
Dahl is well known for his grammar books. In this picture book, he explains verbs using cute little green people doing, being, and feeling. Matching the cartoon characters, the verbs are written in green. Read this with your students and allow time to pause, question, and reflect.
If You Were a Pronoun
by Nancy Loewen, illustrated by Sasra Gray
If you were a pronoun, what would you do? You’d take the place of a noun. “YOU could throw a party. YOU would invite HIM and HER and THEM and US.
” The book emphasizes the pronouns with all capital letters.
Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What Is an Adverb
by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Brian Gable
Learn about adverbs quickly and clearly. (See what I did there?) “Adverbs tell us when and how. Like quickly do your homework now.” Super cute illustrations.
Many Luscious Lollipops: A Book About Adjectives
by Ruth Heller
Adjectives identify things by color, number, and size, among other things. Read playful examples of mysterious, gorgeous adjectives. . .
If You Were an Adjective
by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Sara Gray
This book reminds you that the elephant is a noun. Adjectives tell us about the elephant. (Gray, gigantic, wet.) If you were an adjective, this book tells you what you would do… Colorful illustrations and text make this visually appealing.
Adjectives Say Incredible!
by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Lauren Lowen
A cheerful book with adorable blue-circle characters who speak in dialogue bubbles with the adjectives written in blue.
Under, Over, by the Clover: What is a Preposition?
by Brian P. Cleary
Goofy, cute cartoon cats act out how prepositions show where, time, and place. (I also like the book In, Over, and On the Farm
by Ethan Long which isn’t specifically about prepositions but demonstrates their use perfectly.)
Bonus Parts of Speech Activity Idea
Apply your knowledge to parts of speech with a grammar sort. Use your cut-out words and make your own parts of speech books
Picture Books That Teach Figurative Language, Grammar, and Word Play
If you’re wanting to teach your students to play with words and learn about figurative language, try these picture books.
The King Who Rained
by Fred Gwynne
HOMOPHONES & HOMONYMS
I love this classic picture book. The illustrations say it all about the confusion of homophones and homonyms. The girl imagines what her daddy says about forks in the road with literal forks and the king who reigned. Which she hears as the king to rained. Super funny!
Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones
by Gene Barretta
Aunt Ant writes her dear deer about the zoo animal’s behavior. Like the Horse who is hoarse from humming a hymn.
After the words escape from the Dictionary, it’s a romp through grammar and word play. Homophones, palindromes, rhyming words, anagrams, and more strut their stuff through the book’s pages until they’re called back inside the dictionary.
Cat Says Meow and other an*i*mal*o*poe*ia
by Michael Arndt
How do I describe this unique typographic picture book of animal sounds and shapes? Well, prepare to be dazzled as you find the word in the animal image. Hear onomatopoeia and see
animalopoeia! I LOVE this picture book!
A Hippy-Hoppy Toad
by Peggy Archer and Anne Wilsdorf
Rhythmic, repetitive, delicious words with alliteration and onomatopoeia make this an excellent book to read aloud to your children. Toad’s having quite a busy day; a day where he encounters may other creatures. He begins as he ends, on a twig in the middle of the puddle… Highly recommended as a mentor text.
“In the middle of a puddle
in the middle of a road
on a teeter-totter twig
sat a teeny-tiny toad //
Snap! went the twig //
Up! went the toad.”
Skin Like Milk, Hair of Silk
by Brian P Cleary, illustrated by Brian Gable
SIMILIES / METAPHORS
Simple, funny explanations and examples teach kids about similes and metaphors. Adorable cartoon-like illustrations decorate this picture book mentor text.
Crazy Like a Fox: A Simile Story
by Loreen Leedy
Follow Rudy as he pokes Babette which turns into a fun chase across town. These smilies are cliches but their use makes the point for kids just how similes can work in a story.
Ann and Nan are Anagrams: A Mixed-Up Word Dilemma
by Mark Shulman & Adam McCauley
Anagrams are words that when mixed up spell different words or phrases using all the letters. The authors make it easy to tell by putting the anagrams in similar fonts and tell the story of a mixed-up word world. Use this wordplay picture book in the elementary classroom.
“Bring me to your AUNT. She’s A NUT.”
“Poor Grandma! What a VILE, EVIL way to LIVE.”
Mom And Dad Are Palindromes
by Mark Shulman, illustrated by Adam McCauley
Bob’s teacher, Mis Sim, shows him that there are palindromes everywhere. Palindromes are words that are the same forwards and backwards. Find the 101 palindromes in this silly picture book!
Picture Books That Teach Punctuation
I absolutely adore these punctuation picture books, so do kids. You’ll love how these picture books make punctuation playful.
Semicolons, Cupcakes, and CucumbersLittle iEats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!The Girl’s Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can’t Manage without Apostrophes!Exclamation Mark
Semicolons, Cupcakes, and Cucumbers
by Steve Newberry
These four punctuation mark friends want to play together but what should they do? They all have different ideas that will crack you up. Believe it or not, this is a totally hilarious picture book about… punctuation
!! Teachers and homeschoolers, you’ll want this in your repertoire of picture books. (My favorite punctuation mark is the butterfly-loving, slightly confused Question Mark.)
by Michael Hall
PUNCTUATION, CAPITAL LETTERS
Teachers, this will make a fun read-aloud and mentor text book! Little i travels to find his missing dot and discovers punctuation: commas and a period as well as a delightful surprise at the end. He’s grown into a word: I.
HILARIOUS! “Slow children crossing” vs. “Slow, children crossing” Commas matter. They change the entire meaning of sentences. This picture book will prove that point to kids.
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
PUNCTUATION – EXCLAMATION MARK
I love this book so much. It’s the journey of the exclamation mark. He stands out. But he wants to fit in. Until he realizes his purpose. You’ll love this wonderful message which is also a great book for teaching about punctuation marks.
Exclamation Points Say Wow
by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Chris Garbutt
Exclamation points!! In this picture book about punctuation, the exclamation points are backstage at the theater. Learn what they do and read the examples of exclamation points making their…uh, point.
Commas Say Take a Break
by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Chris Garbutt
Commas are never in a hurry to explain the commas who narrate this story and share tips in dialogue bubbles. While some text explains what commas can do, the rest is a story about a whale and his friends, the jellyfish and the seagulls, who write letters to the whale when she’s on a trip. I’m so impressed by how skillfully the story and the instruction are woven together.
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Picture Books About Word Play
also read: Best Vocabulary Games for Kids