We often read picture books in our homeschool, even though my children are now 13 + 9. I find picture books are a very useful tool. Because they are by definition short in text they are perfect for Charlotte Mason style short lessons. They have to, again because of size constraints, bring the focus on a topic more directly into view. By that i mean if you like they are a bit like a magnifying glass, they help us to "see bigger". This is an excellent post on the way older children use picture books
Today we read "the rainbirds" by david metzenthen and sally rippin. To begin with we just examined the cover in detail. I asked the boys what they could tell me . They commented on how the art work looked "cut out" from the background. They also noted the limited colours used. I commented on the lack of capital letters in title or names and this lead to a short lesson on when we use capitol letters. I also mentioned a poet who used no capital letters and asked if they could remember his name from last years poetry study We then read one of his poems.
Then we read the book. After our first reading we went back through the book and studied all he art work. The boys commented on how the artist had used color to add meaning to the story. The trees being black seemed wintery,the storm being purply emphasized its drama and the misty green of the forest added to its mysteriousness and magical quality.We won't give away all but when you read the book yourself you will be able to see other aspects of nature that the artwork underlines.
Now it was time to look at the descriptive language and imagery in the book. I said, "tallest trees" and asked the boys to look through and discover other phrases like this. They found "gloomy gullies","sky-scraping","large loose","big black birds", 'swirling storm","swooped and swung",'longer and lighter" "waited and watched". Master 13 suggested that "clear rocky creeks""hammering with hail" and even "leaves that lay" were also deliberate choices of the author.
ds9 also thought the positioning of the words on the page were very important as he noted on the storm page and in the spring page where the words themselves grow up and the green lettering emphasized new growth.
Finally I asked them to choose a sentence or phrase that they liked particularly. Surprisingly they both chose the same:...and he would hear again the bright,wild calls of the rainbirds cutting throgh the park "curra-wong,curra-wong!"