Picture Books that Inspire Children's Self-Portraits


Wow! August has come and gone (without a single post), and I've just finished my fourth week of school. Saying that I've been super-busy doesn't even cut it, but all you teachers our there know what I mean!
It's still back-to-school time somewhere, so I'm sharing something I enjoy doing with my class at the beginning of a new year - I love to have students create self-portraits. Today I'm highlighting some wonderful picture books that build a sense of community, celebrate diversity and encourage students to embrace their individuality when creating a self-portrait.

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Before students are ready to create, they need some inspiration and time to reflect on who they are, what they look like, and what makes them unique. Instead of telling students, "We are all the same," we can celebrate our individuality. I teach at an international school, so this approach is certainly appropriate for my class, but I would argue that all children need to be taught to value diversity. The world is full of different kinds of people, and what better way to explore that idea than to read some wonderful picture books!

First up is What I Like about Me by Allia Zobel Nolan
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits
This book describes how we all look unique, eat different foods at lunch and have our own qualities that make us special. It's rhyme and word choice makes it an appealing read aloud.

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz celebrates the rich diversity of people's skin tones in a playful way Katz draws comparisons to foods and flavors like cinnamon, caramel, and chocolate. I love that this book draws attention to different skin tones in a way that makes each shade as valuable as the next- so positive!
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

The story starts out with a little girl explaining that her artist mother teaches her that there are many shades of brown, and the colors are fun to explore.
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

The little girl describes the beauty of her friends', neighbors' and family members' skin tones through out the book.
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

This culminates in an exhibit of sorts, "the colors of us!"
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka has a similar approach, however, the book's rhyming text is much shorter and more poetic. The illustrations are glorious- rich and warm!
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits
From the beginning, the author communicates a message of love and acceptance for all children,
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits
...and their families. This is an excellent book for families of different races. As a mother of biracial children, I really appreciate this one for the message it sends, that of love and validation. This book has been around for a while, and fortunately there are much more like it being published nowadays (that certainly wasn't the case when my son was small).
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Finally, a picture book that ties them all together. Whoever You Are by Mem Fox (who doesn't love Mem Fox???) This book summarizes it all- even in our diversity, we share the greatest of all commonalities,...humanity.
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Pain is pain, and joy is joy no matter who you are or where you're from!
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

If you teach at a PYP school, all of these books work well when discussing the learner profile attribute open-minded and attitudes appreciation, respect and tolerance.

After sharing these picture books during the first few days of school, I used a resource from Deep Space Sparkle to help my students create multi-media collage self-portraits. My students loved making it!

They were so thoughtful about choosing the colors and materials for their portraits (we didn't have enough yarn for the hair, so we used felt- that was challenging to cut!!!) I passed out mirrors so they could take a closer look at themselves. It's always so interesting to see how students see themselves.
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom, Picture Books that Inspire Selfportraits
I loved the final products! Precious artwork to decorate and personalize the classroom!

Do you have students make self-portraits? How do you do them?
Signature photo ScreenShot2013-04-26at54143PM.png

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