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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

March 9, 2017 CL Teaching Strategies Pro Reads, ELA PD - Literacy, ELA K-5, ELA Focus - Reading, ELA Resources - Activities, Core Literacy

How To Effectively Use Picture Books In Literacy Centers

Students love choice and variety! A great way to incorporate both into your literacy instruction is with centers. Literacy centers are a small area within the classroom where students can work alone or together to explore literacy activities independently. 

Download the Story Map Activity to use in your literacy centers!



Dr. Katherine McKnight has guest posted on this blog numerous times to discuss the benefits and strategies of effective learning centers. Learn more: Article 1. Article 2. Article 3. Article 4.

Knowing the advantages of literacy centers, I'm always looking for ways to enhance my students' experience during center work.

Recently, when I come across a really good picture book I will use that book as the inspiration for literacy center activities. Here is how I used the book Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts in my classroom centers!



If you have visited this blog before you may be familiar with the Interactive Read-Aloud for Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts. This picture book is perfect for centers because children enjoy the story and the content is strong.


Before students start working in centers, do an interactive read-aloud using the book Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts.

The read-aloud will be the foundation for the work your students will be doing at the literacy centers, so discuss the book thoroughly to ensure understanding.

Download the interactive read-aloud questions to use with your class.


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Once you finish the read-aloud and feel confident in your students' comprehension, have them complete the activities below. These ideas are inspired by Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, but can be used with almost any picture book.

READING RESPONSE CENTER—Have your students respond to one of these prompts:

What is the author's message?

What lesson can you learn from this book?

LISTENING CENTER—Have your students listen to the book being read to them again. A read-aloud of Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts is available on YouTube.

GRAMMER CENTER—Type sentences from the book in a way that is grammatically incorrect. Have students complete the worksheet by editing each sentence to correct the errors.

VOCABULARY CENTER—Select three to five important vocabulary words from the book, for your grade level, and have your students find the definition, draw a picture, and write a sentence for each.

SEQUENCING CENTER—Have your students write the five most important events in sequence order.

CREATIVE WRITING CENTER—Have your students write about a time they had to do something that was difficult for them (like Jeremy did when he gave away his beloved sneakers).

CHOICE CENTER—Let your students choose an activity they would like to do based on the book (for example, they can write a poem, write a play script, or make a comic).

STORY MAP CENTER—Have your students complete a story map for the book. Download the Story Map handout for your students to use with this book, or with any other book with a problem and solution.




Picture books are a great source of inspiration when crafting literacy center activities. Using engaging picture books, teachers can use literacy centers to engage students in practicing and applying strategies that have been taught and modeled during classroom instruction.