Allegory in Picture Books

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Here are my top 10 favorites for teaching allegory to your students.

How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird. Jacques Prevert.  Illustrated and translated by Mordicai Gernstein.  Roaring Brook Press, 2007.
An allegory for the creative process of painting as described in this translation of Prevert’s 1949 poem.  Beautifully shows that the process requires care, patience and dedication, and that the joyful end result is worth the struggle.  Picture Book.

Chato’s Kitchen. Gary Soto.  Putnam & Grosset, 1997.
Chato the cat prepares many enticing foods to get the cats who have moved to the barrio to come to his house.  Picture Book.o

Common Ground : The Water, Earth and Air We Share.  Molly Bang.  Blue Sky Press, 1997.
Bang uses a parable about a village that overgrazed their sheep to demonstrate our shared responsibility for conserving resources in today’s world.  A small, but very powerful book.  Picture Book.

The Dot.  Peter Reynolds.  Candlewick, 2003.
An allegory for kids who think they can’t do something or aren’t good at something.  A little encouragement goes a long way.  Picture Book.

Feathers and Fools.  Mem Fox.  Harcourt, 2000.
A modern tale of war between swans and peacocks over their differences.  In the end, they are more alike than different, but the war has left only 2 survivors.  Picture Book.

Fox.  Margaret Wild.  Kane/miller, 2006.
Dog, blind in one eye, carries injured Magpie to his cave.  Dog gives his bitter new friend encouragement and patience.  Along comes Fox who attempts to destroy the friendship by luring Magpie away.  Oh, the power of friendship!  Picture Book.

Gleam and Glow.  Eve Bunting.  Harcourt, 2001.
Based on the true story of a Bosnian family who had to flea during their civil war.  Eight-year-old Viktor finds hope in the survival of two special fish.  Picture Book.

The Lorax.  Dr. Seuss.  Random House, 1999.
The Once-ler describes the results of the local pollution problem.  Picture Book.

The Other Side.  Jacqueline Woodson.  Putnam, 2001.
True friendship has no color.  Clover and Annie Rose come together on the fence that separates their yards.  Their parents say it isn’t safe to climb over, but one day Annie Rose crosses over to join Clover and her other black friends jump rope.    Picture Book.

Riding the Tiger.  Eve Bunting.  Clarion Books, 2001.
Bunting uses allegory very effectively to show the choices kids must make when faced with joining a gang.  “Once you get up on the tiger’s back, it is hard to get off.”
Picture Book.

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