Figurative Language, Picture Books for Middle School

5 Captivating Picture Books for Middle School

Picture books aren’t just for young children! If you’ve read any of our other blog posts, you know that we love picture books for all ages. Specifically, middle schoolers can benefit from the rich storytelling and vibrant illustrations that picture books offer. Let’s explore further with 5 Captivating Picture Books for Middle School.

5 Captivating Picture Books for Middle School

Middle schoolers are often thrust into a world in which they are juggling multiple classes and teachers, a heavier homework load, peer pressure, and mounting stress all while navigating so much change. A picture book is a welcome respite for middle schoolers as they can feel like they’re a young child again, just enjoying the pictures and the story as they relax for a couple of minutes during the read-aloud.

Deep themes, enthralling plot lines, and great figurative language examples can be explored in a less intimidating way through a short picture book. Picture books can also address social-emotional development in a safe avenue for middle schoolers. 

Here are 5 middle school books that not only provide engaging narratives but also encourage critical thinking and discussion. These picture books are especially for this age range as they may have deeper themes too mature for the elementary age.

In this blog post, we’ll explore five captivating picture books that are perfect for middle schoolers. These books touch on important themes, spark creativity, and are sure to leave a lasting impression on middle school readers.

1. The Promise, by Nicola Davies & Illustrated by Laura Carlin

The Promise is a thought-provoking picture book that addresses numerous issues in a way that is accessible and meaningful for middle schoolers.

5 Captivating Picture Books for Middle School: The Promise

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The story follows a young girl who grows up in a hardened environment and becomes harsh herself, choosing to make wrong decisions and following a wrong path for her life until she encounters an old lady whom she was trying to steal from.

The young girl discovers the healing power of nature and how it can not only impact and transform the environment, but also herself as well. This picture book is rich with figurative language and can be explored as an entire metaphor, along with the sequence of illustrations.

For example, “When I was young, I lived in a city that was mean and hard and ugly. Its streets were dry as dust, cracked by heat and cold, and never blessed with rain.”

The story continues, “A gritty yellow wind blew constantly, scratching around the buildings like a hungry dog.”

This book is also a visual treat as the pictures start off with gritty illustrations which are slowly transformed as nature pops up and grows abundantly and takes over in a wonderful way.

Further into the story, “Green spread through the city like a song, breathing to the sky, drawing down the rain like a blessing.” In the end, the book comes full circle making for a fantastic example of inspirational writing for middle school students. 

2. The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups, by David Wisniewski 

As middle schoolers are caught somewhere in between the world of children and adults, this book is satirical and will produce a laugh with your students. As middle schoolers are also at that age where they question adults more and more, rebel against some rules, and generally do not understand the reasoning of their parents and teachers, this book offers a safe way to explore those frustrations.

5 Captivating Picture Books for Middle School: The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups

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This picture book will give your students a laugh but also can explore a really interesting writing assignment as students pick an “adult” rule and come up with an interesting story or reason why this rule exists. 

3. Maybe, by Kobi Yamada, Illustrated by Gabriella Barouch

This inspirational picture book explores the beauty in imagining one’s future and purpose, as well as celebrating the uniqueness of each other. It explores how life isn’t easy always and throughout your journey, you may fail, but you will also try again and get back up. It speaks into middle schoolers who are struggling with who are they are and encourages them to be proud of their own unique interests and talents.

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In a time that middle schoolers are just wanting to blend into the background, this book challenges kids to think about how they can impact their surroundings, stand out with their own talents and treasures, and really see how they are a wonderful gift to the world. 

4.  The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a whimsical and heartwarming tale that celebrates the magic of books and storytelling. When a powerful storm disrupts Mr. Morris Lessmore’s life, he finds solace and purpose in caring for a library of living books. This book encourages middle schoolers to appreciate the wonder of literature and the power of storytelling to transform lives.

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The whimsical pictures are just as captivating as the story itself. The charming illustrations will catch the attention of students. I especially loved the middle school vocabulary words that were present and the personification and onomatopoeia that were carried throughout. As middle schoolers live in a world in which technology competes for their attention 24/7, this beautiful picture book shows the beauty in reading. 

5. What Do You Do With a Problem?, By Kobi Yamada 

A colleague of mine first shared this book with me years ago and I have loved it ever since. Author of Maybe (previously described), Kobi Yamada books are perfectly made for middle school. Problems are encountered by middle schoolers daily. Much bigger problems than they have dealt with before.

5 Captivating Picture Books for Middle School

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Problems can be frustrating and overwhelming. Then, mix in hormones and social pressures. Simple problems can seem like huge mountains to climb. This book shows a simple way to address any problems head-on and how to view them as opportunities. The illustrations add so much to the story.

Extra: Figurative Language Activities

As many of these picture books explore figurative language, check out our Spooky Figurative Language Activity to help your students practice this concept.

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Plus, check out this Interactive PowerPoint to help students further understand it as well.

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Want More?

Jump over and read more about Picture Books in Middle School with our other blog post.

Read more today.


Picture books have the power to engage and inspire middle schoolers in unique ways. These five picture books offer rich storytelling, beautiful illustrations, and thought-provoking themes that will resonate with readers of all ages. By adding these books to your middle schooler’s reading list, you can inspire your students to ignite their imagination. Furthermore, it will cultivate a lasting passion for reading.

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