Melissa Hoak

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Ramona Caponegro

Committee Member

Ian Wojcik-Andrews


Picture books, often marketed to and written for young children, are typically thought of only as tools to inspire early literacy. They rarely make their way into secondary lesson plans, and with their seemingly simple illustrations and text, they are mostly deemed (socially, if not academically) inappropriate for accomplished readers. This thesis explores the advantages of including picture books when teaching four young adult texts: Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising (2000), Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (2005), Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming (2014), and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (2003). Picture books can serve as valuable companions to anchor texts such as these because they help develop critical thinking skills and invite students to analyze the illustrations. Additionally, when teachers include anchor texts to help connect themes of acceptance and social awareness, picture books encourage adolescents to be more hopeful and empathetic and to recognize and seize their agency against contemporary injustices.