I work in a 4th/5th grade classroom and we read picture books every day. It's especially great seeing the 5th grade boys get pulled into the cute pictures in spite of themselves. The teacher and I choose books with wit and twists that may be a bit over the heads of younger children but are perfect for older kids who may be leaning more towards chapter books and young adult series but really still like the charm of the picture books. It's fun for us, as well, seeing books that we chuckle over get the same reaction from the kids.
Overall, we just find it important to keep that bit of beauty and innocence in their midst for as long as possible. Unfortunately the world is not as it once was, and kids are growing up way too fast. Especially for those going off to middle school and the challenges they will face there, we try to cultivate that childhood innocence and let them know it's ok to hold onto it. Many times I will sit cross-legged on the floor and just start reading and before too long someone has wandered over, curious as to what I'm seeing. We'll start pointing out the pictures together or guessing what might happen next (more-so if it's a new book). These are some of my favorite moments... pulling the students out of their conversations or note-writing and engaging them in something so worthwhile.
I can only hope there are many more classrooms with the same spirit, and I'm sure there are. Together we can make sure picture books do not become a thing of the past, relics to pull out and dust off to show grandchildren what we used to read. I will certainly do my best... one student at a time.
Emily Pickard is a bookseller by day, editor by night and volunteers in a 4th/5th grade classroom in between. Learn more about Emily at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/emily-pickard/13/4a8/317.