Pairing picture books about Cinderella (and there are hundreds of versions of Cinderella and other fairy tales out there) with YA novels with Cinderella themes is a terrific idea, one I plan to incorporate into future presentations. Libby Gorman's pairings are a great place to begin. How about taking themes from other fairy tales or fables or folk tales and pairing them with YA books with similar themes?
I have used WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE for a LONG time to work with theme with middle school kids. Theme is abstract, but a good picture book can help make the concept more concrete. WTWTA also underscores that books can (and do) have more than one theme.
I am working right now on a half day session on using picture books with K-12 students. I am exploring the ideas here and a few others. I find I am not running out of ideas or books. I love when a germ of an idea leads to something bigger. I know many of my friends are already using picture books in all manner of inventive ways. I salute them for not abandoning picture books and start pushing kids into other works earlier and earlier. My new campaign is to replace the word "push" with "lead" or "assist" or "guide" or "encourage." I spoke to a reporter this week who talked about getting kids into harder and tougher and more complex books. There are plenty of complex books that have only 32 pages (the average picture book length). Let's explore these books without the push into something else. Reading easy, a phrase my friend Kylene Beers uses, is a good thing. We all need time to read easy, to relax as we read, to access text easily, to ENJOY the reading.