Jessica by Kevin Henkes – Teaching Literary Skills with Picture Books

I am sharing a book a day for the next 30+ days. Picture books that can be used to teach literary skills to middle or high school students. Just because they are in the older grades doesn’t mean that picture books can’t be a great resource on its own or as a paired passage. Here is #21

Jessica by Kevin Henkes – Teaching Literary Skills with Picture Books

Description from Amazon:51mVvyrFi8L._SX421_BO1,204,203,200_

“There is no Jessica,” said Ruthie’s parents. But of course there was. She ate with Ruthie, played with Ruthie, and was sorry when Ruthie was bad. Nobody could see Jessica — except Ruthie. When it came time for Ruthie to go to school, Jessica went with her. Her parents hoped Ruthie would find a friend at school who would replace Jessica. They were in for a (happy) surprise!

Literary Skills that can be taught with the book Jessica by Kevin Henkes?

Author’s Style

Why does the author use Bold, big letters when the parents are telling Ruthie, “There is no Jessica”? What is different about the words over the pictures of Ruthie? Why? Why is the print different to depict when Ruthie and Jessica were glad? (with the horn) Why does the author repeat the opening and closing lines? Why the subtle difference?

Organizational Patterns

Discuss the chronological order of home activities and the chronological order of school activities. Create a timeline of Jessica’s day at home and/or her day at school.

Cause and Effect: What caused Ruthie to create an imaginary friend? What caused Ruthie to no longer need her imaginary friend?

Compare and contrast imaginary Jessica with real Jessica.


Do you think Ruthie will take Jessica to school on the first day of Kindergarten or go without her as her parents suggest? What would have happened if the new friend’s name hadn’t been Jessica? What happened to imaginary Jessica with the arrival of real Jessica? Predict imaginary Jessica’s new adventures.

Extension Activity

Compare Ruthie and Jessica’s adventures to the young boy and his imaginary friend in Ted by Tony DiTerlizzi

Have students answer the initial question: “Can your best friend be imaginary?” Using text evidence as support.

Jessica can be found on Amazon click HERE

Want more? There is more and can be found on the resource at TpT.

Follow this blog and my TpT store for more great picture books to teach to secondary students.

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