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Great Books for Teaching Idioms to Upper Elementary Students

A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

Picture books are always a great way to introduce a lesson, and reading aloud a book to upper elementary students when teaching idioms is no exception. As a matter of fact, they absolutely LOVE interacting with these books. From trying to guess the idiom from the illustration provided in the book to inferring what the idiom means, it is such a fun and engaging way to start the lesson.

Below, I have provided a list of books that make great additions to the classroom either as read alouds or as reference materials for your upper elementary students. 


The first section lists funny read alouds that incorporate idioms throughout them. Students will get a kick out of the literal meanings of the idioms as they are portrayed throughout the book. The second section lists titles that include collections of idioms and directly explain the meaning of each of them. 

(This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links throughout in order to help you find the resources quickly. This means that Amazon will send a few pennies my way for orders placed through the link at no extra charge to you.)

Entertaining Picture Books containing Idioms:

The following two books are written by Tedd Arnold. These books are based on a boy who hears adults speaking and takes their idioms literally. He tries to solve the "problems" he thinks he may face in funny ways. These books are a silly and engaging way to start of your idiom unit as kids are sure to get a kick out of them (pun intended).

More Parts by Tedd Arnold


A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

Even More Parts by Tedd Arnold


A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

Books Containing Idioms and Explain Their Meaning:

Raining Cats and Dogs: A Collection of Irresistible Idioms and Illustrations to Tickle the Funny Bones of Young People by Will Moses


A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

This book by Will Moses includes the idiom, an illustration of the literal meaning, definition, and the idiom used in a sentence. It includes many well-known idiom such as "raining cats and dogs" and other not so commonly used idioms such as "get your goat."

Birds of a Feather: A Book of Idioms and Silly Pictures by Vanita Oelschlager


A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

Birds of a Feather has more of a primary feel as the illustrations are large and colorful and the idioms are written in large fonts, but the idioms' meanings are included and sample sentences as well. It is a fun book (just take a look at the characters' expressions) that can easily been shared and read aloud to a large group of students.

There's a Frog in my Throat!: 440 Animal Sayings a Little Bird Told Me by Holiday House


A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

This book by Holiday House includes similes, metaphors, and idioms. It is a collection of illustrations that contains multiple images on one page. The idiom is written in bold below the image and the meaning is written in a smaller text below it. I would not recommend this book as a read aloud, but does include so many idioms and sayings that it makes such a great addition to your reference book collection.

Hair of the Dog to Paint the Town Red: The Curious Origins of Everyday Saying and Fun Phrases by Andrew Thompson


A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

What I love about Hair of the Dog to Paint the Town Red, is that although it is not a read aloud book, students who are curious by nature will love the fact that in this book the origins behind 400 idioms are included.

In a Pickle and Other Funny Idioms by Marvin Turban


A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

Marvin Turban has written quite a few books centered around idioms and honestly they are my favorite when it comes to reference books about idioms for my upper elementary students. The format is easy to read through. The books incorporates funny illustrations of the idiom's literal meaning, uses the idiom in a sentence, includes the definition and its origin. What more can a teacher ask for? 

Below, I am including two more from this series. 

Mad as a Wet Hen and Other Funny Idioms by Marvin Turban


A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

Punching the Clock: Funny Action Idioms by Marvin Turban


A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms by Marvin Turban


A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

This dictionary is also written by Marvin Terban and includes over 700 idioms!!!! 

Extension/Early Finishers Activity:

In upper elementary classrooms, there is so much going on in any given time. For this reason, I love to have meaningful and engaging early finisher activities available for my students. After introducing my students to idioms, I love to set out an Idiom Scavenger Hunt extension activity. It is a way to get students looking through the idiom reference books and exposing them to a large variety of idioms. 

In this activity, students are challenged to find an idiom for each category listed and write the idiom's meaning. They can use reference books, online resources, or our Idiom of the Week resource which is posted in the classroom.

If you'd like to use this extension activity in your classroom, you can find it by clicking HERE or on the image below.

A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.


As you can see, although idioms can be challenging for many students, read alouds and lessons surrounding idioms can be extremely engaging. 

Do you have any fun idiom activities you like to implement in class? Let me know in the comments.

More Idiom Resource You May Like:




A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.

A list of great books to use when teaching idioms to upper elementary students.


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