Homophones, homographs, and homonyms can be confusing for students. Picture books are a powerful tool to use when helping students unpack the meaning of these words. Through powerful illustrations and examples of multiple-meaning words in context, students will have the support they need to determine the meaning of these words. Below are some of my favorite homograph and homophone picture books to introduce and review these tricky words with your elementary students!
Teaching multiple-meaning words? Check out this post for fun activities and ideas.
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The Difference Between a Homophone, Homograph, & Homonym
What is a homophone?
Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. For example: ate & eight, sea & see, and their, they’re, & there. An easy way to remember and teach homophones is that the –phone in homophone means ‘sound’. (Words that sound the same!)
What is a homograph?
Homographs are words that are written the same but have different meanings. Homographs can have different pronunciations. For example: tear (water from eyes when crying) and tear (to rip something). To teach homographs, explain to students that -graph in the word homograph means ‘written’. (Words that are written the same!)
What is a homonym?
A homonym is basically a multiple-meaning word – two words that are spelled and pronounced the same. For example, duck (to hide behind something) and duck (the animal). Students must use context to figure out which form of the word is being used.
Multiple-Meaning Words Graphic Organizer
Use this graphic organizer as a reference tool for all of the multiple-meaning words students are learning. Have students glue this mini anchor chart into their notebooks and start listing their words!
Homograph, Homonym, & Homophone Picture Books
The Bass Plays the Bass and Other Homographs by: Gene Barretta
This is one of my favorite picture books to introduce multiple-meaning words to my students. In the story, a band of animal musicians plays their way through a concert filled with homographs. From characters such as Billy the Bass who plays the bass fiddle and Cater Pillar who plays a 30-minute solo on a guitar that’s minute, students will enjoy unpacking the meaning of the homographs in this classroom favorite.
How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear?: What Are Homonyms and Homophones? by: Brian P. Cleary
Featuring silly rhyming stories, cartoon characters, and detailed illustrations, this story not only keeps students engaged but also provides clear examples of what each word means. Homonym and homograph pairs are also written in matching text colors to help students easily identify them. Students also have the opportunity to complete a fun homograph activity at the end of the book.
The Bat Can Bat: A Book of True Homonyms by: Gene Barretta
I love that this book specifically focuses on homonyms. Students can struggle with homonyms because they must use their context clues to derive meaning. Students will enjoy unpacking the differences between these homonym phrases while witnessing a cast of characters participating in sporting events. Competitors include a bat who can bat and a bulldog who doesn’t need a break to break things, along with many other characters.
No Reading Allowed: The Worst Read Aloud Book Ever by: Raj Haldar
If you’re wondering what makes this the worst read aloud book ever, take a look at these two sentences from the text: “The mummy prepared farro for dinner.”/“The mummy prepared pharaoh for dinner.” While listening to the sentences in this story aloud won’t help students determine meaning, endless laughter will ensue once students start to question why you keep repeating each silly sentence twice. The witty illustrations and glossary will support students as they construct the meaning of these words.
A Bat Cannot Bat, a Stair Cannot Stare: More about Homonyms and Homophones by: Brian P. Cleary
A follow-up picture book to “The Bat Can Bat,” this version includes even more homonyms and homophones. It boasts that if you “think there’s no more to learn about homophones, this book will prove you wrong!” Watch as the comical cats in this story roam from page to page to adventure through each multiple-meaning word and their differences.
Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones by: Gene Barretta
Aunt Ant has recently moved to the zoo and decides to share all that she’s seen with her dear nephew Deer. Aunt Aunt writes to her nephew in letter form to share about the different happenings all thanks to the fun cast of characters who inhabit the zoo. Of course, these happenings include homophones. Such as, a moose eating 8 cups of mousse and a whale who loves to whail. This is one of the cutest homophone books!
If You Were a Homonym or a Homophone by: Nancy Loewen
This book does a great job of helping readers understand the differences between homonyms and homophones. Every few pages, the author reinforces what each of these terms means. In between, she shares examples, such as. “If you were a homonym, you could bark at the bark while you coast along the coast.” The kid-friendly illustrations are great additions to the content as well.
Eight Ate: A Feast of Homonym Riddles by: Marvin Terban
The homonyms in this book are strung together within the same sentences making them entertaining to unravel. Students will enjoy listening carefully and trying to construct meaning in order to solve the riddles. Better for older elementary students, these riddles are a little tough. For example, one riddle asks, “What will a foot doctor do you for?” The answer is, “He’ll heal your heel.” The language in this book is rich and begs readers to stop and think about the meaning of so many homographs.
Homophones Visualized by: Bruce Worden
This minimalistic book features 100 homophones depicted in black and white images with no other accompanying text. This book is great homophone practice for guided discussions and could even serve as a multiple-meaning words anchor chart of sorts for students to reference throughout the learning process.
A Chocolate Moose for Dinner by: Fred Gwynne
Although it’s a little older, this homophone picture book has stood the test of time. In this story, a little girl shares things she’s learned from her parents. Thanks to homophones and idioms, the girl finds herself very confused as her imagination brings her parents’ statements to life. From a lion praying on other animals and mommy eating a chocolate moose for dinner, the illustrations and silly misunderstandings of the child will delight readers of all ages.
See the Yak Yak by: Charles Ghigna
Students will love listening to these funny riddles such as, “have you ever seen a fly fly?” or “have you ever seen a duck duck?” as they try to make sense of homonyms. The comical illustrations and attention to detail will captivate students and keep them engaged. Keep in mind that some of the words chosen may be unfamiliar to younger students.
Did You Say Pears? by: Arlene Alda
It’s always nice to have a book option that features real photographs. This one is it. With simple text and real-life images, the author explicitly shows the reader the difference between several homophones and homonyms. One spread, for example, contains photographs of both a ram and a band of musicians playing trumpets. The text underneath the photos says, “If horns played cool music.” Students will enjoy decoding the nuances using these photographs.
The King Who Rained by: Fred Gwynne
When a little girl misunderstands the expressions her parents are using, she begins to imagine scenarios that match what she thinks they’re saying. From “a king who rained,” a “frog in the throat,” and “the foot prince in the snow,” kids will love seeing the little girl’s imagination run wild as she unpacks the different homophones and homonyms within the text.
Cat Tale by: Michael Hall
The cats in this story have a whole lot of fun! They band together to try to snag some food, but as they go about their adventure, they’re faced with trying to decode multiple-meaning words that make their task that much more difficult. This book is unique in that the homonyms and homophones used build off of each other. For example, “They choose a spot./They spot some ewes./They use a box/to hide from bees./They do their best/to box some fleas.” Fun will ensue as you read this silly, tongue-twister adventure aloud to your class and they try to make sense of what’s happening.
Aunt Ant Leaves Through the Leaves by: Nancy Coffelt
In this fun adaptation of the Little Red Hen, students listen as Monkey gathers the ingredients he needs and prepares to make a banana cream pie. He calls up each of his friends to help, but of course in true Little Red Hen fashion, they’re all busy. Thankfully monkey’s friends do pull through to help in the end. Homophones and homonyms are interspersed throughout the story to give students exposure to multiple-meaning words.
The illustrations within the context of these grammar picture books will help your students visualize the differences between several homophones, homographs, and homonyms. Are there any other homograph or homophone picture books you love? Drop the titles in the comments below!
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