I chose the picture book Go Home, River, by James Magdanz and Dianne Widom. This book is set in the late 1800s, and follows an Inupiaq father and son on a journey along the Kobuk river to a trade fair on the coast. Along the way, the young boy learns about the cycle of the river: flowing from the mountains to the sea, then returning as fog and rain to the mountains to begin the cycle again. The narrative of the book follows the flow of the river, and when it is time for the father and son to go home to the mountains, the father explains that the river is going home as well.
As I’m teaching English, I don’t have to do much stretching to use children’s literature in a lesson. There’s a lot of simple but effective description in this book, so I think I could use it as part of a lesson on visual imagery – students can identify specific language that conjures up an image, and then write their own visual imagery. Since the book’s narrative ends by returning the characters to their starting point, I could also use it as part of a lesson on structure, particularly in a creative writing assignment. I could have the students write a poem or prose poem about some aspect of the natural world, using a symmetrical or cyclical structure. (Obviously I’d have to give them more guidance than that, but that’s the general idea.)