Rich Texts for Critical Thinking- Connecting Ideas, Problem Solving and Inferring



In my previous post we dove into some of my favourite strategies to create a culture of Critical Thinking in the classroom.  As a continuation to the conversation, I thought I’d  share a curated list of rich texts that focus in on three dimensions of Critical Thinking: connecting ideas, problem solving and inferring.

For ease of organization in this post, I will be categorizing the rich texts under one of these three dimensions, however most of the texts could fit under all three.

As I mentioned in my last post, Critical Thinking is a skill that does not exist in isolation.  Critical Thinking piggy backs on communication skills like reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing and representing. As such, many of the texts curated in this post highlight this interdependency. Ultimately when it comes to selecting texts that promote Critical Thinking in your students, it’s important that they be open ended, have space for multiple perspectives and encourage discussion.

Photography (connecting ideas and inferring)

I’m a huge fan of the photography of James Mollison, my previous post gave you quick peek into his series on playgrounds around the world, but he has quite a few collections that would spring board Critical Thinking conversations in the classroom:


Online collection of photos here

Purchase the book here

Where Children Sleep

Online collection of photos here

Purchase the book here

What Refugees Carry with Them


Online Collection of photos and stories here

Minimalist Texts (connecting ideas, problem solving and inferring)

Colour and shape act as communicative short cuts to our understanding of story and message. Some of my favourite Critical Thinking resources focus on metacognition and slowing down the ways our brain processes colour and image.

Minimalist Characters

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Click here to find a slide show that focuses on how the idea of a character can be communicated through a few simplified colours and shapes. If I remember correctly this was developed by my student teacher (at the time) Stephanie, for a unit on “Reading Graphic Novels”.  It’s certainly been a well used resource by myself and many a teachers that I have shared it with.   Much gratitude to Stephanie for creating it!

Minimalist Disney Posters

Years ago I stumbled on a series on posters that reduce to plot line of well know Disney movies to a few shapes and colour displayed on a poster.  Click here to read a blog post on how I incorporated them as a Critical Thinking experience in my classroom.

Pantone – The Game

I think this games is fantastic mix of listening, speaking, viewing and representing that is sure to engage your students in creative and Critical Thinking. A summary from the back of the box:

“Pantone the Game challenges you to create recognizable characters with a few well-placed colour swatches. Like an artist, carefully arrange the colours to reveal a character with the barest of essentials.”

Buy the game here – or create your own version by liberating pain chips from your local hardware store.

Wordless Picture Books (connecting ideas and inferring)

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I love to use wordless picture books to make the concept in inferencing more approachable to students.  Click here for a list of 12 of my favourite wordless picture books. As a side note, my first recommendation on that list “Unspoken” was the first picture book I read aloud, and I was NERVOUS! But let me tell you . .  . The Middle Years class that I read it to loved it!  It took us nearly 45 minutes to read the book it it’s entirety. All book blurbs below from Amazon.

Books with “Mysteries” (problem solving and inferring)

Sleuth and Solve

Welcome to the world of Sleuth & Solve, a collection of 20 clever mysteries where the clues are in the details and crafty twists put readers’ wits to the test. Read the clues, work on solving them, then lift the flap to reveal the answer to each mystery. Sleuth & Solve encourages readers of all ages to practice deduction, inference, and logical reasoning to crack each case-and develop critical thinking skills at the same time.

Zoom (and sequel Re-Zoom)

Open this wordless book and zoom from a farm to a ship to a city street to a desert island. But if you think you know where you are, guess again. For nothing is ever as it seems in Istvan Banyai’s sleek, mysterious landscapes of pictures within pictures, which will tease and delight readers of all ages.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

Animated Shorts (connecting ideas and inferring)

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