I love that I taught kinder before teaching 7/8 grade! I use picture books all the time to introduce topics, make connections, and start discussions that lead to more complex thinking. We began discussing symbolism in my 8th grade LA class - we talked about the flag, used the text, they came up with some of their own. Today I read Mrs. Spitzer's Garden and before the end, I had them write down if they recognized any symbolism or not. I read what they wrote out loud, read the ending, and had lots of ooooohhhhhhsss!!!! Wonderful immediate assessment of who got it and who didn't! Easy for them to understand and now we can move on to more difficult pieces!