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Finding Ideas     Organizing Narratives      Writing About Family     Friends     School Secrets     Memories    Adventures   Using Your Imagination

Using Sensory Images    Personal Narrative  Writing Nonfiction    Word Choice  Voice     Sentence Fluency     Conventions  Letter Writing     Writing to Persuade

Writing Conclusions     Alliteration Flashback     Irony     Parody  Poetic Justice    Satire     Symbolism   Metaphor     Allegory    Simile   Personification    Idioms    

Onomatopoeia  Poetic Language    Clear Moment in Time  Verbs     Foreshadowing  Fractured Fairy Tales

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FINDING IDEAS

Ideas are the heart of writing. If given the opportunity, children will ask an author where they get their ideas, and author's will answer - from everywhere. We must teach children to tune in to their world and open up their eyes and ears. Ideas can come from life experiences, family stories, books, news events, art, music, tidbits of conversation, and many other places. The picture books listed here are excellent resources for helping children to discover ideas for their own writing. It's always a good idea to discuss where an author might have gotten their ideas after reading a book. Anytime you have a chance to make a note of where an author got their idea (sometimes they tell you on their website or when they present or in interviews) to share with the children. Children can keep "idea" lists in their writer's notebooks. You can make an "idea" box for children to utilize when they are fresh out of ideas. Try to help children understand that there are not any new topics, only fresh ways of exploring the topic. One way to teach ideas is to read a lot of books on one theme and discuss how each author wrote about the same thing but in a different way. 

 All the Places to Love
All the Places to Love

 Alphabet City
Alphabet City

 Amos and Boris
Amos and Boris

 Amelia's Notebook
Amelia's Notebook

 Armadillo from Amarillo
Armadillo from Amarillo

 If You Were a Writer
If You Were a Writer

 Bee Tree
Bee Tree

 Everybody Needs a Rock
Everybody Needs a Rock

       
       
       
       
       

 

FINDING IDEAS

 

 

Ideas are the heart of writing. If given the opportunity, children will ask an author where they get their ideas, and author's will answer - from everywhere. We must teach children to tune in to their world and open up their eyes and ears. Ideas can come from life experiences, family stories, books, news events, art, music, tidbits of conversation, and many other places. The picture books listed here are excellent resources for helping children to discover ideas for their own writing. It's always a good idea to discuss where an author might have gotten their ideas after reading a book. Anytime you have a chance to make a note of where an author got their idea (sometimes they tell you on their website or when they present or in interviews) to share with the children. Children can keep "idea" lists in their writer's notebooks. You can make an "idea" box for children to utilize when they are fresh out of ideas. Try to help children understand that there are not any new topics, only fresh ways of exploring the topic. One way to teach ideas is to read a lot of books on one theme and discuss how each author wrote about the same thing but in a different way. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Iím in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor
  • The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant
  • When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
  • The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
  • Night Tree by Eve Bunting
  • Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
  • What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Verdi by Janell Cannon
  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
  • Imagine a Night by Rob Gonsalves
  • Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter
  • Somewhere in the World Right Now Stacey Schuett
  • It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
  • You Have to Write by Janet Wong
ORGANIZING NARRATIVE 

WRITING

 

Texts to Mimic

Writing Sequence and Transitions

In order to organize writing effectively, children must learn narrative and expository text structures. In both structures, readers will encounter leads (the first sentence(s), paragraph(s) or chapter that sets up the story and draws the reader in); sequence (the order of events); transitions (sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph progression); and conclusions (satisfying endings). Students can learn to organize their writing by mimicking picture book text structures, applying story structure to wordless picture books, studying expository structures and applying it by writing on topics they know, and practice sequencing their sentences and paragraphs together. Most writers tend to make lists. It's rare that a writer uses a graphic organizer. Organizers have their place, but once a child knows an organizer, they should be able to choose whether they need it or not (or choose which organizer works best for them).  
  • The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  •  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • Fortunately by Remy Charlip
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Tuesday 29, 1999 by David Wiesner
  • Ruby the Copycat by Ruby Rathmann 
  • The Enormous Potato by Aubrey Davis
  • The Giant Carrot by Jan Peck

 
WRITING ABOUT FAMILY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     Reading texts with similar themes allows students to make text to text connections; to compare and contrast characters, settings, plots, and ideas; and to generate writing ideas through common experiences.

     Family stories, traditions and histories are wonderful examples of how to pull what you know into your writing. Teach children to listen to stories passed along through oral tradition and put those stories on paper. Help children to realize the writing potential of all of the stories that they want to tell about in class.

 

 

 

  • Keepers by Jeri Hanel Watts and Felicia Marshall (grandparents; recording memories)
  • Night Tree by Eve Bunting (family tradition)
  • My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston (recording family history)
  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (motherís love) *heart sticker
  • My Grandpa and the Sea by Katherine Orr (grandparents) *small seashell
  • My Olí Man by Patricia Polacco (father)
  • Abuela by Arthur Doros
  • Aunt Flossieís Hats by Elizabeth Howard
 
WRITING ABOUT FRIENDS Friends are an important part of childrenís lives. Exploring friendship through picture books is an excellent way to support needed social skills. Friendships are a rich source of stories for children.
  • Best Friends by Steven Kellogg
WRITING ABOUT SCHOOL Children know about school. It's a major part of their lives. They all have school experiences. Writing about school is a natural topic. 
  • We Share Everything by Robert Munsch
WRITING ABOUT SECRETS For children, secrets are fun. Writing about secrets can bring out the creativity in kids. Dreaming up secrets allows their imaginations to free up and their writing to soar. 

 

  • Barn Dance by Bill Martin Jr.
  • The Wise Woman and Her Secret by Eve Merriam
  • The Secret Knowledge of Grownups by David Wiesner
 
WRITING ABOUT MEMORIES Everyone has memories. Memories (especially childhood memories) are rich resources for writer. Children can learn to tap into their memories (and the memories of parents and grandparents) for lots of wonderful writing ideas.

 

 

  • The Memory Box
  • Keepers by Jeri Hanel Watts and Felicia Marshall
  • The Hundred Penny Box by Sharon Bell Mathis *new penny
  • Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
  • When I Was Young In the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
 
WRITING ABOUT ADVENTURES  Children love adventures and tend to have great imaginations. Let their imaginations soar and allow them to write their own adventures.
  • Weslandia by Paul Fleishman
USING YOUR IMAGINATION In a day and time of high doses of t.v., game stations and the Internet, some children have learned to rely on outward visual sources for their imaginative wonderings. They never learned that mud is cake and a porch is a stage. For children who need lessons in play, read aloud these wonderfully imaginative picture books. 
  • Mud Is Cake by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • The Magic Hat by Mem Fox
  • Cook-A-Doodle-Do by Janet and Susan Stevens
  • How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague
 
USING SENSORY IMAGES Creating mental pictures in the mind of the reader is the writer's art, and using sensory images are the tools. Children need to learn how to open up their senses and create word pictures using their senses. Poetry is one way to explore sense, and the use of picture books that use lots of sensory images is another model to follow. 
  • Hello Ocean by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Owl Moon  by Jane Yolen
 
PERSONAL NARRATIVE It has been said that writers should write what they know. A personal narrative focuses on a clear moment in time when a person has had an experience that can be told in story form. A personal narrative has all of the elements of a story, but it's usually a real experience.  
  • The Art Lesson by Tomie de Paola
  • Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  • Chicken Soup for the Kidís Soul by Jack Canfield (This book is loaded with short, personal narratives)
 
WRITING NONFICTION  No longer do children have to read and write "encyclopedia" type articles. Today's nonfiction for children is loaded with poetic language, uses narrative elements and creates strong mental pictures in the reader's mind. This list is of exemplary nonfiction that is worth exploring. 
  • Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen
  • A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry
  • The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola
WORD CHOICE

 

 

Every word in a picture book must be precise. The text is condensed, but not dense. It must be rich and create strong mental images in the reader's mind. A good story is filled with strong sensory images and uses figurative language effectively. The books listed here are fine examples of word choice.

 

 

 

  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • The Pumpkin Blanket by Deborah Turney Zagwyn
  • Relatives Came
    Relatives Came

  • What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan

UNDERSTANDING VOICE

 

 Voice is sound of the writing. It's like music on a page and every song has it's own unique rhythm. Voice is active or passive. Good writers work towards owning an active voice. Verbs are the powerhouse of voice. Voice happens when the sensory images, figurative language and the sentences flow together with a certain beat. Think of it not as the writer's voice, but the voice of the piece. Search for humorous voices, uppity voices, whiny voices, tense voices, happy voices, mad voices, etc. Reading aloud with expression is the most effective way to "teach" voice. 
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (pouty/whiny voice)
  •  Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston (country voice)
  • Green Wilma by Tedd Arnold (humorous voice)
  • Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini (humorous voice)
  • Pierre by Maurice Sendak (humorous voice)

USING GOOD SENTENCE FLUENCY

 

Some sentences are short and some sentences are long. Sentences flow together and when you read aloud, there is a smoothness to the sound of your voice. You are not tripping over awkward words or phrases. Think of sentence fluency as a flowing river. Some places on the river are smooth as glass. Other places along the river ripple and roll. And still, other places along the river rush and foam. There are many twist, turns and waterfalls along a river's path, and of course, every river's destination is the ocean. There are lots of twist and turns along a story path, and of course, every story's destination is a satisfying conclusion. Sentences are like the river - they take you to the ocean.
  • Flower Garden by Eve Bunting
  • Time for Bed by Mem Fox
  • Wombat Divine by Mem Fox
  • A Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant
  • Barn Dance by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor
  • Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost; Illustrated by Susan Jeffers
  • Charlie Parker Played Be Bob by Chris Raschka
  • Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen

 

 

USING GOOD CONVENTIONS

 

Conventions equals capitalization, usage, punctuation and spelling (or C.U.P.S.). Conventions are important and certainly shouldn't take a back seat, however, content must come first. Conventions are developmental and we should continually work to reinforce the use of good conventions. Conventions are taken care of during the editing stage of writing. Take the conventions out of a piece of writing and show children what happens when the conventions are not there.  
  • From Pictures to Words  by Janet Stevens
  • Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver
  • A Book Takes Root by Michael Kehoe
  • Behind the Mask by Ruth Heller

 

 

 

LETTER WRITING

 

 

 Children certainly need to learn how to write both formal and informal letters. This is an important social and business skill that they will need in the future. Letter writing can also provide real audiences and help children to develop and understand voice. In many primary classrooms teachers write a "daily letter" to their students on large chart paper. This is excellent modeling with a real purpose. Search for opportunities to write letters for real purposes and watch your young writer's blossom.

 

 

  • Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James
  • Felix Travels Back in Time by Annette Lagan
  • The Gardener by Sarah Steward
  • Letters from Felix: A Little Rabbit on World Tour  by Annette Langen
  • Felix Travels Back in Time by Annette Langen
  • Felix's Christmas Around the World by Annette Langen
  • Felix Explores Planet Earth by Annette Langen
  • Felix Joins the Circus by Annette Langen
  • Jolly Postman by Janet Ahlberg
  • Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Betsy Lewin
WRITING TO PERSUADE  To persuade is to convince. Learning to put together a persuasive argument is an important life skill. Begin with picture books that explore elements of persuasion. 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Can I Have a Stegosaurus Mom? by Lois G. Grambling *small plastic stegosaurus
  • Earrings! by Judith Viorst *small pair of stick-on earrings
  • Duck for President by Doreen Green
  • My Teacher for President by Kay Winters
  • Donít Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Williams *small school bus sticker or eraser
  • Dear Mr. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School
  • I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Arloff
 
WRITING PROCESS The writing process is a nonlinear, integrated process that writer's go through when they compose a piece of writing. Every writer's process is slightly different, but there are certain critical attributes that all writers encounter: prewriting or planning (whether it's on paper or in your head); drafting (often referred to as the "sloppy copy" - just getting it down on paper); revising (the heart and soul of writing; editing and publishing.
  • If You Were a Writer by Joan Lowry Nixon
  • You Have to Write by Janet S. Wong
 
WRITING LEADS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lead in a picture book is usually the first sentence. A lead can be several sentences, paragraphs or even chapters. The lead is what "hooks" the reader in and makes them want to read more. Leads are important to the piece of writing. They set the tone and get the piece moving. A poor lead can easily turn a reader off and cause them to put down the writing. A dynamic lead will excite and entice the reader. This is just a small list of books with fabulous leads to use as models.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Hurricane by David Wiesner (dialogue)
  • The Art Lesson by Tomie de Paola
  • When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • Encounter by Jane Yolen
  • The Pumpkin Blanket by Deborah Turney Zagwyn
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  • Some Birthday by Patricia Polacco
  • A Pig Named Perrier by Elizabeth Spurr
  • My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston
  • Weslandia by Paul Fleishman (dialogue)
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
  • My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray
WRITING CONCLUSIONS THE END. Don't think of a conclusion as just "the end" of a story. A good conclusions leaves the reader dreamy about the story and hungering for more of the same. A good conclusion ties up all of the loose ends and satisfies the reader like a good meal. Sometimes a conclusion surprises the reader or jolts the reader, but either way, the reader leaves the book with lingering thoughts.
  • The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting (surprise ending)
  • The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg (mysterious)
  • The Sweetest Fig by Chris Van Allsburg (surprise)
  • The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant (circular)
  • The Ghost-Eye Tree by Bill Martin Jr. (circular)

 

ALLITERATION Alliteration is a poetic device that can be used in all types of writing. Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds of several words in a group.

 

 

  • Chicken Little by Steven Kellogg
  • If You Were a Writer by Joan Lowry Nixon
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  • Shrek by William Steig
  • Animalia by Graeme Base

 

FLASHBACK Flashback is a literary device where the story refers to an event that took place prior to the beginning of the story. Flashback interrupts the present action in a story to insert the prior event. Flashbacks help readers understand the characters' current feelings and motivation.
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
  • House on Maple Street by Bonni Pryor
  • One Small Bead by Byrd Baylor
IRONY Irony is something that occurs, is stated, or assumed that is the opposite of what is expected or a contrast of what is said. It's a contrast between what is expected and what is real, between what is said and what is meant, between what is true and what appears to be true, or between what is expected and what actually happens.
  • The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Encounter by Jane Yolen
  • The Tale of the Manrian Ducks by Katherine Patterson
  • Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say

 

PARODY A parody imitates another literary style and is often mocking or amusing.
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciezka
  • Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini
  • The Cowboy and the Black-eyed Pea by Tony Johnston

 

POETIC JUSTICE Poetic Justice takes place when the outcome of the story punishes the bad characters and rewards the good characters.
  • Why Mosquitoes Buzz in Peopleís in Peopleís Ears
  • Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola
  • The Widowís Broom by Chris Van Allsburg

 

SATIRE A type of story that makes fun of the subject of the story (like human weakness, political issues, etc.) and tries to bring about social change.
  • The Fortune Tellers by Lloyd Alexander
  • The Happy Hockey Family by Lane Smith
SYMBOLISM  A person, place or object that represents an idea that is beyond the person, place or objects actuality.

 

  • Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  • The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul goble
  • An Angel for Solomon-Singer by Cynthia Rylant

 

METAPHOR Metaphors is the stuff that life is made of. Metaphors make comparisons. Poetry is one place to search for examples of metaphors. The picture books listed here have outstanding metaphors to use as modeled examples.
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  • Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Encounter by Jane Yolen
  • The Tale of the Mandrian Duck by Katherine Patterson

 

ALLEGORY  An object takes on symbolic meaning to represent an idea or moral principal.
  • The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg
SIMILE A simile compares two things using "like" or "as".

 

 

 

 

  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • Quick As A Cricket by Audrey Wood
  • Swimmy by Leo Lionni
  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
  • The Bone Talker by Shelley Leedahl
  • Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston

 

PERSONIFICATION Personification brings inanimate objects to life. Stories with animals or toys talking are examples of personification, but personification at its best is when the writer gives "human-like" qualities to objects that seems to give the objects a life of their own. For example: "The grandmother oak sheltered the children beneath her gown of leaves and wrapped them in her protective arms." An oak tree is not a grandmother, nor does it wear a gown or have arms. These are qualities and features of a human being.
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
  • Flossie and the Fox by Patricia McKissack
  • Mirandy and Brother Wind by Patricia McKissack
  • Saving Sweetness by Dian Stanley
  • The Pumpkin Blanket by Deborah Zagwyn

 

IDIOMS Expressions that the actual meaning is different from the literal meaning. For example: "You are driving me up the wall."

 

 

 

  • The King Who Rained by Fred Gwynne
  • Chocolate Moose for Dinner by Fred Gwynne
  • Thereís a Frog in my Throat by Loreen Leedy
  • Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
  • In a Pickle Marvin Terban

 

ONOMATOPOEIA Onomatopoeia are words that make noise like "crunch" and "munch" and "vroom" and "boom". Noisy words are fun to use in writing. Kids love them and they can really help add new dimensions to their pieces.

 

 

  • The Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Mirandy and Brother Wind by Patricia McKissack
  • Hey You! CíMere by Elizabeth Swados
  • Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant
  • Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements

 

POETIC LANGUAGE Sometimes called "mood pieces," picture books that use poetic language tend to have beautiful rhythm and pace, flowing voice, and poetry-like words. Picture books with poetic language are lovely to read and soothing to listen to.

 

  • My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray
  • Twilight Comes Twice by Ralph Fletcher
  • Barn Dance by Bill Martin Jr.
  • The Wise Woman and Her Secret by Eve Merriam
  • Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen

 

CLEAR MOMENT IN TIME Children have a tendency to write "bed to bed" stories and have difficult focusing on a clear moment in time. Provide children with some wonderful examples and help them to see the importance and impact of a strong focus.

 

 

 

  • When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
  • Chicken Soup for the Kidís Soul (a collection of clearly focused personal narratives)
  • The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey
  • Smoky Night by Eve Bunting
  • Night Tree by Eve Bunting
  • The Great Kapok Tree by Lynn Cherry
  • Snow Day by Barbara M. Josse
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

 

FRACTURED FAIRY TALES Children love fairy tales. Reading fractured versions of fairy tales can be fun, but more importantly, it can teach children basic plot structure and organization skills. After studying different fairy tales and fractured versions, they can follow the structure of the basic tale in order to create their own. Fortunately there are lots of models available.
  •  True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

  • Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by Steptoe

  • The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

VERBS Verbs are the powerhouse of voice. Verbs are active. They are action. They take writing from passive to active. A strong verb punches writing up and gives it strength. This list is of picture books that uses verbs effectively. 
  • The Magic Pebble  by William Steig
  • Kites Sail High by Ruth Heller
FORESHADOWING A literary device where the author gives the reader clues about events that will occur later in the story.
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • Encounter by Jane Yolen
  • How Many Days to America? by Eve Bunting

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