Authorology Lab: Using Picture Books as Writing Prompts

by Lana Krumwiede

Picture Books make great writing prompts. First, read the story and talk about it. What do we like about it? What makes it funny, or heartwarming, or sad? What was unexpected? Next, give the students a writing prompt and take a few minutes to brainstorm various approaches a writer might take.  I found this brainstorming moment just before writing is important. If I skip that part, many students still don’t know what they’re going to write, and that makes it hard to get started. Even a minute or two of the class throwing out ideas about the prompt is helpful. After that, it’s time to write!

Here’s an example of pairing a picture book with a writing prompt:

thedaythecrayons quitThe Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

After reading the book, think of an inanimate object that you spend a lot of time with; for example, your backpack, your car, your desk, your house, your shoes. Write a letter from this object to you. What would it want you to know? What would it complain about? What would it appreciate? How does it feel about how you treat it?

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