Before I dive it, I want to say this from my experience in using this book as a guide in my own writer’s workshop. Teaching students to study and adapt techniques from other writers (illustrators) makes for a very passionate writing student. The first few chapters state the case for illustrative studies. While you can glean the meaning of these chapters from my reflections, you will want to read these chapters for yourself… then … you will want to reread them.
Chapter 1: Why Illustration Study Matters to the Development of Young Writers
In this chapter Katie Wood Ray makes the case that writing is about communicating meaning. She suggests that teachers can “support children in making meaning both visually and verbally.” p.10 She goes on to say that the key elements of good writing can be demonstrated through illustrations… Can I get an A-MEN! I totally agree!
Here is one part of this chapter that jumped out at me. Katie (my BFF) says that there are two different philosophies in writers workshop. 1. to teach “out of illustrations” and “into words” quickly. The other perspective is to “teach into illustrations.” Katie suggests that when students are thoughtful composers of illustrations they will, in turn, be thoughtful composers when they begin to transcribe.
Chapter 2: Building Stamina for Writing by Supporting Children’s Work as Illustrators.
In order for students to become proficient with anything (reading/writing) they need to build stamina. By inviting students to “make books,” you invite them to think about their writing over a period of days.
I shared this image in November (click here to see that post), but I also modeled how writers think about their writing even when they are away from it…. Stamina! My students would come bustling into the classroom each morning saying, “I know what I am going to add to my book today.”
My “stretch the word” lesson was inspired by Deanna Jump’s Chit Chat.
Chapter 3: Writing and Illustrating as Parallel Composing Processes
Katie talks about how the process of writing and the process of illustrating are the same. There are endless decisions a writer makes when they compose and we want to teach students that these decisions should be purposeful.
Exposing students to a variety of illustrative techniques provides a pool of possibilities for their own writing.
Chapter 4: Teaching an Essential Habit of Mind
This chapter is about reading like a writer. Katie uses this expression, “game knows game”. Once we started studying the illustrative work of other authors, we became more noticing of the work they did. I found myself having to really set the purpose for reading every time we opened a book:1. Read for fun (enjoy the language, laugh at a story…)
2. Read to learn (look for words that rhyme, learn new information…)
3. Read to notice (notice what the author and/or illustrator did) This is when we would “lean in close” as Katie says and really look. We would linger over pages and return to them frequently.When we read to notice, I would hear something like this, “I’m noticing something, the illustrator used action marks to show him running.” of course in kindergarten it sounded like “wunning” instead of “running”.
Chapter 5: Learning Qualities of Good Writing from Illustrative Techniques
In this chapter, Katie talks about tone in writing. She compared these two books by Nicola Davies.Ice Bear and Surprising Sharks
These two informational books have entirely different tones both in their words and illustrations.
Can emergent writers use tone in their writing? Absolutely! I had one student write about the death of her grandmother. (Sorry, I do not have a copy of this piece). Her pictures showed her family with their heads hung low and they were crying.
This is a unit about planning and implementing an illustrative study unit (I grabbed that almost directly from the subtitle) Here is the predictable framework:
1. Gather: A stack of books you want to study. Enough for 1 book for every 2 students, so roughly 10 books. These books should offer great illustrations techniques that you will want to go back to over and over again. Ok… I’ve done that
2. Expect: Be sure the students understand what they are studying and that you expect them to try it out. Ok… I’ve done that
3. Immerse: Shower the students with reading/talking about these books and noticings. Ok… I’ve done that
4. Study: Look at these books closely until you can become articulate about the text (Ok… I’ve done that) and can chart it… Uhh! Oh! I need to do that!
5. Write: Both teachers and students need to write and be articulate about their writing. Ok… I’ve done that
Ah-Ha! Illustrative studies sound exactly like what you would do with writing units of study!
Katie Wood Ray has some amazing books included in this chapter. In addition to these books, I could include these:
I love this first book. It is a totally wordless book. This engaging story is totally told through the illustrations, I KNOW this will be a book we read all year. The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
Click on the book to find the source
Here is an inside view… LOVE it!
Hilarious book! Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton. George has trouble being good. Basically, throughout the book, he makes bad choices. Why I like this book is the author/illustrators use of color. On pages where George is reminding himself to be good, there is a white background. Then when the trouble starts, the background has bold colors.
Title is written in paint… I can do a lesson on thoughtful book covers.
Click on the book to find the source
I am noticing that the illustrator chose to bring the paintbrushes into the foreground. This gives the feeling that this boy is surrounded by art. And that every inch of his room is filled with evidence of his art passion.
One last book! This may be one of my all-time favorites. Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne. This totally belongs in the study. If you are not familiar with this book, it is about 4 people who go to the park (and they all interact with each other). The book is divided into 4 sections. Each section is told by a different person in the park with their own perspective. The illustrations have a different tone to match the personality of the characters… Love it!
Click on the book to find the source.
Sadly, this book is at school so I don’t have any photos to show you. I will try to grab it this week and I am certain I will talk about this awesome book as we continue our book study.
Finally, I will be creating a master document that will catalog all of the books that were suggested during this book study. If they came from a blog, I will link the blog to this document. My plan is to keep this document on one of my sidebars so we can go back and reference it. This should be up by the weekend.
If you are looking for lesson plans that are written out for you, you can find our writer’s workshop units by clicking the image below. Just PRINT and TEACH!