Friday, March 23, 2012

Creating a Picture Book

Cleaning my office this week, I found one of my old writer's notebooks, so I thought I would share with you one of the stories from it.  Back in 2007, I was teaching 7th and 8th grade literacy.  One of the writing projects we did was to write a picture book based on Cynthia Rylant's book When I Was Young in the Mountains.  Once we finished our books, we went down to the lower elementary and read them.  Each of my students was paired with a first grade student.

 I was (and still am) teaching at rural school, so most of us started our books with "when I was young in the country."  I was raised in the country also.  I did have a few kids who grew up in the city and moved to the country in middle school, so they started their books "when I was young in the city."
  • To begin writing, we brainstormed a list of things we did when we were young. We kept in mind the events that Rylant chose to include in her book and why we thought she included those when making our lists.  I had read the book and we made connections to the book.  Then we talked about why she wrote about the events in the book.
  • From that list we picked a top ten that we could write a few sentences about and illustrate.  I had them highlight their top ten choices. 
  • Once we had our top ten, we wrote a rough draft.
  • The draft was revised and edited (peer and teacher).
Then we each created our own picture books.
  • I bought report covers that had page protectors already inside so they could have their own book.
  • They created a cover and copyright page.  The cover had to have title, image, and author.  The copyright page was optional.
  • Each page had to have text and a picture.  They had choice about where the text was, but I had a few mini-lessons on text placement in picture books.
I wish I would have copied a few to keep. They were all excited to have written their own book.
As my students were doing this, I was modeling every step of the way.  I can't find the final copy of mine, but I do have my rough draft from the writer's notebook I found.

When I was Young in the Country

Pg. 1
When I was young in the country, I helped my dad raise pigs so my family would have meat in the freezer.  My dad told me not to name the pigs.  Their names were Bob, Joe, and Tim.  I cried when they were taken to the butcher.

Pg. 2
My best friend, Lori, and I built tree houses on the ground out of fallen down tiny pine trees.  We stacked them up and leaned them against large pine trees.

Pg. 3
When I was young in the country, my brother and I would go swimming in the creek down the road.  We would catch tadpoles by building little dams made out of peebles around the tadpole.

Pg. 4
When I was young in the country, I would play on the hay bales of the guy next door.  He would place all the rolls in a line.  Jump, Jump, Jump! From bale to bale.

Pg. 5
I drank fresh milk every morning for breakfast.  I went with my dad to watch him milk a cow by hand for our milk.

Pg. 6
When I was young in the country, we didn't have a dryer, so my chore was to hang the clothes on the line using clothespins.  The sun and the wind did the same job as the dryer.

Pg. 7
My house was surrounded by a thick growth of pine and oak trees with lots of underbrush.  What great fun we had playing hide-n-seek.  "1-2-3-4-10, here I come!"

Pg. 8
I liked to ride mountain bikes when I was younger.  We lived on a dirt road which made for a bumpy ride.

Pg. 9
When I was young in the country, I went fishing with my family.  Catfish is my favorite.

Pg. 10
When I was young in the country, I wanted, with all my heart, to live in the city.

Pg. 11
Now that I live in the city as a grown up, I long for the country again.

Thanks to The Two Writing Teachers for hosting the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge.


  1. Wow what a great idea, it is too bad you don't have the "book"! I am a fellow TBTS member and I just wanted to come introduce myself. I look forward to chatting with you and learning from so many that have the same goal with our blogs.
    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  2. Thanks for stopping by and becoming a follower Shawna! See you at TBTS!

  3. I love your version of When I Was Young in the Country. I wish more kids could live a childhood like you describe. Too many would have to write, When I was young I played video games all day long. That's so sad. What a great writing experience for your kids!


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