I would argue that teaching young children about drawing is just as important as teaching them about writing.
Many of our students begin Kindergarten without much experience holding a crayon or pencil. Their drawings may be simple scribbles. If we jump straight into teaching them how to write, we force them to skip an important stage in their development – learning to draw.
Even after students are able to write words and sentences, there’s still value in teaching them about drawing. Students can learn how to tell stories by using both words and pictures, as well as share information through their drawings. Images are so important in our increasingly-visual society, so it would be remiss not to teach students about them.
Studying picture books is one important way that students can grow as artists. In today’s post, I’ll share a brand-new picture book (and 3 other books) that you can use to help your students fulfill their artistic potential!
Image credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos
As I explained in this post, I’ve recently begun working with GiftLit to share new children’s books with you! The book Swatch (Julia Denos) is hot off the press, and I was so excited to receive it the other day.
Swatch tells the story of a spirited young girl who loves color. She learns to tame and capture many different colors.
Her one challenge is Yellow – this color is just as spirited as Swatch, and it has no interest in being captured by her. Eventually, Yellow does come to her, and the book ends with a beautiful image of Swatch being pulled through the sky on a floating sea of colors.
To me, the artwork in this book stands out more than the story itself. If you use this book in your classroom (get it HERE from GiftLit – and use my affiliate code PrimaryPond), spend lots of time showing the pictures to children and talking about the different colors, what emotions they evoke, how they could be mixed, etc.
In the past, I’ve had students who tend to draw in only one color. Reading kids this book would be an incredibly fun way to invite them to try out multiple colors in their drawings!
Ish by Peter Reynolds
If you have students who are hesitant to take artistic risks, you absolutely have to read them Ish!
Ish tells the story of a little boy, Ramon, who enjoys drawing. Unfortunately, his spirits are crushed when his older brother makes fun of his drawings.
Then, Ramon follows his little sister into his bedroom, where he sees that she has covered her walls with his work! She says that a vase he drew looks “vase-ish,” and Ramon begins to realize that the joy of drawing should take precedence over perfection. He starts drawing again, no longer worrying that his artwork looks exactly like what he is drawing.
I have heard children say – so many times! – that they can’t draw x, or they don’t know how to draw y. Ish promotes risk-taking and will help encourage your little artists to do their best and not strive for perfection!
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
You’ve probably heard of this book before, and you might even have used it to teach persuasive writing! But have you ever considered using it to teach children about drawing?
I still laugh every time I read this book, and the illustrations are one reason why! They are fairly simple (showing only the pigeon, bus driver, and bus, without much background), but they make you feel like you are watching an animated cartoon!
I love to use this book to teach students how to show emotion and movement through their drawings. Little things like squiggles or changing the position of a character’s body can show that they are moving. Students can learn they can draw characters’ mouths and eyes to show how they are feeling. For example, on this set of pages, it’s very clear that the pigeon is completely flipping out!
As with any mentor text, I always read it once or twice to students before asking them to think about it as writers. This hilarious story can definitely get in the way of learning about illustrations, so give your kids a chance to get their sillies out first!
Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart
Although I certainly use books with photos to teach students about nonfiction writing, I like this text because it is illustrated. It helps students understand that they don’t need to have flawless photos to create a “real” nonfiction book – drawings work just as well, too.
Feathers is great because it lets kids take a close-up look at something. We can teach students that illustrators use images to “zoom in” on certain things – showing individual feathers, for example, rather than drawing a picture of an entire bird.
This book also has text features like labels, so you can use it to teach students how pictures and words can be used together to create meaning for the reader.
Do you have any favorite books you’d add to this list? How do you teach students about illustrating their writing? Please share in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!