Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color (And 3 Other Books That Teach Children About Illustrating Their Writing)

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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!

This post has 4 great books for teaching students about using color in their drawings, taking risks as artists, using their drawings to convey emotion, and using drawings to teach the reader! The free lesson ideas are perfect for Kindergarten through 2nd grade classrooms.

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 is a great book for teaching children how to illustrate their writing! Read the entire post to learn about 2 more great books for Kindergarten, first, or second grade writers.

Swatch tells the story of a spirited young girl who loves color. She learns to tame and capture many different colors.

Swatch is a great book for teaching children how to illustrate their writing! Read the entire post to learn about 2 more great books for Kindergarten, first, or second grade writers.

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.

Swatch is a great book for teaching children how to illustrate their writing! Read the entire post to learn about 2 more great books for Kindergarten, first, or second grade writers.

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 yIsh 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!

 

This post has 4 great books for teaching students about using color in their drawings, taking risks as artists, using their drawings to convey emotion, and using drawings to teach the reader! The free lesson ideas are perfect for Kindergarten through 2nd grade classrooms.

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

Images are super important in informational texts, and Melissa Stewart’s book Feathers is a great mentor text for teaching students to illustrate their nonfiction books.

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.

This post has 4 great books for teaching students about using color in their drawings, taking risks as artists, using their drawings to convey emotion, and using drawings to teach the reader! The free lesson ideas are perfect for Kindergarten through 2nd grade classrooms.

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!

Alison

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Amy
5 years ago

I agree wholeheartedly that drawing is an important skill for everyone. Mind mapping and sketchnoting, popular alternatives to traditional note taking, rely on simple sketches to capture ideas. Even complex concepts and relationships can be captured in drawings. There’s a reason we say “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Drawing is a practical skill too. STEM/STEAM, the Maker Movement, and other programs encourage kids to learn by doing. Idea generation and design are key steps in the development process. Drawings generally capture ideas and design details much better than text descriptions. Don’t believe me? Check out the prolific sketchbooks… Read more »

Jamie Knefely
5 years ago

Thanks for sharing the new book idea, Swatch. I have read the others. But the book Swatch looks really cute. I will definitely check it out.

Jamie

Sue
4 years ago

Thank you for the book ideas. I would never thought of using Don’t let The Pigeon Drive the Bus! But I know my first grade students will love looking at it from a different lens. I use Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee to show illustrations and movement. It also works well for small moment.

Welcome!

I’m Alison, a literacy specialist and Director of Curriculum and Instruction at my school. I love getting kids excited about reading and writing – and sharing teaching ideas with other teachers!

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