Did you know you can help prepare your child to write by reading a picture book as a pre-writing activity? A good picture book exposes children of all ages to quality literature, enhancing learning and teaching them a great deal about writing.
- The way words hook the reader at the beginning of the story.
- How words form sentences and paragraphs and, finally, an organized story with a beginning, middle, and end.
- The way precise word choices show actions, descriptions, and feelings.
Picture Books: A Springboard to Writing
Before beginning to work on a new writing project or lesson, read a related picture book aloud to your child. Be sure you do the reading during this time, not your child. (Children can practice reading skills another time.)
Talk about the book together.
- What words or sentences grabbed you at the beginning and made you want to hear or read more?
- What happened at the beginning of the book? The middle?
- How did the story end?
- How did the story make you feel?
- What are some of your favorite words from the story?
How to Choose Picture Books for a Prewriting Activity
How do you pick the right picture books for a prewriting activity? There are so many wonderful read-alouds with delightful story lines and engaging illustrations. Start with your own bookshelf!
You can also scour used book stores, yard sales, and the library in your search for the perfect book. For guidance, ask your local children’s librarian, read book reviews online, or seek out the recommendation of friends. Keep in mind that others’ recommendations may not always match your family’s criteria for acceptable reading. So the final decision, of course, is yours.
Picture Books to Avoid
Though your child may love superheroes, Disney princesses, or other cartoon characters, it’s best to avoid these mass market-type picture books for prewriting times. Instead, look for high-quality, timeless books that play with language and use unique artwork. You know which ones I mean—the books you don’t mind reading again and again because you love them too!
Picture Book Resources for Young Children
- Five in a Row’s Book Lists
- Classical Christian Education’s 1000 Good Books List (K-3)
- New York Public Library 100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know
- Kids Online 100 Best Picture Books
Picture Books Resources for Older Students
If your kids are older, you might assume they’re beyond picture books—but that’s not true! You’ll be surprised to learn many picture books are actually geared toward upper elementary and middle school ages!
For starters, my friend Cindy West has loads of ideas for using picture books in your homeschool to teach writing to older students in middle and high school. You might also like Pernille Ripp’s how-to guide for using picture books with middle grades, especially the section on teaching writer’s craft through picture books.
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Perfect for most children in grades K-3. WriteShop Primary is the best way to gently introduce writing skills to young children. The engaging lessons incorporate hands-on activities and crafts, and every prewriting activity suggests picture books to go with that lesson’s theme.