A Fun Project for upper primary school students or high school students.
Step One. Ask the students to bring in their favourite children’s picture books from before they were old enough to read.
Discuss all the different types of picture books and techniques used. (Have examples of these books yourself in case they don’t bring them in).
Repetition – (The House that Jack Built) Repeating certain words on each page so that the kids can anticipate the words.
Hooks – put a question on odd numbered page, answer on even.
Text – Giving clues with the illustrations so that the kids can guess the words. Using word balloons to augment the text. Using words in inventive ways, eg. if there’s a giant, making his words really big. If someone gets shrunk down, making their words smaller and smaller until they are hard to read.
Using fold outs or fold ups – Where is Spot.
Turning it into a play – When Daddy Cooks.
Hiding things in illustrations – Animalia, Where’s Wally.
Creating a book from photos – eg. Danger Ted (teddy bear) around the house. Oh, no. Danger Ted has to rescue the cat. It’s fallen in the washing machine!
Step Two. Now set up an opportunity to pair the older student with a Year One or Prep student. Have the older student interview the younger one to find out their likes and dislikes so that they can write a story specifically for that child, a story that the child can ‘star’ in, a story that the child could almost read (eg little text, repetitive text).
Step Three. Then have the older student plan a short children’s book for their young friend. It needs to be no longer than 8 pages. It needs to open with a question or problem or adventure, that the younger child solves. Have the older student use one (or more) of the techniques mentioned above to make the picture book interactive and fun.
Step Four. Give them feedback on their book, or have them break into groups and give each other feedback.
Step Five. Now that they have feedback, then can write and illustrate the book. (Supply an 8 page template using actual paper, or a template on computer which they drop their text into and scan their artwork and drop it in). If they are working on real paper they can do collages with photos from magazines, or use material/s collage. (Remember this is for small children so the drawings can be very simple cartoons as long as they colours are bright).
Step Six. Once the book is completed it will need a title, a front cover and a back cover blurb.
Step Seven. They take the finished book and read it to the child. If the text is simple enough the child may be able to read it back to them.
Because the story is short and the illustrations are simple, and because they have the examples of books that they remember from childhood, this task doesn’t feel daunting. It is also very satisfying to have a completed book and to read it to their young friend, who will love it, because it is a book about them.
Rowena Cory Daniells is devoted to her family (husband and six children) and writing. In her spare time she has studied each of these martial arts for five years, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido and Iaido, the art of the Samurai sword. She writes for adults as well as children. Her new fantasy series is called The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin. king-rolens-kin.com/