When I was young, I hated writing. The process of putting my thoughts into words to fill page after page of blank paper with creatively worded prose that flowed and was error-free was laborious and headache-inducing for me. Looking back I can see that some of my troubles came from being a perfectionist. I did not like to put pencil to paper until I had created the perfect sentence in my mind. For whatever reason, the whole revision and editing process was not a part of my view of what writing was. This combined with the frightful “What am I going to write about?!” thoughts made me greatly dislike each and every writing activity that came along.
Thankfully, over the years, my views of writing have changed. I still tend to spend more time thinking than writing (or typing), but I have come to value the revision process and the creativity that comes with putting words together to paint a picture and convey just the right meaning. And although I do not call myself a writer, writing is no longer on my “hate” list, and I have come to find that I really enjoy teaching writing and helping my students learn about the process and explore their talents in this area.
Some of my favorite writing lessons come from children’s books. The illustrations provide great visuals for story starters, and the shorter plot lines and creative characters can be used to teach about various writing styles and story parts.
The following books are ones I have enjoyed using in my classroom:
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg
Each spread contains a detailed drawing and a short caption – great for sparking young writers’ imaginations. See more about Van Allsburg’s books here.
Tuesday, by David Weisner
Story line is “written” in words and pictures and provides young writers with an opportunity to write the next “chapter.” See more about David Wiesner’s books here.
Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street, by Roni Schotter
Provides young writers with story ideas and a good reminder to pay attention to the small details.
Voices in the Park, by Anthony Browne
Creative look at perspectives in writing
Resources for visual writing prompts:
Picture Prompt Story Starters
Writing Prompts: For the Right Brain
Visual Writing Prompts