The Childrens Picture Book Project

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In this lesson, students create their own children’s picture books by planning, writing, illustrating, and publishing them. They start by looking through existing illustrated children’s books to familiarize themselves with the creative process and the components of a successful book. After that, they brainstorm ideas for characters, settings, and conflicts with the help of graphic organizers. They then share their stories with their classmates and use the feedback to refine their stories. Storyboards are used to map out the connection between the illustrations and text. Lastly, they bind their books in an attractive way and present them to their peers.

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Featured Resources

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From Theory to Practice

Both Art and Craft: Teaching Ideas that Spark Learning (Mitchell)

Diana Mitchell discusses the advantages of using children’s literature in the classroom; she notes that when these books are present, “students become enthusiastic and engaged in discussion” (86-87). Mitchell observes that while students may initially be skeptical of using what they consider to be “baby books,” these texts are actually excellent tools for building literacy skills and creating an atmosphere of excitement. Her conclusion is that, since these texts can be accessed by all students, the educational benefits of using children’s literature in the classroom are considerable.

Further Reading

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Common Core Standards

This resource has been designed to meet the Common Core State Standards for states that have adopted them. If a state is not listed in the drop-down, alignments to the CCSS will be available soon.

State Standards

This lesson has been tailored to the standards of certain states. If a state does not appear in the selection, then the associated alignments have not been created for that state.

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NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts



Paper Bag Book Instructions

Pop-Up Books

Printing and Binding Your Own Books and Manuals

How to Make a Cloth Covered Book


  • Ask students to bring in their favorite illustrated children’s book from childhood for the first session. 
  • Gather enough copies of illustrated children’s books for each student in your class. Use the books students brought in or check out multiple copies of illustrated children’s books from the public library. It is important, however, that you select only acclaimed picture books that have been proven to be successful with young children. Refer to the Recommended Children’s Picture Books list to identify books to use for this activity. 
  • Make copies of the handouts that are used in the lesson. 
  • Test the Story Map and Plot Diagram interactives on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.
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Student Objectives

  • plan, write, illustrate, and publish their own children’s picture books. 
  • analyze and evaluate a work of literature. 
  • participate in a review of a story written by a peer. 
  • use literary devices in an original work of fiction.

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Session One: Favorite Book Presentations

  1. Arrange students into groups of three members each. 
  2. Have group members take turns reading their favorite picture books out loud to the other two group members. 
  3. After reading the book, each reader should share three reasons why the book is their favorite from childhood. 
  4. After the reading of each book ask group members to share concrete examples of how the book was or was not effective in each of the following three areas: plot, characterization, and illustrations. 
  5. Encourage students to develop their own guidelines for the characteristics of effective plots, characterization, and illustrations. 
  6. Gather the class and review students’ findings, noting the details on chart paper or the board. Save this information for later reference, as students compose their own books.

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Session Two: Book Reviews

  1. Review the guidelines that the groups compiled as they reviewed their favorite books in the previous session. 
  2. Pass out the Children’s Book Review Guide and additional books for students to review. 
  3. Ask students to review a children’s book and explore the general characteristics of children’s books. 
  4. If possible, move students to a larger area or a location where they can read the books out loud to themselves. 
  5. After students have completed the review, return to the classroom and arrange the class in groups of three. 
  6. Have students to identify the similarities among all of the books reviewed in the group. 
  7. Gather the class, and have groups share their findings, comparing the results to the list from the previous session. 
  8. Note the details as students share to create a revised list that the class can consult while writing their own texts.

Session Three: “I Remember” Journal Entry

  1. Explain the writing project that students will complete: composing the text and illustrations for their own children’s picture books. 
  2. Share the Grading Rubric and discuss the expectations for the activity. Answer any questions that students have. 
  3. Ask students to brainstorm themes that they noticed in several of the books. 
  4. To get students started, share one or more of the following themes and ask students to suggest how some of the books that they read fit these themes: 
    • Acceptance of others 
    • Concern of family dynamics 
    • Physical growth (especially size) 
    • Fear of the unknown
  5. Once the class has compiled a list of several themes, review the list and make any additions or revisions. 
  6. Ask students to hypothesize why these themes resonate with young listeners, encouraging students to share any connections that they recall to the texts or to their own experiences. 
  7. Have students describe the memory as a journal entry. Encourage students to address all five of the senses when recounting their memory. 
  8. Explain that the memory does not have to be complete. If desired, encourage students to imagine or make up details that they cannot remember. 
  9. If additional time is needed, have students complete their journal entries for homework.

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Session Four: Brainstorming Sessions

  1. Ask volunteers to share summaries of their memories from their journals. 
  2. After each volunteer reads, connect the memories to the themes from the previous session. 
  3. Remind students of the expectations of the assignment using the Grading Rubric. 
  4. Overview the steps that students will follow: gathering details about their stories, developing plots, storyboarding, writing and illustrating, and then publishing the book. 
  5. Explain that during this session, students will expand on the information from their memory journal entries by brainstorming additional details. 
  6. Introduce one of the following options for students to use, depending upon the resources available in your classroom: 
    • Have students to use the Story Map interactive to create and print out the following graphic organizers: 
      • character map 
      • conflict map 
      • resolution map 
      • setting map 
    • Read through the Tips for Writing a Children’s Picture Storybook handout and compare the observations to the books that students have read. Add or revise the guidelines as appropriate based on students’ experiences with picture books. Have students complete the Brainstorming the Conflict chart to test out potential conflicts by identifying the complications that would or could result from attempting to solve them. Encourage students to discuss their findings with one another as they work.
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Session Five: Developing a “Plot Pitch”

  1. Allow time for volunteers to share their work from the previous session with the class. Make connections to the class list of characteristics of effective plots, characterization, and illustrations as appropriate. 
  2. Distribute the Plot Pitch Template, and have students follow the information on the sheet to develop the basic layout and details of their stories. 
  3. Encourage collaboration and sharing as students develop their ideas. Circulate through the room, providing support and feedback during this work time. 
  4. Once the basic templates are complete, have students graph their plots using the ReadWriteThink interactive Plot Diagram. 
  5. If time allows, have students draw a sketch of their main character and the setting in which the story takes place. Encourage students to use colors in their sketches as well as labels that identify certain characteristics or details that might be revealed through the text of the story.

Session Six: Pitching the Plot

  1. Review the activities that the class has completed so far and the expectations for the project. Answer any questions. 
  2. Arrange the class in pairs and have partners present their “plot pitch” to their each other. 
  3. Ask students to answer the questions included on the Plot Pitch Template to provide written feedback to their partners. 
  4. If time allows, students can exchange their work with more than one partner. 
  5. Have students review the responses and add details or revisions to their work so far in the time remaining. Alternately, have students continue their work for homework.

Session Seven: Storyboards

  1. Have students prepare storyboard pages by dividing several 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper into four to six boxes. Suggest folding the sheets to create the lines easily. There should be enough boxes to represent each page of the book as well as the cover. 
  2. Ask students to use only one side of the paper so that all thumbnails on the storyboard can be seen at once. 
  3. Have students to sketch the illustrations and text for each page and the cover in a pane of the storyboard. The students’ goal should be to create a balance of text and illustrations that tell their story. 
  4. Remind students that these are rough sketches, not their final illustrations. Getting the idea across is the goal. 
  5. Encourage students to experiment with the location, size, and amount of text and illustrations on each page. 
  6. Once students have completed their storyboards, arrange the class in pairs or threes to discuss the planned layout for the books.

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Session Eight: Producing the Book

  1. Review the expectations for the assignment using the Grading Rubric. 
  2. Provide an overview of the publishing techniques that are available, using the information on the Publishing Tips handout and the Websites listed in the Resources section. 
  3. Allow students to continue their work on their pages, writing and illustrating during this session. 
  4. Station yourself near the materials for binding the books. Provide help with the bookbinding process as students reach this stage. 
  5. As the books are completed, encourage students to read their stories to one another as a whole class or in small groups. 
  6. Allow more than one session for this final publication work if appropriate.
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Organize a trip to a Pre-K, Kindergarten, or 1st grade classroom and have your students read their chosen books to the children. Select the best 5 to 8 books from the submissions. Split the students into groups of three and assign them roles for their visit: reader, page-turner, and master of ceremonies. The groups can also create short skits, costumes, or other visuals to add to the presentation.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Informally assess students’ participation in group and brainstorming sessions, book presentations, and journal writing. 
  • Use the Grading Rubric to evaluate students’ picture books. 
  • Rely on the informal feedback from younger listeners to the stories to provide additional assessment if you complete the extension.

Frequently asked questions

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How do I choose a children’s book?

When selecting a book for a child, it is important to consider the age and interest of the child. For younger children, look for books with bright, colorful illustrations and simple yet engaging stories. For older children, look for books that are age-appropriate and that will challenge them to think critically. It’s also important to look for books that promote values and respect for diversity.

How do I plan a children’s book?

When planning a children’s book, it is important to have a clear idea of the story you want to tell. Start by creating a basic outline or structure for your story, including the characters, setting, and plot. After you have the structure in place, you can begin to develop the characters and fill in the details of the story. Finally, you will need to decide what format your story will take, such as a picture book, chapter book, or graphic novel.

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What should I consider when writing a children’s book?

When writing a children’s book, it is important to keep the age of your audience in mind. The vocabulary and complexity of the story should be appropriate for the ages of your readers. Also, be mindful of the values you are promoting in your story. Ensure that your story shows respect for all forms of diversity and is free of any derogatory language.

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How do I find an illustrator for my children’s book?

When looking for an illustrator for your children’s book, you can start by searching online. Look for illustrators with styles that match the tone of your story. You can also search for illustrators in your local area or reach out to your network for referrals. Once you have narrowed down your list, contact the illustrators and explain your project in detail. Ask to see samples of their work, and read their reviews and testimonials before making your decision.

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How can I promote my children’s book?

There are many ways to promote your children’s book. You can start by creating a website or blog where you can showcase your book and post updates. You can also reach out to bookstores and libraries to ask about stocking and promoting your book. Additionally, you can use social media to promote your book and engage with potential readers. You can also participate in book fairs or book readings to reach a larger audience.

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