picture books as writing prompts

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I like to look for library books that are easy to expand and build off of. I like books that the can be turned into games, philosophy discussions, or writing prompts. The following are two that are easy to use for writing prompts for children. Links from the book titles are affiliate links.

Unnatural Selections
by Wallace Edwardswriting prompts

This book contains a series of pictures showing fantastical mixed up creatures like a whalephant. For each two page spread there is a couplet about the featured creature, its name and what two or more animals it is based off of. The original animals are hidden (or not so hidden) within each page as well, so children have the fun of trying to find them. Many pages have other mixed up creatures within the scenery, and at the end of the book there are names and couplets for those creatures as well.

There are lots of ways to use the book for writing prompts. Children can be encouraged to write stories or descriptions of the creatures that are displayed within the book. However they can also be encouraged to think up their own animals.

My children didn’t feel skilled enough at drawing animals to draw their own animals in a similar style, but I think I’ll see if they’d like to learn to use photoshop to merge pictures in imaginative ways.

Who Is Melvin Bubble?
by Nick Bruel

On different pages of this picture book different people and things are asked who Melvin Bubble is. The answers are varied, a reflection as much on who the speaker is as who Melvin is. At the end Melvin tells who he is, drawing together the list of other people who have commented on who he is.

The book is a good one for talking about perspective. One of the characters is “the meanest person in the world” but a child could be asked how that person would describe himself, and how Melvin’s mother might describe that person, and so on. A could can also be asked to talk about himself from different points of view, or about how different people might view his mother or father. There are all different ways to turn the book into a writing exercise.

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  • Charlie Gerancher

    Another idea for your mixed up animal creation problem might be to use The Switch Zoo web site tool.

    It allows students to choose from a palette of animals to create a unique new animal. There is also habitat information which could be integrated into the project. Maybe the students could make up their own habitat.


  • Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies

    These are great, thank you Christy! I have another one for you, in case you haven’t see it yet. A teacher friend of mine gifted it to us when we started our homeschool journey. It’s called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. You can’t *not* write when you see the illustrations. Thanks for sharing!

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