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HomeClassroom ResourcesCalendar Activities

June 18

Today is Chris Van Allsburg's birthday.

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Today is Chris Van Allsburg's birthday.

Grades 3 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Author & Text





Chris Van Allsburg always wanted to be an artist. Though not encouraged as a youth, he developed his talents as both an illustrator and an author. His picture books offer stories of adventure, often with unexpected points of view, and illustrations that captivate both child and adult readers.




Point of view is a common theme in Van Allsburg's writing. Invite your students to explore varying points of view by rewriting a traditional story.

  • First, brainstorm with students a list of well-known stories or fairy tales, such as The Gingerbread Man, Cinderella, or The Three Little Pigs.

  • Share some books that are written from an alternate point of view, such as Jon Scieszka's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.

  • Next, invite students to select and rewrite a story. For example, they could write a Cinderella story from the stepsisters' point of view, or use the interactive Fractured Fairy Tales tool to rewrite one of three given fairy tales.

  • Finally, have students illustrate and share their stories. Alternatively, students can share their stories as a puppet show or a reader's theater performance.

See the Fractured Fairy Tales page for more information about this tool along with additional activity ideas.



  • Chris Van Allsburg

    Van Allsburg's official site provides links to the author's biography, information about his books, interactive activities, and more.


  • A Video Interview With Chris Van Allsburg

    Watch an online interview with Van Allsburg to hear about his big breakthrough, his books, and their transformation into movies.


  • Scholastic: Chris Van Allsburg

    This Scholastic resource on Van Allsburg includes links to a transcript of the moderated chat, a biography, and an annotated booklist.


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Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

The Big Bad Wolf: Analyzing Point of View in Texts

Was the Big Bad Wolf really all that bad? This lesson encourages students to analyze multiple viewpoints, view texts from different angles, and recognize gaps in narrative.


Grades   5 – 9  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick: Using Illustrations to Guide Writing

Students use illustrations from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick as a guide to write mysteries
and then present their stories to the class for students to discuss to which illustration each
story corresponds.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Teaching Point of View With Two Bad Ants

Students will be crawling all over this assignment when they use illustrations and text to learn about life from a bug's point of view.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Looking at Landmarks: Using a Picture Book to Guide Research

This lesson uses Ben's Dream by Chris Van Allsburg to highlight ten major landmarks of the world. Students research the landmarks and present their findings to the class.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Cowboys and Castles: Interacting With Fractured Texas Tales

What do cowboy hats have to do with fairy tales? Two traditional fairy tales and their Texas-based counterparts set the stage for five different ways to respond to text.