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Lesson Plan

The Children's Picture Book Project

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The Children's Picture Book Project

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Junius Wright

Junius Wright

Charleston, South Carolina


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One: Favorite Book Presentations

Session Two: Book Reviews

Session Three: "I Remember" Journal Entry

Session Four: Brainstorming Sessions

Session Five: Developing a "Plot Pitch"

Session Six: Pitching the Plot

Session Seven: Storyboards

Session Eight: Producing the Book


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Arrange to visit a Pre-K, Kindergarten, or 1st grade class, and have your students read their books to the students. Select the best 5 to 8 books submitted. Divide students into groups of three and assign the following tasks to be completed during the visit: reader, page-turner, and master of ceremonies. Each group can also develop short skits, costumes, or other visual props to enhance the quality of their presentations.

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  • 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.

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