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January 16, 2012 Three Steps to Writing an Illustrated Children's Story By Jeremy Rinkel
Grades 6–8, 9–12

    This year, instead of assigning the usual short story writing project, I am allowing students to work in groups of three or four to write and illustrate a children’s story. Each group may choose to draw their illustrations or use computer designed images. Based on that decision, I recommended one of three ways for them to publish their work. Each publishing method is online, but one allows students to save their book in various e-book formats. Continue reading for three steps to writing an illustrated children's story.

    Preparing (2 days)

    On the first day of this unit, I brought in several children’s books and read them to my students, after which, they separated into groups, each taking one of the books. Their first task was to determine the appropriate age range of the book's reader. I also had students note the writing structure used by the author and identify the main point or theme. On day 2, I had the groups switch books and repeat the above exercise. I feel it is very beneficial to the students to look at published, professional work so they understand what is expected of them and get ideas of how to focus their thoughts as they begin to write. After the small group discussions, I began discussing the planning stage of writing an illustrated children’s story.

    Planning (2-3 days)

    Before beginning the illustration process, I wanted students to have a solid storyline and most went through three drafts before moving into the illustration and publishing process. One thing they all struggled with was writing for their age-appropriate audience. And so in group meetings, I would first ask what age group they were writing for and then follow up with asking if vocabulary an average person of that age group had.

    In the past with group projects, some students slacked off while one or two members worked hard. To be sure all students had thought about their book, I had them fill out a group planning form. In addition to specific questions about the book, students were required to note each person’s responsibility as a group member.  The job responsibility section on the form won't solve all problems, but it hopefully makes them more productive within the group. Once the storyline has been approved, students are allowed to begin the illustration and publishing of their illustrated children’s story.


    Publishing (2-3 days)


    Toondoo is a web-based application that allows the user to create cartoons.  If students do not have the time or the talent to draw illustrations, Toondoo provides already created images.  I will say that there are limitations to Toondoo, but my students love to experiment with creating characters and stories with this FREE web-based tool. 



    Issuu is a digital publishing platform that allows businesses and individuals to publish their original material and is very user friendly. I uploaded an example of two illustrations from The Sniper Bunny story my student is working on. Issuu takes your word files, pdfs, and other formats and converts it to an online magazine or book.


    The Writerhood

    The Writerhood tool puts publishing at your fingertips and I am really excited to see what it can do for my students. The Writerhood was created by Will DeLamater and his development team at eReadia. It allows you to write an e-book and make edits in the process. When you finish you may download the publication in multiple e-book formats. The Writerhood allows you to create a short book for free, but the book is not saved for later editing. However, membership -- a very affordable 10.00 a year -- allows you to save the book and go back for subsequent edits.

    I hope you take these tools and ideas into your classroom and share the creative outcome in the comment section below. Happy publishing!


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Susan Cheyney