I had a lot of fun considering favorite picture books as I considered the variety of ways one could organize a story. So many times in elementary school kids are given a prescription for writing and they must follow that. Writing is more fun when students are free to organize their thoughts or ideas creatively. Four picture books provide inspiration for young writers by demonstrating different book structures and encouraging students to organize a story uniquely.
Traditionally Structured Stories for Organization Inspiration
First, many books follow a traditional structure with a clear beginning, a middle, and an end in which the main character has changed. I think this is the default way teachers and students expect to have to write. But, it is always fun to find a story told a little differently.
One thing I think would be fun would be to read a variety of books with similar organization and compare them. My Goldilocks unit, for example, compares a few of the same stories. Read a traditional Goldilocks story, and then read Previously by Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by Bruce Ingram, which tells the story backwards!
Circle Story Organization Example
And then there are the books that are completely different.There is no beginning, middle, and end. I love Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein. This follows a circle pattern of organization, as Amelia smiles, which causes Miss Higgins to make her son cookies and send them to Mexico, and so forth, all the way back to Amelia. This creative organization makes for a feel-good story, but it’s also a creative way to show our influence in the world besides writing with a traditional beginning, middle, and end.
Concept Book Organization Sample
Another creative approach to organization is the ABC book. Admittedly, these get tiresome, so it’s always a joy to find a creative ABC book. If Rocks Could Sing by Leslie McGuirk provides a new approach. Ms McGuirk collects pretty rocks off the coast of Florida, and this book is a collection of the rocks she found that make pretty shapes: letters and numbers, animals, etc. This is a wonderfully organized way of showing off her rock collection!
Creative Book Organization Styles
And then we have a book I found just this week. How to by Julie Morstad features picture of kids doing something, with a “how to” direction at the top. For example, the cover shows a girl drawing on the ground. That page correlates to “how to make friends.” I loved the creative way of organizing the ideas of what kids like to do, and the effect those fun things have on others.
When we read books with such creative organization structures, it helps us consider the ways we could organize our ideas. Reading widely and of a variety of styles helps students develop confidence in considering their own creative writing organization styles. Writing creatively is freeing!
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Are you looking for writing prompts for your elementary school students? See more writing activities and writing prompts that I’ve shared on this blog!
What other pictures books may be inspiring for student writing organization?