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The Best Picture Books About Writing a Story
Mentor Texts About Finding an Idea for a Story
Amy the Red Panda Is Writing The Best Story in The World by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Ruth Chan
Amy’s frustrated with her story especially when all her friends share their opinions about what the story should be. Then, Mervin the Sloth through the letter “O” at her. It’s a letter fight!! Now, she’s got a story to tell. Cartoon panels and cheerful illustrations give this mentor text lots of pizazz.
Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon
Stories are everywhere. In fact, Ralph’s teacher helps his classmates and him find story ideas in everyday things.
The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Anne Wildsorf
A little girl wants to write the best story in order to win the library’s writing contest. Her family shares their specific opinions about exactly what makes up the best story. And they all are different. Fortunately, her mom encourages her to write from the heart — and that makes for the best story.
Any Questions by Marie-Louise Gay
Marie-Louise Gay shares with children about how to get ideas for a story, then how to write a story. It’s an interactive experience because you get to write part of a story, too. Beautifully illustrated with watercolor and ink.
Idea Jar by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Deb Pilutti
Picture Books (Mentor Texts) About Plotting and Drafting a Story
Little Red Writing by Joan Holub, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
This brave red pencil is so excited to write a story… an exciting story. Laugh out loud humor rich with wonderful words and exquisite illustrations show that the writing process is not as easy as it seems. But, it’s worth it in the end. Delightful parallels to Little Red Riding Hood abound — watch out for that Wolf 300 pencil sharpener!
The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane Auch, illustrated by Herm Auch
Henrietta is a writing chicken who uses the book Writing Rules to explain story elements and her story writing process with her chicken aunts and you, the reader.
Dragons Eat Noodles on Tuesdays by Jon Stahl, illustrated by Tadgh Bentley
The big blue monster begins a story with “once upon a time” and adds, “the end.” Little by little, his yellow monster friend helps the blue monster improve his story so there is a dragon, a knight, a super smart damsel, and a plot. And the story is much better. But wait! The dragon from his story arrives in real life. Yikes. Luckily for the monsters, they remember from the story that dragons only eat noodles on Tuesdays. Yay. But, it’s Wednesday! Ut-oh! This ending will totally crack you up.
Miss Brook’s Story Nook by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley
In the story nook, Miss Brooks teaches the class and Missy about writing stories: plot, characters, action. Missy takes her real-life story of hat-stealing Billy, invents a satisfying ending, and solves her real-life problem in her written story. See how storytelling helps us after all?
Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills
Rocket loves reading stories so it’s only natural that he wants to write his own story. He collects words and looks for inspiration which he finds with Owl. Little by little he adds to a story about his new friend owl. This book is sure to inspire storytelling and writing.
A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell
Very funny with fantastic art! Louie is happy to tell his happy story until — hey, did you just spill peanut butter on me? As the reader makes more of a mess, and Louie tries to restart the story without success, he gets upset and tells the reader to start treating books with some respect. But as he learns, even when things don’t go perfectly, it will be okay.
I Want to Be in a Scary Story by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jean Jullien
Violet and Victor Write The Best-Ever Bookworm Book by Alice Kuipers, illustrated by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Mike Lowery
I love this book because it shows that all of us are writers — even when we can’t write letters or words quite yet! And this determined young writer proves it.
Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein
Look! I Wrote a Book! (And You Can Too) by Sally Loyd Jones, illustrated by Neal Layton
A little girl with a big personality narrates the basics of writing a story from coming up with an idea to knowing your audience, thinking of titles, problems and solutions, endings, revising, and publishing including an author section, drawings, and cover art. Not only that, she even suggests how to sell your book. (This involves friendly persuasion or, if that doesn’t work, tying someone to a chair.)
Picture Books Showing the Writer’s Life and Getting Published
My Worst Book Ever! by Allan Ahlberg, illustrated by Bruce Ingman
How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
I love this humorous account shared by the author and illustrator about their amazing (and slightly unusual!?) process of publishing a book. It goes something like this: getting an idea, writing lots of drafts, arguing with an editor, playing cards with a tiger, waiting forever for the illustrations, growing a long beard, printing the book in a huge pile which could be seen from space by ice-cream eating astronauts, sending books on a ship captured by pirates who don’t read, delivering books to places everywhere, and then the most important part — the waiting . . . the long waiting for someone to open a book. Because what’s a book without a reader? Read more in my interview with Mac and Adam.
Author: A True Story by Helen Lester
The author of the beloved Tacky the Penguin series shares her writer’s journey starting with her challenges writing as a child all the way to becoming a published author. Kids will be encouraged to know that even if you struggle at first, it’s possible to succeed.
Big Machines The Story of Virginia Lee Burton (How Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel and Friends Came to Life) by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by John Rocco
The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski
The little girl can’t wait to read her teacher’s magical book of stories. Only when she gets home, there are no stories, just pictures. The wind whispers, “You can imagine the words. You can imagine the stories. . . ” and so the little girl does, finding her inner storyteller. Not only is this story rich with the power of imagination, but the illustrations also evoke stories within stories. Use this mentor text picture book in your writing and reading classrooms as inspiration — it’s marvelous!
Once Upon a Zzzz by Maddie Frost
I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino
This informative picture book describes the history of stories: oral tellings around campfires, paintings on cave walls, weavings into tapestries, printings, and more. For me, the writing is a bit too dry but I like that it exemplifies how stories connect us and endure throughout time.
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