Writing teachers and homeschoolers! Use a picture book as writing prompts to inspire creative writing. Use snippets of the story, the illustrations, the style, or the format and see what wonderful stories emerge.
Writing prompt books are different from mentor texts, whose writing is so outstanding or interesting, that you want your students to emulate it for improvement. Instead, these can spark and idea that kids use to free write. They might spark a seed idea that turns into something else you use with a mentor text. But mostly they’re just helpful in getting those imaginative juices flowing.
Remember to encourage fluency and writing stamina. Not everything needs to be polished writing. There’s so many benefits to writing daily, and writing a lot. Practice makes better. Ask any professional writer and they’ll tell you.
Whimsical artwork accompanies prompts to imagine a more unique world — one with flying fish buses and teatime with gargoyles. This book would make a wonderful drawing or writing prompt. Pick an illustration and use it as a foundation for your own world.
Wordless with sepia-toned illustrations, this is an imaginative wordless story showing an old man who lives alone on an island. He finds a message in a bottle then sends it back with a detailed drawing of a flying ship. A boy finds the drawing and he adds himself to the drawing. It becomes real and he arrives at the old man’s island. Writers could write out the story or use one of the illustrations to spark their own story.
Beautifully illustrated and filled with words that sparkle into wonderful images, this is a lovely, lovely book I highly recommend! These are the things to do if you’re dawn, a honeybee, the sky, and more. “Things to do if you are RAIN / Polka dot sidewalks. Freckle windowpanes.Whoosh down gutter spouts. Gurgle into drains. Patter ’round the porch in slippers of gray. Tap dance on the roof. Then . . . go away.” Teachers, have your kids pick something from nature and imagine what if.
This is a literal (tactile) feelings book with lots of beautiful similes. Toad feels bumpy like the trunk of a gnarly tree. Duckling feels fuzzy like tall grass reaching for the sun. Rabbit feels silky like a web carefully spun. Use this captivating book to inspire your own metaphorical statements.
(If only the authors used the subjunctive If I Were but I’ll have to survive . . . sigh.) This book prompts out-of-the-box thinking as the child imagines if he were a fruit, a utensil, a bird, or a cloud — what kind he would be. Use this book for teaching metaphors and the subjunctive verb tense. 🙂
In a word: hilarious! Ox writes love letters to his crush, Gazelle but Gazelle can NOT imagine anything more horrifying than a smelly, large, stout, clumsy brained ox. As the letters are exchanged, you’ll see how persistent and forgiving Ox is even when insulted very eloquently by Gazelle. Try imagining yourself and imaginary friends or your own characters writing back and forth to each other.
This list reflects recently published (2017) books that I’ve been reading. Of course, you can find many more picture books that also are wonderful writing prompts. Please leave any favorites in the comments!
Melissa Taylor, MA, is the creator of Imagination Soup. She's a mother, teacher, author, and freelance writer. She writes Imagination Soup and freelances for publications online and in print, including Sylvan Learning, Random House, USA Today Health, The Writer, and Scholastic Parent and Child.