Teaching Kids Illustration Through Books (10 for 10)

Every budding illustrator would benefit from studying illustrations in some great picture books!  Today, I’m highlighting 10 of my favorite illustrated children’s books that would be perfect for teaching kids about illustrating.  This list of 10 books is part of 4th Annual Picture Book 10 for 10 hosted by Reflect and Refine:  Building a Learning Community  .  The purpose is for bloggers and others to share their top ten favorite picture books.   I’m happy to participate and share with everyone my top 10 favorite illustrated books to use when teaching kids about illustrating.

10 Great Books to help kids learn about different ways to illustrate!

Let’s start the list off with a book that helps us find our creative spirit.  The Dot by Peter Reynolds is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year.  In fact, International Dot Day is September 15th!  Reynolds uses watercolors and ink to create the images for this book.  Here is a clip of Peter talking about how to inspire kids to illustrate!  I love his ideas!

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert is probably my favorite Ehlert book.  Ehlert uses collage to create her illustrations.  At the end of the book you will find photographs of many of the items (buttons, string, etc.) she used to create the pictures.


The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle is a classic.  Carle paints on paper and then cuts the works into pieces and collages them to create his illustrations.   For more ideas on Eric Carle’s work, you can see the author profile I wrote along with a video-clip here.

the very busy spider

A Sick Day for Amos McGee illustrated by Erin Stead is not only beautifully illustrated, but is a great story of friendship.  Stead uses woodblock-printing techniques to create her images.

a sick day for amos mcgee

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger received a 2013 Caldecott Honor.  The author/illustrator uses acrylic and die cuts to illustrate this stunning book.  This would be a great challenge for a young illustrator.  Here is a look at the book.

Tuesday by David Weisner is a beautiful picture book that shows you don’t need words to tell a story.  Weisner’s award-winning illustrations are created with watercolors.


Salina Yoon’s illustrations are full of moving parts.  A basic lift-the-flap would be an easy starting point for budding illustrators.  For that reason, I’m picking Apples, Apples to feature.  This happens to be one of my son’s favorites and timely for this time of year.  However, any of her books would be great models for moving parts when illustrating.

appples apples

Flo and Wendell by William Wegman is an interesting mix of mediums.  Wegman paints on photographs to create the illustrations.  How fun would that be to do with kids?  Here is a video-clip of Wegman talking about the illustrating technique in this new book (due out September 2013).

Mo Willems is a wildly popular cartoonist.  It’s hard to just pick one of his books!  I’ll go with another favorite of my kid’s favorites- The Duckling Get’s a Cookie!? Also, don’t miss a great interview with Al Roker on Today Show in which the author talks about his work and draws!

the duckling gets a cookie

My final choice is Shel Silverstein’s drawings from Where the Sidewalk Ends.  Yes kids, not all illustrating has to be done in color.

where the sidewalk ends

How fun would it be to study each book with children and then try to emulate the work of each illustrator.  Think of all the different mediums we could expose to our young illustrators.  Do you have a favorite illustrator?  Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Now that you have all these great illustrating ideas, why not participate in a Kids Art Exchange!  It’s a way for you to send your child’s art to someone else and receive art from other kids too.  To sign up, visit Hands On As We Grow for all the details!

Would you like to see my top ten list from 2012?  It was one of my post popular posts ever!

10 Mentor Texts to Use for Modeling Writing

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10 for 10- Ten Mentor Texts to Use for Modeling Writing

Reflect and Refine:  Building a Learning Community is hosting the Third Annual Picture Book 10 for 10.  The purpose is for bloggers and others to share their top ten favorite picture books.   I’m happy to participate and share with everyone my top ten favorite mentor texts I use when modeling writing with students.

1.  Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco is great for modeling interesting openings, setting a scene, words that sound like what they mean, strong verbs, punctuation and the style of a recipe at the end of the story.  Really, any of Polacco’s books could be on this list.  She is a great writing mentor.

2. Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee works well for modeling text structure, showcasing a small moment, and the use of descriptive words.

3.  Mud by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Lauren Stringer has descriptive language and an interesting way with words.

4.  So Much by Trish Cooke and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury is a good example of text structure and works really well for punctuation. I also like  that this is a multi-cultural book clicked with my inner-city students.

5.  When the Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant is another great text for modeling a small moment, narrative and interesting openings.  Again, most of Rylant’s work makes for good examples during writer’s workshop.

6.  Tornadoes by Gail Gibbons or really any of Gibbon’s work is great for non-fiction text features.

7.  Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neil works for poetry examples, painting a picture, and adjective attributes and comparisons.

8.  Tuesday by David Wiesner is superb for telling a story through illustrations and inferring.

9.  Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter and illustrated by Krysten Brooker is a great fit for modeling where writers get ideas and revising.

10.  All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan can be used for studying craft.

10 Mentor Texts to Use When Modeling Writing from Growing Book by Book

Find mentor texts that speak to you.  If you have a connection with a text, it will be much easier to use it as a tool to model writing for children.  What favorite mentor texts do you have on your shelf?

Head over to Reflect and Refine to see a list other top 10 lists.  You will also find links to the 2010 and 2011 lists too.

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