In my Creative Writing class, I like to start with Kobi Yamada's What Do You Do with an Idea?. The illustrator of this amazing book is Mae Besom, and her artwork is top notch. Reading this aloud to 8th and 9th grade students helps build their confidence in their own ideas and helps them be brave enough to share their ideas with others.
The idea gets larger, more colorful, and soon colors the entire story, and eventually changes the world. This book appeals to the imagination and shows students that if you don't nurture you idea, it can't grow.
I read A Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Robertson to my class to show them how important point of view is to a story and how a different point of view changes the story. This story is told from the little girl's point of view, and then from the beast's point of view. After reading this one to them, I pass out picture books of all kinds, have them read one, and then choose a different character or something in the book and tell the story from that person or thing's point of view. My students have fun with this activity and come up with some amazing stories.
The next day for their starter, I give them a starter prompt and allow them to write. Then they have to choose a different person or thing from their own story and write a new point of view. Some of these stories ended up being their favorites and made it into our class anthology.
People of all ages love storybooks, so don't be afraid to use them with older students. Do you use picture books in your classroom? Which ones are your favorites?
***Update on our NICU book project. I've had people ask how they can help get books into the hands of newborns. You are welcome to send them to me. Message me, and I'll send you an address. One of the easiest ways you can help is to purchase books from This Link. This will take you to the Usborne page for a book party that I am holding (make sure it says eshow: Catherine Crosby). You get to buy books for your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or yourself. The books will be delivered right to your house, and a percentage of the sales go to buy books for the hospital. So if you are going to buy books anyway, this is a great way to help the new babies and be a force in our movement to increase literacy. In addition, you get books too. I had friends over in the spring for an Usborne book party and received over $200.00 of free books for the hospital. Usborne has a generous hostess program, and I love the touch and feel board books I get for the hospital. Plus they have Spanish books for our babies who need them. Thank you to everyone who has offered to help. Every five books means we touch one more family with the literacy bug.