Have you ever met a teacher that didn’t love….and hoard children’s books? Me neither! Including me!
Every teacher needs to have a few books ready in their toolkit for back to school. There are a ton of great reads available that can help set the tone in your classroom. Books can help you teach expectations and social responsibility. Books can get children ready and eager to learn new things. Books are also a fantastic tool for introducing something new.
A great collection of children’s books are a must for any classroom. I use children’s books to help me teach many topics. My post on the best children’s books for teaching math is filled with tips to help you incorporate books into your math program.
Today I am sharing a few of my favourite children’s books for teaching writing. The book I am mentioning is fantastic for the beginning of the school year and setting up your writing program. This book and others I will mention can be used to help students generate ideas for writing.
Make sure to read to the end of the post for a free writing resource for generating ideas, as well as a giveaway and tons more posts and ways to use books in September.
Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon is a must read! This adorable book is perfect for primary grades. It features a likable kid, named Ralph, who struggles during this classroom writing time each day.
He has a hard time coming up with ideas about what to write. His classmates help him realize that he does have stories and encourage him to look at small things to find those ideas.
Ralph realizes that he does have ideas and stories to tell.
As teachers, we can all relate to this story. Maybe we’ve had students like Ralph who just can’t think of anything to write everyday during writing time. Those kids often sit there while time wastes away. We try to help them think of ideas, but they may just be stuck on a thought that their ideas are not important or good enough for writing about.
Ralph Tells a Story is a fantastic book to read to let children know that their ideas are valuable and worth writing about. Writing time should be an opportunity to let our ideas flow, to express our ideas, and grow as learners.
The writing tips from Ralph are especially sweet and remind us all that writing should be fun. Use this page as an example and have students create their own writing tips. Grab a free writing template to use for this lesson below.
Writing Lessons for Generating Ideas
I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the school year on generating ideas for writing. Before we begin to write, we talk about what we can write. Below are lesson ideas I suggest teachers use at the start of the year to help strengthen your writing program. I try to incorporate each of these lesson ideas on different days.
Create an anchor chart filled with writing topics that children suggest. Write “Our Writing Ideas” in the center and brainstorm ideas around it. The anchor chart should not be completed in the first lesson, but could be something that is built upon and reviewed at the start of any writing block. The chart can be posted in a visible place for children to look at when the need arises.
Sharing ideas together like this is a powerful thing. Children are listening to their peers share ideas that they may connect too. They may hear someone mention a topic that interests them or that they may have a personal story about.
I encourage students to share ideas and topics from their own experiences. Like Ralph and his classmates, learning to first write “true” stories from their lives is the easiest and best first step.
Another useful way to help children generate ideas is through list writing. Encouraging them to write lists of words and ideas is helpful when they get stuck. List writing is like a personal brainstorm of ideas and words onto a sheet of paper.
After the class has shared plenty on the ideas anchor chart, have students complete their own list of writing ideas. Here they can share ideas they heard that interest them, as well as new ideas they come up with. The list is kept in a writing folder and available for when it’s needed. Grab a free list for writing template below.
Leaving strips of writing paper at your writing center is another way to encourage list writing. If a child is not ready to write a “story” yet, they may feel more comfortable writing a list of words related to a certain topic. The Writing & Words resource includes different list writing sheets for every season, as well as many other valuable writing activities.
The book Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills is a sweet book about a dog, named Rocket, who wants to make his own story, but can’t think of one. He goes on a journey and discovers small details around him. He writes down those small details, much like a list, and those small details help him think of an idea.
Creating a Heart Map
One of my favourite beginning of the year writing activities is creating heart maps. A heart map is a heart drawn that is divided into sections. In each section, students are encouraged to write the name of and draw what is important to them. The book My Map Book by Sara Fanelli includes a page with a heart map. It provides a nice visual for students before they create their own.
We discuss what is important and what matters the most to us. The people in our family, our friends, pets, homes, hobbies, and our favourite things and places help fill our heart maps.
Heart maps are helpful for generating writing ideas because all of the things on our heart maps make great writing topics. When the heart maps are complete, keep the hearts in a writing folder or place that is accessible to students. In the beginning of the school year, I will leave the heart maps up on a bulletin board or on student desks during writing time. Grab a free heart map template below.
Suggested Children’s Books for Generating Writing Ideas
I have each of these books in my writing toolkit and I highly suggest you seek them out.
FREE Resource for Generating Writing Ideas
Grab FREE writing templates to help your students generate writing ideas. A heart map, writing tips, and list writing templates included.
Click HERE to sign up and grab them today!
The Ultimate Writing Resource for the Entire Year