Top 8 Picture Books for Teaching Beginning Writers

Every teacher I know loves a good picture book, especially if it helps us to teach an important concept. When it comes to teaching beginning writers, I always use picture books! Picture books are perfect for supporting students in the drawing and storytelling stage.

The Drawing Stage

Oftentimes in kindergarten, students are rushed to write sentences and stories before they can even write their names! I think it is so important to nurture and support our students who are in the drawing stage. 

The drawing stage reinforces important skills like:

  • Revising
  • Adding details
  • Storytelling

Keep learning more about the drawing stage! Check out my 5 TIPS TO SUPPORT EMERGENT WRITERS IN THE DRAWING STAGE!

Luckily, there are so many wonderful picture books that teach students strategies to help develop their drawing skills, which will help them with writing later on! 

Here are 8 Picture Books I Love Using to Teach Beginning Writers:

Find every one of the books included in this list at my Amazon storefront: Picture Books for Teaching Beginning Writers

If you prefer watching the information in this post on video, check out my YouTube video here:

1. Shapes by Judith Nouvion

I always spend time talking about shapes at the beginning of the year. We look at how we can see shapes all around us and how we can use shapes to draw pictures. 

I love this book because it starts with very simple shapes and gives an example of where you can see those shapes in nature. After you read through this book with your class, you can send your students on a hunt around your classroom to find the shapes you just learned about!

2. Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong 

This is another book I love for teaching shapes. Plus, I love having a chance to add a little bit of Spanish into my classroom! This book shares a sweet story and also teaches some Spanish vocabulary. 

As you go through this book, you can have your students find the shapes that are mentioned on each page. Then they can also share where they see these shapes in their own surroundings. 

At the end of this book, there’s a big spread with lots of different shapes that you can display on your SmartBoard. I like to invite students to come up and identify different shapes and objects. 

Bonus Tip: As your students learn about shapes, you can show them how they can use shapes to draw hard things.  

3. How to Draw a Happy Cat by Ethan T. Berlin

I just recently came across this book and I absolutely LOVE it! In this book, the author tells a story while also going through the steps of drawing animals using simple shapes. It offers simple, directed drawings and it’s such a fun story, too!

This book is also great for teaching how to draw expressions.   

4. Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Teaching kids how to use color appropriately is an important skill to learn. I love seeing the creativity in my students when they draw a purple tree or red pineapples, but I also remind them that when they are writing a story for a reader, it’s important to help the reader understand your picture and your story. So, they should make it as clear as possible. 

This book helps you to teach your students that they are already color experts! They already know what color things really are and they can do it in their drawings! This book is short and simple but it really drives the message home.

5. Chalk by Bill Thomson

Oral language is another super important beginning writer skill. We want to help our students to develop oral storytelling skills. This is one of my favorite books for reinforcing this skill. I just love this book because of the simple story and incredible pictures. It’s a wordless book, so it teaches students that they are writers even if they are at the oral storytelling stage. 

Don’t miss my video on how I use Chalk by Bill Thomson to teach oral storytelling in kindergarten and first grade! Bonus: This video includes a free lesson you can use with your students!

And keep learning more about oral storytelling! Check out my 11 TIPS FOR ORAL STORYTELLING PRACTICE IN KINDERGARTEN AND FIRST GRADE!

6. Fly! by Mark Teague

During the drawing stage, we also talk about how we can bring our pictures to life! We can do that by adding expression to our characters’ faces, adding movement, and adding dialogue. Now, I know our students are not yet writing sentences, but they can still add dialogue in pictures without words. This is a great book for teaching that skill!

7. Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Any Mo Willems book will be a great mentor text for getting your students to bring their writing and pictures to life.

I love this book especially because of the way the illustrations are zoomed in for emphasis. This teaches our students to zoom in on their drawing if they want to emphasize a particular part of their story. 

8. A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen 

This book is going to be great when your students are beginning to move past the drawing stage and into the labeling stage. I like to use it once my students are starting to understand the concept of print and that text represents words.

The message of this book is so important for our young learners. You don’t have to be perfect when you’re learning how to write, with more practice, you’ll get there! Simply, do the best that you can.

Kindergarten Writing Unit 1- Drawing and Labeling

If you want more tips to help you support your emergent writers through the drawing stage, grab these step-by-step lesson plans.  

Not sure how to sequence or plan your lessons to support your students through the drawing stage? I have an entire drawing and labeling unit for kindergarten. It has 22 lessons, teacher notes, student material, pacing calendars, conference forms, rubrics, and more!

Check it out in my Tejeda’s Tots shop or in my TpT store.

What is your favorite picture book to use for teaching Beginning Writers? I’d love to know! Comment below and share.

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