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Reimagine the Illustrations in a Children's Book

Students will choose a children's book, analyze its illustrations and brainstorm ideas about how they could be revised. Then they will redraw the images and examine how the changes impact the story.

PROCESS:

  1. Prior to conducting this activity, collect a variety of illustrated children's books for students to view. Be sure to select some modern favorites as well as some classics.
  2. Display one example. Inform students that, in children's books, the illustrations are as much a part of the story as the words. Discuss how the illustrator's choice of color, line, shape and texture can affect the mood of a story. Then discuss how dominance, formality and overall composition impact the reader's understanding of the text.
  3. Point out that the artistic elements an illustrator selects are often dictated by the type of story an author is telling. Discuss how the illustrator's choices might differ if the story were a myth, cartoon, biography or even a magical tale.
  4. Share the books you collected, and have students select their favorite story. Encourage them to examine the book, paying particular attention to the illustrations. Then have students brainstorm ideas for how the illustrations could be different. Give them time to draw one or more examples.

ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to present their drawings and the book with its original artwork to the class. Encourage classmates to identify key changes in the artwork. Challenge them to explain how the changes impact their understanding or appreciation of the text.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
As a class, select one popular children's book. Examine the artwork as a class. Then brainstorm ideas about how the artwork could be revised. Divide the class in half. Instruct each half to select an approach and update all of the illustrations in the book. Compare and contrast the results.
Grades 5-6:
As a class, select two children's books: one a recent popular story and the other a classic tale. Assign one book to each group. Instruct groups to read their stories and examine the illustrations. Have groups brainstorm ideas about how the illustrations in their books could be revised to tell the tale in a different way. Give them time to redraw the book's illustrations.
Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into small groups. Have each group select a children's book and brainstorm ideas about how they could use color, line, shape and texture to reimagine the illustrations in the story. Encourage them to select a consistent style. Then have each group member follow those guidelines to update one illustration in the book.
Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into pairs. Have partners select a children's book and examine the illustrations. Instruct them to discuss how the type of book-myth, cartoon, etc.-dictates how the illustrations are done. Then have them brainstorm ideas about how the illustrations would be different if it were a different type of book. Have students redraw the images, reflecting the mood, tone and style of a different genre.