There is something about picture books that is just magical. The way illustrators so carefully plan out and create the events unfolding in words is incredible. Don't get me wrong, I love chapter books and being able to create characters and scenes in my head, but picture books will always hold a special place in my heart. This week I have been reading Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen.
The premise of the story is simple. (Spoiler Alert! If you don't want to know what happens skip down to the next paragraph.) One day Sam and Dave decide they will dig a hole until they find something spectacular. They dig down, change directions, split up, then dig down some more. In the end, they fall and fall until they end up back at their house where they started. What the words don't tell you is that the boys keep missing diamonds. Big, fat, ever bigger diamonds.
This is the magic of illustration, my friends. You can add so much to a story with pictures! I read the book to my kindergarten students and warned them that they had to pay attention to the pictures to get the full story. As soon as that first diamond showed up, little hands shot into the air. "Look, a diamond!" "No, they're going to miss it!" "The dog is digging! They should listen to him!" It is amazing how keen those little eyes are when reading a story. My little ones ate it up and loved every second of it.
As I was reading today it made me think of a mini-lesson I did with my second graders a few years ago and this book fits perfectly! You can use several different titles, but I highly recommend Barnett and Klassen's story. To start out, hand students a paper and tell them that they are going to be the illustrators for a story today. Read several pages of the story to students, pausing a few times to let them draw what they are imagining in their mind. You don't need to read the whole book at this point. If you are using Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, I would stop after they decide to dig the hole, when they change directions, and when they eat animal crackers and drink milk. Have students share their papers with each other and talk about how they chose what to draw. Then go back and read the book to students while showing the illustrations. This can spark a great discussion about the importance of illustrations and how they add so much to a story.
You can use plain paper and have students divide it themselves, or you can use this worksheet that I created. Do you have other books that show the importance of illustrations? Share in the comments below. Happy reading!
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