Kindergarten has launched into an exploration of “how-to” writing. In class, they’ve been thinking a lot about the steps it takes to make something. They’ve been taking these steps and writing their own “how-to” books.
As a part of this exploration, they are also exploring how books are made. The teachers each scheduled 2 sessions in the library. During the 1st session, we split the class into 3 groups to rotate through centers related to how books are made. Since this was Kindergarten, we had me, the classroom teacher, and the classroom paraprofessional to lead the centers that I planned.
Center 1: Read Aloud
We used How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex. In true Mac Barnett form, this book is filled with humor that was a little bit above the heads of some Kindergarten friends, but there’s a lot of great info on the process that a book goes through to end up in our hands. The book goes over the role of the author taking an idea and turning it into a draft. It also hits home the idea of writing multiple drafts of a book and getting feedback from an editor that is sometimes hard to receive. Next the book takes us through the illustrator’s role of creating pictures for the author’s words. It shows students how the book is printed and put together before it is shipped to the shelves to await a reader.
To me, one of the best lines in this book happens at the end when Mac writes, “a book can have words and pictures and paper and tigers, but a book still isn’t a book, not really, until it has a reader”.
Center 2: Video
I pulled together a variety of videos so that we could pick and choose pieces of videos to play and discuss with students. One video from Capstone walks through the process of making a book from an idea to the printing.
If students were really interested in how a book is actually put together, we spent more time with this Discovery video.
I also wanted students to hear from some authors. There are many options to choose from, but I pulled an interview with Jacqueline Woodson. She shares more details about ideas, characters, and rewriting.
Since students are exploring how to make their own books, I also wanted them to see some different options than what we might have in our library. They watched just a bit of this video showing elaborate pop-up books by Robert Sabuda.
We could pause the videos along the way and let kids make noticings or ask questions about how books are made.
Center 3: Writing & Illustrating
At this writing center, students put themselves in the shoes of an author and illustrator. Since our time was limited, we weren’t writing a full story. Instead, students finished the stem “Once upon a time there was….”. Students filled in whatever they wanted to as the author.
We talked about how often an author and illustrator don’t meet in person. The publisher might assign a text to an illustrator and the publisher is the one who communicates with that person. To mimic this, students sent their writing to someone else at the table. That person read the text and created an illustration to go with the text.
This was a challenge for some students because they saw that the illustrator didn’t always draw things the way they had pictured it in their mind. We used this “conflict” to connect with what published authors and illustrators sometimes face.
We came back together after our 3 experiences and took a glance around the library as the books sat on the shelves around us. We talked about how every book on our shelves has gone through a journey to make it to our shelves. Students shared some of the journey that they remembered from the various centers.
Next up, students will be working in the art classroom to make their own bound book. Then, they will return to the library to explore the “how-to” books.