Creative Writing Models

These great picture books will inspire your kids to write creatively.  I have not assigned grade levels to these titles because they can be used with such a wide range of ages and topics.


Fortunately, Unfortunately.  Michael Foreman.  Andersen Press, 2010.
On his way to grandmother’s house to return her umbrella, Milo has many wild adventures!  Picture Book.

Agate : What Good is a Moose? Joy Morgan Dey.  Lake Superior Port Cities, 2007.
When Agate compares himself to his beautiful friends who are named after birthstones, he feels plain and useless.  His colorful friends help him find his special beauty and his self-image improves.  Includes facts about agates and birthstones.  Students can write about what makes them special.  Nikki Johnson’s watercolors are beyond stunning and could also provide inspiration for art projects.
Picture Book.

Almost.  Richard Torrey.  HarperCollins, 2009.
Remember being in a big hurry to grow up?  Jack is almost six and since that means he can almost do many things, he must almost be a grownup.  In the end, a hug from mom is still reassuring.  Picture Book.

Away From Home.  Anita Lobel.  Greenwillow Books, 1994.
This alliterative alphabet book takes you around the world to familiar and unfamiliar places.  Could also serve as a research model.  Picture Book.

Baby Brains : The Smartest Baby in the Whole World.  Simon James.  Candlewick, 2007.
Mr. and Mrs. Brains do all they can to stimulate the intelligence of their unborn child.  A day after he was born, he was reading the newspaper, fixing the car and asking to go to school.  In a few weeks, he completed medical school and became an astronaut.  Some people know at a very young age what they would like to do when they grow up.  Ask your students to write about their dreams for the future.  Picture Book.

Billy and Milly, Short and Silly. Eve B. Feldman.  Putnam, 2009.
Thirteen short rhyming stories, consisting of four words each.  Illustrations enhance the humor.  Picture Book.

Button Up! : Wrinkled Rhymes.  Alice Schertle.  Harcourt, 2009.
15 articles of clothing tell their stories in this wonderful collection of rhymes.
Picture Book.

Diary of a Baby Wombat. Jackie French.  Clarion, 2010.
Baby mimic’s his mother by keeping his own diary about eating, sleeping, digging, scratching and playing.  Picture Book.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Mo Willems.  Hyperion, 2003.
When the bus driver takes a break, the pigeon see an opportunity to make his dream come true.  Could serve as a model for persuasive writing.   Picture Book.

Hat. Paul Hoppe.  Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2009.
This simple book has a retro look to it with the red hat standing out on each page.  A young boy finds the hat in the park and imagines all the things he could do with it.  His mother asks him to consider that someone else may need it, which sparks new imaginings.  Picture Book.

I Don’t Want a Cool Cat.  Emma Dodd.  Little, Brown and Company, 2009.
A little girl knows exactly what she doesn’t want when choosing the perfect cat, but she knows what she does want when she sees it.  The flowing, rhyming text is perfect for repeated read-alouds.  The illustrations are delightfully humorous.  Could be used as a writing model using lots of adjectives.  Received many starred reviews.  Companion to Dodd’s, I Don’t Want a Posh Puppy.  Picture Book.

I Know Here. Laurel Croza.  Groundwood Books, 2010.
A girl fears moving from the trailer park in Saskatchewan where her Dad has completed his work on building a dam.  Her third grade teacher helps her understand that she can take what she has experienced with her to Toronto.  Based on the author’s childhood experience, the narrative vividly describes what she knows and what she has seen.  Picture Book.

I Wanna Iguana.  Karen Kaufman Orloff.  Putnam, 2004.
Alex and his mother exchange a series of notes in which Alex tries to persuade her to let him have a baby iguana.  Picture Book.

I Wanna New Room. Karen Kaufman Orloff.  G. P. Putnam’s, 2010.
Alex is tired of sharing his room with his little brother, so he launches a letter writing campaign to his father for a room of his own.  Hilarious illustrations by David Catrow.  Great example of
persuasive writing.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud all ages

Job Site. Nathan Clement.  Boyds Mills Press, 2011.
A construction company boss gives orders for the completion of a pond building project.  This shows a clearly stated sequence of events that could be used as a writing/research model.  Picture Book.

Library Mouse. Daniel Kirk.  Abrams, 2007.
Sam lives in a hole in the wall behind the children’s reference book sin the library.  By night he is a voracious reader.  He decides to write and illustrate his own biography.  He slips it into the biography section where it is found by a girl who shows it to the librarian.  The librarian posts an invitation for Same to come to Meet the Author Day.  Sam is too shy, so he sets up a display with a mirror, pencils and notebooks for kids to write their own stories. Picture Book.

The Loud Book. Deborah Underwood.  Houghton Mifflin, 2011.
Depicts a broad range of good and bad loud noises.  Just as charming as her first book:  The Quiet Book.  Picture Book.

Lulu and the Brontosaurus.  Judith Viorst.  Atheneum, 2010.
Lulu is a spoiled only child who demands a pet brontosaurus for her birthday.  When her parents refuse, she packs a suitcase and heads out to find one.  She encounters many perils in the forest.  When she finally finds a brontosaurus, he wants to make Lulu his pet.  There are 3 endings to choose from.  Short chapter book.

M is for Mischief : An A to Z of Naughty Children. Linda Ashman.  Dutton, 2008.
An alliterative 8 line rhyme for each letter of the alphabet describes a naughty child and the consequences of their behavior.  Funny, clever, rambunctiously illustrated.  Could your students write one about themselves?  A great writing model.  Picture Book.

Moon Bear. Brenda Z. Guiberson.  Holt, 2010.
Wonderful collage illustrations by Ed Young bring this question and answer book about the endangered Asiatic black bear to life.  Descriptive language is rich with verbs and adjectives.  Picture Book.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.  Chris Van Allsburg.  Houghton Mifflin, 1984.
A series of loosely related drawings, each with a title and caption, leaving the reader to make up their own story.  Picture Book.

Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street. Roni Schotter.  Scholastic, 1999.
Eva thinks that observing what happens in her neighborhood for a writing assignment will be boring, but her neighbors give her all kinds of good ideas.  Picture Book.

Once Upon a Royal Superbaby.  Kevin O’Malley.  Walker & Company, 2010.
Follow-up to Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude, the girl and boy have another writing assignment, this time about a king and queen.  This is just as fun and entertaining as the first.  A good way to talk about the writing process, collaboration. Picture Book.

Patches : Lost and Found.  Steven Kroll.  Marshall Cavendish, 2005.
Jenny has trouble writing stories, but loves to draw.  She is devastated when her pet guinea pig goes missing.  She creates missing pet posters to hang up in the neighborhood by drawing pictures of what might have happened to Patches.  Her mother encourages her to add words to her pictures to complete a school writing assignment.  The words don’t always have to come first.  Great example of personal narrative.  Picture Book.

A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea.  Michael Ian Black.  Simon & Schuster, 2010.
Oh, the many reasons why a pig parade is a bad idea!  Their refusal to wear majorette uniforms, preference for sad country ballads, and snuffling to name a few.  Much of the success of this funny read-aloud is due to the hilarious illustrations by Kevin Hawkes. Picture Book.

The Quiet Book. Deborah Underwood.  Houghton Mifflin, 2010.
Each page features a different young animal character depicting a kind of quiet: “Hide-and-seek quiet.”, “Top of the roller coaster quiet.”, “Best friends don’t need to talk quiet.”
Relatable and gentle.  Picture Book.

Read Anything Good Lately?Susan Allen.  Millbrook Press, 2003.
An alliterative alphabet book showing fun places and things to read; “an atlas at the airport.”  Picture Book.

Red Sings from Treetops, a Year in Colors. Joyce Sidman.  Houghton Mifflin, 2009.
Rich with descriptive, poetic language, colors come alive through the seasons and connect us with all the senses. Rarely do I recommend a book for all ages, but this one could fit that bill.  While seasons are often part of primary grade curriculum, it also serves as a great descriptive writing model and writing prompts for older kids.  Picture Book.

Rex. Ursula Dubosarsky.  Roaring Book Press, 2005.
Rex is the class pet chameleon.  He goes home every day with a different students who chronicles his activities in a special book.  The story ends with a good creative writing prompt: “What would you do if Rex came to visit you?”  Picture Book.

The SOS File.  Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, Laurie Myers.  Henry Holt, 2004.
Twelve humorous stories about their biggest emergencies are written throughout the year by students in Mr. Magro’s class.  Chapter Book.

Spring : An Alphabet Acrostic. Steven Schnur.  Clarion Books, 1999.
Each page has one illustrated acrostic related to spring’s animals, smells, activities, etc.  Picture Book.

Spring Things.  Bob Raczka.  Albert Whitman, 2007.
Vibrant and cheerful acrylic paintings show the many ways children enjoy spring.
Great for using “ing” words like, melting, humming, lemonading, hopping, mowing, blading.  Picture Book.

13 Words. Lemony Snicket.  Harper, 2010.
Snicket uses 13 seemingly random words to construct a story about a despondent bird and the dog who tries to cheer her up.  Clever and quirky.  Picture Book.

This Plus That : Life’s Little Equations.  Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Harper, 2011.
Mathematical equations are used to show how different aspects of daily life can be combined.  Simple, insightful and charming.  This would be a great writing model.
Picture Book.

Wanted: The Perfect Pet. Fiona Robertson.  Putnam, 2009.
Henry wants a dog more than anything, even more than a cowboy costume or world peace.  He places a newspaper ad, but is disappointed when a duck arrives wearing a dog disguise. The duck wins him over and ends up being the perfect pet after all.  A delightfully fun read-aloud.  Demonstrates problem solving. Also a good writing model for writing an ad.  Picture Book.

Welcome to My Neighborhood!  A Barrio ABC. Quiara Alegria Hudes.  Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010.
A young girl walks through her neighborhood identifying things for each letter of the alphabet.  Kids will see similarities and differences to their own neighborhoods.
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You Wouldn’t Want to be an American Pioneer : A Wilderness You’d Rather Not Tame.  Jacqueline Morley.  Franklin Watts, 2002.
An entertaining look at the many difficulties faced by pioneers who traveled west by covered wagon.  A good example of persuasive writing.  Long Picture Book.

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