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Helping an Illustrator with Valuable Words

I work with a gifted first grader. We don't meet much because I have to work in four different schools, so I have to make every second count. He has a wicked sense of humor, twinkling eyes, and an impish grin. His mind gets to 60 MPH in less than 20 seconds. It fires off in several directions and though he seems to be doing 16 things at once, he answers every question deeply and in a complex manner that usually ends with a joke and a laugh. He finds the fun in everything. Throwing ideas at him is a joy.

The other day I gave him this wordless picture book by Suzy Lee.
I put the book in front of him along with a pack of yellow post it notes and a pencil. "This illustrator needs you to write the words to her book. I guess she forgot," I said.

He chuckled at my joke and opened the book. In just fifteen minutes, the picture book words were written. They were breathtaking. If I could, I would show you every page. I am happy to share the words with anyone who wants them in case you want to order the book and see how each page works with the illustrations. I know Suzy Lee would be proud to have this six year old's words alongside her wonderful book.

Later we discussed present and past. I showed him some different picture books for examples and he settled on present. After he revised, I typed up his words. Then I cut each sentence strip and taped them into the book. Tomorrow he is going to read it to his class before taking it home for his Christmas present.

Here are some pictures of his brilliant work.


  1. I hear your enthusiasm and delight with your student in this post. I know of which you speak. My students are like that. And they can come up with the most clever stories. What a wonderful gift you have given this student...his own book!

  2. I used to do that. (Some wordless books are SO HARD.) This year, I tried having 1st graders practice, then set up "recording studios" and let them record their stories using iPads.

  3. What a wonderful post! SO loved reading about your student and what an incredible idea!


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