In Pictures and In Words - Book Study Chapters 1-6

Hey ya'll - I'm not sure if you've ever heard of this book before, "In Pictures and In Words" by Katie Wood Ray. If you haven't, I gotta tell ya - it's a MUST read for all primary teachers....especially if you teach PK, K, or 1st!

I never heard of it before and then I heard Deedee from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten was doing a book study about writing and the importance of illustrations in writing - I knew I had to be a part of this! So, I'm linking up with her so I can learn more about tricks for Writer's Workshop!

 I have to admit that I've been one of those teachers that teaches "out of illustrations". I'm ashamed to say that after reading the first 6 chapters if this book. Well, I mean.....I don't totally teach "out of illustrations, but what I do is try to get the kids writing ASAP. Now I'm not sure this is as wise as I thought it was. Our district curriculum uses Lucy Calkins' Units of Study and I love them....but our district also wants to see kids incorporating word wall words and writing first sounds in words pretty quick (first month). I'm worried that in my quest to be a great writing teacher that I am sacrificing their "expression of meaning". 
The fact is illustrations are a form of communication just like writing and it should be valued as such. A kiddo that can successfully communicate via pictures is in a better place to be a great writer than a kiddo that can write sounds and word wall words yet cannot tell a coherent story.

Deedee was wonderful and provided some fantastic guiding questions to consider:

How might you explain to students that illustrating is composing?
Well, how is the best way to show kids that we value illustrating as much as writing? The best way to show we value illustrations is to draw attention to them, notice them in books, linger over illustrations that we see. I will make sure that we read a lot more wordless books (not just the few that I normally start the year off with).... I plan to develop conversations about how illustrators illustrate, what decisions they make, and why they drew things the way they did....

How might your attitude towards writing affect your students' willingness to write?
   WOW, that sure is a hit in the gut! Yes, absolutely my attitude towards writing affects my students' attitude towards writing. I mean, first of all kindergarteners ADORE their teachers.... We are the closest to GOD in their eyes and they want to be like us and they want us to be proud of them. So, of course they will learn from us. And so far I've taught my kids that illustrations are important, but only in addition to writing. I've definitely taught my kids that writing words are more important than illustrations. Well, I've done that until NOW. One of my biggest goals for Writer's Workshop this year is to NOT push them as much to bridge over to writing. I do intend to teach more "into the illustrations" and less "out of illustrations". The thinking that goes on while illustrating is indeed valuable and higher level!
    I also plan to focus a little more on illustrators this year while reading - not just on authors. I really like the idea that Katie talked about - showing a photo of the illustrator so that kids can make more of a personal connection to the illustrator and referring to him/her by name when you reference what was done in the illustrations of a book. Again, it's about valuing illustrations as meaning!
   What language might you use with your students to talk about reading like a writer, both as a writer of pictures and words?
I do lots of modeling using language such as," As a writer I can..." and "As a writer, you can...." We discuss what we'll write about and what readers we have in mind. 

Some lovely "wordless" texts - perfect for Writer's Workshop:

and oh goodness how did I forget this book:
I'm so glad Kathleen from Growing Kinders reminded us about it. I LOVE this book and posted about using it HERE!

I am OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD excited about reading this book and the possibilities it holds for my Writer's Workshop this year! I hope you join us....

Now....for my question for you-- Do you teach "into the illustrations" or "out of the illustrations"? Please leave a comment below telling us!


  1. I have to admit, I'm a "lets get writing as soon as we can" teacher. When it comes to writing, my students plan in illustrations, but label to whatever extent they can. This is writing. Eventually, illustrations were only part of "I have extra time", or "I'm publishing." This isn't the only time my students write... we also participate in Reading Response Journals - so my students have a minimum limit of writing to do, but MUST have an illustration. Some prefer more illustrations than writing... and that's okay - I've always made adjustments for learning styles.

    Now I'm going to have to read another book this summer. I'm seriously wondering if I'm damaging my writers. (And I was so confident before this blog - Yikes!)

  2. Btw: I recommend starting the year with books that focus on the power of illustrations. My favorite is "Ahoy Uncle Roy". I ask my students, what was Uncle Roy's job... and complain that the author didn't tell me anything, even though he gave all these clues... it's still a mystery to me! They all complain that I wasn't paying any attention because the ILLUSTRATOR told them. Uncle Roy is a pirate.

    I'd love to add to my list if anyone has a good one to recommend.

  3. Thank you for linking up! I think you know my answer to your question...LOL! But prior to this last school year, I taught my students, "out of illustrations".

    I loved your quote, "The thinking that goes on while illustrating is indeed valuable and higher level!"

    Now... I just need to get working on the book list. :)

    Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

  4. I am guilty of teaching out of illustrations. That part of the book really hit home with me! Love this book and reading everyone's posts.

  5. I am SOOOOOO guilty of "teaching out of illustrations" this is one of the reasons why I decided to do this book study. I realized that some of my students didn't value their illustrations as much as I would have liked, and they often said but I have to write!!! From my mouth to the babes ears!! So this year I wantntonteach into illustrations and see how this impacts their writing.

    I also plan on using wordless books for more than the beginning if the year,too!!

    Thanks for posting!!

    Danielle Brown