Last week, I was busy with lots of reading and writing. Our TCRWP Units of Study arrived, so I began reading A Guide to the Common Core Writing Workshop. In this overview of the series, Lucy Calkins lays out the hard work ahead. But, as always, her reassuring voice lets us know that she and her colleagues are there to guide us as we help our students learn to become the best writers they can be. My favorite nugget of wisdom so far is this:
“When you provide students with constant opportunities to write and when you actively and assertively teach into their best efforts, their development as writers will astonish you, their parents, the school administrators, and best of all, the youngsters themselves.” (p. 3)
Who can argue with that?
I also made a trip to the library to see what was new and grabbed an armful of picture books. (I did leave some for the kids, I promise!) I enjoyed them all, but one stood out for me.
I’d heard much praise for The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel Books, 2013), and it is well-deserved. In his first picture book, film-maker Daywalt tells the story of a boy’s crayons going on strike. Each crayon writes to Duncan to express its feelings about how it’s being used (or not). Red feels overworked, while pink thinks Duncan should be more open-minded when it comes to using this “girls’ color.”
Daywalt gives each color a distinctive voice, which often matches our expectations, and these come through loud and clear in the letters. Oliver Jeffers’ expressive illustrations reinforce these personalities, yet retain a child-like quality that kids will identify with.
I can imagine all elementary grade students loving this book, but it seems especially well suited for second or third grade. After sharing the book for fun, The Day the Crayons Quit could be used to address Anchor Standard 6: “Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.”
Children could also use the letters as models for their own writing. Narratives could be written from the point-of-view of their favorite color crayon, or some other familiar object. They could also write opinion pieces about a particular color.
This book could also be paired with collections of poems organized around colors such as Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill or Color Me a Rhyme by Jane Yolen. The possibilities are endless. Which, in the end, is the point of this completely original picture book.