Monday, June 25, 2012

What do authors do? What do illustrators do?

When I worked in a kindergarten classroom, the question was always asked, "What does the illustrator of a book do?"  It never seem to stick in their heads that the author wrote the words and the illustrator drew the pictures.  As a way to teach the difference, I wrote this little song.  

Sung to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

The author writes the words we read.
words we read,
words we read,
The author writes the words we read,
In every kind of book.

The illustrator draws and paints
draws and paints
draws and paints
The illustrator draws and paints
Inside a picture book.

For older kids, I might focus more on the process of writing and illustrating, not just the definition.  These books may help: 

This is a charming chapter book about the process of writing.  I think it would be a fun read aloud for students in second, third, and fourth grade.

Eileen Christelow, who wrote and illustrated the Five Little Monkeys series, also wrote What Do Authors Do? and What Do Illustrators Do?  They are both written as a graphic novels.  They show the process of writing and illustrating, and are a wonderful way to introduce the writing process and spark the imagination.

Now for older and younger students: books that are only illustrations are wonderful for the imagination and language development.

Here are two that I have enjoyed:

Free Fall, by David Wienser 
The Lion & the Mouse, by Jerry Pinkney

Finally, I must give a shout out to my favorite illustrator. Well if I had a favorite, he would be it.  

Eric Carle.

I love his website.   On his website, he shows how he makes his collages.  It is absolutely wonderful to watch.  
I love collage art.  


  1. What great ideas! We love the Avi book! I don't know how well it would work as a read-aloud though. There are a lot of puns and plays on words that make more sense when you can see the words - like when they try to convince the anteater that it is supposed to eat aunts!

  2. Jo, Mike would probably get the puns and play on words just by listening--but I too need to see the words. But I would be reading it aloud, so I might actually understand the play on words!

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