Imagine telling a story using only illustrations. How would you engage readers to look closely at the images to gather meaning? Author-illustrator Pete Oswald is a master at visual storytelling. In his book Hike, Oswald uses vignettes, sequenced panels and double-page spreads to guide readers in a visual journey.
The magic of reading Hike starts on the book’s cover. The title, in block letters, reads from the bottom up. A father and son climb the letters with hiking gear. Each letter in the title illustrates the pair hiking in the mountains. The artwork conveys a sense of adventure that readers will enjoy.
The most fascinating feature of Hike is the revelation on the copyright page. Here, we learn that the story is not really about a hike. Instead, it’s about family tradition. We begin to notice something is up when a family album appears on the pages at the end of the story. We first see the album in the boys hand. Then it appears on the kitchen counter. Finally, the opened album is on the boy’s lap. The copyright page reveals what’s inside the album; generations of family members planting a tree in the mountains. Close readers will remember seeing the album at the beginning of the book on the boy’s bedside table.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.3 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by engaging in inquiry-based processes for personal growth.
Ask learners to write about a family tradition for three minutes. Challenge learners to keep their pencils writing. They don’t have to write complete sentences. Lists and key words will work. If learners can’t think of something to write, they can just write something like “what else can I write about my family tradition”.
After the writing exercise, invite learners to choose a word that represents their family tradition. Explain that they will create block letters out of that word and illustrate the inside of each letter. The illustrations will tell a story about their tradition. They will use the cover of the book Hike as a model for their illustration.
Want to learn how to create big, bold letters? Watch this demonstration of how to create block letters by Dave McDonald. A segment about drawing bubble letters is also included.
If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.
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