Today is Day 12 of the Slice of Life Writing Challenge from twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. I was thrilled to hear children’s book author, Kevin Janison, today as a guest speaker at my school. He was very entertaining as he enlisted audience participation when he read aloud his new book “Deputy Dorkface: How Trutherton Got Its Honesty Back”.
He shared how he brainstormed book ideas and his book making process from start to finish. Many of his stories are ones that he told his own children as bedtime stories when they we’re small. Once he writes a section of a new book, he reads it aloud to a group of children to gauge kids’ reactions and makes changes to his book after he gets their feedback. After sending his book to his publisher, he gets the draft back telling him how to write, for instance, in a more active voice. Once he makes revisions, he sends his draft back to the publisher along with his thoughts. After 30-40 times of sending the transcripts back and forth, Kevin and the publisher finally decide on the final draft. He also discussed the process of finding an illustrator and told how he met his illustrator.
It was so interesting to hear him talk about where words will go on the page and the overall layout that the publishers and art directors go through when putting his books together. He had kids compare the published illustrations with the original illustrations that he showed on screen. Our second and third grade classes were entertained and engaged. Some of my third graders began a blog entry after his visit about what they thought of his visit and were very complimentary.
His visit reminded me of the hard work that writers and artists go through when creating a story and illustrations. He encouraged kids to write about events that happen in their homes and lives. In addition, he suggested that kids could draw something they can feel to make the image in their writing come alive. I have placed a link to his books here:
I loved one of his pages that had speech bubbles all over it. I could see using www.storyboardthat.com to plan a story and add speech bubbles to it as character’s speak. There are many other digital storytelling options, but StoryBoardThat was demonstrated at the NCTIES Conference last week and thought it fit well with planning a story after hearing a published author today. There are multiple story frames to choose from and a variety of characters, scenery and objects to choose from with which students can build a story. Perhaps they could write speech bubbles in their comics that describe an interaction with two figures from history. Maybe they could generate dialogue between two characters from a book that they’ve read. Ultimately, students could start from scratch and be inspired to write using the prewriting tools at the StoryBoardThat website. Some parts of the site are free and others require a fee, but I see many uses of the website to help facilitate student writing.
I look forward to sharing more of his Deputy Dorkface books with my students. All of the other titles that Kevin has written about Deputy Dorkface appear to have a nice character education connection.