One Book One Bucks

Teaching Resources for Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale

One Book / One Bucks County 2005

Bucks County Free Library

Bucks County Free Library

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PreK-6th Grade Resources for

Art Spiegelman's

Maus: A Survivor's Tale


About the One Book · One Bucks County project….

 The "One Book" initiative is a nationwide effort to broaden and deepen an appreciation of literature.  The intent is to bring people of all backgrounds and ages together to foster unity and literacy through sharing books and discussing the important issues raised by their reading.  For the first year of this program in Bucks County, the Bucks County Free Library has chosen the graphic novel, Maus: A Survivor's Tale, by Art Spiegelman.  During the period from January through May of 2005, the library and its partners will be sponsoring discussion groups, film showings, workshops, exhibits, panel discussions, lectures, and an appearance by Mr. Spiegelman.  Copies of the two-volume set will be available at public libraries and other public venues so that as many people as possible can have access.  Secondary schools are asked to include the reading and discussion of Maus in their classrooms where appropriate so Bucks County teens will be active participants in this project.  Class sets of the two-volume set will be available through the Bucks County Intermediate Unit's Instructional Materials Center.  Many school libraries will also have copies of the books.

About graphic novels and the selection of Maus for the One Book project….

 The term "graphic novel" has been in use since the 1960s though books written in this format did not appear often until the early 1980s.  The genre is characterized by stories about substantive issues written in comic book format and published as bound paperback or hardbound books.  Longer than a short story and more literary than a comic book, the graphic novel uses high quality graphics with text to tell a complete story.  Many graphic novels are collections of stories previously published as separate comic books.  Art Spiegelman received a special Pulitzer Prize for Maus in 1992, adding validity to the graphic novel as an important genre in contemporary literature. 

The Bucks County Free Library's One Book Committee chose a graphic novel for its first project to stimulate readers to explore new forms of literature.  Graphic novels appeal both to adults and teenagers and use themes and subjects important to many.  The choice of Maus was based on its critical acclaim, its artistic excellence, and its universal themes.

MAUS and younger children….

While adults may have concerns about sharing the specific content and some of the themes of Maus with younger children many of its themes are highly appropriate, and in fact, important, for sharing with children.  This resource guide has been prepared by librarians, teachers, and literacy professionals from Bucks County in order to provide appropriate materials, websites, and activities that are based on the themes in Maus for preschoolers through sixth graders so they may also share in the One Book One Bucks experience. 

Preschool-6th Grade Resources for

Maus: A Survivor's Tale



About this resource guide                                                          6

About Art Spiegelman                                                               7

About Maus                                                                               7

          Background Notes                                                            7

          Themes/Issues                                                                 8       

Maus programming resources                                                     

Mice (preK)                                                                     9 

          Books                                                                    9

          Fingerplays/Songs/Rhymes                                     11

          Crafts                                                                   11

          Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities                       11

          Parent/Child Activities                                           12

          Sample Program                                                      13

          Heroes (preK)                                                                  14

Books                                                                    14

          Fingerplays/Songs/Rhymes                                     17

          Crafts                                                                   18

          Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities                       18     

          Parent/Child Activities                                           18

                   Sample Program                                                      19     

          Heroes (Grades 3-6)                                                        20

Books                                                                    20

          Crafts                                                                   22

          Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities                       22     

          Parent/Child Activities                                           23

          Sample Program                                                      24

Biographies & Family Stories (Grades K-2)                        25

Books                                                                    25

          Crafts                                                                   28

          Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities                       28     

          Parent/Child Activities                                           29

          Sample Program                                                      30              


Telling Stories through Art (Grades K-2)                          31

Books                                                                    31

          Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities                       34     

          Parent/Child Activities                                           35

          Sample Program                                                      36

          Cartooning/Comics (Grades 3-6)                                       37

Books                                                                    37

          Crafts                                                                   40

Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities                       41     

          Sample Program                                                      42              

About this resource guide….

This guide is intended to aid librarians, teachers, community leaders, and parents in using Maus-based themes in their libraries, classrooms, centers, and homes.  Because these environments vary widely, the guide must, of necessity, be somewhat general, offering adults the opportunity to adapt the ideas to their specific needs.  Although there are many themes worthy of discussion in Maus six were chosen for this guide.  There will be overlap between the six sections so several of them may be used together to create an entire program.  All books included are available at libraries throughout Bucks County and the activities require little or no money. 

 We hope that librarians, teachers, community leaders, and parents in our area will participate in this project by doing the following:

l       read the book!

l       promote the reading of Maus to teenagers and adults

l       incorporate the themes into lessons or activities with younger children


For detailed chapter summaries, character descriptions, and middle school/high school/adult appropriate themes and teaching ideas please see the corresponding Teaching Resources for Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale available in public libraries and schools throughout Bucks County or at 

The Bucks County Free Library in cooperation with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit and VITA is providing this resource guide for librarian's/teachers'/community leaders'/parents' use.  Any parts of the guide may be reproduced for educational purposes.  The guide is also available online at 
About Art Spiegelman….

Born in 1948 in Stockholm, Sweden, Art Spiegelman is a naturalized U.S. citizen.  While growing up, Spiegelman lived with his parents in Rego Park in the Queens section of New York City.  From 1966 to 1989 he worked for Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. illustrating trading cards and stickers including the Garbage Pail Kids series.  He has written many comix (underground comics), worked as a New Yorker staff artist and writer, and been a lecturer and teacher at various times in his career.  His work has been the subject of special museum and gallery exhibits both in the U.S. and abroad.  Spiegelman is especially noted for his work as the co-founder and editor of the comix periodical Raw.  Maus earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship and a special Pulitzer Prize.  Mr. Spiegelman is currently working on the story and the sets for an opera.  His newest graphic novel, In the Shadow of No Towers, a reflection of the tragedy of September 11, was published in September 2004.

 About Maus….

 Background notes

 Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale is published in two volumes:

Maus: A Survivor's Tale, I: My Father Bleeds History.  New York: Pantheon, 1986.  (ISBN 0-394-74723-2)

Maus: A Survivor's Tale, II: And Here My Troubles Began.  New York: Pantheon, 1991. (ISBN 0-679-72977-1)

Written over a thirteen-year period, the books tell the story of Spiegelman's attempts to learn about his father and mother's experiences as Jews during the Holocaust and later as survivors in the United States.  Maus also documents Spiegelman's difficult relationship with his father, his own search for understanding as a survivor of this relationship, and his artistic odyssey in creating the work.  The historical content is based on dialogues between Spiegelman and his father, Vladek, over many years.  Spiegelman uses animal heads with human bodies to portray characters: Jews are mice, Germans are cats, Poles are pigs, Americans are dogs, Frenchmen are frogs, and Swedes are reindeer.  While the subjects treated in the books are serious, there is also humor.  The setting moves from Rego Park, New York, to various cities and towns in Poland, to a resort in the Catskill Mountains, to Germany, to Florida to Sweden.  This device helps Spiegelman tell the larger story of the Holocaust with the authority of a survivor's memories while at the same time telling the story of his family's history and relationships during and after World War II.  The books are hard to classify since they have elements of fiction, nonfiction, biography, and autobiography.


Maus is a complex work with multiple levels of meaning.  It can be read as a fable with a moral for the future, as a personal account of the Holocaust, and as a story in which the tensions and conflicts of a family parallel those in the public world.  The animal characters are metaphors for the racial and political conflicts of Germany and Poland in the 1930s and 1940s.

The most appropriate themes for younger children are:

l       Self-esteem/Self-worth

l       Heroes and what makes someone heroic

l       Animals – animals as metaphor

l       Cartoons/cartooning/comics/graphic novels

l       Holocaust

l       Racism

l       Biography/Autobiography and telling family stories

l       Telling stories through art

l       Survival

l       Values/morals

Maus Programming Resources


Theme:  Animals – animals as metaphor

On its most simple level, Maus can be seen as a book with animal characters, mice being the major protagonists. 


Mice (preschool)



Aylesworth            The Completed Hickory Dickory Dock

Completes the classic nursery rhyme about the mouse that ran up the clock.

Cauley                             The Town Mouse & the County Mouse

Town Mouse and Country Mouse exchange visits and discover each is suited to his own home. 

Cousins                  Maisy series 

Dunbar                  Ten Little Mice

Follows the activities of ten little mice as they scurry home to their nest. 

Fleming                  Lunch

A very hungry mouse eats a large lunch comprised of colorful foods. 


Many of his books feature mice characters. 

Ivimey                   The Complete Story of the Three Blind Mice

Three small mice in search of fun become hungry, scared, blind, wise, and, finally happy. 

Kraus                     Whose Mouse Are You?

A lonely little mouse has to be resourceful in order to bring his family back together. 

Leuck                    The Teeny Tiny Mouse

A teeny, tiny mouse and his mommy point out objects of various colors all around their teeny, tiny house 

Lionni                    Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse

Alexander, the mouse, makes friends with Willy, a toy mouse, and wants to be just like him until he discovers that Willy is to be thrown away. 

Lionni                    Frederick

Frederick doesn't help the other mice gather food, but he saves them from the cold winter. 

McMillan               Mouse Views: What the Class Pet Saw

Photographic puzzles follow an escaped pet mouse through a school while depicting school items such as scissors, paper, books, and chalk as seen from the mouse's point of view. 

Numeroff              If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Relating the cycle of requests a mouse is likely to make after you give him a cookie takes the reader through a young child's day. 

Provencher             Mouse Cleaning

Grandma Twilly cannot find the motivation to get her house cleaned until she discovers a mouse in her house. 

Riley                     Mouse Mess

A hungry mouse leaves a huge mess when it goes in search of a snack. 

Stevens                 The Town Mouse & the Country Mouse

Town Mouse and Country Mouse exchange visits and discover each is suited to his own home. 

Walsh                    Mouse Paint

Three white mice discover jars of red, blue, and yellow paint and explore the world of color. 

Yolen                     Mouse's Birthday

Several animals try to squeeze into Mouse's small house to help him celebrate his birthday. 

Young                    Seven Blind Mice

Retells in verse the Indian fable of the blind men discovering different parts of an elephant and arguing about its appearance.  The illustrations depict the blind arguers as mice. 


Cousins                  Maisy series 

Craig                     Angelina Ballerina series 

Henkes                  Owen (public performance rights)

Owen's parents try to get him to give up his favorite blanket before he starts school, but when their efforts fail, they come up with a solution that makes everyone happy. 

Lobel                     Mouse Soup

In this animated musical film, Mouse gets snatched up by a hungry Weasel who is determined to make him into soup.  Mouse weaves one tale after another - all leading to his escape. 

Numeroff              If you Give a Mouse a Cookie (public performance rights)

Relating the cycle of requests a mouse is likely to make after you give him a cookie takes the reader through a young child's day. 

Potter          Tale of Two Bad Mice and Johnny Town-Mouse

Beatrix Potter's charming tale of a city mouse and a country mouse who trade places comes to life in this wonderful animated version.  Timmy Willie the country mouse and the debonair Johnny Town-Mouse get involved in all sorts of adventures. 


“Three Blind Mice” and “Hickory Dickory Dock” 

 “One Little Mouse”:

Lohnes, Marilyn.  Finger Folk.  Ft. Atkinson, WI:  Alleyside Press, 1999, p. 71.  Includes fingerpuppet patterns. 

“Five Little Mice”: 


Heart-Shaped Mice: 

Paper Bag Mouse Puppet: 

Printable coloring pages:,2358,64-15950,00.html 

Mouse Puppet:

Totten, Kathryn.  Storytime Crafts.  Ft. Atkinson, WI:  Alleyside Press, 1998, p. 71. 

Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities:

Preschool Theme from the Child's Play website.  Includes craft ideas, fingerplays, and recipes: 

Lessons from the Core Knowledge website:

Preschool Lesson on Town Mouse and Country Mouse: 

Kindergarten Lesson on Aesop's “The Lion and the Mouse” (see lesson #1):

Kindergarten Lesson on the moral in Aesop's “The Lion and the Mouse” (see lesson #1): 

Kindergarten Lesson on using Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh to teach a lesson on colors and color mixing from the TeacherViews website: 

Kindergarten Lesson on using Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh to teach a lesson on colors and color mixing from 

Activities to accompany Laura Numeroff's If You Give A… books: 

If you Give a Mouse a Cookie related activities:

Raines, Shirley.  Story S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-r-s: Activities to Expand Favorite Children's Books.  Mt. Rainier, MD:  Gryphon House.  1989, p. 228-229. 

Mouse's Birthday by Jane Yolen and Bruce Degen activity:

Materials Needed:  Blanket or quilt, and if desired props for each of the items the animals bring to mouse:  cheese, teapot, bowl, ski, brown purse, candle

Procedure:  Read story through first to the children and then invite them to participate in a rereading.  Select one child to be mouse and have him/her sit on the floor with the blanket around him/her, face exposed as the “door.”  As the story is reread the other children carrying their props (or pretending) kneel down and enter mouse's house by moving the blanket to cover them until they are all underneath (faces exposed).  At the end of the story everyone blows as hard as they can and throw off the blanket. 

Parent/Child Activities:

Hard-Boiled Mice Eggs: 

Clock and Mouse Costume:

Ross, Kathy.  Crafts from your Favorite Nursery Rhymes.  Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press,  2002, pp 30-31. 

Soft Sculpture Town and Country Mice:

Ross, Kathy.  Crafts from your Favorite Children's Stories.  Brookfield, CT:  Millbrook Press, 2001, pp 20-21.

Sample Library Program:

(Approximately 45 minutes)


Opening:      Traditional storyhour opening fingerplay, song, or other activity 

Read:           The Town Mouse & the Country Mouse by Janet Stevens 

Rhyme:         Hickory Dickory Dock” 

Read:           The Completed Hickory Dickory Dock by Jim Aylesworth 

Read:           If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff 

Fingerplay:   “One Little Mouse” from Finger Folk by Marilyn Lohnes    

Read:           Ten Little Mice by Joyce Dunbar 

Activity:      Mouse's Birthday by Jane Yolen and Bruce Degen

Read through the story once and then invite the children to participate in a retelling. 

Materials Needed:  Blanket or quilt, and if desired props for each of the items the animals bring to mouse:  cheese, teapot, bowl, ski, brown purse, candle

Procedure:  Select one child to be mouse and have him/her sit on the floor with the blanket around him/her, face exposed as the “door.”  As the story is reread the other children carrying their props (or pretending) kneel down and enter mouse's house by moving the blanket to cover them until they are all underneath (faces exposed).  At the end of the story everyone blows as hard as they can and throw off the blanket.


Craft:          Mouse Puppet (from Storytime Crafts, p. 71)

Materials:    mouse pattern photocopied onto heavier paper and cut out, yarn, craft sticks, glue

Procedures:  cut yarn into small pieces and glue onto mouse's back for fur, glue longer pieces onto back of mouse for tail, glue to stick


Theme:  Heroes – and what makes someone a hero

Although Vladek survived the concentration camps and is the protagonist of Maus, Spiegelman does not portray him as a hero but as a real person struggling to survive.  Even very young children are exposed to “heroes” as defined by the media -- cartoon superheroes, sports figures and singers, and everyday heroes just like themselves.  Besides the ideas listed below, please also see the Heroes 3-6th grade section and the Biographies K-2 section.


Heroes (preschool)


Books:  Animal Heroes – Fictional and True Life

Barracca                Maxi the Hero

The further adventures of Maxi, the dog, who rides with Jim in his taxi and becomes a hero when he chases and catches a thief. 

Bridwell                 Clifford to the Rescue

Clifford uses his size to help out in many ways--saving a kitten, rescuing people from a fire, masquerading as an elephant, and supporting a bridge so a parade can pass. 

Buehner                 Superdog: The Heart of a Hero

Tired of being overlooked because he is so small, Dexter, a big-hearted dog with big dreams transforms himself into a superhero. 

Clements                Pets to the rescue series

Easy-to-read series featuring real animals who acted in heroic ways.


Driscoll                 Bravest Cat

The true story of a mother cat that becomes a celebrity when it rescues its kittens from a burning building in New York in 1996.


Rey                       Curious George Gets a Medal

Following a day of misadventures Curious George becomes the first space monkey.


Books:  Community Heroes

Albee                    Hooray for Our Heroes

The residents of Sesame Street discover that heroes are found in every place, every day in this reassuring story that reminds that you don't always have to brave great danger to be someone's hero. 

Demerest               Firefighters A to Z

An alphabetic look at a firefighter's day.

 Flanagan                Officer Brown Keeps the Neighborhoods Safe

Introduces a female deputy chief of police and discusses the things she is does in her job. 

Gibbons                 Fire!  Fire!

Views fire fighters fighting fires in the city, country, forest, and on the waterfront. 

Johnson                  Police Officers, A to Z

Each letter of the alphabet introduces a topic relating to police officers and their jobs. 

Kalman                   Community Helpers from A to Z

An alphabet book introducing occupations oriented to the community. 

Ready                    Community Helpers series 

Yee                              Fireman Small series  

Books:  Courage

Beck                      Pepito the Brave

Pepito is afraid of heights.  When his brothers and sisters fly off to a new tree, the little bird decides to make his own way there.  

Hayles                   He Saves the Day

A brave and daring champion saves the day, but sometimes he needs help. 

Shannon                 Tippy-Toe Chick, Go!

When a mean dog blocks the path to the garden where a delicious breakfast awaits, Little Chick shows her family how brave and clever she is. 

Shannon                 Tippy-Toe Chick, Go!

When a mean dog blocks the path to the garden where a delicious breakfast awaits, Little Chick shows her family how brave and clever she is. 

Waber                   Courage

Provides examples of the many kinds of courage found in everyday life and in unusual circumstances, from tasting the vegetable before making a face to being a firefighter or police officer. 

Wells                    Shy Charles

Being painfully timid and shy does not keep a young mouse from rescuing his babysitter in an emergency situation.


Books:  Everyday Heroes

Bunting                  A Day's Work

When Francisco, a young Mexican American boy, tries to help his grandfather find work, he discovers that the old man has something even more valuable to teach Francisco. 

Demi                      The Empty Pot

When Ping admits that he is the only child in China unable to grow a flower from the seeds distributed by the Emperor, he is rewarded for his honesty. 

Henkes                  Sheila Rae, the Brave

When brave Sheila Rae, who usually looks out for her sister Louise, becomes lost and scared one day, Louise comes to the rescue. 

Hoban                    Arthur's Loose Tooth

Arthur the chimp is a little worried about losing his loose tooth, until his sister and their babysitter show him the real meaning of bravery. 

Lester                   Hooway for Wodney Wat

All his classmates make fun of Rodney because he can't pronounce his name, but it is Rodney's speech impediment that drives away the class bully. 

SanAngelo              Spaghetti Eddie

Eddie's love of spaghetti turns him into a hero when he not only solves neighbors' problems through ingenious use of noodles, but also stops a robber cold with a well-thrown meatball. 

Steig                     Brave Irene

Plucky Irene, a dressmaker's daughter, braves a fierce snowstorm to deliver a new gown to the duchess in time for the ball. 

Books:  Folklore Heroes

Osbourne               New York's Bravest

Tells of the heroic deeds of the legendary New York firefighter, Mose Humphreys, eight feet tall and able to swim the Hudson River in two strokes.


Books:  Superhero vs Real Hero

Brown                    Bionic Bunny Show

As an ordinary rabbit in real life is portrayed as a bionic bunny on his television series, the reader views all the production efforts that provide that illusion.


Cazet                    Minnie and Moo and the Musk of Zorro

Cows Minnie and Moo masquerade as the hero Zorro in order to protect the barnyard, but the results are not quite what they intended.


Graham                  Max

Max, the young son of superheroes, is a late bloomer when it comes to flying, until he is inspired by the plight of a falling baby bird.


MacDonald             Another Perfect Day

What started out as another perfect day for a superhero suddenly goes awry.


Taylor                             Boing!

A man known as the Great Elastic Marvel has an unexpected adventure when his jump on a trampoline takes him out his apartment window.


Van Leeuwen           Oliver the Mighty Pig

Oliver feels like the superhero Mighty Pig when he wears his Mighty Pig cape, but he finds that being a superhero in the real world has some complications.


Whatley                Captain Pajamas

In the middle of the night, Brian transforms himself into Captain Pajamas, Defender of the Universe, to save his older sister Jessie from attacking aliens.


Wheeler                When Pigs Fly

Fitch and Chip learn that you do not have to wear a cape to be a hero.



American Heroes and Legends series


Animated Hero Classics series


Spend a Day with… series

Spend a day with real firefighters, police officers, or rescue workers following them on real live action adventures and experiencing how they train, what tools they use, and how they work.



“Brave Fireman”:


“Five Fire Fighters”:





Badges and Medals for Community Heroes:


Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities:

“Heroes in My Community” – 7 part kindergarten level unit:


“Community Helpers” lessons adaptable for preschool:


From Reading Rainbow to accompany The Bionic Bunny Show by Marc Brown:


From Reading Rainbow to accompany the episode featuring superhero, Max by Bob Graham:


Preschool lesson, “My Heroes Picture Book” on the Education World Website:


Resource guide for using New York's Bravest by Mary Pope Osbourne from Random House:


Parent/Child Activities:

From Reading Rainbow to accompany the episode featuring superhero, Max by Bob Graham:


Superhero Cape Craft:


Everyday Heroes:




Sample Library Program:

(Approximately 1 hour)


Opening:      Traditional storyhour opening fingerplay, song, or other activity


Intro:          Ask children to name their heroes and talk briefly about what makes someone a hero.  Tell them you are going to share stories about many different kinds of heroes.


Read:           Max by Bob Graham


Song:           ”Did You Ever See a Super Hero?”  (to the tune of “Did You Ever See a Lassie?”)


Not all heroes have super powers:


Read:           The Bionic Bunny Show by Marc Brown


Read:           Superdog: The Heart of the Hero by Caralyn Buehner


Real life people, like those in your neighborhood, can be heroes too.  Give some examples.


Read:           Fireman Small by Wong Herbert Yee


Fingerplay:   “Five Fire Fighters” from


Kids can be heroes too.

Read:           Sheila Rae, the Brave by Kevin Henkes


Craft:          Invent a Hero (adapted from Reading Rainbow activities to accompany The Bionic Bunny Show by Marc Brown

Materials:    craft paper, crayons

Procedures:  have children invent their own hero (either superhero, community hero, or real-life hero) and draw a picture of them and the hero together.  If desired, regroup after the art activity and allow the children to tell about their hero.

Heroes (Grades 3-6)



Bennett                  Children's Book of Heroes

Presents a collection of poems, traditional tales, and both fictional and true stories about all kinds of heroes.


Books:  Animal Heroes- Fictional and True Life

DiCamillo               Tale of Despereaux

The adventures of Desperaux Tilling, a small mouse of unusual talents, the princess that he loves, the servant girl who longs to be a princess, and a devious rat determined to bring them all to ruin.

Sample Booktalk:


Howe           Amazing Odorous Adventures of Stinky Dog

Howie the wire-haired dachshund creates a story featuring a superhero whose ability to stink enables him and his sidekick, a sparrow named Little D, to fight crime in Central City.


Jackson                 Hero Dogs

Presents a variety of stories about working and rescue dogs who help humans in many ways, such as those involved in the work at the World Trade Center site after 9/11.


Books:  Community Heroes

Maass                    Fire Fighters

Describes what it means to be a firefighter, including life at the firehouse, practice drills, service to the community, and fire emergencies.


Books:  Courage

Gaiman                   Coraline

Looking for excitement, Coraline ventures through a mysterious door into a world that is similar, yet disturbingly different from her own, where she must challenge a gruesome entity in order to save herself, her parents, and the souls of three others.

Sample Booktalks:


Giff                      All the Way Home

In 1941, circumstances bring together Brick, a boy from New York's apple country, and Mariel, a young girl made shy by her bout with polio, and the two make a journey from Brooklyn back to help Brick's elderly neighbors and to help Mariel learn about her past.

Sample Booktalk:


Sperry                  Call it Courage

Relates how Mafatu, overcomes his terrible fear of the sea and proves his courage.

Sample Booktalks:

Books:  Everyday Heroes

DeLaCroix             Hero of Third Grade

Randall changes to a new school where he pretends to be an anonymous hero until, when his third grade class plans a fundraiser, he finds that being himself is good enough.


Books:  Fantasy/Legendary Heroes

Blair                      Tall Tale America


Collins                             Gregor the Overlander

When eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister are pulled into a strange underground world, they trigger an epic battle foretold by ancient prophecy.

Sample Booktalk:


Shannon                 Edward and the Pirates

Books and his vivid imagination provide Edward with great adventures.


Yolen                     Young Heroes series


Books:  Real Life Heroes

Adler                    The Babe and I

A boy meets Babe Ruth while helping his family by selling newspapers during the Depression.


Blos                       Heroine of the Titanic

An anecdotal account of some of the adventurous activities of Molly Brown, with an emphasis on her survival of the sinking of the Titanic.


Bolden                   Portraits of African-American Heroes


Borden                   Goodbye, Charles Lindbergh

A farm boy meets his hero, Colonel Charles Lindbergh, when he lands his bi-plane in a field.


Edwards                Great Expedition of Lewis & Clark

An account of the difficulties and wonders that were part of the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the land obtained as part of the Louisiana Purchase.


Golenbock              Teammates

Describes the racial prejudice experienced by Jackie Robinson when became the first black player in Major League baseball and depicts the acceptance and support he received from his white teammate Pee Wee Reese.


McCann                 Luba: the Angel of Bergen-Belsen

A biography of the Jewish heroine, Luba Tryszynska, who saved the lives of more than fifty Jewish children in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the winter of 1944/45.

Pinkney                  Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters

Tells the stories of ten African-American women freedom fighters.


San Souci              Kate Shelley:  Bound for Legend

Biography of a 15-year-old who helped avert a train disaster in 1881.


Books:  Superheroes

Pilkey                    Adventures of Super Diaper Baby

Irrepressible friends George and Harold create a new comic book superhero, Super Diaper Baby.  Also see the Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta series.



Metaxas                Mose the Fireman

Comic history of Gotham's legendary fireman.


Animals to the Rescue (public performance rights)

Explores the nature of the relationship between individual people and animals.


American Heroes and Legends series


Animated Hero Classics series



Create a superhero:


Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities:

Lessons from the My Hero website:

“Exploring Heroes” three lessons for all ages:

“My Hero” Story Scramble activity for K-4th graders:

“Interviewing Our Heroes” for grades 5-8:

“Comparing and Contrasting Heroes” for all ages:

“My Hero Scavenger Hunt” for grades 5-8:


“Heroism in Action” Thinkquest adaptable for grades 5 & 6:


Grade-School age lessons from website:


Famous Americans:  22 Short Plays for the Classroom.  New York, NY:  Scholastic Professional Books, 1994.


Grade school “Hooray for Heroes” lesson plans from Scholastic website:


Adaptable “Portrait of a Hero” lesson for grades K-2 from EDSITEment website:


Elementary school age lessons from Education World website:

“Who are your Heroes” lesson by Lois Lewis:

“Heroes Online”:

“Honor Your School and Community Heroes” from Lois Lewis:

“Create a Holiday for Your Favorite Hero” lesson by Lois Lewis:

“Heroes in History ABC Book”:


“Superhero Comic Strip” (also Cartooning):


Spiderman Activities:


Captain Underpants Party Ideas:


Teacher's Guide for Coraline by Neil Gaiman from Harper Collins:


Parent/Child Activities:

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids:

Sample Library Program

(Approximately 1 hour)


Start the program by either telling or reading your favorite tall tale.  Ask the children if the main character is a hero and discuss the qualities that make someone a hero.  Make sure to touch on the different kinds of heroes there are (see booklist for examples).


Booktalk several books about different kinds of heroes.  Examples include:

·        Coraline by Neil Gaiman (bravery)

·        Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (fantasy heroes)

·        Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Pinkney (real life heroes)


Create a Holiday for Your Hero adapted from the lesson plan at:

Purpose:  To allow children to think about heroic qualities, creative thinking, fun.

Supplies/Materials:  paper, pencils, Internet computers, biographies

Method:  Divide children into groups of three or four and allow them to choose a hero who does not already have a holiday named for him.  The hero can be real, fictional, famous, local, human, or animal. 


Children complete the following:

Name of the person/animal to be honored.
A title for the holiday
Date(s) for the holiday
Songs or music for the holiday
Specific foods for the holiday
Holiday colors
Special clothing to be worn
Special decorations
At least one other way to celebrate the holiday


Allow children to use the Internet for research or books in the library but do not require it.  This program is for fun and not for teaching research skills.  A good general biography website is:, but there are many others.


About 10 minutes before the program is over invite the children to come back as a group and share their ideas.

Theme:  Biography and Family Stories

Maus is a biography but even more than that it is the story of the creation of the biography by a son interviewing his father.  There is great potential for family programming around this topic.


Biography and Family Stories (K-2 grade)


Books:  Biography

                                    Rookie Biographies


Adler                    Picture Book Biography series


Brenner                 Boy Who Loved to Draw

Recounts the life story of the Pennsylvania artist who began drawing as a boy and eventually became well known on both sides of the Atlantic.


Corey                    You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer

Amelia Bloomer introduces pantaloons to American women to save them from the discomfort of their heavy, tight dresses.


Kellogg                  Johnny Appleseed

Presents the life of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, describing his love of nature, his kindness to animals, and his physical fortitude.


Krull                      Boy on Fairfield Street

Introduces the life of renowned children's author and illustrator Ted Geisel, popularly known as Dr. Seuss, focusing on his childhood and youth in Springfield, Massachusetts.


Krull                      Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez

A biography of Cesar Chavez, from age 10 when he lived on his family's Arizona ranch, to age 38 when he led a peaceful protest against migrant workers' working conditions.


Lester                   Author: A True Story

Children's author Helen Lester describes her life from age three to adulthood and discusses how she writes.


Moss                     Brave Harriet

The first American woman to have received a pilot's license describes her April 1912 solo flight across the English Channel, the first such flight by any woman.


Pinkney                  Bill Pickett, Rodeo Ridin' Cowboy

Describes the life and accomplishments of the son of a former slave whose unusual bulldogging style made him a rodeo star.

Pinkney                  Duke Ellington: the Piano Prince and His Orchestra

A brief recounting of the career of this jazz musician and composer who, along with his orchestra, created music that was beyond category.


Rappaport             Martin's Big Words: Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell his life story in a simple, direct way.


Raschka                 Charlie Parker Played Be Bop

Introduces the famous saxophonist and his style of jazz known as bebop.


Ringgold                If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks

A biography of the African American woman and civil rights worker whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus led to a boycott which lasted more than a year in Montgomery, Alabama.


Wallner                 Laura Ingalls Wilder

A biography of the well-known author of "The Little House on the Prairie," describing the pioneer experiences that provided the basis for much of her writing.


Winters                 Abe Lincoln the Boy Who Loved Books

Presents an illustrated biography of Abraham Lincoln, describing how his lifelong love for reading led him to become the sixteenth president of the United States.


Winters                 Sebastian: A Book About Bach

Describes how Johann Sebastian Bach survived the sorrows of his childhood and composed the music the world has come to love.


Books:  Family Stories

Arnold                   Bravest of Us All

Ruby Jane thinks that her sister Velma Jean is the bravest person in her family, but when a tornado comes, Ruby Jane shows that she is very brave herself.


Bennett                      Grandad's Tree

Poems about family issues and emotions.


Carlstrom              Climb the Family Tree, Jesse Bear

Jesse Bear experiences the excitement of a family reunion filled with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and lots of food, games, and storytelling.


Crews                    Bigmama's

Visiting Bigmama's house in the country, young Donald Crews finds his relatives full of news and the old place and its surroundings just the same as the year before.


Curtis                    When I Was Little: A 4-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth

A four-year-old describes how she has changed since she was a baby.


Houston                 My Great-Aunt Arizona

An Appalachian girl, Arizona Houston Hughes, grows up to become a teacher who influences generations of schoolchildren.


Polacco                  Betty Doll

The author shares the true story of her mother, Mary Ellen, and Mary Ellen's favorite doll, Betty Doll.  Sewn together by Mary Ellen as a child, Betty Doll remained at her side, even many years later when Mary Ellen discovered she had cancer.


Ringgold                Tar Beach

A young girl dreams of flying above her Harlem home, claiming all she sees for herself and her family.  Based on the author's quilt painting of the same name.


Rylant                             Henry & Mudge in the Family Trees

Henry and his big dog Mudge attend their first family reunion.


Rylant                             When I Was Young in the Mountains

Reminiscences of the pleasures of life in the mountains as a child.


Say                       Grandfather's Journey

A Japanese American man recounts his grandfather's journey to America which he later also undertakes, and the feelings of being torn by a love for two different countries.


Sweeney                Me and My Family Tree

Using a family tree, a child explains how her brother, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are related to her.


Books:  Photo Essays

The following are interesting photo essays about children's lives.  While not true biographies, they may be used to introduce the concept of “biography.”


Life Like Mine

Looks at what life is like for children of different countries and how each child can fulfill his or her hopes and ambitions.


Keegan                   Pueblo Boy

Text and photographs depict the home, school, and cultural life of a young Indian boy growing up on the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico.



American Heroes and Legends series


Animated Hero Classics series


In Search of Dr. Seuss

Enter the wildly creative and colorful world of Dr. Seuss where you'll discover the story of his life and experience original musical productions of favorite Dr. Seuss classics.



From thebestkidsbooksite website:

“Ladder of Success”:

“Create a Postage Stamp”:

“Presidential Timeline Paper Chain”:

“Family Trees from Handprints”:


“George Washington Carver Coloring Book and Activity” from the USDA:


Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities:

Biography databases:

            POWERLibrary Biography Reference Bank

            I'm a Hero:

            A & E Biography:

Central Bucks School District PA Biographies:

Fact Monster Biographies:


Bringing Biographies into the classroom, adaptable lessons for K-5 from Education World:


“Civil Rights Movement Begins” a lesson for 2nd graders from Educator's Reference Desk:


Famous American Text Sets:


“Hero of the Year Stamp” an adaptable webquest for K-5:


“Biography Maker” lesson could be adapted as a group activity:


“Grandparent Day Activities” from Education World Website:


Family Tree Template from Education World website:


Biography Storytime from thebestkidsbooksite website:


Family-related activities and crafts from Child Fun website:



Parent/Child Activities:

Story Quilt Program from EZ Library Programs:


Sample Library Program - Family Storyhour

(Approximately 1 hour)


This is a program for children and their families.  Advertisement for the program should include the requirement that parents bring with them one or two photocopies of family photographs preferably taken before the child was born.  The photographs will form the basis of the art project.


Introduction:  Have every girl/woman in the group stand up.  Walk among those standing and tell anyone who is wearing a dress or a skirt to sit down.  Do not tell them why.  Ask the group why they think the others are still standing up.  What makes them different or strange?  Thank them for standing up and allow them to sit.  Remind the group that it was only about 30 years ago, or when some of their parents were born that women and girls weren't allowed to wear pants to work or school.  And before that, they weren't allowed to wear pants at all.  About 150 years ago, a woman named Amelia Bloomer didn't like this at all.  Here's her story:


Read:  You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer by Shana Corey


Talk about biographies and what makes the Amelia Bloomer book a biography.  Some biographers write about people in their own families like the author of this book:


Read:  My  Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston


Activity:  Family Pictures

Materials:  Glue, paper, crayons

Procedures:  Have the families sit together and tell a story or talk about the people/places/times in the copies of the photographs that they brought.  Have the families glue the copy of the photographs somewhere on a sheet of large paper and then work together to illustrate something about the person's life.  About 10 minutes before the end of the program, or when everyone has finished have the group come back together and allow the children, with help if they need it, to talk about the person in the picture and what they drew.

Theme: Telling Stories Through Art

Just as the graphic novel uses art in a unique way so too do many picture books for young children.  Wordless picture books especially provide opportunities for each child to create his/her own story and to develop thinking skills like identifying details, detecting sequence, and making judgments.

Telling Stories Through Art (K-2)

Books:  Expressing oneself through art-especially for kids who think they can't draw

Agee                      The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau

An unknown artist becomes an overnight sensation when his painting comes to life.


Baker                    Home

Readers observe the changes in a neighborhood from before a girl is born until she is an adult as the neighborhood first decays and then is renewed.


Catalanotto            Emily's Art

Emily paints four pictures and enters one in the first grade art contest, but the judge interprets Emily's entry as a rabbit instead of a dog.


Cohen                    No Good In Art      

A first-grader is convinced he can't draw, but when encouraged, demonstrates he can.


De Paola                The Art Lesson

Having learned to be creative in drawing pictures at home, young Tommy is dismayed when he goes to school and finds the art lesson there much more regimented.


Dupasquier             I Can't Sleep

The activities of a family during one night when no one can sleep.


Falwell                  David's Drawings

A shy African American boy makes friends with his classmates by drawing a picture of a tree.


Florian                  A Painter

Briefly describes the tools of a painter, his subject matter, and the feelings he feels as he creates pictures.


Karas                     The Class Artist

Despite the trouble he has at first working on art projects at school, Fred develops into the class artist.


Kroll                      Patches Lost and Found

Jenny draws, and then writes, a story about losing and finding her pet guinea pig.


Reynolds                The Dot

Vashti believes that she cannot draw, but her art teacher's encouragement leads her to change her mind.


Williams                Painted Dreams

Because her Haitian family is too poor to be able to buy paints for her, eight-year-old Ti Marie finds her own way to create pictures that make the heart sing.


Wolkstein              Little Mouse's Painting

Little Mouse creates a painting that looks like three different things to her three friends, all of whom find themselves in it.


Books:  Wordless Picture Books

Anno                      Anno's Journey

Records in drawings the author's journey through Europe.


Banyai                             Zoom

A series of scenes is presented, each from farther away, showing, for example, a girl playing with toys that are a picture on a magazine cover, which is part of a sign on a bus, etc.


Crews                    Truck

Follows the journey of a truck from loading to unloading.


DePaola                 Pancakes for Breakfast

A little old lady's attempts to have pancakes for breakfast are hindered by a scarcity of supplies and the participation of her pets.


Fleischman             Sidewalk Circus

A young girl watches as the activities across the street from her bus stop resemble a circus.


Mayer                             Frog Goes to Dinner

Having stowed away in a pocket, Frog wrecks havoc and creates disgrace for the family at a posh restaurant.


McCully                 Four Hungry Kittens

Four kittens share adventures while their mother is away hunting food.


Rohmann                Time Flies

A bird flying around the dinosaur exhibit in a museum has an unsettling experience when it finds itself back in the time of living dinosaurs.


Sis                        Dinosaur!

While taking a bath, a young boy is joined by all sorts of dinosaurs.


Tafuri                             Do Not Disturb

The movements and actions of a family camping in the woods cause the forest creatures to also move scurry and make noise.


Wiesner                 Sector 7

While on a school trip to the Empire State Building, a boy is taken by a friendly cloud to Sector 7, where he discovers how clouds are shaped and moved throughout the country.


Weitzman              You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum

A young girl and her grandmother view works inside the Met while the balloon she has been forced to leave outside floats around New York City causing a series of mishaps that mirror scenes in the museum's artworks.


Wilson                   April Wilson's Magpie Magic

A young artist draws a picture of a magpie that then comes to life and interacts with a series of colorful drawings.


Books:       Drawing Instruction  (see also Cartooning)

Ames                     Draw 50 Different Dinosaurs

Step by step instructions for drawing fifty different dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.  Ames has many similar titles.


Benjamin                Cartooning for Kids

Outlines how to draw simple cartoons from circles, dots, lines, and curves and how to add professional touches such as shading or color.


Emberley               Ed Emberley's Fingerprint Drawing Book

Instructions for creating a variety of shapes and figures using fingerprints and a few simply lines.  Emberley has many other simple drawing titles.


Heath                    Drawing Cartoons (First Step Series)

Professional cartoonist Mark Heath breaks down the fundamentals of cartooning into step-by-step drawings that are easy to follow and fun to do.


Henson                   Drawing With Pencils

All of the books in this series (How to Paint and Draw) offer a little bit of history, some helpful suggestions for supplies, and several very simple projects for budding young artists. 


Hoff                      The Young Cartoonist: The ABC's of Cartooning

A well-known cartoonist explains how to draw cartoons and comic strips, how to make up jokes, and where to have one's work displayed.

Stevens                 From Pictures to Words

Stevens writes and draws herself into this innovative explanation of how authors and artists create picture books. 


Books:  Professional Resources

Marsh                    Mystery Fold: Stories to Tell, Draw, and Fold


Olsen                     Tell and Draw Stories


Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities:

Resource Book for Teachers:

          Wings of an Artist:  Children's Book Illustrators Talk About Their Art

        Introduction by Julie Cummins.  Activity guide by Barbara Kiefer

More than 20 illustrators of children's books talk about what drove them to become artists and what art means to them.  Aspiring young artists will be drawn to this collection.  A single page is given to each artist in which to express his/her feelings about art, inspiration, books, and life through a combination of pictures and words.  This book will serve as a useful art-education tool and as a stepping-stone to discussions of art.  An activity guide is included.


K-6 Lesson plan, “See if you can draw,” and K-6 Lesson Plan, “A Unique Drawing Experience,” on KinderArt website.

Over 1000 art lesson plans drawing, painting and sculpture as well as lessons for preschoolers and bulletin board ideas.


2nd grade lessons: “Writing stories to accompany wordless picture books”

Working with partners (or the teacher's aide or a volunteer or older students), students write stories to accompany wordless picture books.   

Lesson plans for wordless picture books.


K-2 Lesson Plan:  “Creating a story or poem for a picture”

Resource Book: Words With Wings: A Treasury of African American Poetry and Art.  Selected by Belinda Rochelle

After reviewing the book, the teacher selects a number of pictures of famous painting, book illustrations, etc.  Children can work in groups with the teacher or a volunteer to “tell” a story about the picture.  The teacher will need to do a sample story with the class and ask a number of questions like:  Who are the people in the picture?  What are they doing?  Why do you think they are there?  What are they going to do next?  Are they waiting for something?  The teacher will write down the story/poem and can create a bulletin board with the stories and the pictures.


“Stories in Quilts” K-2 Lesson from EDSITEment website:


Parent/Child Activities

“Field Trips”:

Philadelphia Museum of Art   

On Sundays the admission is "pay what you wish all day." or call 215-763-8100


Crayola Factory               Admission:  $9.00

30 Centre Square                     Call for open hours:  610-515-8000

Easton, PA  18042


Draw and Color with Uncle Fred:


Step by step directions on how to draw simple cartoons:


Using books from the library and clip art from the computer, create your own greeting cards and wrapping papers.


Art Safari from MOMA:  (Museum of Modern Art)

Series of questions provide children and adults the opportunity to talk about art and make up stories about the art objects that they see.


Coloring sheets/art activities:

Activity Village aims to entertain and educate the under-10s.  On this site you will find coloring pages, puzzles, printable games, holiday crafts, wallpaper to decorate your desktop and more!







Sample School Library/Public Library Cooperative Program


Why Cooperate?      School/Public Library cooperation is an excellent way for the public library to get exposure in the community.  It is also a way for the public librarian to find out about school assignments before the students are all standing in the library fighting for limited numbers of books.  Building a good relationship with the school librarians provides a network through which the public librarian can get information about library services and programs to the teachers and the parents.

Creating Stories for Pictures

Resource Book:       Words With Wings: A Treasury of African American Poetry and Art.  Selected by Belinda Rochelle     

Pairs twenty works of art by African-American artists with twenty poems by twenty African-American poets.


Schedule:         School Librarian and public librarian coordinate schedules so that the public librarian can visit one grade level in the school library over a four-week period.  The public librarian would need to be out of the building for as much as 1 hour/day for 2-3 days/week during this time.  The time frame could be shortened if the public librarian just visited one class rather then one grade level.

Week 1:      School Librarian shows children pictures from various sources and tells the children that even just one picture can tell a story.  She works with children to make up one or two stories.  She tells the children that the public librarian will be visiting during the next library period.

Week 2:      Public Librarian is introduced and she shares the resource book with the children in addition to other pictures that she might pick.  She also shares a wordless picture book and she gives out a flyer with information about getting a library card.

Week 3:      Public Librarian again visits the school and children are put into two groups to write stories about certain pictures.

Week 4:      Public Librarian visits again and distributes an invitation for the children to come to the public library for “X Elementary School Night at the Library.”  Once again children are divided and another story is written.

Week 5:      Night at the Library

                  Pictures and accompanying stories on displayed at the public library.  The librarians will need to print copies of the stories for the display.  The librarians and/or the students read some of the stories aloud to the group.  Refreshments are served.  The public librarian gives a tour of the library and explains how to get a library card.  Hopefully the children check out books and this is the first of many visits to the public library.


Theme:  Cartooning and Comics

This topic has perhaps the greatest kid appeal.  The recent rise in popularity of graphic novels, cartoons, anime, and anything in a visual media yields great opportunities for turning reluctant readers into life-long library users.  See also the Telling Stories through Art chapter.


Cartooning and Comics (Grades 3-6)

Books:  How to Draw

Amara                   So You Want to Be a Comic Book Artist?

Explains to readers how to create their own superheroes, write their own storylines, and get their comics published.


Ames                     Draw 50… series


Artell                    Cartooning for Kids

A step-by-step guide for drawing animals and people, covering alligators, bears, skunks, smiling faces, angry faces, hairstyles, movement, and more.


Barr                      1-2-3 Draw… series


Blitz                      Fun Book of Cartoon… series


Caldwell                 Action!  Cartooning:  96 Pages of How-To Havoc!


Coope                    How to Draw More Manga


Emberley               any of his books


Hart                      How to Draw… series


Books:  Fiction about Art/Cartooning/Drawing

Bulla                      Chalk Box Kid

Nine-year-old Gregory's house does not have room for a garden, but he creates a surprising and very different garden in an unusual place.


Coville                             Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher

Small for his age but artistically talented, twelve-year-old Jeremy Thatcher unknowingly buys a dragon's egg.


Geisert                  Etcher's Studio

As a young boy helps prepare etchings for sale at his grandfather's studio, he imagines himself as part of some of the pictures.  Includes a description of how etchings are made.

Giles                      Breath of a Dragon

Malila draws pictures to accompany her grandmother's stories about Thai festivals, traditions, and customs.


Gilson                    Stink Alley

Living in Holland in 1614 with the harsh Puritan leader, William Brewster, and working for the family of a mischievous Dutch boy named Rembrandt, a spirited twelve-year-old orphan girl struggles to do what is right.


James                    Frankenlouse

Fourteen-year-old Nick finds life dreary at the military academy run by his strict father and dreams of becoming a cartoonist, but then various events converge to bring him a better understanding of his father.


Lisle                      Art of Keeping Cool

In 1942, Robert and his cousin Elliot uncover long-hidden family secrets while staying in their grandparents' Rhode Island town, where they also become involved with a German artist who is suspected of being a spy.


Moss                     Amelia series


Nickerson              How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found

With a swimming medal, the key to a mansion, and a comic book about a half-man/half-rat as her only clues, a twelve-year-old girl seeks the true story of her father's mysterious death.


Osterweil              Comic Book Kid

When they are given an unusual comic book that allows them to travel in time, twelve-year-old Brian hopes that he and his friend will be able to replace his father's valuable Superman comic that Brian had ruined years before.


Pilkey                    Adventures of Super Diaper Baby

Irrepressible friends George and Harold create a new comic book superhero, Super Diaper Baby.  See also the Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta series.


Place                     Old Man Mad About Drawing: a Tale of Hokusai

Tojiro is amazed to discover that the shabby old man who buys his rice cakes is a famous artist renowned for his sketches, prints, and paintings of flowers, animals, and landscapes.


Say                       Ink-Keeper's Apprentice

A 14-year-old lives on his own in Tokyo and becomes apprenticed to a Japanese cartoonist.


Van Allsburg          The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

Presents a series of loosely related drawings each accompanied by a title and a caption which the reader may use to make up his or her own story.

Van Draanen           Shredderman series


Wiesner                 Three Pigs

The three pigs escape the wolf by going into another world where they meet the cat and the fiddle, the cow that jumped over the moon, and a dragon.  This can be seen as a book of drawings about drawing.


Books:  Books in Graphic Novel Style

Comic Book collections such as Peanuts

Many of the books by James Stevenson


Burleigh                 Amelia Earhart: Free in the Skies

An illustrated biography of the world-famous woman pilot known for her long and daring flights.


                                    Little Lit series


O'Malley                Mount Olympus Basketball

Zeus, Hera, Athene, Poseidon, and Hades pull some dirty tricks as they face off against Hercules, Jason, Odysseus, Achilles, and Theseus in this gods versus mortals basketball game in ancient Greece.


Proimos                  Johnny Mutton series


Shepard                 Master Man: A Tall Tale of Nigeria

A boastful strong man learns a lesson harder than his muscles when he encounters one of Nigeria's superheroes in this Hausa tale that explains the origin of thunder.


Van Allsburg          Bad Day at River Bend


Books:  Professional Resources

McCloud                Reinventing Comics

The renowned author of "Understanding Comics" takes a fascinating look at how the computer age has revolutionized comics, charting 12 different revolutions in how comics are created, read, and perceived.  Black-and-white art throughout.


McCloud                Understanding Comics



Most cartoons and comics have their own websites. 


Big Cartoon Database: 

Extensive listings featuring cartoon characters and the television shows they appeared in.  Written for adults but appealing for older kids.


Links to cartooning websites for elementary school teachers and their students:



Cartooning from A to Z (public performance rights)

Mike Artell shows how to draw 26 different cartoons.



“Superhero Comic Strip”:


Learn to Draw Cartoons with Uncle Fred:


Learn how to draw with Gary Harbo:


Mark Kistler's Imagination Station:

One simple drawing lesson, lots of games and inspirational ideas.


Online Intereactive Art for People who think they can't draw from the National Gallery of Art, Washington:


Downloadable “How to Draw Comics” Pages from Duane Barnhart:


Lesson Plans/Theme Units/Activities:

Cartoon Party from the EZ Programs website:

Participants do fun crafts that involve popular cartoon characters, and can even come dressed as their favorite cartoon.


“Creating Comic Strips” a lesson for 4-6th graders from the Educator's Reference Desk:


Read*Write*Think Comics Generator and Lesson Plans:

Easy interactive website to create comics – no drawing skill required.

“Book Report Alternative”

“Comics in the Classroom”


Superhero's bust:


Autobiographical Comics:


Comics in the Classroom:


“Writing Comics” a lesson for third graders and up from Can Teach:


Sample Library Program

3-6th Grade Program with Preschool Storyhour Tie-In

(Approximately 5 hours total)


This is a series of programs to be conducted with the same group of 3-6th graders.  The children will learn about the process of creating comics, cartoons, and graphic novels, will look at many examples of them, and then will create their own story to be illustrated in graphic novel format.  The stories can then be shared with preschoolers during the library's weekend or evening storyhour.  The entire program may be completed over 5 weeks (one hour each week) or at whatever pace the librarian feels is appropriate.


Preparation:  Gather many examples of age-appropriate comics or graphic novels.  Look in newspapers and magazines and at the titles in this resource guide for examples.  Make sure to include some of the books written in graphic novel form.  Have also on hand several how-to-draw books, copies of the handouts from Duane Barnhart (, and at least one computer where the kids can visit the following websites:

·        Learn to Draw Cartoons with Uncle Fred:

·        Learn how to draw with Gary Harbo:

·        Mark Kistler's Imagination Station:


Additional Materials:  Pencils, pens, crayons, paper, rulers, and scrap paper for practicing.


Week 1:       Divide the children into groups of two or three and allow them about 10 minutes to look through the print examples of cartoons, comics, and graphic novels, and books in graphic novel form.  Do not put out the how-to-draw books yet.  Regroup and discuss the qualities that all of the formats share (pictures as the main source of the story, framed pictures, etc).  Talk about other elements – are they all humorous, dialogue balloons, sound effects, showing action, etc.  Explain to the children that over the next 4 weeks they are going to create their own comics or comic-style storybooks to share with preschoolers.  The kids may make up their own stories, or base their books on folktales or nonfiction topics (biographies in particular lend themselves to this easily).  Talk briefly about what makes a good story for preschoolers – pictures which aren't too detailed or too small, relatively simple text, etc.  Spend the rest of the time allowing the kids to work together in their groups to think of story ideas and do research if necessary, to practice their drawing with the books, the websites listed above, or the Barnhart cartooning handouts.

Week 2:       Starting as a large group have the children talk about the ideas for their books.  It is okay if several groups wish to use the same story because they will be reading to one or two preschoolers.  See if anyone needs help with resources, research, or ideas.  After the story has been decided upon, groups should decide how many panels they are going to need to tell their story.  They can do one panel a page or up to six.  They need to plot out what picture and what text will go into each box.  Use the comics planning sheet:  If there is any time left they can start creating their books.  Children who feel they cannot draw can be directed to the comics generator at

Week 3:       Groups spend time creating their books.

Week 4:       Groups spend time creating their books.  Have the children practice reading their stories to each other.

Week 5:       At a preschool storyhour introduce the special guests (the 3-6th graders) and match each group up with one or two preschoolers.  Have the children share their books with different groups of preschoolers for about a half an hour.  Make sure all children have had the chance to read their story at least once.  Serve refreshments if desired and make sure to thank the guest speakers.


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