Learn and Turn

Stories to Enjoy That Also Happen to Teach Writing

learn and turn

I like stories that have an impromptu or behind the scenes feel. I guess it’s like being let in on a secret but I also like them because writing is something that everyone should master and I love to introduce subjects or instructional information to my kids in a fun way. Here are four books we like that are great stories and also happen to explain writing and story creation techniques, process, and principles… 

A Book written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein (Caldecott winner for The Man Who Walked Between the Towers): There is a family in this book that sleeps when the pages are dark and the book is closed. Follow along as the daughter goes searching for a genre for her story. Maybe you will find your too!

A Story with Pictures by Barbara Kanninen and illustrated by Lynn Rowe Reed: We read this book a few years ago and I remember it was very clever and entertaining but when I went to take it out of the library again as a refresher it had been withdrawn. Boo! It is about an illustrator who loses the manuscript she is supposed to be working on. The story is her zany attempt to recreate the story with character, setting, and conflict help from a duck (of course).

Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (my favorite illustrator!): This book is take on Little Red Riding Hood as if it took place in a pencil box. In it a little red pencil jumps into the writing process and learns how to use nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs along the way. Can you guess who the wolf part is played by? It is something pencils must find very scary! The publisher offers a common core discussion guide. Get it here.

A Beginning, a Muddle, and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing by Avi (the award winning author of Crispin) and illustrated by Tricia Tusa: This is a chapter book that I read together with my daughter. It is about the adventures of a snail who wants to write and his friend the ant who teaches him how. This book is full of word play that is both clever and fun. We enjoyed it very much!

These books remind me of those recipes for kids that you sneak in pureed veggies. Know of other deceptively educational books? Please share!


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! doodlesandjots@hotmail.com. If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


  1. In my new job as StoryLady at the library, I hope to do a program with the school age group where I read books like these (I was inspired when I found Little Red Writing Hood in a pile of new books we got in), and then have them do some inspired or free writing. I would do it in an installment of a few weeks. I know a lot of kids who love to read, but few who like to write. I would love to help change that.

    Great post!
    Krista recently posted..Peace OfferingMy Profile

    • That is such a great idea for a library program Krista. I bet you are a fantastic StoryLady!
      I know I didn’t like to write back then. I think it was because the emphasis was on formal writing and proper grammar, spelling.

    • Love learning through picture books! I wonder if you will have an easier time finding A Story with Pictures in your library system.

  2. What great suggestions.

    You know, it’s funny. A few days ago, Ava went off by herself, and came back to show me what she had written. She had copied words (her own idea) directly from a book. I think it was the jungle book. She had copied from the inside cover, so the letters had swirly florishes, which she also had.

    I don’t know why, but I found it absolutely amazing that she had (herself) gone and copied words to to teach herself how to read and write. It’s funny how consistently reading high quality books will instill a desire to be able to read and write. I understand it’s not magic. It’s not hocus pocus. It’s kids and their innate love for learning. I find it positively wonderful when a child can learn it for themselves.

    Thank you so much for these wonderful book recommendations!
    Lisa Nelson recently posted..Picture Book Review – Red Light! Green Light! Splat! by Melissa Perry MorajaMy Profile

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