Turning Novels into Picture Books

I’ve been an avid reader since I was little. I don’t recall how I got started. I know that neither of my parents were personally into reading, but I know that it was a favorite pastime of mine. When I was about 11, my little sister won Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at school and she didn’t enjoy reading at all, so she gave it to me. I hadn’t heard of the book before but I figured I would give it a go. I couldn’t put it down. I picked up every book in the Harry Potter series from then on, and I stayed up all hours of the night telling myself, “Just one more chapter and I’ll go to sleep.”

My five year old drew shooting stars and Mrs. Dursley sleeping. She drew McGonagall as a cat and the ad-lib yellow and blue centaur at the bottom.

I wanted my children to share that same affinity for novels, so recently I sat down with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and began reading before bed. I made it a few enthusiastically read pages before I noticed the blank stares and thumb-twiddling that sat before me. This wasn’t working. I explained to them how novels are books without pictures because you are supposed to use your imagination for the pictures. I talked about the vivid imagery that each page created for, especially in Harry Potter novels. Then, I had an idea. How could I get my children to pay attention to these long stories with no pictures? Let them SHOW me what they see when I read!

My seven year old drew conversations between McGonagall and Dumbledore, to include discussions about celebrating Voldemort’s defeat. She also drew Mr. Dursley being annoyed at the cat and cloaked figures while driving.

Last night, we did our first test run. We made it through the entire first chapter and they had beautiful pictures to share and explain to me. My seven year old drew lines to separate her favorite scenes, incorporating different characters and demonstrating that she really was paying attention to what I read throughout the chapter. My five year old drew a bunch of  great parts and also, a centaur, which she said, “This is from the movie but it was my favorite part.” I thought that was adorably hilarious. Even my three year old drew some of the characters and her explanation showed that she at least understood what I was reading.

She also drew Dumbledore leaving Baby Harry at the Dursley’s with shooting stars overhead.

We went out and bought sketch books for each of the kids so that we can make this a nightly thing. Every night I’ll try to make it through a full chapter and let them draw their summaries. They had a lot of fun with it and seeing their pictures really melted my heart!


How do you get your children interested in reading?

2 thoughts on “Turning Novels into Picture Books

  1. This is such a great idea. In fact, one of the keys to reading fiction is visualizing it and I was just talking with another homeschooler on how making kids draw what they read is a way to help them learn that. (And here I thought teachers just did it to make the artsy kids feel included). *grin*

    1. Haha! Well, that’s a good reason too! My oldest is definitely very artistic and that’s where she excels so we do want to make sure we nurture that gift!

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