Second-graders in Lynn Fain's class at Walker Elementary School studied illustrators Bob Graham, creator of "Let's Get A Pup, Said Kate," and Helen Cooper, of "Pumpkin Soup" fame, to learn to become better storytellers.

The lesson: Detailed drawings that include characters, setting and action help writers tell richer stories.

Second-graders in Lynn Fain's class at Walker Elementary School studied illustrators Bob Graham, creator of "Let's Get A Pup, Said Kate," and Helen Cooper, of "Pumpkin Soup" fame, to learn to become better storytellers.

The children then created their own picture books. They first drew a series of illustrations that captured their characters in specific settings. Through this exercise, they learned distance perspective, passage of time and action.

The idea is based on the work of Katie Wood Ray, a national expert on teaching young writers, who once asked the thought-provoking question: "What if children were introduced to key qualities of good writing in the context of illustrations?"

Over the month, the 26 Walker students added drawings to their picture books. It then was a small step to go from their expressive and detailed pictures to using words to also tell the story about their lives.

— Heidi Monjure