Children’s Book Creations

By Kwanita Williams, December 2, 2008

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Product Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

8 or 9 50-minute class periods, plus a longer visit to an elementary school


10th grade students will read the Japanese Children’s Story, Momotaro: Boy of the Peach.  This Japanese folk tale will introduce the class to Japanese traditions and values.  Moreover, it is included in the 10th grade World Literature book without the illustrations that are in a children’s book. The story is based on the School District of Philadelphia’s core curriculum guide.  The story is taught in the story telling unit (LAP 1) at the beginning of the 10th grade year.  Students learn to how analyze, evaluate, and draw the importance of storytelling to humans throughout history.  Students will review elements of plot, analyze a short story, and prepare their own children’s version of the story including cover, binding, and illustrations.  

National Standards

Visual Arts Standard 1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes to the visual arts Language Arts Standard 1.  Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process. Standard 3.  Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions Standard 4. Gathers and uses information for research purposes. Standard 8. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes. Thinking and Reasoning Standard 2.  Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning. Standard 5. Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques. Standard 6. Applies decision-making techniques.

Common Core State Standards:

Anchors for Reading

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Knowledge of Language:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


In this lesson students will:
  • Understand how the elements of the Momotaro folk story reveal Japanese values
  • Identify characteristics of a children’s book
  • Demonstrate artistic abilities through design
  • Write a children’s book about the Momotaro folktale for a young American audience


If possible, have a local designer participate in class by meeting with individual groups and help them put together their design ideas during class time.  


  • computers with internet access
  • sketch/drawing paper
  • crayons
  • tape
  • glue
  • construction paper
  • popsicle sticks
  • collage materials
  • string/ribbons
  • scissors
  • stapler
  • markers
  • composition books


  • Vocabulary words related to Japanese values. Momotaro (momo = peach; taro = boy).
  • Ogres refers to the Japanese oni creatures found in folklore; similar to demons.
  • In Japanese culture, the peach is a symbol of long life and wards off demons.


Teenagers have very short attention spans.   The class should spend 10-15 minutes reading the folktale and then break into groups to begin the hands-on project of creating children’s books. DAY 1 Session 1: Students read Momotar Boy of the Peach from Holt’s World Literature Book. Session 2:  The teacher will divide the class into groups of eight students.  Each member of the group will be assigned a particular section of the Momotaro story to represent. (1) The beginning of the story through the paragraph that depicts the peach rolling towards the old woman: “Rumbley-bump…” (2) The next section through the paragraph that depicts the reaction of the old couple to Momotar “Now the old man and woman..” (3) The next section through the paragraph that depicts Momotaro’s goodbye to the old couple: “Yes, yes, I should be back soon…” (4) The next section through the paragraph depicts Momotaro’s acceptance of the dog: “Very well, my friend…”; (5) The next section through the paragraph that depicts the angry reaction of the monkey toward the dog: “How dare you speak to me…” (6) The next section through the paragraph that depicts the pheasant’s descent into the ogres’ castle: “So the pheasant flow..”; (7) The next section through the paragraph that depicts Momotaro tying up the Chief of the Ogres: “Momotaro tied up…”; (8) The next section through the last paragraph. The teacher will explain that each group is responsible for creating a children’s book version of the story.  The pages must include illustrations of the most important or entertaining moments, simple text that explains the section of the story’s plot, and any brief explanations they can provide to help American children understand aspects of Japanese culture. (Ex: the importance of the child, the peach as a symbol, etc.) A computer with internet access could help students researching questions they may have about Japanese culture.  Also, the teacher may have a few children’s books and/or picture books in class as examples. DAY 2 and DAY 3 (part of the period as needed) Session 1: Students will spend the entire period designing and/or creating children’s books.  Students may draw their own pictures, use clipart, magazine clippings, etc.  Children may also create their own binding and/or use composition books (add pictures, pasting, etc.), construction paper, etc. The point is to be creative and learn about children’s books before the service-learning project! Session 2: Students can showcase their designs in front of the class (group presentations). DAY 4 After the students learn about children’s books, Japanese culture, and storytelling in class they will have the opportunity to earn service credits by reaching out to elementary school children in the surrounding neighborhood.  Some of our district’s elementary schools do not have libraries and/or librarians, or have only substandard libraries with old books and little technology.  In groups, students will be challenged to design innovative literary solutions to teach these children the story of Momotar Boy of the Peach. Session 1:  Identify the client.  Which specific students will you be serving (identify age, learning style, etc.)?  Students should first investigate and research the current types of materials offered by the school.  They will also research how the children they have chosen to design for learn best.  Take students on a field trip to a local elementary school that does not have a library and/or librarian.  Per principal approval, the students will observe a class (preferably where students are reading and/or being read to), and give teachers a survey on children’s books. Ideally, up to three students would be assigned to a classroom.  Students should interview students and teachers.  The teachers that volunteer their classrooms will benefit from donated student inventions. Session 2: Observe and give teachers a survey on children’s books.  Students should also take notes, and/or videotape class (with school approval and parental media form).  Students should do further research online or at the library on learning styles, teaching aids, ways of presenting information, and storytelling. DAY 5, DAY 6, and DAY 7 Session 1: Students should now understand the characteristics and qualities that traditional children’s books possess.   Therefore, students will now redesign traditional teaching aids for the local elementary school to better address how these specific children learn.  Ask your students to analyze the information they collected.  Each group should discuss what is ineffective and effective about traditional children’s book for telling stories.  Students should again consider their client (student demographics and special needs or accommodations).  In their groups. students should now brainstorm possible solutions to their identified challenge.  Encourage wild ideas, defer judgment, build on other’s ideas, allow one conversation at a time, be visual, and go for quantity.   Session 2:  After the students have compiled a list of ideas, they should work in their teams to select and refine three of the best ideas.  Ask them to create prototypes of these ideas either through modeling, writing, sketching, etc.  As a class, each team should quickly present their identified challenge and their possible solutions.  Allow time for the students to provide feedback.  If possible, bring these prototypes to a test group of children.       Session 3:  After the students have had a chance to discuss/test their possible solutions, they should determine which idea they will produce.  Have your students use this session to produce their final product or any final presentation materials (if their solution is a system, service, etc.).             Closure (the following week):             Students will implement their designs at the elementary school.  As a class, they should discuss how they addressed their challenge, what worked best, where they could improve, what they learned from the process, etc.  


Things to observe (students will be graded on their inventions for elementary school):
  • Was the student a risk taker in their design process or product?
  • Was the student’s idea imaginative or strictly functional?
    90% or higher- (showcase material) a student went above and beyond the basic standards (innovative, creative, sensory detail, and neat) 80%-90%- a student met or attempted to meet basic standards (creative and neat) 70%-80%- a student feel below basic standards (barely creative, not neat Below 70%-failure; student did not attempt project

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