Curriculum: Picturing Words (Grades, K-5)

Build comprehension skills as you investigate Jerry Pinkney’s process as an illustrator.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Goals:

  • Practice Close Reading
  • Interpret words and phrases in a text
  • Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats

Background to share

Jerry Pinkney is a storyteller who uses pictures to tell stories. Ever since he was a young child, the stories that he heard and read filled his mind with images. When he is working to illustrate a book he reads the book over and over to notice descriptions, details, and clues in the writing. It’s like he becomes a detective! These clues help him decide what he will draw and how he will draw it.

Here is a partial list of books that Jerry Pinkney has illustrated.  Try reading a few aloud. Occasionally read a page without showing the pictures and ask children to tell you what they think the illustration might look like. Ask, “Why do you think it looks like that? Then show the illustration and discus the image together. Here are some videos of Jerry Pinkney talking about his work illustrating books.



Play a game that helps children to picture words just like Jerry Pinkney does.[/fusion_text]

Share Student Stories or Make a Suggestion

Upload student work (images and written stories) – with parent’s permission of course! Or make a suggestion on how to improve or adapt this lesson in the comments below or email to

Thank you for participating in this exercise! We look forward to your thoughts and to seeing what you and your students create.

Related Content

EXHIBITION: Jerry Pinkney: Imaginings – An Artist’s Exploration of Images and Words