How DO authors get ideas? Sometimes it can seem like a great mystery. Ideas are invisible, hidden in our brains until we tell someone about them or write them down.

Before your students analyze how they get ideas for their own stories, back up and teach them to investigate how other authors get ideas for stories. As a class, investigate and discuss picture books and possible ways the authors got their ideas for those books.

When you read a book aloud, have students make guesses for how the author might have gotten the idea for the story. Was it something that actually happened to the author—what they experienced? Was it something they read about—from history, perhaps? Was it based on a hot topic that’s popular or has been in the news?

Read books thoroughly. There may be hints for how authors actually got their ideas in the dedication, in an afterword, in the author’s biographical blurb on the book flap, or on the author’s website. In some books, it will be clear where the idea came from. In other books, it won’t be clear. And that’s okay. The point isn’t that your students figure out how authors of all books get their ideas. The point is that they start thinking more about how ideas for stories could be generated. Keep a running list in your classroom of how other authors get their ideas. Such a list might help students find ways to get ideas for their own stories.

By talking about how authors get ideas for stories, you are making writing more VISIBLE for your students. Making writing more visible for students is always a good thing.


Check out books mentioned by Lynn in this video:
School Picture Day
The Dump Man’s Treasures
Lighthouse Christmas by Toni Buzzeo
Pond Babies by Cathryn Falwell
The Rosie Stories by Cynthia Voigt

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