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And then…

evan bethWhen my children were small we would do add-a-line stories at a meal, in the car or if we were waiting somewhere. Someone would start a story. (You know, the once-upon-a-time kind of story).

Me:  Once upon a time there was a family of owls living in the forest.

Daughter:  They played hide and seek with the other birds.  And then…

Son:  they saw a fire breathing dragon. The owls were afraid because …

Daughter: they didn’t like fire, but the dragon’s fire was all used up. So…

Son:  The dragon went to the evil witch to see if she could help him.  And..

You get the point. My son was always adding the danger and my daughter trying to fix it!

0807181115_HDRRecently I read  Sam & Eva by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, (Simon & Schuster, 2017) and was reminded of this game.  In the book Sam is drawing when Eva joins him. He doesn’t want Eva to draw with him and so begins a drawing battle, as they keep changing the story with their drawings. When Eva’s Marmot is a superhero with a rocket, Sam’s velociraptor shoots lightning out of his eyes. Eventually even the text is being amended by Sam or Eva to change the story. A falling piano becomes confetti which becomes exploding confetti. Eva decides she doesn’t want to draw, but then things get out of hand for Sam as the drawings seem to take over, so Eva draws them a way out. And then it begins again!

While Sam & Eva are telling their story with drawings, I think add-a-line stories are a fun activity for home or the classroom. Maybe a big blank sheet of paper on the bulletin board each week with a story start and students can add to it. Collected over the school year they could be illustrated (maybe in art class), copied and students could go home with a book of stories they helped create! (Of course you might need some ground rules!)

Find lots of Debbie’s amazing “doodles” at Inkyelbows . They will inspire the artists in the room!

Author: Holly Niner

Holly Niner is the author of No More Noisy Nights illustrated by Guy Wolek, and The Day I Ran Away illustrated by Isabella Ongaro. She has had numerous stories published in children’s magazines, and her previous picture books were award winners. Mr. Worry: A Story about OCD, received the 2005 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities Award, and I Can’t Stop: A Story about Tourette Syndrome, was the winner of the 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award and a 2005 Bank Street College of Education Best Book. Holly lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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