Drawing the “Most Important Part” – Read Aloud With Accountable Talk

I would like to share my experiences with another component of my exploration of “read aloud with accountable talk.”  I wrote about my journey in exploring read aloud with accountable talk in this blog post earlier in the year.  I am really working on doing more than just reading to my kids (and digesting books for them.)  My goal is to help them experience books in authentic ways.  We ask real questions, and recognize that some questions don’t have answers.  We connect, and we really explore texts.

One method I am using this year to help my kids express themselves is drawing.  I ask them to draw almost every day, largely as a part of writing workshop.  But drawing can also be a powerful component of comprehension.  I am now using a “drawing day” as a sort of summative experience in read aloud with accountable talk.

When we begin exploring a book, we read it several times, ask questions, discuss possible answers, and review illustrations.  My drawing day comes after all of this work is done.  Once the kids are very familiar with a book, I ask them to consider what they think the most important part of the book is.  I don’t give them guidelines as to what constitutes “important.”  I also don’t want them to tell me out loud. Instead, I give them a couple of minutes to think about it, and then I ask them to draw that part of the book.

What I get back is remarkable!  First, it is lovely to see the way that children portray things.  Even when they are drawing a specific event in a book, they still do it with their own style.  This also reflects their opinion.  The colors they choose, the way they structure a picture, and what they focus on provides great insight into their thinking.

It is also wonderful to see the different responses.  This question is one without an answer.  As teachers, we may think we know what the most important part of a book is.  However, the reality is that readers connect with and understand books in different ways.  What really spoke to one person may be different from another.  The truth is, “most important” is subjective.

This subjectivity is also an opportunity.  Young children need lots of practice explaining why they think a certain way.  We hope to teach kids to be critical thinkers that use reasoning and evidence to draw conclusions and make decisions.  This is a great time to ask kids to explain their thinking.  Why did they choose a certain part?  What made that part stand out as particularly important?  Here you can see that two of my kids chose very different parts of our book, Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, to draw:

Here are some more photos of my class engaging in this work with the wonderful book Fletcher and the Falling Leaves.  I did an example first, but I stressed that my most important part may be different than theirs.  (And in fact, I chose to draw a part that they were unlikely to see as important, to encourage them not to copy me.)

Do you use art to build comprehension?  What are your components of “read aloud with accountable talk?”


  1. Draw What You See | Teaching Ace - April 6, 2015

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