The Book of Me

Created by Joanna Brown

What will we create today?

What if you were the main character in a story? What would the world of your story look like? What would happen?

Follow the steps below to create an illustrated story in which you are the main character. This will be a story about you, your family and your community that only YOU can write!

Here’s some advice from Zanib Mian, author of the Planet Omar series:

Tell the stories that you have lived. People want to read them! You don’t have to write the kinds of stories that are already out there. Be you, in life and in your writing, and that’s what people will love.

You’ll learn about all of the stages behind creating a story: from coming up with ideas and making plans, to illustrating, drafting and writing up your final story.

You will need:

  • A mirror
  • Pens, pencils and paper
  • Your imagination!

Let’s start!

Read

  • Take a look at some of these stories.
  • Make a mind-map of all the different kinds of characters you meet. Which characters do you feel drawn to and why? Do any remind you of people you know? What do you notice about the settings in these stories?
  • What kinds of events do you find in these stories?

Plan your story

All about me


First, you’re going to create the main character in your story – that’s you!

Nearly all writers start by planning out their main character. Often there will be illustrations to really bring the character to life. Which styles do you like?

1. Look in a mirror and sketch your self-portrait.


This could be just your head and shoulders, or your whole body.

Use the portraits for inspiration!

2. What makes you unique? Make notes around your self-portrait to plan your main character more fully.

Use headings to build up a picture of the character of ‘you’! e.g. appearance, skills, hobbies, language(s) I speak, things I say, favourite foods, favourite memory, things that make me laugh... You can get creative with adjectives and similes, too e.g. My hair is as wavy as the sea.

My world

Next, you’ll work on the world of your story.

3. Draw pictures and make notes about the place you call home (you could do this as a collage!)


What makes it feel like ‘home’?

Use your senses: How does it looks? How does it sound? What does it feel like to be there?

4. Now add in members of your family or people close to you.


Who and where else is important?

Think about people and places from your wider community: for example, school, neighbours, clubs, places of worship.

5. Now for a tricky part! Choose two or three of these people to join you as characters in your story.


Why did you pick them?

Write character notes about each one to build a full picture of the world of your story.

My story


Now, you’ll develop the plot.

It could be the story of an ordinary day that shows us what is unique and special about you. Or, it could be the story of a special day in your life.

6. Find inspiration by reading some of the stories shown here.


Make a list of the main event in each story, such as dancing at carnival, moving to a new country, visiting the hospital.

7. Make a story plan to show what happens at the beginning, middle and end of your story.


Think carefully about how the main character might feel before, during and after the main event.

Add these notes to the plan: remember to ‘show’ through the character’s speech and behaviour, rather than ‘tell’.

Time to write!

8. Now it’s over to you: you’re ready to write and illustrate your own ‘Book of Me’!


What details will you add to make it unique to you?

What will you call your story?

For teachers

Key Stage: Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2

Subject(s): English, PSHE

Estimated time: 3–10 x one-hour sessions, depending on time available

Aim: For children to create an illustrated story about themselves.

This activity invites children to write a story in which they are the main character. It encourages children to see themselves as literary characters and to place themselves, their families and their experiences centre stage. Allow plenty of time for discussion and encourage children to pay close attention to the details that make them unique.

Teacher involvement:

  • Read some of the stories on the website aloud with the children
  • Guide discussion around who appears in stories we read
  • Draw out shared experiences in the stories
  • Guide discussion of ‘self’ as main character
  • Encourage the group to bring their own experiences into the conversation
  • Scaffold story-writing process
  • Facilitate sharing of final stories.

 

Image credits

  • © Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik (2019) reproduced by permission of Hodder Children’s Books, an imprint of Hachette Children’s Books, Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, London imprint, EC4Y 0DZ. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.
  • Drawings for Starring Tracy Beaker. Illustrations copyright © Nick Sharratt. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.
  • Sean's Red Bike. Text © Estate of Petronella Breinburg. Illustrations © Errol Lloyd. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.
  • Illustrations copyright © Nick Sharratt. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.
  • Lucy and Tom's Day © Shirley Hughes. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.
  • What Planet Are You From Clarice Bean? © Lauren Child. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.
  • Errol’s Garden. Reproduced by kind permission of Child's Play (International) Ltd.
    © 2018 Gillian Hibbs. First published 2018 by Child's Play. All rights reserved. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.
  • Excerpt(s) from THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats, copyright© 1962 by Ezra Jack Keats; copyright renewed © 1990 by Martin Pope, Executor. Used by permission of Viking Children's Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. You may not use this material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing the work.
  • Nini at Carnival © Errol Lloyd. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.
  • Hospital Day © Series editor: Leila Berg. Story: Leila Berg. Artwork: Shirley Hughes. You may not use this material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing the work.

Read more

Children dressed up at carnival, from Errol Lloyd's Nini at Carnival

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Interview with Zanib Mian

‘Tell the stories that you have lived. People want to read them!’ Discover more insights and writing advice from Zanib Mian, author of Planet Omar.