A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea: Creative Writing for Beginning Readers

This month’s Creative Writing for Beginning Reader’s workshop (for ages 5-8) was inspired by the book A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.

It’s a hilarious picture book that is all about contrasting the bright, shiny parade in the narrator’s imagination:

…with reality.

It’s also a great springboard for talking about the real habits or lifestyles of pigs! I thought we could make our own books about why parades featuring other animals would be an equally bad idea. At the end of the book, it is suggested that a Panda Parade would be better, and when I read that to my daughter she said, “Now I want to read the Panda Parade! Can you get it for me?” I laughed and said it didn’t exist, but that she could write it!

So that’s what we did!

I usually try to make a “sample” book to give kids an idea of what a possible finished book could look like.





On the day of our workshop, I put out all kinds of animal books and after reading the kids A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea, we did some brainstorming together about some other kinds of animals and the problems they would cause for a parade:




After we generated some good, funny ideas, the kids set to work writing their own books. For illustrations, I gave them printed out images of animals like puppies, kitties, gorillas, tigers, hippos, alligators, and pandas. I used both cartoony images and realistic images, and encouraged the kids to use that contrast just like Kevin Hawkes did:





They were excited to share their finished books:




A few kids read their books aloud and I videotaped:

Their stories came out so funny and great! Kids love to write about silly things, and often that silliness is what opens up their imaginations to new vocabulary and concepts.

If you liked A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea, you’d probably like these, too!

The next writing workshop we’ll have for this age group will be Tuesday, November 8th from 4:30 – 5:30 pm in the Story Room.

AnnMarie Kolakowski

I'm a youth services librarian currently working at the Lamanda Park Branch Library while Central Library is closed for seismic repairs. I purchase juvenile fiction for grades 2-8, and some foreign languages. I do a lot of programs with school-age kids, including 3 regular book clubs (Windows and Mirrors, Read Around the World, and Lucha Libros), as well as writing workshops and STEAM/science programs. I also Infant/Toddler Storytimes and Preschool Storytimes, and outreach to local area preschools. I love what I do, working with kids of all ages to inspire them to learn and use their curiosity and imaginations. Outside of my work at the library, I am also the author of a book on creative writing activities for kids.

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