What is a line? Think about it for a moment. It starts and it stops… or does it? A line, on one hand, is a simple mark or stroke on a surface. But when you start thinking about it, you realize how many different lines there are and how many ways we use the word in both expressions and to describe things….
“A fine line”, “crossed the line”, “line in the sand”, “over the line”, “end of the line”, “you’re out of line”, “draw the line”, “read between the lines“, clothes line, number line, time line, line-up, line change (in hockey), line dancing, the bottom line, border line, line of longitude, line of latitude, fault line, deadline, enemy line, battle line, line of fire, tan line, fishing line, telephone line, blood line, zip line, party line, front line, line from a poem or story, dotted line, underline, inter-lined, straight line, crooked line, squiggly line, long line, stand in line, line-by-line….Phew! That’s a lot of lines!
I thought about how this concept of “line” would make an interesting inquiry project – “What is a line?” With a little imagination, a line can be…just about anything you want! What a great way to connect art, story and imagination. Fascinated by the concept, I started my search for picture books about lines… and it didn’t take long to fill up my top ten list! Any of these books could be used as anchors for art, writing – or both!
1, Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crocket Johnson
First published in 1955, this gentle book really started it off: the idea that a child with an imagination and thirst for adventure could use purple crayon lines to create his own imaginary world. Add a few obstacles, some humour, a moose and some pie – and you have yourself a classic!
2. The Line – Paula Bossio
This wordless picture book takes the reader on an adventure of a little girl discovering a line. As the girl follows the line, the reader discovers what adventure awaits her. A perfect story starter for early-elementary as they begin to explore narrative, either by using one of the girl’s creations in the story or by coming up with their own way of turning the line into something.
3. The Squiggle – Carole Lexa Schaefer
A little girl, a piece of string and a big imagination – from a Dragon Dance to the Great Wall of China, food, and other items she experiences – I love the diversity in this book as well as the beautiful brush stroked illustrations. A great anchor for drawing and writing! What will your squiggle be?
4. Follow the Line – Laura Ljungkvist
This is the first in a series of books by Scandanavian artist Laura Ljungkvist in which she explores one continuous line throughout an entire book. In this book, a single line begins on the front cover and winds its way across each page as we flow from city to the country, from the sky to the ocean, from morning till night. Each page is packed with color, objects, buildings, animals and amazingness!
5. Follow the Line to School – Laura Ljungkvist
In this book, we follow a single line on a playful romp through the school. From the library to the science corner – this is an interactive, creative and fun way to engage the reader. I like that the text also prompts the reader with questions…. “Here is the class pet. I wonder what kind of animal it is?”… “Now we’re in the lunch room. What will you eat for lunch today?” Other books in this series include: Follow the Line Around the World and Follow the Line Through the House.
6. Lines That Wiggle – Candace Whitman
“Lines are everywhere you look!” All sort of lines and their uses are explained in this book through cartoon characters, e.g. curvy, wiggly, wavy, etc. This book would be a great anchor book for introducing line vocabulary and also to inspire some great line drawings. I also like that it inspires kids to look closer at things and notice lines in everyday things. Here is the link youtube version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SqFA…
7. Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words – Ruth Rocha
Translated from Portuguese by Brazil’s most famous children’s authors, this charming picture book tells the story of a boy who sees squiggles and lines that don’t exactly make pictures and he can’t quite decipher. But when he starts school, he realizes that those confusing squiggles and lines were actually letters! Sweet look at the beginning to read for early primary.
8. A Squiggly Story – Andrew Larsen
A great introduction to the writing process! While the last book focused on the beginning reader, this one playfully and imaginatively explores a young child’s process of learning to express himself through writing. I love the message of finding your own voice and that everyone has a story inside us – tell it, draw it, squiggle it!
9. The Lines on Nana’s Face – Simona Ciraolo
In this heartfelt book, we see lines as memories and stories of a well-lived life. As a little girl points to a line on her nana’s face, Nana tells her a story. A celebration of family, grandparents, memories and life stories – this beautiful book makes me teary every time I read it.
Lines – Suzy Lee
WOW! This brand new release is a truly stunning wordless picture book. With gorgeous, simple pencil drawing, the reader follows a skater who is tracing lines on the ice. As the lines on the ice get more complicated, the skater leads readers to unexpected places! Magical…. astounding… charming….as soon as I finished, I started reading it again. I LOVE this book! (Thank you, Groundwood Press, for sending me this pre-release copy)
And here are two to more LINE books to watch for this fall….
Draw the Line – Kathryn Otoshi
The amazing Katheryn Otoshi (author of One, Two, and Zero) has, once again, given us a book filled with rich discussion points. Draw the Line is so much more than a book about lines. It is a beautiful wordless picture book about friendship, creativity, community, conflict, resolution – and a “line” connecting us all. A must have book for inferring, connecting, transform…. Brilliant!
Free the Lines – Clayton Junior
Another thought-provoking wordless picture book that will inspire rich discussions in an upper elementary classroom. This one focuses on an environmental theme, specifically ethics in the fishing industry. Told through extraordinary lined drawings, Clayton tells a story of a small cat fishing in a small boat on a large ocean who runs into a huge, smoke-belching trawler, who sets out enormous nets and catches all the fish. How the cat solves the problem is one that could be up for debate. It truly is amazing how much you can say in a picture book without a single word of text – a perfect book for inferring (ie. what are you inferring the tile means?) and questioning both the story and the message. Watch for this one!
And there you have it – books about lines that I hope will inspire you and your students draw, squiggle, swirl and write with and about lines! Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!