A portrait of a second grade student's family and home. 

A portrait of a second grade student's family and home. 

Any parent who has ever read a picture book to their child knows that some days the child will insist that it’s their turn to tell the story in their own way. By constructing their own meanings about what they see, children become active creators of their own knowledge.

For a recent project in our literacy-based program “Art Around the World” at PS 192 in West Harlem, second-grade students read Ezra Jack Keats’ picture book Peter’s Chair, a story about a young boy who becomes jealous of his new baby sister. Keats’ mixed-media illustrations – which combine water color, drawing, and cut paper – provided inspiration for the young artists as they experimented with materials and techniques.

Inspired by Keats' timeless story of sibling rivalry, each child was given the opportunity to create a narrative illustration of their own family. During class reflections, students shared their family story with their teacher and classmates, bringing the process full circle – students learned to understand the elements of stories through art-making and the elements of art through story-telling. 

  A narrative illustration of a picnic in the park with three generations of one family. 

A narrative illustration of a picnic in the park with three generations of one family.