Have you read The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers yet? If you have, I imagine you were also tickled by it upon reading it!
Duncan’s crayons quit because they were dissatisfied with the way he was using them. Black Crayon feels he’s being underutilized as just an outliner color. Yellow Crayon and Orange Crayon are not speaking to each other after a disagreement about who is the true color of the sun. Red Crayon feels overworked since Duncan uses him more often than the other crayons. How, you may wonder, do Duncan crayons go about quitting? Well, they craft Duncan letters, which he finds when he retrieves his crayon box. But the letters aren’t written from the collective… they’re written from every crayon in Duncan’s crayon box.
This picture book is not only clever and charming, but it is a great mentor text. Here are a few of the possible things you can use it for with the writers in your workshop:
- Building Content Through Show, Not Tell (Using Illustrations): This idea comes from Dorfman and Cappelli’s book Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6 (pages 94-95). Each crayon’s mood or situation is reflected in each illustration that accompanies its letter. Students who are drawing and writing can study the illustrations in this text to help them better show what’s happening in their pieces through pictures and text.
- Commas in Lists: If your students need guidance, there are many examples of commas that appear in lists in this book.
- Ending Punctuation: The ending punctuation is varied in this text. Many sentences trail off (…), ask questions (?) or end in a declaration (!).
- Friendly Letter Format: Page after page, each crayon’s letter to Duncan begins with a salutation (e.g., Dear Duncan; Hi Duncan) and ends with a closing (e.g., Your overworked friend, Red Crayon; Your naked friend, Peach Crayon) that reflects each crayon’s voice.
- Lead: The book begins with “One day in class, Duncan went to take out his crayons and found a stack of letters with his name on them.” I don’t know about you, but I was wondering what was in those letters immediately! While the book began like so many other books, with the words, “one day,” it immediately sucked me because of everything else in this powerful first sentence.
- Precise Words: Each crayon uses precise words (i.e., nouns, verbs, and adjectives) to describe his/her situation. You can examine these author’s word choices alongside students and talk about the way precise language helps create a greater impact (than less specific words would have if they were used).
- Variations in Print: Some words are capitalized, some phrases are underlined, and some sentences are written slightly larger. You can ask students to consider why the author (and illustrator) did this so they can try it out in their own writing.
- Voice: Each crayon has his/her own distinct voice. You might choose to examine the way each crayon writes with voice with each student. In addition, you can have a conversation about the tone students use in letters by examining the way some crayons are more respectful towards Duncan (with their persuasive arguments), while others are downright whiny.
Want some additional ideas for using The Day the Crayons Quit in your classroom? Read “Putting Books to Work: Daywalt and Jeffers’ The Day the Crayons Quit” by Kathy Prater.
Many thanks to Penguin Young Readers Group for sponsoring this giveaway. One commenter will win a copy of The Day the Crayons Quit written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. To enter for a chance to win a copy please leave a comment on this post about how you’d use (or have used if your school year has already begun) The Day the Crayons Quit with your students. All comments left on or before Sunday, October 6th at 11:59 p.m. EDT will be entered into a random drawing using a random number generator on Monday, October 7th. I will announce the winners’ names at the bottom of this post the following day. Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at Penguin will ship the book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you only leave it in the e-mail field.)
Comments are now closed. Thank you to everyone who left a comment about The Day the Crayons Quit.
Congratulations to Susan Brody whose commenter number was selected using a random number generator. Here’s what Susan wrote:
I read it to my fourth grade language arts classes on the second day of school, just to get them in the spirit of writing workshop–explaining just how important writing can be. If I had my own copy (I borrowed my from a library within my public library’s lending circle), I would definitely revisit it later in the year for many of those great suggestions on using it as a mentor text. I had debated waiting to read it before our essay/persuasive unit, but ultimately decided it was too cute and enjoyable to wait!
I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).