K-1 Narrative Writing: 13 Donald Crews Books to Inspire Early Writers

Donald Crews anchor chart

Donald Crews is one of my students favorite authors to study each year. 

They love the details in his books, the realistic experiences the children have and especially when he hides himself in a book!

facts about Donald Crews

The following are 13 Donald Crews books I use to support our Narrative Writing Unit each year. 

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Flying by Donald Crews


Flying features labels and simple sentences with pictures that your class will love!

Rain by Donald Crews


Rain also features labels and simple sentences. It is a great example for students who are just beginning to write!

Truck by Donald Crews


Truck is a wordless book, however it is filled with words! Signs are on every page and your class will love reading all the different signs they recognize!

Carousel by Donald Crews


I love Carousel because of the way Donald Crews used words to show sound and motion. He makes the words blurry when it moves fast, and big and small for the various noises. Even the blurry cover helps to teach early writers how illustrations can show movement in such a simple way!

Sail Away by Donald Crews

Sail Away 

Sail Away has more complete sentences in comparison with many of the other books, and lots of excellent vocabulary!

narrative books for k-1

Freight Train 

Freight Train is always a class favorite every year! It features color words and some wonderful train vocabulary and thankfully he wrote a book to explain all those train cars!

narrative books for k-1

Inside Freight Train 

This is a board book that slides open to reveal what is inside each part of the train cars from Freight Train. 

K-1 narrative unit books


Everyone has read Shortcut, but Bigmama's is actually the book that came first! It introduces you to his family and explains their summer trips to Florida each year!

narrative books for k-1


Shortcut is the follow up book and your students will really get the ending if you read Bigmama's first!

narrative books for k-1

Parade uses sentences and signs to convey the story. One of my favorite things about this book is the lack of details on people's faces. We talk a lot about that and how if you are drawing a lot of people, not all of them have to have those details!

narrative study books for k-1


Harbor is filled with every possible boat and a lot of great vocabulary. The key at the end is very handy because your students will want to see each boat up close!

narrative books for k-1

School Bus 

School Bus has labels and simple sentences to inspire and support all writing styles!

narrative unit of study  books for k-1

Night at the Fair 

Night at the Fair is one of my favorites because of the part where Donald Crews drew himself in the book. I love when my students notice that and the camera around his neck because they know how much he loves taking pictures!

Overall, what I love the most is how Donald Crews stories allow all my writers to feel successful, as they are all inspired by different books of his. 

Some prefer to write longer narratives like Big Mama's or Shortcut and others do write label or single sentence stories. However, they all can find a book to identify with.

Have you read any Donald Crews books with your class before?

Don't forget to check out my other blog posts on narrative, opinion and informational writing! 

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