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PWR91EE: Saving Lives with Picture Books

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This course gives you an opportunity to improve the health of thousands of mothers and young children in Bangladesh. How? By collaboratively creating original picture books designed to effectively communicate information about child stimulation, nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene, the dangers of lead, and healthy ways of thinking. (No artistic skills required.) Working in consultation with a team of Stanford-led researchers, you’ll learn about the people whose lives your work aims to improve, then collaboratively craft at least one picture book that addresses the researchers’ needs and communicates with your audience.

Creating your picture book(s) will be a step-by-step process. You and your classmates will research Bengali culture, pitch story ideas, create storyboards and dummies, and revise and edit in light of feedback from the team in Bangladesh, as well as some of the mothers participating in the study. Again, no artistic skills required—our class will assess its members’ artistic abilities and ambitions and, if necessary, recruit an outside illustrator or illustrators. The book(s) may use traditional media, digital media, or a combination of both. The mothers and their children will experience the book(s) in digital form, via tablet, but the research team may decide to print hard copies as well. This course builds upon PWR 1 and PWR 2 by immersing you in a real-world project that combines writing, visual rhetoric, and oral presentation, with an additional emphasis on cultural rhetoric, media, and technology.

Major Assignments

Story pitch

Individually pitch a story idea for a picture book that effectively addresses the research project’s learning objectives. Our class and members of the research team will evaluate these ideas for their potential as books. We’ll probably end up using story elements from multiple pitches. (2 minutes)

  • Storyboard: Roughly sketch a storyboard that brings a selected story idea to life in a unique and compelling way. Don’t worry about your drawing skills—stick figures are fine. But you’ll need to think carefully about how to visualize your story, taking into account structure, pacing, page turns, and double-page spreads.
  • Dummy: With a group of classmates, roughly sketch a black-and-white mock-up of your picture book, complete with carefully placed text and carefully planned double-page spreads and page turns. We’ll share your dummies with the research team in Bangladesh, who will give us feedback and let us know what some of the participating families think of your stories in their current form.
  • Picture book rationale: A collaboratively written companion piece to the dummy, this 2-page (single-spaced) document aims to persuade the research team that you and your classmates made wise rhetorical choices in planning your picture book.
  • Picture book(s): The final deliverable of the course—at least one compelling and original picture book that effectively and memorably communicates vital information for the target audience.
  • Final presentation: A 10-15-minute group presentation, videotaped for the research team, that argues for the value of your group’s final picture book(s), with a focus on the compelling rhetorical choices you made while researching, conceptualizing, designing, writing, revising, and illustrating.
People looking out of a window


Catalog: PWR91EE

Prerequisites: PWR 1, PWR 2