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picture book wish tree craft
The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear and Chris Turnham (2016) is a wonderful book about a boy named Charles looking for a wish tree in the woods while accompanied by his sled, Boggan. It’s a book about journeying, about wishing, and about kindness.
I’ve been fond of wish trees for a long while, so I thought it would be nice to make one for the new year and, inspired by The Wish Tree, one that adds in picture books that touch on the idea of wishing or hoping in some way.
Each of these 25 picture books contains a wish—a hope or dream or undertaking. So, in this craft, there’s a prompt for a wish to write inside each book that hangs on the tree, one that goes along with each story, something in line with its spirit.
You and your kids or classroom could read one or a few of these books every day, or once a week, or just sometimes.
To see what I mean, here’s the PDF template of book covers with wish-activity instructions I made so you’ve got everything in one place:
THE BOOKS AND WISHES:
The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear and Chris Turnham (a wish to find a wish tree): write something kind you would like to do.
Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats (a wish to learn to whistle): write something new you want to learn.
Wish by Emma Dodd (a wolf parent’s wishes for their pup): write a wish you have for someone else.
Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Rafael López (a wish to create a vibrant and connected neighborhood): draw something to make a space more beautiful and hang it up.
Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell (a wish to give hugs): write the names of someones you’d like to hug (and hug them!)
Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka (a wish for nature): write down a seed you want to plant this year (a literal seed or a different kind of seed).
Ursa’s Light by Deborah Marcero (a wish to fly): write down something you’d really like to do someday.
Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López (a wish to be courageous, and to overcome boundaries): write down something you wish to have courage about.
Let Me Finish! by Minh Lê, illustrated by Isabel Roxas (a wish to read): write the name of a book you’re excited to read.
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (a wish for a name of one’s own while not losing connection to one’s family): make a wish on behalf of someone in your family.
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez (a wish for a granddaughter and grandmother to connect): write down a way you wish to connect with someone else this year. (Or else a pet you wish to own!)
Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton (a wish for something extraordinary): write down something you want to see that’s “extraordinary.”
Follow the Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So (a wish to help turtles find their way home): write down a way you can help animals this year.
The Ugly Duckling, illustrated by Rachel Isadora (a wish to belong): write down your favorite place to be.
Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior, illustrations by Laura James (a wish to learn to do something new): write down a goal.
The Storm Whale by Benji Davies (a wish to help): write down a story you want to tell someone. (Then tell them.)
Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBlox, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (a wish for peace in the smallest ways): write down an action you can take to help create peace.
The Promise by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin (a wish to keep a promise): write down a promise you wish to make to someone or to yourself.
Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato (a wish to be noticed): write down something you wish to be noticed for—a talent or hard-try.
A Dance Like Starlight by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (a wish, a dream, a hope to dance): write down a dream you wish to come true.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Sprite of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes (a wish—and lots of brave, brave action—for voting rights): write down a way you wish to speak out about something important.
The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi (a wish for a storm to pass): write down something you wish to happen in the future.
Where’s the Party? by Ruth Chan (a wish to have a party with friends): write down a wish for cake (what kind?).
Brave Girl by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (a wish for and action toward fairness for workers): write down a wish for justice (and perhaps a way you can make the world more fair).
The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett (a wish for a bicycle): write down something you have that you’d like to give away.
What you need:
2 pieces of foam board as backing
The printable PDF with book covers and wish prompts:
First, make your tree by placing washi tape on a poster board in a tree shape. I used a double layer for the trunk and then embellished single-layer branches with clear, patterned tape (a bit like snow). But the sky’s the limit for how you design your wish tree! Next, tape together two foam boards (using clear/regular tape) and tape the poster board with the tree to those. (The double layer behind the tree is so the push pins don’t poke through the back when you attach them to the tree—be careful about that!)
Print the PDF template. Then, cut around the rectangles so you have mini books with front covers and back covers that contain the instructions. Then fold the papers in half so you have miniature books with a cover, a back cover with instructions, and space in the middle of the “book” to write.
Finally, pin the books to the tree and tape or prop the tree up somewhere. Ideally, you’ll have access to the book/books you’re reading that day and can read the book and then follow with discussion of the wish or hope or undertaking aspect before writing in the mini books.
Enjoy reading and wishing!
(If you end up doing this activity, I’d love to see photos! You can find/tag me on Twitter or Instagram for that.)