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Bryan Collier Author Study
Content Topic:
Visual Arts, Theatre
Bryan Collier is an illustrator who uses collage to create images for his books. Students will look at a brief video of Collier working, examine his work in a variety of books, and create tableau based on a scene in one of his books. They will cut magazines and construct a collage.
Total Estimated Time:
1 hour
Suggested Number Of Sessions:


  • Computer with Internet access
  • go to Author/illustrator Bryan Collier’s interview
  • A variety of books written or illustrated by Bryan Collier including:

Uptown, Freedom River, Martin’s Big Words, Rosa, Lincoln and Douglass: An American Friendship, Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope, Twelve Rounds of Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali, Cherish Today: A Celebration of Life’s Moments, Doo-Wop Pop, Lift Every Voice and Sing.



Magazines, scissors, glue, paper, crayons, colored pencils



  • A variety of books written or illustrated by Bryan Collier including:
    1. Collier, Bryan. Uptown. New York Henry Holt and Company, 2000.
    2. Rappaport, Doreen. Ill. by Bryan Collier. Freedom River. New York: Jump at the Sun, Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.
    3. Rappaport, Doreen. Martin’s Big Words. Jump at the Sun, Hyperion Books for Children, 2001.
    4. Giovanni, Nikki. Rosa. New York, Henry Holt and Company, 2005.
    5. Giovanni, Nikki. Lincoln and Douglass: An American Friendship. New York, Henry Holt and Company, 2008.
    6. Grimes, Nikki. Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope. New York, Simon & Schuster Childrens’ Publishing, 2008.
    7. Smith, Charles R. Twelve Rounds of Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali. New York, Candlewick Press, 2007.
    8. Evens, Kristina. Cherish Today: A Celebration of Life’s Moments. New York, Hyperion Books for Children, 2007.
    9. Schotter, Roni. Doo-Wop Pop. New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 2008.
    10. Johnson, James Weldon. Lift Every Voice and Sing. New York, HarperCollins, 2007.
Instruction / Activities:

Warm up:

  • Explain what a tableau in drama means.
  • Go over the Guide for an Effective Tableau. (See SM2_Collier_tableau_collage).
  • Ask three students to come to the front of the space.
  • Have them in slow motion play basketball.
  • When students hear the word “freeze” they stop in place.
  • This freeze is a tableau. Explain that it is like a snapshot.
  • Have students continue one more time and freeze again.

Direct Instruction: 

  • Tell students that the author/illustrator Bryan Collier uses a technique called collage to illustrate his books.
  • Go to and select Bryan Collier’s video.
  • Direct the students to note the books mentioned in the video and notice how he creates his collages.
  • Watch the video. Discuss what books were seen in the video.
  • Ask students what they noticed about the technique’s Collier used to create his work. Discuss observations with the class.
  • Break class into smaller groups.


Modeling and guided practice:

  • Students look at other books by Collier. Students identify images that were shown in the video.
  • TL or students read some of the text on the pages. Ask if the illustrations reflect the main idea or theme of the text.
  •  Ask students to notice how Collier uses magazine pieces and drawings. Ask “Do the colors he use, compliment each other or do they contrast each other? “
  • Each group decides on one illustration from their book to share with the class. They describe what they like the best about the illustration.
  • Read Uptown. Ask students to notice the complexities of the illustrations.
  • Pre-select a few illustrations to use for creating tableau.


Independent Practice:

  • Group students and assign an illustration to each group to create a tableau. Give them a few minutes to figure out how they will present it. Remind students to work quickly and cooperatively.
  • Review the Guidelines for Creating an Effective Tableau.  See SM2_Collier_tableau_collage.
  • NOTE: If any student is reluctant to participate, don’t force him/her.  Remind the student that he/she is not talking or moving only standing still for a few seconds. This may help get the reluctant student back in the picture.


Sharing and Reflecting:

  • Student groups present tableaus. The students to voice the brief poem on the page before presenting the tableau as an option.
  • The class discusses whether each group’s tableau was close to the illustration in the book.

Independent Practice:

  • Ask students to think about how Bryan Collier created his pictures by having friends create poses and then selecting and ripping up magazine pictures to create illustrations. He also drew in images.
  • Tell them that they will be making a collage the same way.
  • Remind students to think about how Collier’s collages have a theme and use color.
  • Lay out the magazines, scissors, glue, crayons or colored pencils, and plain papers.
  • Give students time to plan, select pictures, and create a collage.


Sharing and reflecting:

·         Students share their final collage products with the class and explain the connection with Bryan Collier’s style.

Print this Lesson Plan
Presented By: Mary Beth Bauernschub
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