Why Picture Books Are Important by Minh Le

by Dianne on November 10, 2016

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Minh Le
With infinite possibilities between the covers of a picture book, one aspect that makes them particularly powerful is their ability to bring different ages together. And I mean this in two ways.

The first is that a picture book can be experienced by people of any age. Babies being read to, children learning to read on their own, and adults reading for their own pleasure or to a child, the accessibility of the picture book gives it the broadest possible range within the literary world.

The second meaning is related but perhaps less obvious—picture books can bring ages together within the same individual. Imagine those people I mentioned in the previous paragraph but as the same person at different points in their lives.

I have very visceral childhood memories of A Chair for My Mother. Every time I revisit it, I read it with slightly new eyes.  For example, as a kid I don’t think I ever really noticed the mother’s tired posture at the end of a long day, but now as a parent, I can feel the heaviness in her bones. Maybe, with luck, someday I’ll see myself in the grandmother’s impish smile. Point being that picture books have the power to create an artistic through line—providing the unique gift of allowing an individual to gauge themselves against the same work of art over a lifetime.

Which makes me wonder: which books will my children return to? Will it be a classic that I’ve shared from my childhood like A Chair for My Mother or Harold and the Purple Crayon? Or a new classic like Last Stop on Market Street or The Adventures of Beekle?

I can’t know for sure, but I do know one thing: they’ll have plenty of powerful books to choose from.

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About Minh Lê
Minh Lê is the author of Let Me Finish!, illustrated by Isabel Roxas (Disney-Hyperion). He blogs about children’s literature at Bottom Shelf Books and as a member of the kidlit consortium The Niblings. Minh has also written for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Horn Book, and the Huffington Post. Outside of spending time with his beautiful wife and sons, his favorite place to be is in the middle of a good book. You can find him on his website minhlebooks.com or on Twitter @bottomshelfbks.

Literacy Activity
November 10 – Dinosaurs

“Picture books, like Science, are about the spirit of curiosity and exploration.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

During read aloud sessions, ask questions that will prompt students to infer, to predict, to wonder and to imagine. Read the story ahead of time and mark events or changes in the plot and character that allows for critical and creative thinking. Pay attention to the illustrations because the text is often enriched by it. A picture book’s art is a rich visual narrative that holds many treasures to discover and unlock.

Suggested reading:
Dinosaurs Roar, Butterflies Soar! by Bob Barner
Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton
Oh, My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton
If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most
Dino Pets by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Gideon Kendall

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Jodell Sadler

by Dianne on November 9, 2016

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Jodell Sadler
As a child, I wondered if pages changed for others when they looked at picture books, found joy in searching for little hidden gems in the illustrations, and read Goldilocks and the Three Bears so often maybe only two others in my home town ever got the chance.

For me, there’s magic inside the pages of picture books. Picture books help kids embrace the world and discover the newness all around them. I love reading picture books with kids of all ages. As a teacher and professor from early ages through graduate level learners, I’ve share my pacing picture books study because there’s no better “condensed” learning guide for writers, readers, and lit lovers than picture books as Marcie Colleen’s article shares.

Picture books provide new characters, views and experiences. In last season’s Newbery Medal book, Last Stop on Market Street (Penguin Putnam, 2105) by Matt de la Peña, CJ discovers trees that drink through straws, meets a blind man who sees with his ears, and he gets lost in the sounds around him—that “feeling of magic” that allows him to find goodness in an unexpected place.

We look for new characters, strong concept, and fresh bents in picture books. We love spending time with characters we’ve never met. In Snow Beast Comes to Play (Roaring Brook Press, 2017) by Phil Gosier, a very LARGE, very LOUD and even a LITTLE clumsy Snow Beast fails at finding a new friend in miserably funny ways until his GINORMOUS heart entices Penny to give him a chance.

The best picture books beg readers to experience something new, something not seen before. This means writing to mind, heart and ear with a focus on perfect pacing while serving up a fresh concept, voice, and character. Janine O’Malley, Executive Editor Farrar at Straus Children’s says, “I want books that … are character-driven yet pacey enough,” and I agree. Readers will hear the light and lovely lyrical language in Ann Whitford Paul crafted newest title: If Animals Said I Love You (Farrar, Straus Children’s, 2017).

“Pacey enough” is the gold standard, and pacing picture books well is a gift to writers, illustrators, readers, and writers, who want to learn how to unfold story using a keen balance of both pause and pacing inside a picture book. It’s magic.

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About Jodell Sadler
Jodell Sadler, founder of KidLit College and Sadler Literary, loves picture books. She’s studied Pacing Picture Books since 2007 and enjoys sharing her material with writers and illustrators and helping them publish. A professor, secondary teacher and presenter with Writers Digest University, she is excited to share her love of picture books during Picture Book Month. Her involvement and initiatives in the development of picture books are as follows:

KIDLIT COLLEGE Picture Book Contest judged by Industry Picture Bookers

KIDLIT COLLEGE: 4-week Pacing Picture Book class with Jodell

KIDLIT COLLEGE: Developing Characters with Senior Editor Eve Adler, Dec. 3rd

Literacy Activity
November 9 – Reading / Books

“Picture books lend themselves nicely to technical writing assignments, including but not limited to letters to authors or illustrators, book reviews, research papers based on a theme found within the story.”(from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Libraries are really special and often in need of extra help or funding. As a class, brainstorm a list of ways to help your local community or school library. Ideas can include volunteering to reshelve books or to read to younger kids, or raise money through a bake sale or book drive. Students can also write thank you letters to the library, create a “Why I Love the Library” bulletin board, or throw a Library Appreciation Party.

Suggested reading:
Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
I Will Not Read This Book by Cece Meng, illustrated by Joy Ang
Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr
Read It, Don’t Eat It! by Ian Schoenherr
Wild About Books by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown
A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
The Midnight Library by Kozuno Kohara
There’s a Dragon in the Library by Dianne de Las Casas

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Josh Funk

by Dianne on November 8, 2016

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Why Picture Books Are Important (and Awesome) by Josh Funk
I’m not particularly sophisticated. I get confused when there’s more than one fork at the table. I prefer Toad the Wet Sprocket over The Marriage of Figaro. And I’d definitely prefer some fruit punch over a fruit tart.

But I do like fine art – and I get to see it all the time! No, I haven’t been to an art gallery since I was forced to write a paper about Winslow Homer (how many paintings about boats can one person create?!?).

You see, the best art in the WORLD is being created by today’s picture book artists.

Every picture book contains 32 pages (or more) filled with gloriously crafted images. I like to think of each book as an artist’s exhibit in a gallery.

Do you like birds? Why, here’s Molly Idle’s Flora series full of peacock portraits, flamingo figures, and picturesque penguins.

Check out the use of light and dark with acrylic paint in Brian Lies’ Bats series.

A fan of pointillism? Read KINDERGARTEN LUCK illustrated by Geneviève Godbout.

Interested in mixed media? Philip C. Stead has a gorgeous collection in JONATHAN AND THE BIG BLUE BOAT.

Or are you more into realism? Then Sarah S. Brannen’s art in FEATHERS NOT JUST FOR FLYING is perfect for you.

Every picture book is a veritable art gallery. Each bookshelf holds an entire museum.

So if you aren’t hoity toity member of high society or prefer a Coke Zero to a Château Pétrus – don’t worry. Luxury is just around the next page turn.

And here’s the best part … you know those silly useless dust jackets that come with books? The ones that the tiny readers tear apart? Grab a few picture frames … and your bedroom or classroom (or entire home) can truly become an art gallery.

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About Josh Funk
Josh Funk is the author of Pirasaurs!, Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, Dear Dragon, and other picture books. Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks.

Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________. Find out more at www.joshfunkbooks.com and on twitter @joshfunkbooks.

Literacy Activity
November 8 – Pirates

“Picture books are meant to be read aloud, which automatically makes them a social experience.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Create a Reader’s Theater version of the story. Cast students as characters and have them read the book’s dialogue.

Suggested reading:
Pirate Princess by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Pirate Mom by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
Do Pirates Take Baths? by Kathy Tucker, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon
Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel, illustrated by Henry Cole

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Pat Cummings

by Dianne on November 7, 2016

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Pat Cummings
Picture books put the world in your lap. A child can meet every animal in the zoo, learn each letter in the alphabet and get to know all of the colors of the rainbow with a picture book. Nothing is as wide open as a child’s imagination. And despite every new and scientifically-validated learning technique that appears, picture books seem to be the most wonderful pathway a child can follow into the world.

Picture books taught me how to play nice with others, what to expect when a little brother arrived, how to navigate the wild new world of elementary school. Arresting illustrations could pull me into a story and stories could be so engrossing that they painted images with words alone. Growing up in a military family, we had few English-language picture books on hand as we bounced from Europe to Asia. For the most part, they were set in suburbia or on a farm and only peopled with white children. But they imparted such an emotionally stable, wonderfully visual world that the differences between my world and the book’s were never distracting. I understood that anything was possible in a picture book…from talking cats to setting sail to bumping into dinosaurs. With a well-written, well-illustrated picture book, any child can slip into the skin of any character and go along for the ride.

Why are picture books important? Because story is how we learn. And while we are still forming, an appreciation for good art and design should be woven into our consciousness at the cellular level. But mainly, picture books are important because I believe every child deserves to be indulged. Every child should have access to a world where loving parents are the rule, good intentions prevail and challenging problems lead to satisfying resolutions if only you’ll just turn the page.

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About Pat Cummings
Author and/or illustrator of over 35 books, Pat also compiled Talking With Artists, a series featuring children’s book illustrators.

Her Parsons and Pratt classes list a growing number of notable children’s books creators. She often lectures and conducts workshops, including an annual Children’s Book Boot Camp that connects writers and illustrators with publishers.

Pat serves on the boards of The Authors Guild and SCBWI, chairs the Society of Illustrators Founders Award committee, and is a member of The Writers Guild of America, East. Her latest book, Beauty and the Beast (HarperCollins), was translated and retold by her husband Chuku Lee.

Literacy Activity
November 7 – Elections

“Picture books build empathy which is an important tool for navigating through society.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Pool together the picture books you have read in class. Around five picture books will do. Talk to your students about what they liked, what worked for them as they were reading it, what they didn’t feel comfortable about in the picture books and why. After the discussion, make students select their top three picture books. Have them write their top three picture books on a piece of paper or a book review handout or template. Post their book reviews on the class bulletin board. Spend a day or two with your students in reading the book reviews. Make sure that the books reviewed are available in your classroom library or in the school library. Your students may be interested to read and find out for themselves how interesting the books are based on the reviews of their peers!

Suggested readings:
Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Vote for Me! by Ben Clanton
Amelia Bedelia’s First Vote by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George, illustrated by David Small

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Marita Gentry

by Dianne on November 6, 2016

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Marita Gentry
Some of my favorite childhood memories include picture books. I am one of four siblings… we are very close together in age. We had a wonderful family, lots of laughter and love. Still as a child I needed lots of alone time( and still do as an adult). Pictures books were my first escape as a child. I loved the expanse of my own world with new cites, farms, animals that wore clothes, and crazy characters. Quietly sitting absorbing all the drawings, turning the page and running my hand across the thick paper as I touched all the lines. I was fascinated by all the colors and the way the cities fit together and the different characters.  I liked how different each character was, straight hair, hair that stuck our with curls.  I liked the whimsical drawings of some and fantasy of others. I think the time to quietly sit and absorb was the beginning of my creative journey.

As an adult I have an extensive collection of books. The largest grouping would be all the children books I have collected. I still sit in front of my shelves and look at the pictures more than I read the books. I run my hand over the thick paper and touch all the lines. Who knew, one day I would have the privilege to illustrate for children. I still love the whimsical and the fantasy. I love inventing all the details. Children need to run their hand across the paper and touch all the lines. They need to sit quietly and imagine a different world where all the words rhyme, or maybe the cat talks, or the frog is a king. This can be the beginning of their creative journey teaching them to expand their world.

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About Marita Gentry
Marita Gentry is an artist, an illustrator, and a teacher. She has illustrated over ten picture books working with Dianne de LasCasas on many of them. “The Cajun Cornbread Boy” being a favorite . Marita has spent over 15 years teaching art in many different schools. She loves helping young minds explore the idea of creating a new and wonderful world. Marita currently lives in South Louisiana illustrating and creating large paintings in her studio. To learn more visit www.maritagentry.com

Literacy Activity
November 6 – Food

“Picture books help students make sense of the world.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Use a story map that has the beginning, the middle and the end of a story. Have students write or draw the events of the story as they listen to your read aloud. After the read aloud, ask students to pick a partner to share and talk about their story maps.

Suggested reading:
A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola
Apple pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Jan Peck

by Dianne on November 5, 2016

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Jan Peck
What I love about picture books is the truth they tell and show.

In DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS, Mo Willem’s shows us how to say, “No!” to ridiculous requests, even if a pigeon (or a person) begs, tries to bribe you, or throws a wall-eyed hissy fit.

In LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson, we learn from the deep questions of the young boy CJ when he sees the disparity between his life and others, and we hear the wise answers of his grandma, who shows the vibrant, radiant, rich life they share despite living in poverty.

Picture books offer such a wonderful path to young children’s literacy and many times teach us adults, a thing or two if we are open to learning.

I’ll never forget how I fell in love with picture books when my son was two. I’d carry him to the library in a stroller, take him out, then fill the stroller with picture books. We’d do that every week. He became a big reader before he was three, and I became a writer of picture books.

Picture books feed your mind, your imagination, and your soul.

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About Jan Peck
Jan is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the past Regional Advisor for the North Texas Chapter, and a former freelance editor for Boys’ Life Magazine. Jan has won awards for her books, including The Green Prize for children’s poetry for THE GREEN MOTHER GOOSE.

She is in big demand for her dynamic presentations, featuring her books and getting kids excited about reading (presented with the author, David R. Davis).

She resides in Fort Worth and is in the process of building “The Nest,” a small writing retreat for storytellers, musicians, authors, and artists.

Literacy Activity
November 5 – Fractured Fairy Tales / Tall Tales

“Picture books teach the universality of many experiences.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Think of a fairy tale character that students are very familiar with. Write what if questions about the character and the story he/she/it belongs. For example, what if Goldilocks came upon a house owned by a family of cats? Or, what if there was one pig and three wolves? Come up with as many what if questions as possible. Ask students to choose two what if questions from the list and have them write down their answers. Pair them for sharing time as they read and listen to each other. Keep students’ write ups in a writing portfolio. This may be used for a future story writing activity.

Suggested readings:

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Trivizas, Eugene. illustrated by Oxenbury, Helen.
Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson
The Golden Sandal : a Middle Eastern Cinderella by Rebecca Hickox. illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Ella Bella Ballerina and The Sleeping Beauty by James Mayhew
The Gingerbread Man Loose On the Fire Truck by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
As a young child, “Bed in Summer” by Robert Louis Stevenson, was a poem I listened to, then read, and re-read again many times over. This poem remains one of my earliest memories of connecting with a character — a character whose life I envisioned and whose world filled and spurred my imagination.

Entering his seemingly familiar bedtime ritual, I could see ‘the birds still hopping on the tree’; I could hear the sound of ‘grown-up people’s feet’ in the text of the poem. The illustrations at once allowed me to pore over the visible treasures of his bedroom, and then to freely imagine the rooms, the streets, the world that stretched out beyond what my eye could see. In the union of these two art forms known as the picture book, what may appear finite on the printed page is anything but.

Instead, picture books are catalysts, sending the imagination soaring into motion. And whether we are held snugly in someone’s arms and being read to, or we are deciphering text on our own, or maybe, just maybe, creating our own story as we turn the pages, picture books invite us to step into another’s world – best of all – at our own pace. And when we experience that slice of life through a character’s eyes, the seeds of empathy are planted.

When we find the familiar, we may be humbled to discover we are a strand of a great universal fabric and a shared conversation; we are part of humanity. When we find the unknown, we have a safe harbor from which to learn, experiment, hope, dream, and dare. Whether picture books help us find our place in the world, or spur us to envision a world we wish could be, the possibilities, like our imaginations, are limitless.

(And who among us doesn’t recall Sal’s ‘kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk’ each time we drop blueberries into our bucket?)

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About Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Alyssa Satin Capucilli is the author of Biscuit, the popular bestseller used to launch the My First I Can Read Series from Harper Collins, now celebrating its 20th anniversary. With over twenty-one million books in print, Biscuit has been deemed a modern classic and has been translated into numerous languages worldwide.

Once a professional dancer, Alyssa’s love of dance is embodied in her series, Katy Duck, illustrated by Henry Cole. Her newest picture book, Tulip and Rex Write a Story explores the joys of writing for the youngest author. She lives with her family in a small cozy (book-filled) cottage in Hastings on Hudson, New York.

Literacy Activity
November 4 – Dogs

“Picture books provide an emotional core which helps connect the student to the content.”(from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

As a class, collaborate in creating a piece of art work to represent the characters and events in the story. It can be a collage, a sculpture, a painting, an installation art or a class picture book!

Suggested readings:

Madame Martine by Sarah S. Brannen
What’s Your Favorite Animal? by Eric Carle
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
Harry, the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham
Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Adam Lehrhaupt
For most of us, picture books are our first foray into the world of literacy. They help start a love of literature and reading. They are the foundation, the rock on which our literary future can be built. Picture books serve as a conduit to new worlds and information. They’re where we learn to be good listeners, sitting quietly (sometimes) as someone reads to us. Preferable with a slice of pie. (Pecan if possible, but apple will do.)

We look at the illustrations and create our own stories for the action depicted. Maybe our story matches the text, maybe it doesn’t. But that’s okay. We’re learning to create. To tell our own stories. (No. They don’t always have to have monkeys in them.)

As we learn to read for ourselves, the blending of illustrations and narrative take us to a whole new place. We see how they work together to create something more than what they could on their own.

Picture books are beautiful. Often transcendent. They’re gateways to make believe lands and portals to real events and information.

Most importantly, Picture books are worth celebrating. And Picture Book Month is the perfect time to do that. So get out and read, or write, or illustrate a new picture book today. And maybe have some pie. Because picture books and pie go great together.

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About Adam Lehrhaupt
Adam Lehrhaupt is the award-winning picture book author of Warning: Do Not Open This Book!, Please, Open This Book!,Chicken in Space, and I Will Not Eat You. He has traveled to six continents, performed on broadway, and lived on a communal farm. Adam currently lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA with his wife, two sons, and two bizarre dogs. Follow Adam on Twitter, Instagram and Google+ @Lehrhaupt for the occasional brilliant thought or picture, and at adamlehrhaupt.com.

Literacy Activity
November 3 – Monkeys

“Visuals in the illustrations build skills for determining meaning through context.”(from the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Choose a character from the book. Ask students to draw that character. Have them talk about the character’s attitude, actions, manners of speaking and physical attributes. Allow students to describe the character in writing after the discussion.

Suggested readings:

Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
The Complete Adventures of Curious George by Margaret Rey
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Elinee Christelow
Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Noisy Problem by Monroe, Chris.
Counting crocodiles by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Ashley Wolff

by Dianne on November 2, 2016

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Ashley Wolff
Once upon a time I was a good little girl and picture books helped me express my inner, rather blood thirsty heroine.

Whenever I hear an editor or art director caution “ You can’t say/show this or that—that’ll give children the wrong idea. They’ll want to try it themselves,” my favorite childhood book: The Story of Ophelia, by Mary Gibbons and illustrated by Evaline Ness, comes to mind.

As a child I identified completely with Ophelia: a skinny, rebellious little lamb, with six, fat, goody-two-shoes lamb siblings and a wise, tolerant sheep of a mother.

When cautioned not to, Ophelia disobeys, enters the dark woods, is chased by the hungry fox, and with the help of the friends she made outside of the sheep paddock, escapes the fox. He is killed by a big bird right there on the page—a thing that never happens anymore in picture books. And surprise-she is not scolded for being naughty. Instead, she is rewarded with 4 new, red socks and a reputation as a fox killer!

Adults devour thrillers and adventure stories, and, if I was typical, so do little children. I craved that large, heroic, adventurous life that was nothing like my own, and, at various ages, I found it in stories as varied as Blueberries for Sal, Puss in Boots, and The Little Red Lighthouse and the Big Gray Bridge.

Picture books give young children a safe taste of other worlds: travel to distant lands, peeks into the past, or future, and the satisfaction being able to find their heroic self in a book. Through Ophelia, a human/animal character, or as I call her a ‘humanal,” I had a vicarious adventure that was far more exciting and life-threatening than anything I’d ever experienced.

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About Ashley Wolff
Ashley Wolff has been a visual artist since she declared herself one at the age of 5. She grew up in Middlebury, Vermont and holds a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design.

Ashley is the author and/or illustrator of over 60 children’s picture books including Baby Bear Sees Blue, Baby Beluga by Raffi, Stella and Roy Go Camping, Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? by Philemon Sturges and Bonnie Lass, When Lucy Goes Out Walking, I Call My Grandma Nana, Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals and the beloved Miss Bindergarten Series by Joseph Slate Her books have won numerous state and national awards.

She enjoys working in a variety of media and is eager to share what she has discovered from 30 years of playing with color and light.

For 30 years one of Ashley’s favorite pastimes has been traveling to schools all over the US, speaking to children about writing, drawing and using their imaginations to help them find their own paths to the future.

Every summer Ashley teaches writing and introduction to media in the Children’s Picture Book Writing & Illustration MFA and certificate programs at Hollins University.

She lives and works beside a lake in Leicester, Vermont.

Literacy Activity
November 2 – School

“Picture books prompt a variety of creative writing assignments”. (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Reread sections of the book aloud. Ask students to listen carefully for new words. Tell them to raise their hands when they hear new words. Write each word on an index card. Put them all in a word chart. Talk about the words list in the coming days: how it is used in daily language; its meaning in context; and the meaning of it taken from the dictionary.

Suggested reading:

You’re Finally Hereby Melanie Watt
If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
A Place Called Kindergarten by Jessica Harper, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!by Nancy Carlson

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Carmen Oliver

by Dianne on November 1, 2016

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Carmen Oliver
Anything is possible when you are a reader, and I think picture books open children up to a world of possibilities through their pages. They see beyond their backyards and begin to believe in the magic of storytelling and that there are no barriers they can’t overcome. Whether it’s taking a journey or whisked away on an adventure or lost in a fantasy, it gives kids freedom, empowerment, and a safe space to play, learn and be entertained. It also lays a foundation for a love of reading that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.

The Little Engine That Could inspired me to follow my dreams. To never give up. To believe in the unthinkable. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can. Dr. Seuss led me to Shel Silverstein which led me to Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson. The Bear Detectives drew me to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys which lured me to Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark. Picture books are gateways and passageways and portals that carry us wherever we want to go.

In a world where everything moves at such a fast place, picture books remind us to slow down and savor time reading with someone we love. To tuck into a favorite reading place or share a lap and be transported and transformed. And in doing so, picture books create memories we will have for eternity. Picture books did that for me.

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About Carmen Oliver
Carmen Oliver is the author of picture book Bears Make the Best Reading as well as the forthcoming nonfiction picture book The Favio Chavez Story. In 2014, she founded the Booking Biz, a boutique style agency that brings award-winning children’s authors and illustrators to schools, libraries, and special events. She also teaches picture book writing at the Writing Barn and loves speaking at schools, conferences and festivals. Growing up in Canada, she saw many bear species along the hiking trails but always kept a respectful distance. She and her family now call the wide-open spaces of Texas home.

Literacy Activity
November 1 – Bears

“Picture books offer a narrative and humanization to several scientific concepts”. (from the Picture Book Month Teachers Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

Before reading aloud a book about bears, make a word map or semantic web about it. Ask students to fill in each bubble with a word or phrase that is associated with the word bears. This activity prepares students for the read aloud and will allow them to connect what they know to what they will learn.

Suggested reading:

Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Matt Phelan
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury, illustrated by Michael Rosen
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood, illustrated by Audrey Wood
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

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