Why Picture Books Are Important by Muriel Feldshuh

Picture books have always been very important to me. It was the close bond that I felt with my mother when she read to me from a big book of fairy tales that I remember most. I don’t recall the name of the book but those fairy tales certainly sparked my imagination and held my interest. I would go back to them over and over and make up my own stories as I look at the beautiful pictures.

Children find comfort in the books they like to have read and reread to them. They love the words and the sounds they make and they love the art that becomes a part of their lives. I confess that since childhood, I have always had a soft spot for the mixture of words and art. An artist’s brush is like a magic wand that brings to life the true measure of a good story. They are an introduction to the world for a child and help develop a means of communication and self expression. There is no feeling that can’t be explored in children’s books. Sometimes parents rush their children to read chapter books too early. Picture books can and should be read at all ages. We learn from them.

It seems as if I have been reading and sharing picture books with children, teachers and parents all my life. As a classroom teacher, library teacher and a member of Childhood Literacy and Author Board to the Books for Kids Foundation, I have always enjoyed reading to children and seeing the joy they get as they make new storybook friends and enjoy the pictures in the books. I love collecting picture books and began doing that in the early 1970’s. I feel so much comfort when I look over my collection.

What started out as a small project for me has grown into another way to share my passion for picture books with others. My Traveling Exhibit CELEBRATING CHILDREN’S BOOKS! has visited sixteen Children’s Museums and Libraries across the United States. The exhibit consists of eight large quilts containing the squares of 218 talented and generous children’s books illustrators and some quotes from authors. Thousands of children and adults are enjoying the exhibit and it has received high praise.

Picture books are truly creative, inspiring, magical amusing, educational, fun to share and sometimes wordless. They are special!

About Muriel Feldshuh

Mariel Feldshuh is a native NY Brooklynite. She is on the Childhood Literacy and Author Board to Books for Kids Foundation. Muriel is currently a member of SCBWI, The Author’s Guild, The Carle, NCCIL, NYLA, NSN, GSSL, Brooklyn Reading Council, The Arne Nixon Center and a lifetime member of ALA. As a dedicated Elementary School Classroom and Library Teacher, she won many awards including Media Specialist of the Year presented by NYSRA, First Fire Safety Teacher of the Year, Outstanding American Educator and listed in Who’s Who of American Educators several times. Upon her retirement, she was given an Exemplary Service Award by the UFT and a Citation for Excellence from the Brooklyn Borough President.

As a storytelling coach she was awarded the National Pegasus Coach Extraordinaire Aeward from Voices of America. Muriel received two Impact Grants for her Producing Big Books Program and her Banners Plus Program. She helped 300 students write and illustrate their own picture books which became an important part of the library program. Several children won the Ezra Jack Keats Brooklyn and Citywide awards. Muriel was selected as NYer of the Week by NY1 and Ivanhoe News Inteviewed her for their smart Woman Segment. Her publications include Flip-Up Bulletin Boards published by Scholastic, Inc. 1996; UP FRONT with STORYTELLING, a quarterly newsletter which she edited for thirteen years. Many of her articles appeared in StoryArt Magazine and Here and There Newsletter. She currently has a Traveling Exhibit…CELEBRATING CHILDREN’s BOOKS! and has shared her Poetry Banner Project with some Brooklyn Public Libraries. She is delighted to hear from former students and is able to share picture books with their children.

Literacy Activity
November 8 – Libraries

“Picture books not only tell a story of a culture or historical time, they also provide a visual into the world through illustrations.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

Support your library! Ask who among your students have a library card. During Parent-Teacher conference, encourage their parents to get them one if they do not have one yet. Compile a recommended book list for parents so that they can continue read aloud sessions at home on a regular basis. Conduct a book donation drive that will benefit a community or public library. Schedule a regular library session with your school librarian and discuss the many ways you and he or she can work together in teaching literacy skills.

Suggested reading
Amelia Bedelia, Bookworm by Herman Parish
Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
D.W.’s Library Card by Marc Brown
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk

Be sure to download thePicture 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.


Why Picture Books Are Important by Eric Ode

by Dianne on November 7, 2017

Why Picture Books Are Important by Eric Ode

If I had to choose a single reason why I believe picture books are important (But, good golly, who could possibly limit themselves to a single reason?), it would have to be this; picture books are meant to be shared.

Maybe it’s because of the illustrations. Picture book illustration styles run the gamut, representing as much diversity as the art found in any national gallery or museum. But whether elaborately detailed and richly colored or spare with a bare-bones pallet, a picture book’s illustrations want to be explored and enjoyed up-close and with others. They are waiting to be pored over, puzzled over, and pointed at, page turn by page turn. Or maybe it’s all about the language. Picture book vocabulary, unlike the limited vocabulary found in easy reader books, can be bright, playful, and deeply poetic. It can be packed with unfamiliar words and ideas that encourage questions and discussion between the audience and the reader.

And so, whenever I stumble upon another carefully crafted picture book– a perfect storytelling marriage of text and images – I imagine it in the hands of a primary grade teacher, his students sitting crisscross and crowding his feet. Or I imagine a parent and child snuggled on the couch, turning the pages together. Or I see a youth services librarian in the story time carpet sharing to a roomful of caregivers and their young children. And when children get to experience this – a caring adult taking the time to share the pages of a book – they learn to associate books with love. And then they grow to be book-loving readers and lifelong learners. And then they change the world! (But that’s another story.)

About Eric Ode
Eric Ode bounces back and forth between work (if you can call it “work”) as a children’s songwriter and as a children’s author and poet. A former elementary teacher, Ode is the author of eleven books for kids including three poetry collections. He has been recognized with six Parents’ Choice Awards and contributed lyrics and poems to a Grammy nominated and a Grammy award-winning CD. Ode provides high-participation assemblies and workshops for elementary schools throughout the country. He and his wife, Kim, live in Bonney Lake, WA.

Literacy Activity
November 7 – Farmers

“Picture books allow students to have vicarious experiences through characters who are not like them.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

Schedule a field trip to a nearby farm or market where fresh produce is being sold. With interview questions prepared beforehand, you and your students can find out how farmers and sellers grow and sell their harvests and produce. You can even divide the class in groups and each has a set of questions to ask farmers and sellers about agriculture and the food business. Buy food from the market and have a class lunch together. Back in class, talk about the answers gathered from the interview and collect students’ insights from the field trip on the market. Draw conclusions from their experiences. Read aloud a book on farmers, farming and fresh foods.

Suggested reading
Farm Alphabet Book by Jane Miller
Barnyard Banter by Denise Flemming
Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington
Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s Farm by Joy Cowley
This Is the Farmer by Nancy Tafuri

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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Why Picture Books Are Important by Betsy Bird

by Dianne on November 6, 2017

Why Picture Books Are Important by Betsy Bird

There is a clinic in my city of Evanston called Erie Family Health Center. Altogether, it’s just a top notch place. In addition to their services to people from all walks of life, I’ve accidentally stumbled on Spanish language cooking classes and other efforts to reach out to the community. Best of all, Erie participates with Reach Out and Read to give every single child that walks in the door a book for every visit. Now I’m a mom myself, and I have encountered first hand fellow parents that have been shocked by the prospect of reading to their babies or very small children. Consider the impact a doctor has when they get picture books into the hands of parents and kids right from the start. Doctor’s orders, kids. Read!

Picture books are the lifeblood of literacy. They provide the roots for lifelong learning, but only if you can get the parents on board from the start. There are a lot of things going wrong with the world today, but when I see advocacy groups like First Book, Milk and Bookies, Reading Is Fundamental, and more, I get this sense that there’s hope. We’re increasing awareness of the necessity of getting picture books into the hands of kids from the start. There. That’s your happy thought for the day.

About Betsy Bird

Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library and the former Youth Materials Specialist of New York Public Library. Her blog, A Fuse #8 Production, is hosted by School Library Journal. Betsy reviews regularly for Kirkus and podcasts regularly with her sister about picture books at Fuse 8 n’ Kate. Betsy is the author of the picture book Giant Dance Party, co-author of the very adult Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature (written with Peter Sieruta and Julie Danielson), and editor of the recent anthology of funny female writers and illustrators for kids, Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. You can follow Betsy on Twitter @FuseEight.

Literacy Activity
November 6 – Humor

“Picture books contain many literary conventions, including but not limited, to rhyme, onomatopoeia, alliteration, hyperbole.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

A picture book can also be a collection of prose and poetry. Introduce children to different genres of literature through such picture books. Riddles, quotes, jokes, short stories and collected art works can all be found in compilations and curated in books for children with beautiful illustrations. Build a classroom library of picture books that cover a wide range of literary forms and genre. Conduct a Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) Time. Set up a writing corner where students can write short responses to what they have read. Gather these writing responses and post them up on the bulletin board for everyone to read during free time.

Suggested readings

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins
The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood
Mixed Up Fairy Tales by Hilary Robinson

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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Why Picture Books Are Important by Dianne White

by Dianne on November 5, 2017

Why Picture Books Are Important by Dianne White

When my kids were of picture book age, I knew little about the genre apart from a handful of classics introduced to me by my grandmother. Though we made many trips to the library, the books we brought home were often randomly chosen. We had favorites, but it wasn’t until I began teaching, a few years later, that I discovered the power and possibility of picture books.

I was completely smitten. I immersed myself in a world of books I hadn’t known existed, filling the gaps in my reading education. So fond was I of picture books – the rhythm and sounds of their words, the extraordinary illustrations, and the ways in which the two came together to become more than their separate parts – that I began to wonder if I might one day write such books.

I studied, took classes, and even returned to school to earn an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Eventually, I sold BLUE on BLUE which, appropriately enough, was inspired by a poetry/writing exercise I’d shared dozens of times with my students.

In a word, picture books are magic. They are windows and mirrors and doors that open up conversations. They invite dialogue, not only between a book’s creators and readers, but more importantly, between the parents, teachers, and loving adults who read and share them, and the children who sit snuggled on their laps, huddled together in a classroom circle, or stretched out – book on the floor – in a home or library.

Much like David McCord describes in his poem, “Books Fall Open,” I fell into picture books and have been delighted and charmed by them ever since.

About Dianne White
Dianne White is the award-winning author of BLUE ON BLUE (Beach Lane Books/ S&S), illustrated by Caldecott medalist, Beth Krommes. She holds an elementary bilingual teaching credential and a master’s in Language and Literacy. In 2007, she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

After 25 years in the classroom, Dianne now writes full-time from her home near Phoenix, Arizona. Two new picture books are forthcoming in 2018 – GOODBYE BRINGS HELLO, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman (HMH), and WHO EATS ORANGE?, illustrated by Robin Page (Beach Lane Books). Visit Dianne online at diannewrites.com.

Literacy Activity
November 5 – Storms and Typhoons

“Picture books give us a more intimate look at scientific concepts that are often abstract and difficult to understand”. (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

Use a picture book as springboard to discuss scientific concepts. Talk about events in the picture book that are likely to happen in real life. Look at the responses and feelings of characters on the events in the story by identifying words that describe it. Point at visuals that emphasise the feeling or emotion. Find illustrations that indicate the scientific concept that is up for discussion. Ask students how this scientific concept can occur in daily life.

Suggested reading:

Weather by Seymour Simon
Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons
The Cloud Book by Tomie de Paola
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins

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.


Why Picture Books Are Important by Brian Smith

by Dianne on November 4, 2017

Why Picture Books Are Important by Brian Smith

There are several reasons why picture books are so important. Picture books serve as way to explore the world beginning at the youngest of ages. It’s how kids learn about their own heritage, diversity of all kinds, and the possibilities that this world possesses. Picture books are not only the gateway to all worlds known but also unknown. I love how picture books not only keep our imaginations alive, but they stretch our imaginations beyond the point where we thought they were capable of going. They keep our imaginations elastic and that keeps our world full of wonder and innovation. A picture book can ignite a spark that turns into a flame and pushes even the smallest of kids to do amazing things. Picture books change the world. They promote kindness, being yourself, bravery and every other positive construct and ideal that we try to instill in our kids today.

I remember loving The Little Golden Book The Poky Little Puppy and Curious George as part of my earliest memories. I loved how the five puppies went out and explored the wide, wide world. I also loved how the poky little puppy used his senses to always remind the other puppies that they belonged home. I couldn’t get enough of Curious George and his amazing adventures because they also taught me that the world is a big and wondrous place and that is the lesson that I want my child and all my students to remember as we turn each page.

All About Brian Smith
Brian Smith is currently teaching a Kindergarten/first grade combination class at Wittenburg Elementary School in Alexander County, NC. He was extremely honored and humbled to have been selected as the Alexander County Teacher of the Year for 2017-2018. He is a state level keynote speaker, national presenter, and an advocate for all students. He is also a Top Teaching blogger for Scholastic and has been a featured guest blogger both nationally and internationally including Islambad ASCD’s blog, eReader’s Theater, and School Outfitters. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University where he teaches several classes, including Differentiation, Children and Adolescent Literature and a reading course. He is also certified to teach Exceptional Children and academically gifted students. His undergrad degree is from Lenoir-Rhyne University (although it was just a College when he went there) and his Masters in Elementary Education is from Gardner-Webb University.

Brian has delivered a TEDxHickory talked called Building a Better Teacher. He was named to the ASCD Emerging Leader class of 2015. He has been a featured teacher and book reviewer for Teacher Magazine. He is currently the Vice President of the North Carolina branch of the International Dyslexia Association, treasurer of the local chapter of the Autism Society, and a board member of the Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center. He served as a Scholastic Book Club Teacher Advisor in 2013 and 2014 and has been featured in their monthly flyers twice. Brian also founded a Saturday morning All Boys’ Book Club for third grade students and an avid reader who has a passion for getting the right book in the right hands at the right time.

Literacy Activity
November 4 – Monkeys

“Children are born scientists; and 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)

Encourage students to ask questions before, during and after reading aloud sessions. It fosters imagination, wonder and curiosity.

A good way to start with inquiry based read aloud sessions is to generate questions about the theme of a picture book. Initiate by asking questions and writing them on the board or on flashcards.

What does it mean to be curious?
Are all monkeys curious?
What makes George a curious monkey?
Why did the author choose a monkey as the lead character?

During read aloud, go back to some questions which you think can be answered by the text either directly or implicitly. For questions left unanswered, take time to compile them for a research activity in the library. Ask the help of the school librarian for resources he or she can recommend and prepare ahead of time. He or she can even be your teaching partner on the use of different sources of information and how these resources are helpful in finding out answers to questions.

Suggested reading:
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Counting Crocodiles by Judy Sierra
The Complete Adventures of Curious George by Margaret Rey
Where’s My Mom? by Julia Donaldson
Monkey with a Tool Belt by Chris Monroe

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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Why Picture Books Are Important by Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Literacy is about more than just words. Let’s talk about three types of literacy that picture books are especially good at imparting.

Visual literacy. Our society is run on images and symbolism. They are signifiers adults take for granted, but they must be learned nonetheless. They teach children how to navigate our world. Picture books can offer an introduction to this primary form of communication.

Emotional literacy. Babies quickly learn that a smile means a parent is happy with them, while a frown signifies the opposite. But what about the more nuanced emotions of compassion and empathy? In picture books, children can put themselves into the shoes (or paws) of others. They can learn that the world is made up of points of view other than their own.

Cultural literacy. This can be translated into not only various cultures, but various races, sexual orientations, and familial demographics. Picture books offer a non-threatening introduction to our multi-cultural, diverse community, allowing a child to understand our world from the outset as a varied and rich multitude of experiences.

Sharing a variety of picture books with children can provide the tools to understanding and translating our world, helping to create a more compassionate, educated and literate citizenry, which not only benefits children, but benefits all of society.

About Elizabeth Dulemba
Elizabeth, aka ‘e’ is an author, illustrator, teacher and speaker with over two dozen titles to her credit, from board books to a novel. She speaks professionally at universities, schools, and events—including her TEDx Talk, “Is Your Stuff Stopping You?” (viewed 200,000 times). In the summers, she is Visiting Associate Professor in the MFA in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating program at Hollins University. Before moving to Scotland to pursue an MFA in Illustration (with Distinction) at the University of Edinburgh, she was a Board Member for the Georgia Center for the Book and served as Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators southeast chapter. In these capacities, she established annual Illustrators’? Days, curated gallery shows, created a state-wide literary prize and a scholarship program, helping hundreds of promising creators on their own paths. Her e-newsletter goes out to nearly 4,000 subscribers each week. Currently, she is illustrating a book by award-winning author Jane Yolen and her son, Adam Stemple, CROW NOT CROW for Cornell Lab Publishing Group (Fall 2018), while pursuing a PhD in Children’s Literature at the University of Glasgow. Visit http://dulemba.com to learn more.

Literacy Activity
November 3 – Friends

“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)

Look at similarities and differences. Create a Venn diagram of the student and the main character. Add another circle to include a friend in comparing and contrasting qualities of real people and fictional ones. Use the ideas and concepts generated from the Venn Diagramms in a writing activity.

Suggested reading:

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett
Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! by Mo Willems
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jan Yolen

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


Eliana de Las Casas And Her Mama’s Bayou

by Dianne on November 2, 2017

I’ll Always be Bayou By Eliana de Las Casas

My mom, Dianne de Las Casas, had a big heart and big dreams. Ever since she was a little girl, she wanted to write books. She was fascinated by picture books and how they could change children’s lives. She even quit her desk job to become a storyteller. She published a few educational books for teachers and librarians before she went on to publish her first picture book, The Cajun Cornbread Boy. Although I was young, I was there every step of the way from the time she wrote a story to the time she published it. I would help her with storyline ideas when she had writer’s block. Many times, I was also the one who would sit and watch her perform her stories and critique them.

I remember one particular night when I was little and my mom called me into her room. She said she wanted me to listen to a new story that she wrote for me. Of course, I was excited and wanted to hear it! I crawled into her bed and laid down next to her. She began to sing, “Mama’s by you on the bayou / Rockin’ you to the sounds of the crickets, chirp chirp.” She continued and sang the remainder of the lullaby. My mom told me that when my sister was a little girl, she wrote her her own lullaby. She wanted me to have my own as well. I immediately loved it.

This lullaby ended up becoming her third picture book, Mama’s Bayou, which was illustrated in beautiful cut paper and collage by Holly Stone-Barker. On the dedication page my mom wrote, “For Eliana, the Snugglebug in Mama’s Bayou. I love you!” This book became extra special to me. When the book was published, she made sure that I got a signed first edition copy from her and Ms. Holly. To this day, I still have that same book on my bookshelf. Whenever I want to remember my mom’s big heart and the sound of her voice, I will open up the book and sing the song as I turn the pages. And one day, Mom, I’ll be right there by you on the other side of the bayou.

About Eliana de Las Casas

Eliana is a 17-year-old award-winning celebrity chef, cookbook author, and radio show host. Known in the food industry as Kid Chef Eliana, she is the author of three cookbooks, Eliana Cooks! Recipes for Creative Kids, Cool Kids Cook: Louisiana, and Cool Kids Cook: Fresh & Fit. She is the 2016 Food Network Chopped Teen Grand Champion and CEO of Eliana Cooks! and Spice It Up!, a seasoning blend company.

Literacy Activity
November 2 – Mothers

“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

Choose a book to read aloud that has mother/s as the theme. During read aloud, pick out rhyming words and/or onomatopoeia. Have students repeat words that are essential to the story as you read aloud. It becomes an engaging reading experience as they listen, speak and follow language patterns. After the read aloud, recall with students the rhyming words and onomatopoeia present in the book. Write them down on the board or on flashcards. Talk about these words and how it can be used for writing sentences and poetry.

Suggested reading:

The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse and Barbara Lavallee
Mom School by Rebecca Van Slyke and Priscilla Burris
The Runaway Bunny
by Margaret Wise Brown Illustrated by Clement Hurd

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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Joyce Wan And The Picture Book Month Logo

by Dianne on November 1, 2017

Behind the Scenes: Creating the Logo for Picture Book Month by Joyce Wan

In 2011, Dianne de Las Casas asked me if I wanted to design the logo for an international literacy initiative she was launching to celebrate picture books now known as Picture Book Month. Anybody who knew Dianne knows that she had a special gift for motivating people to do things. She was a trailblazer and her zest for life was contagious, you couldn’t help but want to participate in whatever she was cooking up, so I said yes. I was also excited to be part of a campaign that honored the picture book which has always held a special place in my heart. Read my essay, Why Picture Books Are Important.

Since Picture Book Month was to be a children’s literature initiative that spanned the globe, the logo had to be universal and kid-friendly. I also wanted to capture the essence of what it felt like to be read to as a child. I ended up using animals reading a book as the theme with an image of an owl as the predominant figure. At the time I was creating the logo, I was involved in the gift industry and owls were everywhere — fabrics, plush toys, jewelry, art prints, housewares; you name it. I was feeling inspired by the owl trend but I also loved their simple shape and how they are associated with wisdom in many cultures. A little mouse and squirrel were added to complete this cozy, book-reading trio. The logo went through a few iterations of sketches with Dianne’s input before reaching the final design which was created in Illustrator. Red, yellow and blue hues were chosen as they, being primary colors, evoke a feeling of warmth and familiarity.

It’s been such a joy to see how Picture Book Month has grown over the years and an honor to be part of Dianne’s legacy. The essays on the website have become a source of inspiration and reflection to picture book lovers around the world. I look forward to reading what wonderful nuggets of wisdom the Picture Book Champions have to share with us this year and celebrating the power of picture books. Happy Picture Book Month!

About Joyce Wan
Joyce is an award-winning author-illustrator of many books for children including You Are My Cupcake, We Belong Together, The Whale In My Swimming Pool, the Peep and Egg series written by Laura Gehl, and Sleepyheads written by Sandra Howatt. Joyce lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter. She hopes to spread joy through all her work and inspire people to embrace the spirit of childhood and follow their dreams.

Literacy Activity
November 1 – Create Your Own or Class Logo

“Picture Books can address both heart and standards.”(from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

A logo is one way to express and communicate one’s identity, belief and aspirations. It is also a good medium to use when campaigning for an advocacy or a project. What is the logo of your life? Do you have a project for a specific cause? What is your advocacy?

Think of metaphors and symbols for your message, belief, cause and/or advocacy. Go get a pencil and paper and start sketching! Show your drafts to friends and family. Ask for their comments and feedback. Revise and polish the final logo. You may need to learn an app or software to create the final logo. Consult artists and experts as necessary.

In the classroom, lead your class to think of a class logo. Brainstorm on ideas, objectives, purpose and think through criteria informing that the logo has met standards of communication arts and design. Make it collaborative. Assign work according to the skills of your students. Have them work in groups: concept makers; designers; artists; editors; promotions people. Explain the function of each group but keep to the goal or objectives of the project.

Suggested reading:

You Are My Cupcake by Joyce Wan
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey, by Jeanne Walker Harvey and Elizabeth Zunon
Through Georgia’s Eyes by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez and Julie Paschkis

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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Letters From the Founders of Picture Book Month

by Dianne on October 31, 2017

A Tribute to Picture Book Month Founder Dianne de Las Casas
By Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Marcie Colleen, Joyce Wan, Katie Davis and Wendy Martin

If you hadn’t yet heard, I’m sorry to begin your 2017 Picture Book Month celebration with sad news. Picture Book Month recently lost its Founder and greatest champion, Diane de Las Casas. Sadly, our friend passed away in a house fire this past August leaving an enormous hole in our kidlit universe and in the many lives she touched. As Co-Founders of Picture Book Month, we are devastated by the loss of Dianne, but we are also dedicated to keeping her legacy alive. Dianne put so much work into making Picture Book Month an event looked forward to by teachers, parents, and librarians around the world, we know that the best way to honor her is to keep her dream moving forward. So, with sad, but determined hearts, we bring you Picture Book Month 2017.

It seems appropriate that Dianne and I met many years back at the home of fellow Co-Founder, Katie Davis. I was visiting New York on the way through to the Kindling Words conference in Vermont in 2009. Dianne was also visiting. We shared the king-sized bed in Katie’s attic guest room, although, not much sleep was had. We’d only just met, but we stayed up all night talking, plotting to change the world through children’s literature—something Dianne took very seriously as a mother, storyteller, and author. I don’t think she had come up with the idea for Picture Book Month at that time, but I do remember thinking I’d want to be a part of whatever ideas Dianne came up with, she was so electric and inspiring!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba designs the annual Picture Book Month Calendar.

Dianne was the proud author of over two dozen books. Several of her picture books were tributes to the culture of her beloved New Orleans, such as The Cajun Cornbread Boy, Mama’s Bayou, and Dinosaur Mardi Gras. Dianne’s newest book was co-authored with her fiancé, John Couret, Captain Deadeye: The Bully Shark, illustrated by Stefan Jolet, from Write Hook Media, their start-up social entrepreneurial publishing company. It was to be the first of an anti-bullying, pirate chapter book series—a campaign she would have promoted widely through her highly popular and numerous school visits. Dianne had devoted fans and followers through her visits and her newsletter, with its enormous subscriber list. She was loved.

But Dianne’s pride and joy was her two daughters, her eldest Soleil, a graphic designer, and her youngest Eliana, also known as Kid Chef Eliana. Dianne had been spending most of her recent time helping to establish her 17-year-old daughter on the fun and creative path towards being named the 2016 Chopped Teen Grand Champion in the 3rd season of the competition on Food Network. Eliana used her winnings to start her company, Spice It Up! My heart is broken for Soleil and Eliana, they were so close.

Dianne was a vibrant, alive person, a force for good in this world, and I will miss her and all the good works she was doing. I’m not alone. I asked my fellow Co-Founders of Picture Book Month to share some thoughts.

Dianne de Las Casas, Marcie Colleen and Joyce Wan

Marcie Colleen: “I remember the first time Dianne and I spoke on the phone. I was having a super busy day, but squeezed in a few moments to chat about Picture Book Month business. We ended up speaking for 3 hours! We even texted several times in the hour after the phone call. 

That’s how it always was with her. Once in her presence, I had a hard time leaving. We joked that it was her “voodoo charm” (being from New Orleans.)
She definitely had a way of making everyone who came into contact with her feel special. But, in truth, she was the special one. She had a kind of “gift of sparkle” and I am so lucky to have known her as a close friend.
Dianne will be greatly missed. I’d say “rest in peace,” but she was not one to rest. Maybe “power down a bit.” So instead I will say, “sparkle in peace,” my friend.”

Katie Davis remembers Dianne and the founding of Picture Book Month.

To watch Katie Davis’ full video, follow this link.

Joyce Wan:I met Dianne at an SCBWI LA conference in 2010. It was my first time attending that conference and I went alone. I was new to SCBWI and new to publishing with just one book out at the time. I remember feeling like an outsider at the conference until I met Dianne in the hotel lobby. We connected instantly, each of us having owned our own creative businesses for some time. As I showed her an advance copy of an upcoming children’s book of mine, I could already see the wheels in her head turning. We started brainstorming ideas on how I could promote the book and it felt like I was talking to an old friend. She had this remarkable gift for making people feel welcomed, special and important. She had a generous spirit, always trying to help and boost others up. I admired her capacity to dream big not just for herself but for others too. No matter what challenges she faced, she never let them stop her from tackling big, visionary projects, and they never compromised her boundless commitment to her dreams, her colleagues, her friends, and her family. I will miss our late night text messaging sessions about her next big idea. (Can anyone tell me how she typed so fast with those incredible nails?)

Wendy Martin: I never had the pleasure of meeting Dianne in real life, but we tweeted together frequently.

In fact, it was a Twitter conversation that led to the formation of Picture Book Month. In late September 2011, we had a spirited tweet-fest about why picture books would always be important. I don’t recall which news outlet had just predicted their demise, but we had a long, long list of reason why the reporter was dead wrong. During this conversation, the idea of Picture Book Month was born. A permanent place to honor all that picture books are and all they do to encourage children and families. Dianne, being Dianne, took the ideas we were shooting out at each other and made this thing with them all. Next thing I know, she was telling me I was an important co-founder of PBM and sending me emails with contact info and press releases. Without her energy, the ideas would have never materialized into something more.

Dianne was like that in every aspect of her life. She lived to the fullest extent, and put 110% of herself into everything she did. I was greatly saddened to hear of her bright sparkle being snuffed out way too soon. The kidlit community is going to miss her exuberance. And I will miss how kind she was to all she came in contact with.

Personally, I was proud to work closely with Dianne to create the calendar for Picture Book Month each year and was waiting to hear from Dianne about doing it again this year, when I learned the sad news.

Dianne’s passing is a tragic loss to our children’s book community, as a creator, as a proponent of children’s literature, as a mother, and as a friend. Rest in peace, dear friend. I believe you are somehow watching over our endeavors, encouraging us to keep Picture Book Month going. Because we love you, and because we love our world of children’s literature, we will.

Dianne de Las Casas is the award-winning author of 28 books, a publisher, a professional storyteller, a radio show host, and the founder of Picture Book Month, an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November. She has been traveling and speaking in schools for 20 years. As a child, she was bullied because she had third-degree burns covering a large portion of her body. The character of Dee Dee is inspired by Dianne. She lives in the New Orleans area and is the proud mom of culinary superstar, Kid Chef Eliana and graphic designer, Soleil Lisette. Visit Dianne at diannedelascasas.com. John Couret is the author of the personal growth book, Breaking Barriers: How to Knock Out Adversity and Live Life as a Champion. He is also a publisher, a speaker, a radio show host, and a success coach. As a child, he was bullied because he had lazy eyes and was given the nickname “Deadeye John,” which became the inspiration for the title character. One of the challenges John currently faces is that he is legally blind. He has found that although he lost his sight, he never lost his vision. John lives in the New Orleans area and loves being a dad to Victoria and a “papa” to granddaughter, Maci.

Visit John at Write Hook Media.


The 2017 Picture Book Month Calendar

by Dianne on October 20, 2017

The 2017 Picture Book Month Calendar looks awesome! Many thanks to Elizabeth O. Dulemba for designing the calendar.

Each day, our Picture Book Month Champion, is listed. On that day he/she has an essay posted on the Picture Book Month website about the importance of picture books. The theme for the day is included too.

Check back every day of November for a new essay and recommended literacy activities for teachers and parents to use in the classroom or at home with their kids.

Visit the CALENDAR link to get more information and ideas on how to use it.