Engaging the Picture Book Crowd

Here’s a short piece I wrote a couple of years ago. But it seems even more appropriate on the eve of World Read Aloud Day. Enjoy your reading, everyone!

Engaging the Picture Book Crowd

Whether it’s through quiet, cuddle time, conversation or comic relief, engaging the picture book crowd is a delightful task. I like to tell young readers that when we read a picture book, we don’t just decipher the words. We talk about it. We explore it. We discover it. We relate to it. We might move to it. We might even make a little noise. Because picture books aren’t just about words on a page. They’re about sounds and rhythms and poetry and language and voice and life and … pictures!

I love to stress, with kids, the importance of reading the pictures. After all, the illustrations in a picture book tell over half of the story. It’s a skill that very young children can master and feel proud of. It’s also art appreciation 101. When you ask a group of young kids, “How many of you are artists?” almost every hand goes up.  So when they see picture book illustration as art, they’re introduced to the stories – including their own – that art can tell. I explore with kids the details of an illustration that might tell us more about the central story or a side story or, perhaps, even a different story, than the text reveals.

I rarely read a picture book straight through. I ask a lot of questions. I ask kids to predict what comes after a page turn. I ask them to look for clues as to how the story might end. And, most importantly, I ask them questions that might help them connect a book, in a personal way, to what they know, what they’ve experienced and the world they live in.

Young readers can feel empowered when they contribute to the conversation about a book. By showing them that I value their discoveries, they not only learn that reading a picture book is rewarding, but that they are valued as well.

Appearances 2019

1/29/19           North Jackson Elementary, Talmo, GA, School Virtual Visit

1/31/19            Martha Reid Leadership Academy, Mansfield, TX, School Virtual Visit

2/1/19             New Interdisciplinary School, Medford, NY, School Virtual Visit

2/1/19              Chamberlin Elementary School, Stephensville, TX, School Virtual Visit

2/1/19              Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Turnersville, NJ, School Virtual Visit

2/1/19              Antoinette Reading Junior High, Richmond, TX, School Virtual Visit

2/22/19           Jefferson Elementary, Anaheim, CA, School Virtual Visit

2/28/19          Desert Spirit Elementary, Glendale, AZ School Virtual Visit

3/1/19             Bethune Elementary, Detroit, MI, School Virtual Visit

3/8/19             Boston Bookstores Drive-By Signings

3/16/19           Colorado Book & Arts Festival, Arvada, CO, Featured Author

3/22-23/19     Children’s Festival of Stories, Denver, CO, Featured Author

3/29/19           Chegwin Elementary School, Fond du Lac, WI, School Virtual Visit

4/5/19              Copper Hill Elementary School, Ringoes, NJ, School Virtual Visit

4/9/19              The BookBar Bookstore, Denver, CO, Happier Hour Storytime 4:30

4/20/19            The Book Stall, Winnetka, IL, Saturday Morning Storytime, 10:30

4/22/19            Hollis Elementary School, Hollis, ME, School Virtual Visit

4/27/19            Independent Bookstore Day at The Bookies, Denver, CO

4/29/19            Julian Curtiss School, Greenwich, CT, School Virtual Visit

5/3/19               Children’s Book Week Storytime at Second Star to the Right Bookstore, 10:30 AM

5/23/19            Lois Lenski Elementary, Centennial, CO, School Visit

7/14/19             The Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, CO, TRUMAN Launch Party Open to the Public

8/3/19               The Book Stall Bookstore, Winnetka, IL, TRUMAN Launch Party Open to the Public

8/24/19             The BookPeople Bookstore, Austin, TX, TRUMAN Launch Party Open to the Public

9/4/19               Educator Night, The Tattered Cover Aspen Grove, 6-9 PM

9/14/19             Princeton Children’s Book Festival

10/21-25/19    Mount Lebanon Public Schools

10/12-13/19     Rocky Mountain SCBWI Letters & Lines Conference

11/15/19            The Notre Dame Bookstore 3:30-5:30

11/30/19           Small Business Saturday Appearances, TBA

To find out more about Jean’s School and Virtual Visits.

To inquire about other appearances or to schedule Jean for an appearance.

A Bright, Shiny Starred Review for PUP 681!

On the heels of a weekend stuffed full of gratitude, comes an extra dollop of good news … a bright, shiny starred review for PUP 681. “Unabashedly adorable.” Thank you, Kirkus!

“An abandoned baby sea otter is rescued and sent to live out her life in an aquarium—where she learns the deepest meaning of “family,” in this tale inspired by a real-life rescued otter pup.

‘When the moon slipped under the mist and the sun began to burn through, a tiny one opened her eyes.’ These poetic words are on the recto of a double-page spread of a pale, watercolor seascape. At the left, an immediately appealing, dazed-looking brown sea otter sits draped in seaweed. Over the next two pages, there are four more depictions of the baby, in equally adorable positions, lessening the sting of her plaintive situation. She appears near death when, in driving rain, a young woman shows up and gently bundles her into a blanket, calling the otter Pup 681. The tale is told in third person, but most of it is through the supposed thoughts and even dreams of the otter, who at one point feels so lonely she sickens. Her unnamed, sweet-faced rescuer, a woman of color, again revives her, and a fascinating otter fact is cleverly revealed. The gentle humor of the artwork and the descriptive, sometimes-rhyming text combines with excellent layout to create a compelling tale. If the ending words were describing a human’s lesson learned, they would seem mawkishly sentimental; because the lesson applies to Pup 681’s “tiny otter heart,” they simply provide appropriate closure. An author’s note and a smattering of otter facts follow.

Unabashedly adorable. (Picture book. 4-7)

Tuesdays for Teachers: Opinion Pieces for Early Learners

After a recent Skype school visit, I received a fabulous file of “Best Book” reports from a phenomenal first-grade class … which reminded me, author studies and opinion pieces are not just for big kids.

By reading, together as a class, several books by the same author – and maybe even scheduling a virtual visit – you give even the youngest readers an opportunity to compare and contrast an author’s books, learn about story inspiration and idea generation and maybe even ask a few questions of the author herself.

Topping it off with a simple “Best Book” report helps students learn to form their own opinions, find supporting details and draw conclusions about literary works and art.

You’ll be well on your way to forming selective young readers and thoughtful new critics – a boon to any literacy curriculum.

Interested in a virtual visit?

Check out my Time Out for Teachers page!

 

Monday, Tuesday … Mentor Text Poetry

Early learners master days of the week quickly – and there are plenty of picture books that can help them do that – including my BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK!

A days-of-the-week picture book can also serve as a fun mentor text or a basis for a calendar activity. Students – or the class all-together – can compose their own days of the week poem in rhyme or free verse, based on their own weekly schedule. Think something like:

Monday! Soccer day!

Kick it, bump it, locker day!

As you open each day, consider adding some bouncy creativity to your calendar time and watch your young poets blossom.

Interested in a virtual visit?

Check out my Time Out for Teachers page!

 

All materials © 2019 Jean Reidy. Author website by Websy Daisy. Shelly the Turtle designed by Genevieve Leloup.