Friday, July 13, 2012

Picture Books

Picture Books. Some of my favorite type of reading. Two events this week made me feel the need to write about why I adore these slim volumes so. First, on Watch. Connect. Read. on Tuesday there was a short video from Candlewick Press expounding on their love of picture books.

Then I had reading camp. Each reading camp I share at least one picture book with my students. (ages 7-12) Any child who has been in my class knows that we read picture books, daily. They are used in mini-lessons in reading and writing. Sometimes they are conversation starters. Sometimes I use them to tie in what they are learning in Social Studies or Science classes. And sometimes they are just fun.

Often students are surprised when I pull out a picture book. Isn’t that for little kids is something I hear time and time again. I’ve had to teach this at home too. My son, Liam, who is headed to second grade struggled with wanting to “graduate” from picture books to chapter books. I showed him how beautiful and funny they can be and assured him there was a place for both in his life.

When students discover it is ok to read picture books, a magical thing happens. Watch a room of fifth graders as I read Mac Barnett’s Extra Yarn, you could have heard a pin drop. When we read I Want my Hat Back by Jon Klassen kids were horrified and amused. (Depending on what team they were on.) And when I pulled out these two books on Tuesday, my campers were thrilled.

I began with Amy Timberlake’s The Dirty Cowboy. I explained that I had purchased this book because there was some controversy at the end of the school year in a Pennsylvania school district and the book was banned. I asked the students to listen as I read the book and form their own opinions. The kids loved the book. They hooted with laughter as the dog and the cowboy fought. They delighted in Amy’s family story and Adam’s amazing illustrations.

Then I moved on to Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes. We talked about Liam purchasing a stuffed animal “Pete” when we were on vacation. The kids were enchanted by Pete and noticed things I didn’t. One student wanted to know if Pete loved his shoes so much because none of the other cats had any one. One noticed when Pete dropped to all fours then he had on four shoes, standing as a person he only wore two. Someone else commented on the bird present on most pages. The kids would chime in with me to say, “Goodness no.” And I looked at the soon to be 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders in front of me, all equally captivated, and thought this is what good books, picture books or otherwise, can do.

And on that note, I’m off to wrap my sister-in-law’s baby shower present. Want a sneak peak on what I bought her and my soon to arrive niece? I’m sure you will be surprised.