I am delighted to join the Booklights bloggers Jen, Pam, and Susan. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading their posts....what wonderful resources they are for parents, teachers, and children's booklovers everywhere! My role will be to provide an end-of-the-month summary, reaction, and share the ideas that Jen, Pam, and Susan have prompted. To quote E.B. White, "A once a month column gives three weeks of off time to devote to a sustained project like shingling a barn or sandpapering an old idea." While I do not plan to shingle a barn, I will be spending this next year sandpapering a lot of old ideas as I will be on sabbatical from my work at Vanderbilt University.
Jen's latest post about the power of social reading reminds me of the research done in the early 1970s on how children make their choices of what books to read. And while these findings were taken from studying children who likely now have little readers of their own, it may still be relevant to our discussion. It turns out that when making the decision of what book to choose, children rely on the recommendations of others, the availability of books, and returning to the same author or illustrator whose work they have enjoyed in the past. Sounds a lot like adult readers, doesn't it?
So Jen's suggestions of parent-child book clubs and encouraging kids to talk to each other about the books they are reading are great. Teachers are also very valuable resources for making book recommendations. And the lists of favorites that were provided in May make fabulous suggestions of picture books that will be enjoyed by readers of every age. Many of you will want to grab a book bag and go to your local library to check out their favorites:
As I read their lists, I felt compelled to mention my own "Top Ten".....for this moment in time, anyway!
1. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, by Mem Fox (ill. Julie Vivas)
2. I'm in Charge of Celebrations, by Byrd Baylor (ill. Peter Parnell)
3. The Library, by Sarah Stewart (ill. David Small)
4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar (pop-up version), by Eric Carle
5. Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen (ill.
6. Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney
7. Time for Bed, by Mem Fox (ill. Jane Dyer)
8. Truman's Aunt Farm, by Jama Kim Rattigan (ill. Brian Karas)
9. Pink and Say, by Patricia Palacco
10. Animalia, by Graeme Base
The second finding from the research I mentioned above is about availability of books to read. On June 11, Pam talked about bringing home books. The second most frequent memories of early reading my university students have is that of bringing bags full of books home from the public library (the first most popular memory is that of their family reading time at night before bedtime).
It is particularly important that children have lots of books available to them in the summer. By the way, I think that summer is the perfect time for reading LESS challenging books! Try new genres of literature. Check out the latest nonfiction picture books. Take the time to look very closely at the illustrations.
And on June 10th, Susan provided us with a very nice example of how to discuss the illustrations of Where the Wild Things Are (by the way, the movie based on this book is scheduled to come out on October 16). It has been said that a child's first introduction to fine art is through the picture book. Spend time this summer talking about the art that you and your child will enjoy together in many of the picture books we have recommended.
Please, please do not encourage children to stop reading picture books too early. Show your children how much you enjoy the art of the picture book. As Susan mentioned, Brian Selznick's Caldecott winning book The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a picture book with a much longer format....544 pages rather than the usual 32! While it may seem daunting at first, 9-12 year olds will quickly discover the illustrations must be read just as carefully as the text in order for the book to be understood.
The professor in me loves Arthur Rackham's belief about illustration: "The most fascinating form of illustration consists of the expression by the artist of an individual sense of delight or emotion aroused by the accompanying passage of literature."
Looking forward to another month of wonderful posts....Ann