Monday, April 28, 2014

Does anyone ever really outgrow a great picture book?

Earlier this month, at the ABC Children’s Institute in San Antonio, there was a lively discussion about the unfortunate current trend to push children toward chapter books—maybe a bit too early—and away from picture books.

Lets not forget the book that makes us exclaim:  “Oh, I loved that book as a child!” Picture storybooks are a child’s first love and the books they will remember. They are the books they will return to as adults with their own children. Don’t even think of making the mistake that as soon as children learn to read we need to wean them from one of mankind’s greatest achievement—the picture book! Noting lasts longer in memory than a child’s fist love of a story. These books become their literary inheritance. Here are a list of some of my favorite picture book that will surely enchant children, and adults, of all ages.

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, by Dr. Seuss
Animal Faces, by Akira Satoh and Kyoko Toda
Doctor De Soto, by William Steig
Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion
The House on East 88th Street, by Bernard Waber
Leo the Late Bloomer, by Ruth Krauss
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes
Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag
The Moon in My Room, by Uri Shulevitz
Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, by John Burningham
Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen
Seven Blind Mice, by Ed Young

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A book goes out into the world...

An author writes a book but it takes a reader to bring a book to life. In honor of National Poetry Month, here is a poem by Billy Collins that speaks to the journey a book takes as it goes out into the world.

Go, little book
out of this house and into the world,

Carriage made of paper rolling toward town
bearing a single passenger
beyond the reach of this jittery pen
and far from the desk and the nosy gooseneck lamp.

It is time to decamp,
put on a jacket and venture outside,
time to be regarded by other eyes,
bound to be held in foreign hands.

So off you go, infants of the brain,
with a wave and some bits of fatherly advice:

stay out as late as you like,
don’t bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Readers are all powerful

If kids only knew how much power they wield when it comes to bringing a book to life. In the same way that it took love to make the Velveteen Rabbit become Real, it takes readers who love a story or a poem, to make it real and bring it to life. “Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
(Velveteen Rabbit).

When a child loves a story, that story becomes part of their emotional DNA. Those books, passed on by word of mouth turn children into lifelong readers. The real workhorses of children’s literature are books that are passed from child to child, by word of mouth, out of love and affection. If you ask an author what they wish most for the books they write, I think many writers would opt for enthusiastic and passionate readers, over and beyond awards.

Tap into a person’s love of stories and you most likely will find a lover of poetry as well. Poems often need to be read aloud to come to life. They paint a visual picture with words and the sounds of the words are part and parcel of the picture the poem paints.

In honor of April being poetry month, here are a few poems that readers will be sure to love, and bring to life.
“ Rain beats down
roots stretch up
They’ll meet
in a flower
~ Raymond Souster
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
and dances with the daffodils.
William Wordsworth