It’s finally February! One month closer to spring….and at Inly School, it’s a month to celebrate Picture Books! February is I Love To Read Month for our youngest students. The four Children’s House classrooms each select a different author to focus on, and the kids draw and look and read and talk about their chosen author all month. Over the past few years, the students have “studied” books by notable creators of the genre: Beatrix Potter, Eric Carle, Donald Crews, Doreen Cronin, Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Ezra Jack Keats and many others. This year, the objects of their attention are: Grace Lin, Mo Willems, Patricia Polacco, and Lois Ehlert.
At the request of several of Inly’s parents, here are a few ideas about enjoying picture books with your children – and some tips that may encourage them to look more closely…
– Look! Ask children what they like. What captures their attention? Is it the colors? The expressions on the character’s faces? The tiny details that may go unnoticed the first time through?
– Ask leading questions. What’s the mood of this story? How do you think the characters feel? Talk about the book. Even if the book’s language is simple, your child will benefit by discussing the story.
– Remember that the best picture books are a blend between pictures and text. Sometimes an illustration extends (or even contradicts) the text and kids should be encouraged to “read” both picture and words.
– Imagine! The best part of sharing a good picture book with a child is how it can inspire kids to wonder. I wonder what it would be like to live in China….Maybe we could grow a vegetable soup….I would like to read more about….
– Introduce some basic picture book vocabulary. Kids love owning new words; it helps them to order their new information. Think about kids who love dinosaurs! Tell them that a Gutter is the open space between the pages or challenge them to find a book with a Wraparound Cover – a book where the cover illustration continues on to the back.
– Look at the text. Are the words bigger in some places than in others? Do the letters match the style of the story? Even a young child can distinguish between typefaces – and see where the illustrator is trying to get the reader’s attention!
In keeping with the picture book theme, here’s a link to NPR’s recent segment: 8 Picture Books That Make Us Wish We Were Kids Again. Every book on the list is a gem, and the good news is you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy them!
Two more things…
First, I was at the Museum of Science in Boston yesterday. We went to see the IMAX movie, Jerusalem, which was wonderful. But on the way into the museum, this poster caught my eye:
There’s a show at the planetarium that uses Jack and Annie of Magic Tree House fame to teach kids about the solar system. Here’s the link to information about Space Mission:
And finally, I bought this book in a used bookshop over the weekend. I know nothing about it. I bought it only because of its beautiful cover and it felt wrong to leave it behind on a dusty shelf. Since buying it, I’ve learned that Elizabeth Cadell wrote 52 novels between 1946 and 1987. Cadell was born in India, but spent most of her adult life in England and Portugal. Her books are light romances, but she has a devoted following – including a fan club! The point of the story is that covers do matter. I don’t know if or when I will read Honey for Tea – but it has a safe home.