Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November is Picture Book Month

November is picture book month! According to picture book month started last year after a controversial article in the New York Times.  "Founder Dianne de Las Casas decided it was time to celebrate picture books in their printed format so she created an initiative to designate November as “Picture Book Month.” Katie Davis, Elizabeth Dulemba, Tara Lazar, and Wendy Martin came on board to champion the cause and spread the word. A logo was designed by Joyce Wan. A website was created to feature essays from “Picture Book Champions,” thought leaders in the children’s literature community. Each day in November, a new essay will be posted from such notable contributors as Suzanne Bloom, Denise Fleming, Leslie Helakoski, Eric A. Kimmel, Tammi Sauer, Dan Yaccarino, and Jane Yolen." 

When Jen and I learned about Picture Book Month this year through the Twitter grapevine, we decided that we had to participate to show our support of picture books. 

We are going to show our support in two different ways.  First, if you have been following when we did August: 10 for 10 I stated that I wanted to grow in my exposure and knowledge of picture books.  Jen (our blog picture book expert) is going to give me a list of must read picture books that I have not read, then over the next couple of weeks I am going to post mini-reviews of the books.  

Jen's choices for my November picture book exposure mini-challenge are:

*drum roll!!* 

I Want my Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Chalk by Bill Thomson
Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
Can we Save the Tiger by Martin Jenkins
Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
The  Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino
Chicken Dance by Tammi Sauer
Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison
A Story for Bear by Dennis Hesely
Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes and Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes by Eric Litwin
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pickney

The reviews will be posted for three Thursdays starting Thursday, November 10th.  Check back then!

Also, I wanted to show my support by sharing with you my favorite lesson that I do with a picture book.  Now, I don't use this lesson in November, but hopefully by learning about the lesson, you'll purchase the book to use when the time is right. So, here we go:  

My favorite picture book lesson

The Lorax
First, I must preface this- Wasn't Dr. Seuss a genius?! It is brilliant that I can use a somewhat political book from the 70s and it is completely relevant today!  Now, onto the lesson... 

April 22 is Earth Day and I am a big advocate for Earth Day.  Every year to celebrate I read The Lorax with my students. This book lends itself to a wide variety of discussions, skills and cross curricular opportunities.  While reading, we focus on vocabulary because the book includes words like nuisance, grim and heisted (great words!) as well as predicting and flashbacks.  

Then after reading we begin to analyze (and the kids do it without even being prompting).  Usually the first thing that comes up is the Once-ler and how he develops throughout the story.  He is so different during the flashback than he is in the present. We discuss what greed is and how the greed hurt the Lorax's land.  This transitions nicely into making connections between their world and ours.  I love to have social studies teach about deforestation about this time and science about pollution, because the students begin to bring in their prior knowledge and truly connect with the book.  It is a beautiful thing to witness. 

Now for my 3 favorite activities that I do with the book: 
1. The students write a letter to the Once-ler, as the Lorax, trying to persuade him to not cut down the Truffula trees. 
2. (Kinds of arts and crafty... but FUN and interesting) After a minilesson about propaganda, particularly slogans, students, once again as the Lorax, make protest signs with slogans on them to show their dissatisfaction with the Once-ler. 
3. Finally, because the book has such an open ending, the students pretend to be the little boy who gets the seed and they write a sequel (in 1st person) to The Lorax.  I do not require them to rhyme like Dr. Seuss, but I do offer an open-ended due date so that the students who want to can have the time they need. Many students also turn it into a picture book like Dr. Seuss.  I have gotten some beautiful pieces of writing and some amazing little picture books. 

I would love if you'd share with me your favorite lesson that you do with a picture book! Comment below :) And please check back throughout the month as we continue to celebrate Picture Book Month!

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