Don’t miss out on this opportunity to enhance your knowledge of picture books. I participated in an intensive literacy workshop this summer at the Highlights Foundation in Boyds Mill, PA. At the helm was Rosemary Agoglia, the Senior Museum Educator at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, along with special guest illustrators Floyd Cooper and Vera B. Williams.
We experienced how to evaluate art using Visual Thinking Strategies, the Whole Book Approach as a story-time model and discussed elements and principles of book design in a session called Picturing Stories.
Vera B. Williams, the Caldecott Medalist, is the author/illustrator of many children’s books including A Chair for My Mother. If you are familiar with the book, you may recognize a similarity between the chair’s cover and Vera’s blouse.
Floyd Cooper uses an eraser to create his unusual illustrations. He takes away color and the results are amazing.
We tried his technique using chalk and gum erasers. I was so thrilled with all the new ideas that I learned at this workshop and want to share them to you. I presented the Power of the Picture Book at Gardner’s Book Service in October and will update this post with new dates and locations of future Power of the Picture Book workshops. Participants in my Power of the Picture Book workshop look at art with a fresh approach that will help link literacy and learning to picture books. Discover the power of picture books by exploring the illustrations and the messages they share with readers. I bring over 100 picture books for participants to explore in this hands-on workshop. Schedule this professional development workshop at your school for your staff.
“Everyone who reads with students should immerse themselves in this workshop.” Librarian, SS. Simon & Jude Cathedral School
PD! What is PD? Professional Development! I’m a big fan of continuing education and love to share what I learn. This summer is one big learning experience and it started with the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference held in New Paltz, NY (took a plane, train and bus to get there!) in June. It was a gathering of writers, illustrators, editors and agents, all focused on the business of nonfiction. I attended seminars on everything from what’s new in digital nonfiction to how to brand yourself to how to write for the school market and even assessment tests. An editor from National Geographic Kids critiqued my proposal and motivated me when she announced that they are actively expanding their children’s book line. I love the Nat Geo tag line – “where curiosity runs wild” since that could be my motto too.
21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference
Roxie Munro and her 3D printed likeness
3D printing scan
I was especially curious about the demonstration of 3D Printing sponsored by the SUNY engineering department. Imagine scanning a person and then making that image in plastic. That’s what they did to one of the conference participants. 3D Printing is the theme for an upcoming issue of Odyssey science magazine for kids so I took lots of photos, asked lots of questions about this new technology and then sent in my query and received an assignment for the magazine!
The American Library Association held their conference in Las Vegas and it was two days of nonstop walking and talking to exhibitors. That translates to free books, free books and more free books as the publishers are busy promoting their new lists and giving away ARCs or Advanced Reader Copies. I signed my book D is for Desert – a World Desert Alphabet in the Sleeping Bear Press booth and then had a great dinner afterwards. What could be better than lively conversation with a teacher, librarian, authors and editors?
Deb LaPlante and Peggy Sharp compare new books
Sleeping Bear Press dinner
My goal at ALA was to meet editors who might be interested in my manuscript, How to Read a Building, and to look for books to offer to members in the Catholic Kids Book Club, my latest project. (post coming soon)
Next up on my “summer school” schedule is Honesdale, PA and the Highlights Foundation workshops – the Craft of Writing Short Nonfiction and the Power of the Picture Book. I’ll have the opportunity to work closely with award-winning nonfiction writers and editors. Two years ago, I met Candace Fleming and am thrilled to be able to learn from her again. There will even be a session on nature photography. The second workshop involves educators from the Eric Carle Museum and National Writing Project who will present sessions about visual thinking strategies and the whole-book approach. Illustrators Floyd Cooper and Vera B. Williams will be special guests at the Power of the Picture Book. A tour of Highlights and Boyds Mill Press is also part of the fun.
Tour of Highlights
Calkins Creek editor Carolyn Yoder
Nature author Larry Pringle
Highlights Workshop cabins
Ready, set, learn
The Highlights Foundation celebrating thirty years in service to children’s writers and illustrators offers a variety of programs, workshops, and retreats. If you are interested in learning the craft of writing for children, check out www.HighlightsFoundation.org
Last stop for the summer will be the National Book Festival in Washington, DC and a jam-packed day of author talks. (Check out my post from last year’s festival to discover how authors find their ideas.)
Imagine all the new information that I’ll be exposed to and then sharing it with you! I already have professional development workshops scheduled for the Paradise Valley Unified School District (teachers check out the Course Wizard site for 8 workshops this fall) and at Gardner’s Book Service in Phoenix.
Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 18and the Writer’s Toolbox: Strategies for Reading and Writing Nonfiction. Contact Gardner’s to register for this free workshop. www.gbsbooks.com
Special thanks to the Arizona Commission on the Arts for awarding me a Professional Development Grant to help defray the travel and conference fees for my summer learning experiences.
If you’d like to offer workshops to your staff, click on the header for my page – Professional Development Workshops for Educators.
Imagine a three week adventure in the rainforest. That’s how 22 future fourth graders at Cotton Boll Elementary School in Peoria spent their summer vacation. And they even wrote a book about it! I was invited to take students on a journey through the nonfiction writing process to create a class alphabet book. Everyone first learned about the biome they live in when I shared my book, D is for Desert – a World Desert alphabet and then it was off to the rainforest via a slide presentation of my photographs of the Amazon. It was a trip that didn’t require a passport or inoculations! Kids met in the library decorated as a colorful rainforest by library tech Margaret Crabtree. I visited four mornings and in that time we brainstormed and selected an animal for each letter of the alphabet, researched, wrote (and rewrote) and completed illustrations. Teachers continued the writing process (including peer editing) and also shared activities from rainforest read-alouds to tie-dying tshirts to puzzles and more on the other days. The books will be published by Vesuvius Press and distributed to the kids during a family literacy celebration in September.
Research – collecting awesome information
Writing using colored strips to help construct an organized paragraph
Illustrating ABCs – Accurate, Bold and Creative using oil pastels and background techniques like painting with bubble wrap
Thanks to Title 1 coordinator Kevin Adams and teachers Margarita Garcia, Linda Lavender, Amy Wallander and Sharon Stutzman.
To learn how to bring this writing workshop to your school, check out the Build a Book Writing Workshoppage. Other author opportunties are outlined in the School Author Visit Presentationsand Family Literacy Night pages on this website.