Chapter 8 of Reading Picture Books With Children is called “The Picture Book Playground.” Have you read this chapter? This chapter and quote were a big “aha” moment for me!
Talk about a paradigm shift! But let’s back up and walk through Chapter 8 in order.
Author Megan Dowd Lambert describes her Whole Book Approach as “an intentional, inquiry-based approach to reading aloud that puts art and design (and children’s responses to them) at the center of the storytime experience.” (p. 81) That word “inquiry” set off connection alerts in my brain.
How many times have you read about inquiry-based learning, or guided inquiry research methods? Have you ever been frustrated at how difficult it can be to get students to ask genuine questions? Did you ever think that maybe WE (teachers and librarians) were the problem, by shutting down students’ picture book questions and remarks? If we don’t value their questions on the storytime carpet, why would they offer up their thoughts at the research tables? Hmmm….
This image of the picture book as a cognitive playground was incredibly helpful to me. Was it a lightning bolt for anyone else?
My students are not an audience, waiting for a storybook “show” or “lesson.” They are playful intellectual acrobats, ready and able to make those monkey bar connections between books. Why am I holding them back?
Do you purposefully compare the style of an illustrator across several different books? I haven’t, but the author’s examples have me eager to try. Since starting this book study with you, I’ve often been surprised by my students’ observations into the illustrations we’ve shared together. Have you?
But I haven’t yet set the monkey bars deliberately before them. I’m adding this to my plans for next year. (And you know that the fun Jon Klassen examples on pages 91-92 are at the top of my list!)
The Child’s Voice
I love the last sentence of this chapter. “By slowing down the reading to accommodate and encourage discussions about paratexts, design and production elements, and illustration, the Whole Book Approach swings wide the gates to the picture book as a playground for the mind, affirming that the child’s voice is crucial to the success of a dynamic and, yes, playful storytime experience.” (p. 94, emphasis added by me)
Listening to the voices of our students will take more time, indeed. It will be a challenge to balance the forward progress of the story against the time to make observations. I found this video on YouTube showing librarian Alison Baird using the Whole Book approach with a group of students. I like the way she maintains consistency with the classroom rules (raise your hand if you want a turn to speak) while encouraging the mental playground of the picture book.
What do you think? How will this chapter change YOUR approach to picture book storytime? Let’s try a different way of interacting this week, so that I can hear more from you and we can engage more than we can with blog comments.
On Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at 3 pm Central time, I will go live on my Library Learners Facebook page to talk about this chapter. You can join me live and comment in real time, or watch the replay later and add to the discussion. I want to try this format to see if it helps us to discuss this terrific book more effectively. See you there!