Books about Children’s Books
The world of children’s literature can be overwhelming for new teachers, parents and those working with kids and families. I was fortunate to be exposed to some great children’s books while I was working as a preschool teacher and administrator, but I became aware of the enormity and possibilities of children’s books, not by randomly grabbing at books displayed at the library or in the classroom, but by (stay with me here) reading books ABOUT children’s books.
My graduate school professors recommended some great scholarly resources and friends offered some great “user-friendly” guides when I was expecting our Bucca. Here’s a short list of SOME of my favorites. I think these are great starting spots, but I have many others that I love that I will post at a later date. Until then, here are my inagural 6:
Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children About Their Art, Ed. by the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art – This book features 23 of the most well-known picture book artists discussing their processes of creating illustrations that engage and educate readers. Although each artist writes in an informal manner in order to relate to child readers, I think the book is invaluable for teachers and parents as well; it can certainly encourage adults to reconsider their attraction to certain images in the picture books they grew up with, and also make connections to the favorites of their children/students.
Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt – I sang the praises of this book in my Bucca Books Blog and I still am so thankful to the friends that gifted it to us at our baby shower. FYI – this makes a great gift for expecting parents! The title of the book implies the basics that parents offer to their children: milk represents a child’s physical needs and honey represents the richness of life. While many parents are primarily concerned with providing the milk, the honey is just as important. Hunt goes on to describe why children’s books are so full of honey and can be powerful tools for individual growth and communication with others. The book is more of a parent guide, but would be useful to educators as well due to the fact that Hunt provides various book recommendations listed by age.
Tell Me: Children, Reading, and Talk by Aidan Chambers – I love this book. This is another one that I praised on my Bucca Books Blog and I still use the text frequently as a resource for work and for home-life with Stella. In a nutshell, Chambers realized that teachers and parents can often experience great difficulty when attempting to prompt conversations with children about books. He created a framework for adults to engage children in reading thoughtfully and responding articulately to the books they’ve read called, “The Tell-Me Framework.” The framework is insanely simple but extremely impactful. If you’re having a hard time getting the children in your life to discuss books or read books with you, GET YOUR PAWS ON “TELL ME” AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
The Pleasures of Children’s Literature by Perry Nodelman and Mavis Reimer – This was one of my graduate school textbooks. It can be a bit pricey to purchase, but if you can find it at your library I would suggest giving it a go. While much of the information is pretty scholarly and research-heavy, the authors also break down the multiple ways individuals take pleasure in children’s literature: from the pleasure of having books impact our emotions, to the pleasure of identifying with characters, to the pleasure of gaining knowledge about the world. Perry Nodleman also has many resources on his homepage for educators and students using this text in their classrooms.
Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang – This is a great tool to understand how images communicate emotions and ideas. The book uses basic shapes and visual elements to show just how emotive pictures can be for readers/viewers. If you’ve wanted to understand more about how images can tell a story, give this book a try. Plus, it’s a pretty quick and engaging read!
Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age — From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between by Jason Boog – I’ll admit, I haven’t read this one completely. But I’ve started it and really like what I’m reading. Boog starts the book by laying out a “playbook” for parents and children to interact together while reading books. The items in the “playbook” aren’t complex and Boog also incorporates conversation prompts for each item, such as: “Did that book make you happy? Would you like to read that again?” Simple, right? Boog then elaborates on each item and backs them through research and interviews with experts in children’s literature and education. As a result, parents are given tools to cultivate their child’s love of books from an early age. This would also be a great new-parent gift!