LORA M. DEWALT
Instagram Inquiry Project
Children’s literature courses are material heavy and right now we are not able to guarantee our students have access to the books we would otherwise read and explore. However, through Instagram, students can have access directly to the book creators themselves.
One assignment could be an Instagram Inquiry. I envision that undergraduate or graduate students might inquire into their personal interests with a particular author or illustrator on Instagram. Possible topics might include “What can we learn about an illustrator’s process from watching their Instagram stories and posts?” or “What do I notice about the way an author crafts their captions, how does that reflect (or differ) from their writing in books?” Perhaps a student might ask “What did a particular author share prior to March 2020—what do they seem to be sharing now?”'
This inquiry assignment might be offered as a follow up to an author study, which Erika Thulin Dawes wrote about on the 3/24/2020 CLA Blog.
@aishacs (Aisha Saeed)
@andominguezzzz (Angela Dominguez)
@authorderrickdbarnes (Derrick Barnes)
@colleenaf (Coleen AF Venable)
@cordell_matthew (Matthew Cordell)
@erikalsanchez (Erika L. Sanchez)
@erinentrada (Erin Entrada Kelly)
@jessicalovedraws (Jessica Love)
@macbarnett (Mac Barnett)
@marlafrazee (Marla Frazee)
@nicolayoon (Nicola Yoon)
@oge_mora (Oge Mora)
@rainbowrowell (Rainbow Rowell)
@Sean_qualls (Sean G. Qualls)
@theartoffun (Christian Robinson)
Lo DeWalt is a CLA member. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. Lo co-teaches an undergraduate children’s literature course and works as a district administrator in Manor, Texas.
BY PATTY ROSATI
Many publishers have compiled their best online resources in central locations to help you find what you’re looking for and to spark your imagination. Here are some details about what HarperCollins and other publishers are doing to support you through these uncertain times.
HarperCollins has collected free, sharable resources for all reading levels on Harper at Home. This is also where you can find our updated permissions policy for online story time, live events and classroom read-aloud videos. Many other publishers have expanded their permissions policies to help meet current needs, so be sure to check their websites and social platforms for more information.
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Content created specifically for teachers and librarians lives at HarperStacks at Home.
Every Monday afternoon, HarperStacks posts videos, blogs, and other resources for teachers, librarians, and parents to keep kids learning while keeping it fun! Our first video was with Newbery-Medal winning author Erin Entrada Kelly who talked about Creative Bravery.
We have videos scheduled with Elizabeth Acevedo, Rita Williams Garcia, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Kelly Yang coming this month and next. You can get all of this content on Facebook and Twitter.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has picture book activities for kids, videos, and educator guides for many of their titles, including the book that many librarians and educators are currently buzzing about, Stamped.
Random House Children’s Books features activities and guides for a number of their titles used in schools, including Wonder and the Magic Tree House books.
There are so many other good, free materials available from a variety of big and smaller publishers. Our friends at The Children’s Book Council have been compiling a list of publisher content that supports educators. Please check them out to find out what other publishers are offering.
Please feel free to be in touch to let us know if there is anything else that we publishers can do for you. We are here to help!
BY JEANNE GILLIAM FAIN
BY ADAM CRAWLEY
For those unfamiliar with Epic, it provides a vast collection of children’s literature including picturebooks, chapter books, and graphic novels. As stated on the site’s homepage, users can “instantly access 35,000 eBooks, learning videos, quizzes and more for K-5.” Many of the books available are recent publications and award/honor recipients. The site includes books diverse in representation (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, social class, language, etc.) and genre. Just a few of the many books available include El Deafo (Bell, 2014), When Aidan Became a Brother (Lukoff, 2019), and The Princess and the Warrior (Tonatiuh, 2016). One of my particular favorites is the bilingual picturebook Sora and the Cloud (Hoshino, 2011), exquisite with its soft mixed media illustrations and Japanese translation.
In addition to digital versions of printed books, the site includes audiobooks and “read-to-me” books with the option to add text highlighting. I emphasize to the pre-service teachers the importance of such features for emergent readers.
There are numerous ways to explore what’s available in Epic. Users can type a title, author, illustrator, or topic into the search bar; hover over “Explore” in the menu to see options for various subject areas (such as “narrative nonfiction” in English Language Arts or “geometry” in Math); or browse curated collections by other users. Educators can also add their students – whether K-12 or beyond – and assign books to them within the site.
As I want the pre-service teachers to have access to and use this resource beyond our semester together, I encourage them to create their own free account as an educator. Educators can create an Epic! for Educators account.
Online Author/Illustrator Studies: Leveraging E-Books, Author/Illustrator Sites, and Interviews for a Virtual Exploration of the Creative Process
BY ERIKA THULIN DAWES
The readings below can support an introduction of the purposes and processes of an Author/Illustrator Study. Students can read with the following guiding questions in mind:
- What is an Author/Illustrator Study?
- What are the benefits of doing author/illustrator studies in the classroom?
- How do you carry out an Author/Illustrator study?
- What ideas and questions do you have about this teaching strategy?
Once students have developed a concept of Author/Illustrator studies, ask them to opt into a small group to explore a collection of online resources on a single author/illustrator, simulating the experience. Students will read and view:
- Examples from the author/illustrator’s body of published work
- Biographical information
- Interviews and descriptions of the author/illustrator’s creative processes
When I carry out this activity in class, I focus on picture books authors/illustrators because students working in small groups have time to read several picture books each. In follow up discussion, we note that the same strategies can apply to the reading of novels. In a remote learning context, students are reading eBooks. In the examples below, I make use of Epic! Books to provide access to eBooks. This platform is free to educators. I signed my graduate students up as a Class and submitted their emails, obtaining them free access until June 30, 2020.
Additionally, I use two resources available through my university’s library database:
- TeachingBooks.Net. This is a curated collection of children’s book resources that is searchable by title, author, and keyword.
- Something About the Author. This online database includes entries of bibliographic information for authors.
From the many wonderful author/illustrator study possibilities, I have selected four to share in this blog entry. If you have more names to suggest, for whom eBooks are readily available, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As your students read across the available books and learn about their chosen author/illustrator’s life stories and creative processes, ask them to make notes about:
- Patterns in the author/illustrator’s work: Notice patterns in: theme, writing style (use of language), characterization, plot lines, perspectives, artistic style (media, color, shape, line, perspective), audience for writing
- Biographical Information
- The author/illustrator’s influences, commitments, and values
- Processes: How does this author/illustrator create? What can young writers and illustrators learn from these processes?
- How has this author/illustrator taken an advocacy role in the “We Need Diverse Books” movement?
To share their learning with classmates, your students can use online collaboration tools such as Google Slides, Voice Thread, PowerPoint or Book Creator (some of these require a paid account).
Since this is an abbreviated author/illustrator study (really, it is just an introduction to the body of work), let your students know that they are sharing their initial findings and wonderings. You could provide students with a structure for their presentations or leave it more open ended. In the past, I’ve asked students to share a general overview, their discoveries and connections, and their questions. They conclude with a listing of “Top Three Reasons to Check Out this Author/Illustrator.”
BY LAUREN AIMONETTE LIANG
Recess is over. They are lined up right in front of the door, sun-warmed and gently sweating. The line undulates with their moving bodies and there are bits of grass and wood-chips clinging to backs and knees and tousled hair. Some smiles, a few grimaces as they squint towards the building, and some half-hearted shoving as they get ready for me to open the door. I brace myself as I swing open the entrance and they rumble past with that distinct sour-sweet smell of warmth and unbrushed teeth, tangy feet and good dirt. The line breaks with children slurping from the water fountain, slinging jackets onto hooks, and funneling into the classroom…
Class is about to start. By this point in the semester they are quite comfortable with our community and chatting as they set down coffee tumblers and water bottles, pull out notebooks and pens. I overhear light gossip about the new café that opened in the Student Union while I answer questions from a student excited about our visit to read-aloud in the preschool next week…
This is a challenging time for teachers everywhere. For many of us, we have abruptly moved into teaching in an online context for the first time, and in a world that changes every day. Worried for our students, and perhaps unsure of how this new classroom environment will work, we are doing the best we can. However, incorporating literature into an online class that may not have easy access to certain books we typically use, or even to any titles at all, is particularly hard.
CLA hopes to help and support our members and the greater education community who are using children’s literature in their newly online or remote settings. We will be posting new blog entries on Tuesdays at Noon EST and Thursdays at Noon EST. Each entry will either highlight a great online resource available for teachers at this time and how it might be effectively utilized, or will offer a description of a short lesson using children’s literature that educators might be able to use in their newly located classes.
Please visit this blog and check out the posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Share it with your peer educators, colleagues, and friends, and consider volunteering to contribute a post as well.
On behalf of CLA, I hope that you and your families are safe during this time. My heart is filled with gratitude and awe for you—the amazing teachers who are overcoming extreme hurdles in order to continue serving their students in all possible ways. Thank you.
Lauren Aimonette Liang
CLA President, 2019-2020
Supporting PreK-12 and university teachers as they share children’s literature with their students in all classroom contexts.
The opinions and ideas posted in the individual entries are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of CLA or the Blog Editors.