Sunday, April 20, 2014

Visiting Author(s)

I haven't posted much lately because I am switching over to my new laptop and don't yet have Photoshop... Here's a post that doesn't require student artwork!

On Thursday author David T. Greenberg visited my schools. I saw the talk he gave to my 4th graders about growing up during the Civil Rights era. His father is Jack Greenberg,the lawyer who litigated the "landmark Brown v. Board of Education case that overturned the 'separate but equal' doctrine" ( and was one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s lawyers. Greenberg wrote a book called "A Tugging String" that was inspired by what he experienced as his father's son. I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but it's on my "to read" list and was highly recommended by my colleagues. The talk was amazing- informative, entertaining, and heartfelt. It was a great experience for students and staff alike. I fought tears through most of it, affected by all the photos he showed and stories he shared. The timing of his visit was appropriate as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision.

Reflecting on his talk- how excited the students were and how much they/we learned, I started thinking about my dream list of authors to bring to school if the focus were more on art, and, you know, if we didn't have to worry about silly things like availability and budget...
Here they are, in random order.
Dallas Clayton- I first learned about Dallas Clayton a few years ago when I heard about "An Awesome Book". He's written several more books and posted lots of artwork, all bursting with positivity and messages about dreaming big dreams, being gracious, and trying new things. Students enjoy his stories and are inspired by his artwork. Here's some artwork my students made after reading "An Awesome Book" a couple years ago. I think this year my oldest son will be old enough to get the book for Christmas!

Stephen T. Johnson- Stephen T. Johnson was a speaker at the KAEA conference in Lawrence back in 2009 (I think). I fell in love with his book "A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet". The book is filled with alliterative contemporary art based on each letter of the alphabet, and with the letter hidden in each work. I just saw an autographed copy of the book in a museum gift shop yesterday and it reminded me that it's been too long since I read it.

Peter H. Reynolds- Responsible for "the Dot", "Ish", and "Sky Color" as part of the "Creatrilogy" and several other books. Every September International Dot Day is a global celebration of creativity and "making your mark." Peter, along with his brother Paul, also formed Fable Vision, an education company with some cool products, including big screen books, posters (free poster downloads are occasionally offered if you get their newsletter), and programs that encourage writing, creativity, and self expression. I don't have a smartboard so I haven't tried any of the programs, but I do enjoy the free posters. :)

Eric Carle- Need I say more? Eric Carle's first venture into illustrating books was at the request of Bill Martin Jr. who wanted to work with him on "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?" Eric Carle has illustrated more than 70 books, most of which he has also written. I love his unique style of artwork, collage made from papers he has painted, and that his books are often inspired by a love of nature. My earliest Eric Carle memory was playing the part of "the Very Hungry Caterpillar" in my preschool play. Carle says,
“With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school. To me home represents, or should represent; warmth, security, toys, holding hands, being held. School is a strange and new place for a child. Will it be a happy place? There are new people, a teacher, classmates—will they be friendly?
I believe the passage from home to school is the second biggest trauma of childhood; the first is, of course, being born. Indeed, in both cases we leave a place of warmth and protection for one that is unknown. The unknown often brings fear with it. In my books I try to counteract this fear, to replace it with a positive message. I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.” (

I know I could have added more to my list... which author/illustrators would you love to meet or have visit your school?

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