KidLit TV’s Featured Member this month is Michelle Eastman, author and founder of Picture Book Pass It On. She talks about the importance of literacy in the classroom, her favorite DIY and crafting projects, and how you can get involved with PBPiO – which is entirely different from PiBoIdMo, in case you didn’t know!
What do you think schools should do differently when teaching about literacy?
Wow! That’s a tough question. As a former elementary teacher, it’s difficult for me to criticize how schools and teachers approach literacy. I know parents, teachers, and administrators want their children to have access to the very best resources and practices. Schools walk a fine line between what they are required to teach and test and what teachers know, in their hearts, works best for kids.
I think school are doing a better job of scheduling more time for kids to read for pleasure and creating environments where reading and books are celebrated. I also see writing being incorporated into the reading curriculum more seamlessly. I like that schools give kids time to write for content area topics as well as journaling and creative writing.
One criticism I have is that parents and teachers tend to push kids into chapter books far too soon. Picture books tend to be abandoned once a child is able to read at a higher level. This makes me sad, because I love picture books so much. I blogged about this topic last year:
Although children may be ready for early readers and chapter books, I implore parents to continue reading picture books with/to your children. There is no better way to connect at the end of a hectic day than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). A child should not be denied this sacred time with you, just because he has “grown up”. Reading and/or revisiting picture books is a comforting ritual for children, and picture books have a magical way of opening dialogue and accessing feelings that older children may not otherwise share with you. So, crack open a picture book and enjoy!
Do you think every school should have a library?
Absolutely! Considering the hectic schedules families have these days, school libraries are a vital resource for kids to access and take home books. The role of school librarians has changed from when I was in school. They are definitely key players in our children’s educational experience.
We would love to know more about Picture Book Pass it On and how we can support it!
I created Picture Book Pass it On last November. It’s my way of celebrating Picture Book Month and the power of picture books. Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a picture book and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away. You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers. You likely hold a special picture book, from your childhood, close to your heart. And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be.
Imagine, never having that.
When I learned nearly 2/3 of children from low income households do not own books, I was moved to take action. I welcome everyone to help celebrate the power of picture books and accept the PBPiO call to action.
It’s as easy as 1,2,3…
#1 Pledge to donate a new or gently used picture book/s to a children’s charity in your area.
#3 Pass it on. When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your #PBPiO giving chain. Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…
Please share your giving stories on this page. We love to see how books are reaching kids all over the globe.
What are some crafts you think parents and teachers can do with kids to celebrate their favorite books?
I am not a crafty person. But, my son and I always enjoyed making simple picture books together. He would dictate the stories to me, and then he would illustrate them. All you need is a few sheets of construction paper, some crayons, and a couple of staples. I kept a file folder full of pictures and words I cut out of old magazines. Whenever we were short on story ideas, we’d open up the folder and have a ball making up crazy stories from the clippings. He is now 10, and he still enjoys pulling out our old storybooks to read.
What are you working on right now?
I released my second picture book about a month ago, and I have been busy with book events and school visits. I haven’t left myself much time for my writing. But I jot down story ideas as they pop into my head. I’d like to say they are all neatly organized in a notebook, but that’s not the case. My office is quite a sight with sticky notes galore and lots of messy notebooks.
How did you become involved with KidLit TV?
I discovered KidLit TV at about the same time I began my quest to publish my first book. The resources you provide are outstanding. The community you cultivate is welcoming to newbies, like me, as well as seasoned pros. There’s something for everyone!