Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hello everyone!

I want to post about books today (and kids, of course). You see, I went to the library today to pick up some children's books I had on hold. They were all books I had never read before, and I was pretty excited. I had very high hopes of using them for my weekly lesson plan. Some delivered, others did not. This led me to wonder: What makes a good children's book?

A while ago Dad and I had a discussion about some of his ideas for potential children's books. Since then, I've been paying a lot of attention to the reading interactions that take place in my classroom. I must admit that many of the books that I loved myself, my class was less than thrilled over (until I read the book to them so many times that they actually started to enjoy it. Turns out the dynamics of pressuring work differently when it comes to teeny kids...) It is also true that many books I found merely okay, they absolutely loved. I'm sure we're all familiar with some of the reading techniques that work, and I truly believe that a good reading can make a less than stellar book interesting and engaging for children (the opposite being true as well). But what aspects in a book facilitate this process?

Two things I think are important (based solely on anecdotal experience):

Relatability to characters/accessibility of story--The reader (or listener/audience) has to be able to connect with the story on some level. One of the books I checked out from the library failed in this category. The girl in the story was worrying about boys and what to do with her hair, but she was supposed to early elementary school age....? Age and interests are very important. One of the books I didn't expect my kids to like (Harriet You'll Drive Me Wild), they ended up absolutely loving because they could relate to the story of a young girl always getting in trouble with adults.

Some element of interaction-- Not all books have this built in. Often, it's the job of the reader to find ways to engage the listeners in the story. But books do make this easier or harder. Good examples are books that have open questions (Brown Bear, Brown Bear) or follow recognizable patterns (We're Going on a Bear Hunt) that allow kids to chime in. Also, books that have the kids interact physically with the story by copying movements (From Head to Toe) or simply lifting flaps.

There are lots of other factors that are important for the story (matching length and attention span, rhythm and rhyme, etc), not to mention the illustration (I'm not even touching on that).  So what do you guys think? What is a picture book you really enjoyed from your childhood (or adulthood)? What did/do you like about it?

1 comment:

  1. I would like to talk about two, if I'm allowed to:
    The Giving Tree and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
    So, the first one I like more now that I'm older. As a kid, I cannot remember what I felt, but I assume it was kind of unhappy because of everything that happened to the tree.

    Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was fun, because it was out of this world. Who wouldn't like food raining down, right?