Picture books have been one of my longtime love affairs since I was little. Ever since my mom, dad, brothers and sister would read to me as a child. I love everything about them: the colorful illustrations, the connections you have to the story, the humor, the patterns the words make, the interactive aspect and the fact that you can reread a picture book a million times and still enjoy it. As an adult I have found a new reason why I love picture books: seeing the book through my three year old’s eyes. To him the story is so much more than just the words; it’s the interactions he has with the book from the first time he reads it and then again and again as we read the book over and over. Seeing the story and pictures evolve through his eyes and watching his imagination grow as we read a book together is amazing.
One of J’s new favorites is Truck Stuck by Sallie Wolf. This book is wonderfully written with a catchy tune we’ve made up to read it. It also has beautiful illustrations that catch your eye. Since we’ve read this book about 40 times now you would think we have seen it all on each of the pages. Well after reading it about 10 times J noticed that the driver of the truck was on a few other pages and got excited when we went back throughout the book to look for him. The next time we read the book he noticed the onomatopoeias “Beep!”, “Honk!” and he wanted to repeat them after me. After that he noticed the letters on the balloons in the picture and spelled out the word lemonade. Each time we read the book J noticed something new in the pictures and the words. Watching him experience the book and notice things that as an adult I didn’t notice puts a whole new perspective on reading a book. Maybe we all need to read a book through the eyes of a child. Maybe we will experience a book in a different way. Maybe all you need is to really sit with a child and let them read to you as much as you read to them. How has your child or students helped you to experience a book in a new way?
My love of kid lit began as an undergraduate elementary education student during my very first introduction to children’s literature. My professor was amazing and ‘book talked’ at the beginning of each class to inspire us and develop a never ending love of books. Well it worked. I loved being a listener while she sang praises about the fantastically written and beautifully illustrated books she was sharing with us. After graduating my love for kid lit grew even more as I was getting ready to start my career as a second grade teacher. I was the newbie teacher spending copious amounts of money on new books. My husband couldn’t believe how much I was actually spending in my new career and sometimes there were words shared that weren’t as inspiring as my college professors.
Throughout my years of teaching my love for books continued to grow. With Courtney I went to the International Reading Association Conference and we came away with new ideas to change our teaching and of course bags full of books. Kim and I started our journey together as “tech nerds” (a name we enthusiastically gave ourselves). We shared a love for technology and we began discussing how we could integrate technology in meaningful ways with our students. We added “book lovers” to our self-named title once we started sharing about books we were reading with our students. Throughout the years we shared our love of technology and books through constant conversations, presenting at various conferences, becoming life-long friends and eventually Kim and I had our baby boys almost exactly one year apart. Soon after her son was born she began taking a picture a day of reading with her son and excitedly told me about her new hashtag #dsbookaday. I shared in her excitement and told her I was sad I didn’t start taking pictures beginning a year earlier of my son, but nonetheless I started taking pictures the next day with my own hashtag #jsbookaday.
I now have two young boys, a three year old and a seven month old, who I share a love of children’s literature with and take pictures daily of our reading experiences. My husband, someone who didn’t read himself as a young child, has grown to love children’s books, maybe as much as me. He has so much fun reading books to our little guys and he now says to me, “we need more of ______ books!” and he has jumped on board taking pictures of me reading with our boys when I can’t or when the picture just looks better without the selfie view.
I’d like to say that I am now much more frugal about spending money on books but actually nowadays I’m spending more money, more frequently. I can’t look at Twitter or Instagram without adding at least 5 books to my Amazon cart to later buy (while hopefully supporting a local bookstore). But it’s not about the money, it’s about the experiences, conversations and connections we have while reading. It is our book experiences that inspire discussions about friendship, love, math concepts, word knowledge, rhyming, diversity, creativity, art, inspiration, etc. with our three year old and seven month old. And what better way to teach a child about life than through amazing literature? I am proud that my obsession with kid lit has had a huge impact on how my husband and my sons view reading and I hope this will only continue. My reason behind wanting to write this blog with two wonderful friends is to maybe bring you a bit of inspiration like my college professor did for me, send some new titles your way and share or make connections to your book experiences.