Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Matt de la Pena Visit!

The last couple of weeks have been largely centered on getting everything ready for my first author visit, and with a Newbery-winner, no doubt.

In conjunction with the other elementary librarians in our district, we were so excited to be able to bring an author like Matt into our schools. Through the power of teamwork, we wrote a grant to our local public schools foundation, and together with our PTOs were able to have him visit all three schools.

He did not disappoint.

Among all my classes, we focused on Love and Last Stop on Market Street to prep our students for his visit, going into varying levels of depth, depending on the grade level.

My favorite lesson was with 5th grade, where I adapted part of a truly eloquent exchange between Matt and Kate DiCamillo (here and here). The gist of their exchange was whether or not children's books should be sad; the genesis for the discussion being the following image that Matt and illustrator Loren Long had to fight to keep in the book. 

I felt the text of their columns was a little too much for 5th grade, but one of our activities was to study the piano picture and decide for themselves: Is this picture too "heavy" for a children's book? Is it ok for children's books to be a little sad? Does it fit with the theme of the book? I have to say I was really impressed by their thoughtful responses. It was interesting to see what each student noticed and how they saw love encompassed in the illustration. It definitely got them thinking about a picture book on a deeper level and made them more interested/invested in Matt's talk. 

All in all, it's going to be a hard one to top next year! 

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