Tag Archives: power of children’s literature

Treasuring Picture Books

Like many literacy teacher educators, I (Cathy) sometimes tasked my student teachers with bringing in, or finding pictures of (if possible), their favourite picture book from childhood. My student teachers loved this task, and were excited when someone else brought in the same book.  I often saw Mr. Muggs books; Robert Munch books (especially I Love You Forever); Amelia Badelia; Madeline, and; super hero comics!  But I never saw mine.

As late as grade five, I would sneak the book home, terrified of being teased or bullied for taking it out of the library.  It was a book for little children after all, but I loved it so. It was worth the risk.   It was called, When the Root Children Wake Up.  I have searched for a hard copy to own, but have never found one.  I have discovered many newer versions (Helen Dean Fish’s, Audrey Wood’s) and as lovely as these illustrations are, they simply don’t touch me the same way. 

            Recently, however, I discovered my treasured version posted in the International Digital Children’s Library. ( http://www.childrenslibrary.org/ )  The author is listed as Sibylle von Olfers (1881–1916), and the text is in German.  I suppose the book was originally in German. I had no idea the book was so old.  The title is different than I remember, but I actually held my breath when I saw the illustrations again.  Those were the pictures I held dear: so simple, so precious.  I still love them.

What’s your favorite picture book form childhood?

wake up the root childrenroot mother


Guest Blog: Monica McGlynn-Stewart

Hungry Caterpillar

Dual Language Texts

In my (Monica) preservice ECE class this week I had the most amazing experience. The Monica McGlynn-Stewartclass had been given the task of finding a dual language picture book for young children that was inviting and enticing and would support the language and literacy learning of children whose home language was not English. My students were encouraged to choose books that represented their own home languages. We have a wonderfully diverse class and they took up the challenge with enthusiasm. If they couldn’t find a dual language picture book in their home language, they translated a text and added it alongside the English text. For those (like me!) who only speak English, they were encouraged to choose a text that represented the language of children in their placement. They needed to develop six pedagogical strategies that they would employ when using the book with young children. I gave them a fabulous article by Gillanders and Castro (2011) the journal Young Children entitled “Storybook Reading for Young Dual Language Learners” as inspiration.


On Tuesday, they came with their picture books and their strategies, eager to begin. In small groups they took turns sharing their books, props they had made, teaching each other words in other languages, and practicing their strategies such as doing a “picture walk” through the text and pre-teaching key words or phrases that the children could chime in with during the reading. I had never seen the class so alive and so engaged. There were a dozen languages in the air. My students who were English Language Learners themselves, who were generally quiet and shy, were confidently sharing their expertise in their home languages. What I learned was the use of dual language texts can benefit not only young learners, but can also be an opportunity for dual language preservice students to value their home languages as a rich resource that they bring to their teaching.


A is for Activist: Guest Blog by Gisela Wajskop

The school year began in Canada at the same time we experienced many human tragedies across the world. In this peace-less world, I’ve (Gisela) A is for Activistdiscovered, by chance, an interesting book for young children: A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara, http://www.aisforactivist.com. From Activist to Zapatista, this “children’s book for the 99 percent” offers different rhymes and perspectives to small children.

The book is described as:

Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for. The alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues it brings up resonate with their parents’ values of community, equality, and justice. This engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future, and calls children to action while teaching them a love for books. http://www.amazon.ca/Activist-Innosanto-Nagara-ebook/dp/B00DIGNCNU/ref=srA is for _1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410614592&sr=8-1&keywords=Innosanto+Nagara

As Corey Hill wrote in 2012 (http://www.yesmagazine.org/people power/in-review-it-is-for-activist-by-innosanto-nagara) “It’s pretty clear from page one that this is no Cat in the Hat. Billed as a book for the children of the 99%, A is for Activist is the radical vision of Innosanto (Inno) Nagara, a graphic designer and social justice activist from Oakland, California.

Although the book is said to suitable for children from birth to three years to age I wonder about the impact of reading it to such young children, and I wonder if it would be better suited for older children who have ideological knowledge and experience. The illustrations are gorgeous and the rhymes reveal ideas about the rights of all in the hope of a world more with fewer ills. It is a lovely text to start the school year in which conflicts and wars in the four corners of the world threaten children around the world! It can serve as introductory material to literacy and can serve as an inspiration to parents and educators about the social function of writing and literature for children.