If a picture is worth a thousand words, then picture books are priceless. Section 15 of Spilling Ink addresses illustrations and the relationship between author and illustrator.
I think people, myself included, probably think that writing a picture book is easier than writing a novel. In a guest post on the Spilling Ink blog, author Richard Morris sums the process up beautifully. He says that picture book authors have to do the same thing a novelist does-- tell a story-- but they have to do it in about 1,000 words or less. Of course, he states that fact, among others, much more eloquently. Read it for yourself here. If you comment before before June 20, you have a chance to win a free copy of Spilling Ink!
I am a huge fan of using picture books in every grade. There are so many amazing books out there to choose from and it is so easy to find examples of any writing strategy that you want to use in a mini lesson. In fact, at this time last summer, I went to the library several times and arbitrarily checked out several books at a time. I wrote a post on some of them, describing how they could be used to teach a writing or comprehension lesson. If you search this blog for the words "Hot Off the Shelves", you can find some of those posts.
I thoroughly enjoy learning about new picture books through Twitter or blogs. Here are a few amazing blogs if you want to get some ideas for incorporating picture books in your lessons:
Just One More Book! On this gem of a site, Andrea Ross & Mark Blevis have logged hundreds of author interviews and book reviews. They are on an "indefinite hiatus", however, to concentrate on beating the breast cancer that Andrea was diagnosed with late last year. The day they got the diagnosis, Mark sent a message out to all the authors they had interviewed for JOMB, asking them to send a message to Andrea to help her through the grueling days ahead of her. They received a whopping 75 minutes of audio wishes! Scroll down on the JOMB page and have a listen to the "Warrior" clip. I guess that's just how children's book authors roll.
Teach With Picture Books
A Picture Book a Day
A Year of Reading
Jen Robinson's Book Page
...Just to name a few!
Salamander Room, written by Anne Mazer and illustrated by Steve Johnson.
It is a precious story of a little boy, not unlike my kids. He brings a salamander home and intends to keep it in his room. His mom asks questions about how he will survive and the boy answers with detailed plans for his new-found friend's living arrangements. Each illustration matches the description the boys gives his mother. Page by page, the boy's room turns into the most beautiful, perfect habitat for the salamander. At the end of the book, the mom asks her son where he will sleep. His reply: "I will sleep on a bed under the stars, with the moon shining through the green leaves of the trees; owls will hoot and crickets will sing; and next to me, on the boulder with its head resting on soft moss, the salamander will sleep." This is the perfect bedtime story. The illustrations add an extra layer of cozy over the already warm words.
It is time for me to sleep also. Good night!