As I said in a recent post, I believe in picture books!  And of course, I’m not alone.  Librarians, parents, authors and illustrators around the world are collaborating and celebrating the joy that these books bring during Picture Book Month.  The video above (from 2011 when Picture Book Month began) captures many of my feelings about the picture book, and I’m looking forward to promoting them this month and always.


You may have heard your child talk about Tumblebooks.  For the past two years, the library has purchased a subscription to this Canadian-based database of electronic books.  We have a button on the library webpage that gives you and your family 24/7 access to over a thousand ebooks, many of which you’ll recognize as favorites.

There never seems to be enough time during our library classes for children to explore there, so I hope that if you have Internet access at home you’ll consider it as a choice for your children.  In addition to listening to and watching the animated stories, there are accompanying quizzes and puzzles as well.  This is a great alternative to other online activities!

As a mom, librarian,  and former second and fifth grade teacher,  I can say with sincerity that I believe in picture books!  There are many who think that once children begin reading independently and skillfully they should be reading chapter books all the time. I disagree!

Picture books are appropriate right up through middle school as teaching texts and as pleasure reading.  Why?  There are many reasons but consider these:

  • the art in picture books is likely the first art children are acquainted with, and today’s picture books are full of incredible art in a wide array of media
  • the language in picture books is so well-crafted and often beautiful/lyrical with richer vocabulary than you find in other types of books
  • the pictures in a picture book often extend the story, or show a parallel story.  Attention to the pictures increases children’s visual literacy
  • picture books can be read in one or two sittings.  They make wonderful texts for teachers to use when giving instruction for particular mini-lessons in reading and writing
  • picture books are memorable because we associate the pictures with the words.
  • picture books teach important lessons and themes
  • picture books are a wonderful excuse to sit with someone on your lap and read and enjoy illustrations

Candlewick Press is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a campaign called “I Believe in Picture Books.”  Have a look at what others have to say on the subject, and then stop by the Learning Center to sign out a few picture books yourself!

You should have received information last week about summer reading programs and challenges and incentives. But just in case something was lost in the “backpack shuffle” you can find details here about promotions from TD Bank, the Vermont Lake Monsters and Price Chopper, the Champlain Valley Expo, and Barnes and Noble. You can also pick up a summer flyer and schedule at the Brownell Library or call 878-6956.

We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful public library here in the village of Essex Junction.  Children’s librarian Mary Graf visited Hiawatha earlier today and explained the summer reading program opportunities to our students.

Here are the highlights.  Be sure to look for the flyers in backpacks at the end of this week!

Summer at the Brownell Library! from Kathy Lawrence on Vimeo.

This week your child will bring home a note about our annual Book Swap. After we cut off circulation (June 1) we still want students to be able to find something new to take home to read for the summer. So each year we ask families to look through their bookshelves at home and consider finding books that the children can trade. (No toddler or baby books, please!)  Every child will get one new-to-them book even if they have nothing to bring to trade.

We are collecting books for the Book Swap next week (Tue-Fri) after the Memorial Day weekend.

Students will be given a “book buck” for every book they bring in to trade.  (10 maximum bucks).  Then they’ll “shop” during one of their last library times of the year.  It’s lots of fun and the kids look forward to it every year.

April was National Poetry Month and in the library we celebrated by reading lots of poems and writing some as well.  We strategically placed poems in paper pockets to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day. Check out our kindergarten classes’ poems about spring in the hallway!

Third graders have a major poetry focus in May in their Readers Workshop so we are continuing!  So far the third graders have written Fib poems (on display on our current hallway bulletin board), and a few have tried their hand at lemonade poems (squeezed from a single word).  We read some concrete poems, haiku, limericks, and many nature poems with beautiful imagery.

By far the most popular poetry activity, though, has been our poetry duets!  Using the You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series, pairs of students have chosen a poem for two voices to share at the end of class.  I’ve been very impressed with their fluency and expression as they recite these together!

These books are great fun to do with your child, too.  Even first graders can read many of the poems in the books, especially by this point in the year.  Different colored print makes it easy to tell whose turn it is to speak in the poem, and they have a predictable sequence and ending.  Sign one out today, snuggle up with your child and the book, and enjoy the power of poetry!

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