Tag Archive | Children’s books

Reading aloud- my vision

This is an extension of my previous post, ‘Read to your kids.’ In my Children’s Lit. class, we have been reading from Jim Trelease’s book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook.” I would recommend it to anyone (especially parents and teachers). It’s a fun read because it’s persuasive rather than just informative. In this book, Trelease discusses the many benefits your kids could have from being read to, including quite a few academic advantages.

You know how there are all these programs to take care of homeless and elderly, bring medicine to third world countries, feed the hungry, educate our youth, etc.? I think it would be great if there was a program in place to enhance the linguistic capabilities of our youth, by having read-aloud sessions by skilled performers; people who are funny and engaging.

Every time I read this book I have this kind of vision in my mind- a crowd of little kids sitting on the floor with a reader at the front of the room, a kind of guy who makes people laugh just by looking at them. He holds up the featured picture book and solemnly announces, “One fish,” in that way that kids can’t help but laugh at. He continues, with melodramatic influctuations. “Two fish. Red fish– this book is so beautiful. Blue fish– oh say it again! Everybody now…” And then the guy proceeds to beatbox, and then get out of his chair and dance as he repeats that first page, while the kids are rolling on the floor dying of laughter.

Okay, so maybe I have a bit of an active imagination.

But my point is the same point that Jim Trelease makes in his book; kids need to learn to associate reading with pleasure. The problem in our country is not illiteracy, but aliteracy. People know how to read, but they chose not to. They haven’t learned to find reading pleasurable, possibly because their encounters with reading in school have all proved to be negative. Reading becomes much less fun when you have stop in order to write the definitions to that unit’s vocabulary terms, you know what I mean? But when we can help people understand that reading can be fun– that’s when we build people up to be life-long readers.

Somebody has to read to these kids if their parents don’t. I just think it would be fun if it were done by performers, and I mean professionals. By people who will read… outside the box, so to speak. I mean, who says you have to sit in a chair the whole time while you’re reading to the kids? What if you got so excited you stood up from your chair so you could act out some of the scenes. I think there should be physical comedy, facial expressions, sound effects, comedic timing, accents, all those things that people enjoy. And I think it could be really great if we could figure out a way to get that to a bunch of people, to a bunch of kids. Especially those who are perhaps struggling with school.

I’m no expert. Not in reading to kids, not in starting up programs to enhance literacy among kids, but I think it would be great if somebody with more expertise could make it happen.

 

Don’t settle

I love my Young Adult Literature class.

I’m doing a Unit Plan for my Application Assignment. Basically, I take a book and I create two pre-reading activities, two during reading activities, and two post-reading activities. And I chose to do a Unit Plan for The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. I’m kinda sad not many people I meet are familiar with the Prydain Chronicles. It was challenging but fun to come up with activities for it. I lost track of time yesterday working on it. I’m so proud with what I have, I think The Book of Three should be taught in schools. It’s a classic example of High Fantasy Adventure, that I think people would appreciate.

Books. Those are one of this life’s greatest gifts. Not that all of them are wonderful, far from it. But there are so many good books, I think the trick is just finding them amongst all of the mediocre books. How can we settle for less when there are too many greater things out there that can possibly be read in a lifetime? Sometimes I get picked on by family members for being picky about my books, but I have never regretted it.

Don’t settle for that which is mediocre. Not in books, music, or movies. You’re better than that, it’s not worth your time.

Especially given how time seems to be slipping by. I don’t get much time for artwork these days. That’s typical of my student days. But yesterday I couldn’t keep my hands still, and I ended up with quite a few papers full of doodles.

Art. Books. Music. Movies. All these great and wonderful things that we can only scratch the surface of. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

It makes me think about the Carpe Diem poems. Of course, I don’t agree with all of the ideas related to them- like the ones in Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress. But perhaps some of the ideas? Maybe if I just took the first line;

Had we but world enough and time…

We don’t. That’s why idling is a crime.

Career exploration

I am currently working on my internship/career/resume assignment. So far it is, as I suspected, not as bad as it seems in my mind. Still, I intend to take benchmark breaks, and this is one of them. So far the most interesting career I’ve found after taking the assessments and whatnot, is a Recreational Worker.

Career exploration is one of those things that is out of my comfort zone. It just doesn’t seem right, you know? I want to be a stay-at-home Mom, that seems right. Now, I don’t think I’d mind too much doing something on the side, like doing volunteer work (if I ever found out how to go about it) or having a small occupation- but first and foremost I want to be a stay-at-home Mom. All the things I’m learning in school, my hope is that they will help me with that.

And they should. They’ve been informative, useful classes. I trust that in time they will serve a practical purpose. I’m something of a pragmatist. (See? Philosophy class has already been useful- that’s where I learned about pragmatist).

You know, I almost find it funny in a bitter sort of way when people think they have a good idea of what I’ll be in the future when really they have no clue. I respect these people, but sometimes they don’t know me enough. Like the one who thought I would go into Chemistry. She had a good reason to believe this. I took Chemistry I and II in High School and enjoyed it. Most people don’t see a person who takes Chem II become a Humanities Major (you should have seen the look on my Chemistry teacher’s face when I told him). But it was kind of funny hearing her list of possible things people could do with Chemistry, like be a pharmacist, when I’m sitting there already sure I wasn’t going to take another chemistry class in my life.

Or the people who talk about me writing Children’s Books. I’m not saying it couldn’t or won’t happen- but I don’t like it being assumed of me that I can. It had never been a goal of mine, you see. And it was a breath of fresh air when my D&D friend said he didn’t think it was my style. He didn’t come up with anything that he thought I would do either. I think he knows he doesn’t know me well enough to make that call.

The ones who do know me well, like my brother, seem to have no problem with me being a stay-at-home Mom. Though I suspect my brother also thinks there is a possibility of me finding some way to make a small amount of money on the side.

It could happen. I don’t know. I’ll certainly see what I can do. In fact, I think it would be nice if I did find something. I would like to use my talents in some capacity or another, and who’s to say I can’t?

New Image: The Quiet Hour

This is the image I drew/colored onto the back of an index card. I finished it yesterday and really liked it!

 

 

This is what I said about it when I posted it on Facebook: “I did this on the back of an index card. Whenever I post some of my… wierd artwork, I always wonder what the reaction is. Because if I was the outsider, I’d probably be saying something like, “Oh, she’s going for the ‘misunderstood artist’ kind of deal, creating weird artwork that nobody understands.” Well I’m not doing it on purpose. I just… start an image and sometimes it goes places I don’t anticipate.”

One of my friends, someone who has often commented on my posts, said this: “I think your art catches some piece of the inner being. Sometimes they are calm & thoughtful. At other times, there is an excitment to them. They always make me stop & reflect.” Later, she added: I enjoy your art work. I can see stories in them. I just wish you would write the stories too. Can’t wait for the next one to show up. I think you should take a stab at childrens books. I’m sure you would be a hit.”

Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t I say that people have this idea that I should be a children’s book writer? But I liked hearing what she had to say. I got that encouragement that I had been looking for. And I liked hearing what she had to say about the children’s books as well. I wrote a reply talking about how I have been dabbing into creative writing, and that I would like to one day be good enough at writing and art to create something like a children’s book.

And maybe I will. Who knows? It certainly doesn’t hurt to take a stab at it. I’m just not expecting anything any time soon. I mean, art has been a hobby for me since I was a kid. It took me all my life to get as good at it as I am right now, and there is still so much room for improvement. I’ve been dabbing into creative writing for… what, four years? And in that time, I haven’t ever really come up with more than a lot of bits and snatches. Fragments. I believe that, given time, maybe I could write something. Why not? I got this far in art, didn’t I? But the point is that it’s too soon to see where this will go.

So do you think I really can make use out of my talents? Really be able to create something wonderful? Every once in a while, it seems possible. But I guess only time will tell.

I think I’m going to do more salt glazing today with my watercolors. I have an idea of something really simple that I can do with that until I come up with another project.

Oh my goodness, I’m right now watching an amazing video, a watercolor tutorial on negative painting. Wow. Now I really wish I was a better watercolorist. I’ve got so much work ahead of me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqhvswHdSSI&list=UL

Creative people rattle my mind

I wrote to my brother about my art, how I was feeling good about it until last Saturday. You may recall the mood I was in when I wrote that day. And Ben, like the awesome guy that he is, wrote back regaurding my artwork. He said that “art standing by itself is almost invariably of less value than art applied to something.” After illustrating this point, he gave this advice; “If I were to give you a suggestion it would be to see what you can do by way of combining your ability to create images with your desire to create a faerie tale feel, probably aming for an effective child’s story. Keep the story/writing simple and short and remember that it does not have to make sense completely to use your images to tell much of it.”

My first reaction was, “Oh my goodness, he thinks I should write children’s books.” Anybody who has actually been keeping up with my blog posts may recall that I have ranted about this before. Teachers and other people have told me that I could write and illustrate children’s books. I don’t quite remember what I said in that earlier blog post, but it was probably something on the lines of “Have you guys loooked at any children’s books lately?” Maybe I grew up to Dad reading The Eleventh Hour as a bedtime story. Have you guys read any Greame Base books? You should. They are gorgeous. But anyway, my mental reaction to the claim that I could write and illustrate children’s books has always been, “Don’t be rediculous.”

But I tend to give my brother a bit more credibility than my teachers or the ladies at my church. Because he’s seen the process. As I’ve said before, the experience that the creater has is way different than the one on the recieving end of things. Maybe I also give him more credibilty because he didn’t outright say ‘you could write children’s books.’ He always has an interesting way of wording things. And maybe it is also because he doesn’t imply that what I do could or should be published. It makes the suggestion less of a ‘don’t be rediculous’ kind of thing.

 

Well, I pondered what he said, and seeing as I’m having a bit of an artist block (featured guys are not nearly as easy to work with as featured females), I decided to look up Greame Base. This is so me. If all else fails, do a google search. So I googled him. And it turned out to be really interesting. Something you must know about me is that I love ‘behind the scenes’ stuff. I love watching special features and commentaries on movies, I love looking at all the background information that they give you on your program when you go to see a performance, and I like interviews and documentaries that talk about the creative process. I love, love, love it. I just eat it up. And I found an interview with Greame Base.

Such a neat experience. I mean, when you’re a kid (well actually, I think I was an early teen when I read some Greame Base books other than The Eleventh Hour) and you are looking at all these beautiful pictures (and they are gorgeous) it doesn’t usually occur to you that, “Hey, I could just hop on youtube and actually see this guy’s face and hear him describe to us who he is and how is work is created.” It just brings things a little closer. And the interview ended with a certain website (www.authormagazine.org) and there I listened to two more interviews; Tamora Pierce- who’s books I haven’t read, but I remember seeing her name as I walk through the selves of the library, and Louis Sachar- who wrote the Wayside School stories and will always have a place in my heart for that reason. And that was especially interesting, because not only have I read those books, but I’ve heard his voice reading those books on the book on C.D that I was listening to a few weeks ago. So I read his books, then heard his voice, and the interview was a video, so I could see his face. Also while I was at this site, I read an artical titled; Writing Sucks, Don’t Do It. Or something like that.

Facinating. Especially these people who make a living off of their creative works. That is crazy. It takes… faith, for lack of a better term than ‘crazy.’ Like Louis Sachar, when he was talking about being torn between law and writing and how he kept thinking, “I should get a job, I should get a job.” And then he said, “And I kept telling myself that for four years.” Then he realized that he had already made his decision, so he should stop kicking himself about it. Wow.

 

Creative people are crazy, but I have the highest respect for them. Moreso when I realize how crazy they are. It makes me wonder about the stuff I do. Maybe if I’m to actually do something with this, I’m going to have to be a bit more passionate.

I just remembered something from National Treasure.

Ben: “Go one step short of crazy, what do you get?”

Wriley: “…. Obsessed?”

Ben: “Passionate.”

Yep. So here I am knocked in to a contemplative stupor. Again. Human beings amaze me. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio” and all that. And this was all put into motion by something my brother said in an e-mail. It’s all so very… interesting.

 

My latest project and Graeme Base

Well, I do indeed seem to have a new project on my hands- and one I think will be worth the time. Though I rather suspect it will take a long time. I want to acheive a certain amount of detail and subtleties of color. I’ve worked on it a great deal and yet I am… less than halfway done. I can’t color for too long at a time because coloring is tiring work. That’s something kids don’t realize when their simply working in their coloring books. But that’s how I began I suppose, with coloring books. So I’ll keep at it and post it when I’m done. I’m not sure how long it will take, but it will be at least a couple of days.

But when I think about detail in artowrk, there is one children’s book writer that comes to mind (he does his own illustrations), Graeme Base. When we were kids, Dad used to read us bedtime stories, usually either a Dr. Suess book or a Graeme Base one- The Eleventh Hour being the particular favorite. I believe that if ever there was an illustrater to aspire to, it would be him.

So the moral of today’s story is to give your kids coloring books and read to them at bedtime. Especially read to them at bedtime. Besides the fact that human nature seems to thrive on stories, it’s a good way to spend time with kids. It’s one of my favortite things to think about when I reflect on my younger years. I’ve found that even as I have grown up, I still have a love to listen to stories- typically by using books on C.D. So I suppose those memories have found a way to linger in my life.

“When you are famous” = ?

While I was at school for the past half year, I haven’t had much time for doing art, but I did do these silhouette images below. I actually did five, but my roommate liked one of them so much that she asked if she could have it (she was so cute and tentative, but it was all okay because I was going to give it to her anyway). Later she came back and said, “You didn’t sign it.”

“You want me to sign it?”

“Yeah, so when you’re famous- I can prove I had some of your early stuff.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a comment like this. I’m pretty sure my spanish teacher in High School did the same thing when I let her keep my El Dio de los Muertos art project. Classmates have also said, “one day I will say- ‘I know that artist!'” Furthermore, I’ve had teachers think that I could illustrate children’s books- and a few who think I could write my own children’s books and then illustrate them.

And my reaction is to look at them wonderingly. Famous? Artist? Children’s books? Maybe this is because I grew up on Grame Base, but what on earth makes them think I’m good enough to do children’s books? Every once in a while I want to announce, “May I remind the general public that I am not an Art Major or even a Minor?” Though to be fair to the poeple from my high school, they didn’t know what my major would and wouldn’t be. Niether did I. But when I visited the high school last summer during open house I told my old Chemistry teacher that I was considering a Humanities Major. You should have seen his face, he was so taken aback. “Really?” was his reaction. Maybe he thought I would be a Chemistry major. Or, given how often I worked on art in his class (what could I say? Art class was right before Chemistry) maybe he also thought I’d do something with art. I will point out that technicoloy Humanities does deal with art, just not mine.

Sorry, that was a bit of a tangent. The point is that I think too many overestimate my skill, possibly because they themselves haven’t persued art. On the other hand, perhaps I’m underestimating my skill. I think I have a tendency to be hard on myself. And while I don’t think that ‘becoming famous’ is what’s in store for me, I would like to do something with my art. What, exactly, I do not know. So far I have given away a few doodles here and there (like the afore mentioned silhouette picture to my roommate), and I’ve created a Zazzle store (I’ll explain later) which has mainly been used to have calanders with my images on them. My grandmother just sent me an e-mail today telling me she enjoys the one we sent her. And then a few T-shirts here and there and…. that’s it.

Maybe I will be able to expand and do more things with my artwork. But don’t expect any children’s books is what I’m saying.

 

The Fire Within               My Own               Catching as it Falls              Lighted Day