Sunday, August 18, 2013


"Children's Picture Books with Purpose" begins an annotated list of books with storylines supporting positive character development, issues of faith and values as well as moral development.  This list will be of interest to those who home school, those who teach in religious schools and programs, and to parents who are interested in addressing certain topics or issues.  The focus is on books found easily in local school or public libary collections.  Most can also be readily found for purchase, however, some may be harder to find and require the use of a local library.  Many of these books are long standing classics and many have won awards for content, writing, or illustrations.  Picture books, although designed for younger children, can be used up through middle school ages.  The visual imagery and quality, coupled with excellent writing and story content can make them a good choice for short, impactful additions to lessons addressing the themes noted.

Title: The Rainbow Fish (1992)

Author: Marcus Phister, a Swiss author

Synopsis: A small fish is so proud of his unique looks he alienates the other fish and sets out to learn how to have friends. He discovers a valuable lesson. Many versions feature the addition of sparkling 'scales' to visually highlight how the fish stands out from his fellow fish.

Themes: Pride, Friendship, Sharing, Personal Sacrifice, Ego

Applications:  discuss what might be the 'shiny scales' in life (nice clothes, electronic gadgets, trips, toys, food, house, cars, etc.).  Explore the page where the fish shares his shining scales and how it brightens the entire page as a way to illustrate the influence of good deeds and kindness to others.

Links: Author page
Craft Idea:  Make a fish (Paper plate)
Teaching Activity: Phonemic Awareness ; Count the scales/fish for mathematical activity

---(c) Marilyn A. Hudson, MLIS, 2013

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Have You Read These? Top Picture and Award Books

One of the questions parents often have is what should they read to and with their children?  The good news
is that a lot of lists exists to guide you locating classic and quality works.  In addition, various professionals are available to guide a parent or child in locating the best book for them.

These professionals include the classroom teacher (whose area of expertise is related to the teaching and learning of how to read and comprehend what is read), the children's librarian (whose area of expertise may include the learning of reading but also encompasses fostering a love of reading, a hunger to explore through books and learning resources. In addition, for introduction to research they teach skills about locating, accessing and using various information tools to answer questions).

Children's books with many pictures are often called "Picture Books" and sometimes "Easy" or "Everybody" books.  The formal definition of a picture book is one where the illustrations are crucial to the understanding and telling of the story. The term is sometimes used to identify those books where no reading is needed or a book that it is expected will be read to a child. These books are often no more than 32 or 48 pages in length. "Easy" or "Picture" book sections sometimes includes the "Transition" or "Chapter Books" of less than 100 pages and a few chapters. This opposed to a book with illustrations that merely show a scene or a character periodically through the book.  Picture books can be very simple but also surprisingly sophisticated. The art work is often quite stunning and innovative.  Some picture books straddle the line between fine fiction and early childhood book and are sometimes labeled as "Illustrated Books."

"Picture Books" of longer length and great visual beauty are often shared with youth into Middle School. They are appealing to interest students who do not normally read by combining reading skills with visual literacy.

Winners for outstanding use of illustrations in a children's book (Caldecott) provide additional lists and any award lists are good selection tools. Other wellknown awards include the Newbery for chapter books for older children, the Hornbook Award, the Coretta Scott King Award and others Steer clear of too heavy dependence on reader's pick lists, Amazon lists, etc. These are often created to promote a specific publisher, author, or point of view.  The awards criteria involve standards of writing and literary quality, artistic merit and quality, a d production quality in binding/packaging, etc. 

Here are some good lists, some annotated, to guide parents and others in selecting quallity reading material to read to or with a small child.

For a more formal discussion and some historic images and sources check out the article on Children's Picture Books at Gutenberg.

Some Titles for Christian Parents

A good list is here in "7 Children's Books to Spark Discussions on Faith" at the blog Under God's Mighty Hand.   Another good entry covers "5 Favorite Picture Books to Start the Day."

Some Resources for Quality Christian Children's Work

Child Sized Stories seeks to provide useful resources for a variety of settings. A great resource for those working with children in Christian faith based settings. To anyone who has worked with children's work in church or groups there is a need for quality resources.
One good starting place is at Children's Ministry.

Free sample resources allow a leader to test various resources.  Thought provoking articles encourage skill building and continuing education among workers and staff. 

The site also links to youth and adult resources by the proven experts in ministry resources, GROUP.

Look for an up coming article on traditional childrens's books that lend themselves to faith based and values lessons.