Okay, well, this is a post. Clearly. I suppose that should say: “Why I Don’t Have Art Today.”
I spent this past weekend, for one, wrapping up manuscript revisions with my co-author Betsy Bird, but another reason I don’t have a typical post up today is that last night I had the pleasure of hearing author Mem Fox speak at the Nashville Public Library. I figured blogging could wait. She was a wonderful speaker. I was lucky enough to hear her speak to a larger crowd about her life and her writing career, but first to a smaller crowd of educators about literacy. In that first presentation, she talked about children listening to picture books for pleasure and about stories vs. “texts.”
Picture books, she advised, aren’t “texts” from which to pull a long list of questions before even opening the book to read to children. She had pulled an example lesson plan from online and read it to us. It was pretty horrifying — a long set of (what she kept calling “asinine” — and they were!) questions to ask children before launching into a picture book. These “kill” the story, she said, adding that of course conversations will happen after a story, but that generally “great books will do their own teaching, if we trust children to learn,” she said.
Amen and hallelujah.
I can only imagine what she thinks of reading programs like Accelerated Reader. (I’m not a fan.)
She even noted that she doesn’t have discipline problems during story times, if she follows her own advice. If it’s a good book, “the power of the story is the angel on my shoulder” with regard to students listening and paying attention.
She also spoke of reading to children with “zest and vitality,” which she did several times (with her own picture books) throughout the evening. Read the rest of this entry �