Stacey Loscalzo

Nov 20

Picture Book Month & The Common Core

by Stacey

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I love that November is Picture Book Month and that there is an entire web site devoted to it. I have received daily e-mail updates this month alerting me to new posts written by favorite children’s book authors all titled, “Why Picture Books Are Important To Me.”

In all honestly, I have been crazy busy this month (see my post from Monday titled The Disease of Being Busy) and have been keeping most of these posts to side to read when I ‘have more time.’ I have skimmed many of them but today was the first time I read a post completely all the way to the bottom.

The post was written by one of my absolute favorite authors, Marla Frazee. After telling a beautiful story about reading a picture book aloud in the book store to her college age son (at his request!), she ends with this, “It was magical. The book. The shared moment. The seared memory. That’s why picture books are important.”

And then I scrolled down and saw a section titled, Curriculum Connections. There was a great lesson presented. At first, I was a bit taken off guard, thinking that this site celebrated the love of picture books not the use of them in our curriculum. That said, though, I am an educator so I do love that there is a great way to introduce Frazee’s latest, The Farmer and the Clown, to a classroom of kids.

At this point though, I had a feeling about what was coming next and it wasn’t a great feeling. I scrolled down slowly waiting to see if my suspicion was correct. It was. At the very bottom of the post I read this, “Correlates to the Common Core Reading Literature standards:RL.K.1,3,7,10; RL.1.1,3,7; RL.2.1,3,7″

Sigh.

I suppose it is the way we are all going. Like it or not. And truthfully, there are parts of the Common Core that I like. But I don’t like there are standards listed at the bottom of a post about the love of the picture book.

I love and respect the woman behind the Picture Book Month site. Elizabeth Dulemba writes gorgeous books and is an amazing mentor to other writers. Katie Davis is the genius behind multiple picture books and the incredible podcast Brain Burps About Books. In fact, I attended an amazing retreat with Katie a few years back and was incredibly inspired by her energy, creativity and intelligence. She is a gift to the children’ literature world. Wendy Martin is talented illustrator who I admittedly don’t know too much about but if she’s friends with Elizabeth and Katie than I’m sure she’s awesome.

So why?

I would love to understand the reasoning behind putting these standards in their posts. If I was sitting with the founders of Picture Book Month over coffee I would ask. I would ask if they felt that a love for the book wasn’t enough? Rhetorical question, I am sure. And I would inquire if they were asked by teachers to include the standards? Maybe?

So I’d love to know what you all think? Do we truly live in an age when loving picture books is no longer enough? I often threaten to buy a house boat and sail around the world, homeschooling our girls. I don’t think this is really the thing that will push me to buy the boat but it might be on my list…

Thoughts?

2 Comments

  1. Zoe says:

    Hi Stacey, I share your dismay. I suppose the thinking is to make the picture books seem interesting and relevant to more people ie to teachers as well as families. And I’m all for more picture books in the classroom, but I always want to take a stand against the possible implication that a book is only any good if we can show how it fits into the curriculum, if we “acedemize” it. Glad you wrote this post!

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Zoe- So glad to see you in this space. I love the word ‘acedemize’ because that is what I worry about especially with this push to make absolutely everything correlate to the common core. Not sure how much you have heard about this curriculum push here in the states but parts of it are a bit scary. And I’ll be very curious to hear what others say to your post on the kidlitsophere list. There is so much more NF here because the common core focuses heavily on it. I don’t read a lot of NF so I will rely on others to respond but I can’t wait to hear what they say! 

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