Rebecca Bender is an art director and designer as well as an author-illustrator. Her books, Giraffe and Bird and Don’t Laugh at Giraffe, have won the Ontario Library Association’s Blue Spruce Award and Blue Spruce Honour, respectively. Rebecca’s newest book, How Do You Feel?, releases in 2017. Be sure to comment on this post in order to be entered in the draw for a signed copy!
Please share about your experience of connecting with books as a child. What positive memories do you have?
We were lucky that my mother read to us a lot. The way I remember it, she always wanted to read the more serious stories, like The Little Match Girl, whereas I always preferred something light that would make me laugh and think at the same time, like Dr. Seuss.
I was a child that loved to draw and get lost in make-believe worlds. Picture books were inspiration for my art, and I was drawn to ones where the illustrations hooked me and took me somewhere. I spent a lot of time with the Serendipity series and still have a few of these books today. They were beautifully illustrated and full of vivid, endearing characters. I can see why I adored them as a child.
What are your favorite aspects of sharing good books with kids?
I’m always amazed to see how children internalize a good book and the fruits that come from it; be it my 3 year-old architect meticulously building his own home with Magformers and Lego, after reading If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen, or my 5-year-old fashion designer creating her own line of clothing after reading Birdie’s Big-Girl Dress by Sujean Rim.
We also have fun adopting terms and phrases from stories into our way of communicating with each other, such as, are you feeling like a Boo Hoo Bird today? Or, remember Hamilton Squidlegger, stay in your own mud tonight. Or, if I’m too clean The Witches will smell me!
Please share your thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with children.
When I’m sharing my books in a classroom I set up the story first by showing the cover and then asking the children what they learn from the illustrations alone. It’s a good opportunity to show them how illustrations play a big role in telling the story in a picture book. Sometimes I introduce my characters by drawing them on chart paper and talking about who and what inspired them. Before reading we also practice sound effects so they are ready to make the silly noises that happen in the story. While reading I stop to ask questions at key moments in the story. Afterwards I like to hear how they connect the story to their own lives; we discuss, for example, if Giraffe and Bird really like each other or not, and if this is similar to how siblings behave sometimes.
I take a similar approach at home with my kids. I focus on finding connections in their lives, and even days after we’ve read a book I will refer back to it if something comes up that relates. I try to keep drawing supplies, building supplies, and raw materials available for them to follow their whims and inspirations and suggest crafts and activities relating to the books we read.
Looking back, I’m glad my mother read the more serious books to me. I’m a believer in letting children make their own choices whenever possible, so I do let them pick their own books at story time, but I also adopted the rule that mommy gets a pick, too!
Close up of painting in progress on my desk
Thanks, Rebecca! How fun to see your illustrations in progress.
Check out Rebecca’s work:
How about you? Which books captivated you because of their illustrations?
Post a comment on this blog, and your name will be entered in a draw for a personally inscribed copy of Rebecca’s newest book, How Do You Feel? This book will be sure to captivate young readers. I’ll draw the winning name on February 13, 2017.
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