My grandmother recently passed away. I wrote this farewell letter a few days before she passed. I read it at her service.
The service truly was a celebration of her life. When it was over, we went outside and released balloons into the big blue Montana sky. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.
One of my grandma’s life-long goals was to be a published writer. She accomplished this goal. Grandma Jeanne wrote two books, and was working on her third when she passed. I developed my love for writing because of her passion for the written word. I will keep my promise to drink hot tea and write, write, write.
November is the perfect month for me to start blogging and journaling again. November is Picture Book Month and Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). This will be my first year participating in PiBoIdMo. I look forward to challenging myself to come up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days.
I am going to let go and have fun with my writing. I will think of Grandma Jeanne—her silliness, her compassion, her joy. I already have many ideas inspired by her brewing inside of me. Sometimes I think we create the most beautiful word strings when we experience intense emotions such as grief. I will transform my grief into something special. I will celebrate her and honor her each and every time I write.
Thinking of a picture book idea every day during November for PiBoIdMo has been a piece of cake so far, but it’s only November 4th and I know the challenge will become more difficult.
My six-year old son is a purple belt in taekwondo and my two-year old daughter loves to hop around pretending she’s a kangaroo. After watching Mason show off his moves and Sophie hop around the house, my friend Robin told me, “Your kids are great. One’s a ninja and the other is a kangaroo. It doesn’t get any better than that!”
I laughed and said, “That’s a great idea for a picture book!”
There’s never a dull moment at our house. We have a ninja, a kangaroo, and a Weimaraner puppy. I think many of my ideas during PiBoIdMo will come from the crazy stuff Charlie Blue does on a daily basis.
She howls when my son plays the harmonica. She brings back stuff to recycle almost every time we walk. She pulls the kiddos on their sled in the winter. She rolls in smelly stuff. She jumps in the back of the bike trailer when she gets tired. She swims in the river, but she’s afraid of sprinklers. She’s a furniture hog. And the queen of stealing hats . . .
One of my favorite Charlie moments happened when my daughter was crying hysterically on my lap. Charlie (the biggest food thief in the world) gently carried a graham cracker in her mouth over to Sophie and pushed the cracker up to Sophie’s hand with her nose. My husband, Ian, and I sat dumbfounded for several seconds. Did that really just happen? Wow!
Charlie is my quiet companion on our daily walks. I often come up with my best writing ideas when I take her to the river near our house.
We find cool stuff together like Idaho rock art.
And for being a big spazzy puppy, she sure is sweet and gentle with Sophie.
I can’t wait to see what kind of mischief Charlie gets into this month. She might come home smelly with a dirty diaper or a dead squirrel in her mouth (yes, this has happened), but who knows . . . she might do something that leads to another PiBoIdMo idea in my notebook!
Reading teaches children about the world. Reading encourages children to use their imaginations. Reading leads to meaningful conversations with children.
Reading is awesome.
November is Picture Book Month so I’ve been reading a ton of picture books with my children. November is also Picture Book Idea Month so I’ve been working hard to come up with some spectacular picture book ideas. I also discovered the We Need Diverse Books campaign, which I feel is extremely important.
Our family always reads a lot of books, but this month I have made an extra effort to discuss the books with my children. I have also tried to include a nice mix of fiction and nonfiction books because we definitely read more fiction than nonfiction. We have had some pretty inspiring and fascinating conversations after story time.
These are some of the children’s books my family has read this month:
A Gift for Abuelita: Celebrating the Day of the Dead by Nancy Luenn * illustrated by Robert Chapman
Big Jabe by Jerdine Nolen * illustrated by
Bridget’s Beret by Tom Lichtenheld
Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson * illustrated by R.G. Roth
Courage by Bernard Waber
Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon
Food Trucks! by Mark Todd
Frederick by Leo Lionni
Frida by Jonah Winter * illustrated by Ana Juan
Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell * illustrated by Steve Johnson
Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by
Hugs from Pearl by Paul Schmid
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont * illustrated by David Catrow
Just the Two of Us by Will Smith * illustrated by Kadir Nelson
King & King by Linda De Haan * illustrated by Stern Nijland
Little Cloud by Eric Carle
My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits * illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
The Boy Without a Name by Idries Shah * illustrated by Mona Caron
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
The Hula Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin * illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco
The Lion and the Mouse by Jenny Broom * illustrated by Nahta Noj
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson * illustrated by E. B. Lewis
The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy * illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
The Recess Queen by Alexis O’neill * illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
Thomas and the Shooting Star by W. Awdry * illustrated by Tommy Stubbs
Thumb Love by Elise Primavera
Yoko Finds Her Way by Rosemary Wells
Use your mighty imagination!
- What children’s books have you read this month?
- Do you read fiction and nonfiction children’s books?
- Which diverse titles do you recommend?
- What techniques do you use to encourage children to discuss books?
Picture Book Pass it On is a literacy initiative that encourages folks to donate new or gently used picture books to children. Picture Book Pass it On was founded by Michelle Eastman in November 2014. Michelle is a teacher and a mom who is passionate about children’s literacy and the power of picture books.
Picture Book Pass it On 3 calls to action:
#1 Post a “shout-out” to celebrate your favorite picture book. It can be anything from posting a selfie of you and your fave picture book kickin’ it, to tweeting a line from one of your favorite characters or scenes, or post a picture or video of you reading a favorite picture book with a child, pet, or loved one. Or blog about a favorite picture book memory from your childhood.
#2 Pledge to donate a copy of your favorite picture book to a local children’s charity or cause (domestic violence women’s shelter, prison waiting room where children wait to visit an incarcerated parent, a struggling school, etc.)
#3 Pass it on. Help spread the word about Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO). Encourage others to accept the 3 calls to action, and pass it on.
Visit Michelle’s blog for the full story behind Picture Book Pass it On. There is also a Picture Book Pass it On Facebook page.
I interned at Womenspace to complete my second major in women’s and gender studies at the University of Oregon. Working at a women’s and children’s shelter was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I spent a lot of time playing basketball with the children, helping them with homework, and reading to them. I also organized the donations we received so I know first hand how important they are! When I learned about Picture Book Pass it On, I immediately thought about children at shelters and decided my first donation would be to the Women’s and Children’s Alliance in my hometown Boise, Idaho.
One of my favorite things about being a children’s author is participating in readings and book signings. I always bring coloring sheets to color with the children and give away balloons and bookmarks. I love to see their eyes light up with joy for reading. Kiddos love books and this is the perfect time of year to give to those in need. It felt absolutely wonderful to donate signed copies of my first picture book, Mama’s Purse, to help make the holiday season a little brighter for children in my community.
I encourage you to get involved with Picture Book Pass it On. Give the gift of reading and help make a difference in the lives of children in your community. Michelle Eastman says it best, “Never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book!”