Saturday, February 9, 2013

Supporting Academics Through Kidlit

I was walking by a Kindergarten classroom last week when the teacher, Marcia Douglas, invited me in to see her students’ artwork. The kids were sure I’d want to use some of it on my blog. They were right – their art is gorgeous! Our principal thought so too, and now their work is displayed in the front hallway of our school. Take a look:

Their work was not done in response to a story, but they know I normally post about books so they assumed I’d come up with one to match their artwork. I didn’t. However, we had a nice discussion about what kind of story they might want to create to accompany their work. And that led to another discussion about books they’d like to have in their classroom or at home - books that have not yet been written. 

That reminded me of an email I recently received from another SCBWI member. She was considering a topic for an upcoming event and thought of inviting me to speak as part of a panel, focusing on reading and speech development and how authors might support these skills through their work. I was flattered.  It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to make it but I think the topic is an important one.

I can use almost any story with my students, if it is appealing and captures their interest. For students working on articulation (or pronunciation), I love books with repeated phrases and sounds. Kids automatically chime in when there is repetition in a story and that gives them a lot of practice on their target speech sounds or phrases. For students with language delays, books that introduce new vocabulary and model appropriate grammar are invaluable.

If you look at the Common Core Standards, you’ll see how easily a good story can be an effective tool in school. In the language Arts area, kindergarteners are expected to:
“With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.” ELA-Literacy. RL.K.3

By first grade, following the same strand, they are expected to:

“Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.” ELA-Literacy. RL.1.3

And by Second grade:
“Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.” ELA-Literacy. RL.2.3
If you are unfamiliar with the standards, ELA means, English Language Arts and RL stands for Reading Literature. K= Kindergarten, 1= First grade, 2= Second grade. For more information on the Common Core Standards take a look here:

To keep this post from becoming too academic, I interviewed a few of my students to find out what kind of stories they’d love to see.

Enrique would like a book about how to catch a dinosaur and another one on how to catch an alligator – nonfiction.

Liam is willing to give you his plot ideas. He’d like someone to write a book about him walking down the road, seeing a baby dolphin and taking it home to put in the bathtub.

Skyler wants a book about Goldilocks and the ten pigs.

Moises wants a nonfiction book about George Washington or Michael Jackson.  He also likes fiction and thinks someone should write a story about food coming to life and then going trick-or-treating. I didn’t think to ask him what sort of treats they might get.

Jose would like to see a Santa Series:

Santa on Halloween
Santa passing out Valentines
Santa on Jose’s Birthday
Santa and the Tooth Fairy helping Jose get braces

Raul wants a story about his foot – nonfiction.

So there you have it from the young kidlit advisers. I started asking teachers, and our school librarian, what authors might consider when writing for students but I’ll save those answers for another post. In the meantime, let me know if you have any stories that can accompany the artwork from Ms. Douglas’ Kindergarten class. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.


  1. This is all very true and the art is incredible too!!

  2. I'll pass your comment along to the artists. Thanks for dropping by!