JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.

Have a question?

We have answers!
Chat Monday-Friday, 8 AM - 5 PM (except MS state holidays)
Phone: 601-432-4492 or Toll free: 1-877-KWIK-REF (1-877-594-5733)
Text: 601-208-0868

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thankful for Picture Books

Charlie Simpkins
Digital Consultant

Certain holidays can evoke different emotions for people. For me, Thanksgiving brings up a sense of nostalgia. I remember the excitement of being in elementary school and knowing that a week-long break was coming. One blissful week of sleeping late, visiting with family, eating special foods, and my favorite activity: reading whatever I wanted.

I did not know until recently that November is National Picture Book Month. I don’t know why November was chosen, but it makes sense for me because of the nostalgia factor. This got me thinking about not only how important picture books are, but also the variety of picture book styles available.

4 similar shots of man holding 3 picture books. Each has a heavily colored filter

Picture books are often the first books we experience as children. From exploring the book (even with our mouths as infants) to reading bedtime stories, picture books have substantial lessons to offer children. Even being read to as an infant leaves a lasting impact. They learn the nuances of language sounds, they hear new vocabulary, and early on, they will start to connect the vocabulary to the pictures. They can also be introduced to new concepts, such as letters, numbers, animals, etc. They learn print awareness, such as how to hold the book and which way to turn the pages.

The variety of picture books can help meet children where they are. For example, cloth and board books are popular for babies and toddlers. Though not indestructible, the sturdy construction holds up well to rough use by little fingers and usually features bright, engaging colors with few words. One popular board book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, hits all the marks with its vibrant imagery and developmentally appropriate refrain.

Concept books are what parents, teachers, and librarians can use to introduce children to new themes, including the alphabet, colors, shapes, and counting. Concept books do not always feature a plot but focus on the core concept that is trying to be taught. I personally enjoy Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert. A well written concept book can also lend itself to reflection of the previously taught skill with their memorable, almost lyrical writing.

Easy Reader books, also known as Beginning Reader books, are another step toward independent reading. They usually feature larger print with limited vocabulary and simple sentence structures. While the vocabulary may be limited, Easy Readers do feature engaging, but not overly complicated plots. One of my favorite Early Reader book series is Tad Hills Step into Reading series featuring an inquisitive puppy named Rocket, including Rocket’s Very Fine Day. Such series help support reader independence and build confidence for the budding reader.

Some picture books include only pictures with no text for support. These are called Wordless books and are some of my favorites. The artwork can be simple or detailed, but the reader creates the story guided by the illustrations. One of my favorite Wordless books is Flotsam by David Wiesner. Books in this category can be great for strengthening comprehension skills, such as inference, and proving opportunities for open ended discussions.

Picture books also include non-fiction books that introduce a wide variety of topics in a simple way. They include math, social studies, biographies, and animals. The text may include advanced vocabulary. Two of my favorite non-fiction picture books are What Do You Do with a Tail like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page and P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever by Raj Halder and Chris Carpenter, illustrated by Maria Tina Beddia. These titles can make even the most complex concept seem more approachable and serve as a great foundation on which to build understanding.

While I may have advanced to reading technical works and full novels, I still enjoy kicking back with a good picture book. What should I read next? I would love to hear what picture books you recommend. Please leave a comment with your favorites below.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Challenge Accepted (And Reported)!

Alex Brower
Reference Manager
Modern libraries are havens of intellectual freedom. They uphold the spirit of the first amendment by providing access to all sorts of information and allowing anyone to come in and learn. However, librarians can face pushback from members of their communities about some of the material in their collections. This pushback usually comes in the form of a challenge, where someone disagrees with the content or ideas of a piece of material and would like it to be removed from the shelf. These challenges happen every day, and I’m hoping to better understand challenges and censorship in Mississippi by growing the Mississippi Challenged Book Index.

smiling woman with glasses stands next to a poster
Alex Brower and her MCBI poster at the
Mississippi Library Association's 2019 annual conference
What is the Mississippi Challenged Book Index? In short, it’s a way to learn about the challenges that Mississippi libraries receive about their materials. Librarians can anonymously report when someone makes a challenge in their library using our Google form. The form has basic questions about the type of material, the reason that it was challenged, and how the library responded. Don’t let the name fool you! We aren’t just looking for book challenges. We’ve received entries with all types of challenges, including a situation where a link to Planned Parenthood’s website on a teen resource list was challenged for containing information about sexuality. Any type of library material that can be challenged probably will be, and we want to hear about it!

It had never occurred to me that someone could keep track of challenged material before starting library school and learning about the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom’s national database. When I started at MLC, I was thrilled to learn that they had something similar! I’m looking forward to working with ALA and submitting the data we gather for addition to the national database. I’m also planning on releasing a yearly report during Banned Books Week that details the previous year’s challenges here in Mississippi. We don’t release library names, but it’s still fascinating to see what material is challenged and why, and to see how libraries respond.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to present a poster about the MCBI at MLA, and it was such a great opportunity! I got to talk to a lot of people about the MCBI, and I was so proud to see an increase in participation. I’m hoping to keep raising awareness so that we get more and more participation and the index continues to grow. I’m excited to be able to do my part to gather information about challenges in Mississippi so that people can study it, and we can have a better understanding of censorship in our state.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...