Our school is becoming quite the mecca for talented children's book authors and illustrators willing to share their stories with an eager young audience.
The most recent visit occurred last week when we gleefully welcomed inspired artist and writer Dan Yaccario to our school. Over the years Dan's books have been student favorites when selecting their Top Ten books of the school year. And I have a feeling that The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau, Every Friday, Lawn to Lawn and All the Way to America will be represented in the Top Ten this year.
In anticipation for his visit we created a Dan Yaccarino book bin loaded with his books and studied in-depth the life of Jacques Costeau. Lauren (my co-teacher) and I were thrilled to note that Dan has written kid-friendly nonfiction books as the current push in education (with the Common Core State Standards or CCSS) is a focus on nonfiction texts. One student commented that The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau is a nonfiction book that looks like fiction. This insightful comment springs from the fact that we originally categorized nonfiction texts as containing photographs and fiction, illustrations. This comment represented her growing understanding of the nuances to be found across genres. I mentioned her comment to Dan and he replied that this was his intention. He is well aware of the CCSS.
Dan's visit carried the overall message of deconstructing the journey of going from a child who enjoys drawing to an adult with a plethora of published books. Dan instilled in the children the notion that they can do anything they want to do in life, the choices are endless but underneath it all is the passion for doing what you love. This is a message that connects with the theme of this blog and Joseph Campbell's offering - Follow Your Bliss.
At the end of his presentation Dan answered questions from our first and second grade students. Here are some of their questions and his answers (which are not exact quotes - I can't write that fast!).
Why do you write books?
It makes me happy. There are stories I have inside me that I want to tell and things that interest me, like Jacques Costeau and I get to share them through my books.
How do you make books?
It starts with an idea. First I create small drawings then expand on them with bigger drawings and paintings and then the text. It takes almost one year to do one book sometimes.
Where do your ideas come from?
Where do you get your ideas? From up here (pointing to his head) same as you.
Dan shared that he has drawn everyday since when he was even younger than them and encouraged the children to create their own superheros (because they wanted to know how to draw Superman and Spiderman). Overall, this was a super-duper experience for all of us.
Below one student shares her opinion about why people should read Dan Yaccarino's books. Notice in her drawing she shows him thinking about pictures and that the Jacques Costeau book rests on the table.
|Should people read Dan Y. books? Yes! Because 1. he had beautiful colors. 2. Writes good books. 3. He thinks of pictures.|