We are one fortunate school. Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Avid Bookshop we welcomed illustrator Christian Robinson to our school in promotion of his newest book School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex. Christian has illustrated numerous books including the award-winning Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena.
Prior to Christian’s visit our Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade classes all read the book in the library during library orientation. We loved thinking about our own feelings on the first day of school and relating those feelings to the feelings of the school. We also loved examining the illustrations to see the face of the school and discovering connections to our own lives in the illustrations. One of those connections came on the spread in the book that shows the children arriving to school. Students loved finding the way that they come to school on this page because they were all represented somewhere.
In classrooms, students created drawings of our school and turned them in to the library. Each student who completed a drawing had his/her drawing displayed in the library windows the week before the visit. Christian Robinson took some time to appreciate them all when he arrived at our school.
Our visit with Christian was in the library, so I pushed shelves and tables away to make room for over 250 little students.
He began his visit with a reading of School’s First Day of School. It was so fun to hear the book read by one of the collaborators. I hope students discovered something new after hearing the book again. I know I did!
Christian Robinson walked us through his process in creating the book. We learned about starting small by making sketches on tiny post it notes.
We also learned about making mistakes. Christian showed us one picture of a big pile of mistakes, and he stressed with students that mistakes are a part of the process.
He showed us the research that went into the book including visiting actual schools and looking at buildings that seemed to have faces in real life.
Christian also took questions from the audience.
Finally, he created some drawings. Students imagined an animal and he called on different students to suggest an animal to draw.
Thanks to our incredible PTA every classroom got a copy of the book to put into their classroom library, and Christian signed them all.
The impact of these author and illustrator visits is very special. Different students connect in different ways. Some are inspired to write and illustrate their own books that they proudly show off in their classroom, the library, and at home. Some realize that being an artist isn’t something that has to wait until you are an adult; the foundation starts now. Some students connect with an author or illustrator as a person and realize that there’s a friendly face behind the writing or art on the library shelves. Some students connect with a story in a way that they didn’t connect before because they know the story behind the story. Often after a visit, the author or illustrator’s books fly off the shelves and stay consistently checked out.
Today as I was walking down the hall, two boys in Kindergarten stopped me to ask, “Where’s Christian Robinson?”. I smiled knowing that they had met someone who they respected and hoped to see again at our school. Thank you so much for supporting our local bookshop to bring authors and illustrators like Christian Robinson into our schools. It matters to our students.