Picture Book Month came to a close and we once again hosted a Picture Book Smackdown with schools around the country. All month long, students have been celebrating Picture Book Month by reading picture books from every genre section of our library. As they read a book from a section, they earned a stamp on a challenge sheet. Once students collected all 12 stamps, they turned their sheet in for a bookmark, certificate, and to be entered into a drawing to win a new picture book.
Another piece of Picture Book Month was preparing for the Picture Book Smackdown. Since 2013, I’ve been hosting and organizing a Google Hangout to bring together students from multiple states along with authors & illustrators to celebrate the power of the picture book. For one hour, students and authors take turns stepping up to the microphone, book talking a favorite picture book, and saying why picture books matter in the world.
We advertised our event using Smore.
This year, we were joined by author Dianne de Las Casas, the founder of Picture Book Month. We had students from 4 states: Maine, Vermont, Texas, and Georgia.
We broadcasted through Youtube Live and had a full hour of sharing favorite picture books. Dianne de Las Casas opened and closed our event.
I loved that at the end she reflected on what had been shared. There was such a mix of classic picture books with current picture books. There were books about Star Wars and books about difficult topics like hurricanes. There were new twists on fairy tales like Little Red and books in made up languages like Du Iz Tak?
As students shared, I had a wonderful parent volunteer who kept a list of the books that were shared during the hangout. We need to go back now and clean up the doc, but you can view its progress here. I also had a volunteer who helped get students up to the microphone while I made sure our technology was all running smoothly.
We had multiple viewers from around the country during the event and it was fun to see tweets from different perspectives.
It was also fun to look at the Smore analytics to see where people were from who at least visited our page about the event.
I think one of the things I enjoy most is seeing students and authors share with the world with one voice. They come together around a love of picture books and each take time to speak about why picture books matter to them. Each student had a different take on the importance of picture books and they all brought something for us to consider.
You can view our entire Picture Book Smackdown here:
As you view, I hope you’ll consider tweeting about your own favorite picture books using the hashtag #pbsmkdwn
Another incredible thing that happened this year is that I heard from a group of librarians in Alabama led by Bonnie Howard who wanted to host their own picture book smackdown gaining inspiration from the smackdown we started in 2013. I of course encouraged them to go for it. Their smackdown gained a lot of community attention and because of that, we get a chance to see the smackdown in action as well as hear some students talk about what they loved about the event. One of the things I love about the video is how a principal and librarians got excited about the future of connections beyond their state and even country. When you start connecting with other schools, you see the miraculous things that happen as students and adults collaborate with one another. I can’t wait to see how the work of Bonnie Howard, Kris Gray, Lisa D, and Dixie Paschal continues to grow.
If you are interested in starting your own picture book smackdown, I encourage you to go for it too. Whether it’s within your own school, with other schools in your district, or reaching beyond state boundaries, you and your students will be rewarded by sharing your work with one another.