This marks the 5th year that our school has celebrated Picture Book Month. This wonderful event was founded by Dianne de Las Casas, author and storyteller extraordinaire. The children’s book world sadly lost Dianne this year in a tragic fire, so it makes this year’s Picture Book Month bittersweet.
I came to know Dianne through Picture Book Month. Each year I host a Picture Book Smackdown at the close of November which brings together students in multiple states via a Google Hangout to share favorite picture books. We also invite authors to join us and share their favorite picture books too. For the past few years, Dianne has also joined us.
When we connected with Dianne, she was always full of stories and blinged out with her tiara, sparkly attire, bright nails, and bubbly personality. We always laughed because no matter how much we tried to keep the smackdown moving along, Dianne was always hard to contain. She wanted to share so many picture books with students and read aloud her favorite texts. Dianne was such a sweet and giving soul. She even sent us autographed copied of her book to thank us for celebrating picture books.
We will greatly miss her this year. Katie Davis, another member of the Picture Book Month Community, posted a nice video remembering Dianne and her picture book legacy.
Even though we are sad, we are remembering, celebrating, and honoring Dianne by continuing to carry on the Picture Book Month legacy. One way we do this is by book talking picture books every day on BTV, our morning broadcast.
Another way is by hold a Picture Book Month Challenge. I encourage students to read as many picture books as possible during the month of November. During the challenge, they must read at least 10 picture books, which includes some picture books from specific genre sections of the library plus a couple of “student choice” sections. Every picture book section is labeled with a Picture Book Month logo so students can easily see where picture books are located in the library.
This year, I’ve also made a picture book Flipgrid where I hope students, teachers, and families will share picture books during November and beyond.
I’m also planning this year’s Picture Book Smackdown where students from multiple grades will book talk picture books with students in other states.
I hope you’ll consider celebrating Picture Book Month in your own school. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just read picture books and celebrate their importance in the world. They are a powerful window and mirror into the world.