One of the things I emphasized when I contacted teachers in local schools was that I wanted to contribute to the curriculum they had to cover and not take time away from covering the state standards. I want teachers to feel like the library has resources to help them achieve their goals and show that we can help extend the learning experience out of the classroom and help children bring books to life. So when I got a call from a local 1st grade teacher inviting me to come speak to each class in her grade at her school, I wasn’t surprised when she requested that I speak on a topic familiar to all early elementary grade teachers: the author study. I remember in library school having to put together a packet of information on an author, but this is the first time I’ve actually done it in the field.
They left the specific author up to me, giving me examples of Carle or Lioni. After some thought, I selected Kevin Henkes as a favorite author/illustrator that is still producing books, but has a substantial body of work. This is my first presentation of the kind, so I’m still working out the best structure.
After introducing myself and the library, and talking a little about our programs and getting a library card. I read Sheila Rae, the Brave and asked if the children have ever had a time they were frightened or were brave for their siblings. Then I shared some information about Kevin Henkes, from this biography , how
“Books played an important part in Henkes’s childhood, spent in Wisconsin. His family regularly visited the local public library, and checking out his own books and carrying them home was an important event for Henkes. Illustrations often determined which books he would select, and the works of Crockett Johnson and Garth Williams were particular favorites.”
And then after talking about what books are their favorites, I continued with this quote from the author’s website:
“”I also loved books, and the ones I was lucky enough to own were reread, looked at over and over, and regarded with great respect. To me “great respect” meant that I took them everywhere, and the ones I still own prove it. They’re brimming with all the telltale signs of true love: dog-eared pages, fingerprints on my favorite illustrations, my name and address inscribed on both front and back covers in inch-high crayon lettering, and the faint smell of stale peanut butter on the bindings. I wondered about authors and illustrators back then – What did they look like? Where did they live? Did they have families? How old were they? – but I never imagined that one day I would be one myself.”
Then I read Chester’s Way and discussed how Henkes likes to use animals in his picture books, because as he said “I found I could get much more humor out of animals, and besides it freed me from having to sketch from a human model,” I’ll show some of the other mouse books, and talk about how they tend to discuss common situations that the kids might encounter.
I finished by introducing his other picture books—Kitten’s First Full Moon, Old Bear, My Garden, and reading My Garden. And I encouraged children to come to the library to check out more books by Kevin Henkes.