April 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Third Annual Picture Book Month Is in Full Swing

The third annual Picture Book Month is currently in full swing, with an ever-expanding array of school displays, Skype sessions, blog posts, and Facebook photo albums bearing witness to this year’s festivities. The event—launched by author and storyteller Dianne de Las Casas in response to a New York Times article that declared that Picture Books Are No Longer a Staple for Children—brings together children, picture book lovers, and picture book creators in daily celebrations of the art form.

Teachers at South Athens (TX)  Elementary School don literary costumes for Picture Book Month.

Each day in November, the Picture Book Month website features an essay by Champion, including such authors as Tomie dePaola, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Daniel Kirk, Rosemary Wells, Emma Walton Hamilton, Julie Danielson, Carmen Agra Deedy, Rebecca Emberley, Lee Harper, Candace Fleming, Mercer Mayer, Jerry Pinkney, Hazel G. Mitchell, and Robert Quackenbush. Also, each day of the month has a special theme—such as royalty, birds, the sea, writing, or food—that librarians and teachers can use to plan story times, blog about their favorite books on that theme, or create displays.

For teachers and librarians alike, Marcie Colleen, an educational consultant, this year has created a new in-depth Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide [PDF] which correlates picture books to the Common Core and learning standards.

Teachers at South Athens Elementary School in Athens, TX, kicked off their own celebrations on November 1 by all dressing as their favorite storybook characters.

Cathy Potter, school librarian at the Falmouth Elementary School in Falmouth, ME, has arranged Skype picture book interactions with schools around the country including ones in Texas, Maryland, and Georgia.  Her third graders will be selecting a book from We Give Books to read to the kindergarteners at the Curtis Elementary School in Weatherford, TX. Potter was put in contact with Shawna Ford, the school librarian at Curtis, through the work of Laura D’Elia, librarian at the Pine Glen Elementary School in Burlington, MA, who created a google doc to facilitate interaction among educators.

Sharon Amolo’s students use Picture Book Month to discuss their favorite books.

Sharon Amolo, media specialist at the Gwin Oaks Elementary School in Gwinnett County, GA, is celebrating by hosting a Mock Caldecott celebration with two second-grade classes. Each day, the students meet to read, discuss, and evaluate books, and those in consideration for the honor are posted online. Amolo’s students are maintaining a book review blog about their choices for the Caldecott, and will design a medal for the winner and honor books.

In addition, “So that the whole school is involved in Picture Book Month, there is a center in the library to try to guess the picture book character,” Amolo says, noting that a picture book trailer is shown over the school’s morning announcements that appear to all grades.

Amolo’s students will appear on the school’s morning broadcast after the votes have been tallied to announce the Gwin Oaks winner. Later this month, they will discuss their choices with the students at Zervas Elementary in Waban, MA, where Erin Broderick is the school librarian.

Meanwhile, John Schumacher, teacher librarian at Brook Forest Elementary School in Oak Brook, IL, has created an Animoto video on his blog, Watch, Connect, Read where he asks picture book creators to finish the sentence, “Picture books are…”

And Katie Davis, host of the Brain Burps About Books kid lit podcast, has pledged to interview Picture Book Month Champions every Wednesday in November.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.



  1. Picture books are…an introduction to more complex ideas.