April 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

International Dot Day Enters Eighth Year

On September 15, nearly 6 million people will be participating in International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity based on The Dot (Candlewick, 2003) by Peter H. Reynolds. According to the book’s creator, the designated activity for the day is quite simple. All one has to do is to read the book and express yourself in any way you are inspired to. The book is the story of Vashti, who, by making a simple dot on a piece of paper, is led on a journey of self-discovery. Oh, and you can celebrate for as many days as you like. No need to limit the self-enlightenment to September 15.Peter Reynolds's the dot

Due to the growth of the day’s popularity, the Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning and Creativity has developed thedotclub.org. On the site, one will find an educator guide that includes activities, Dot Day certificates, links to various resources, and directions on how to Skype with fellow educators. In 2011, early adopters of Dot Day Shannon Miller and John Schumacher spent the whole week Skyping between their two schools, which were 390 miles apart. The activities included Skyping authors, contests and sharing artwork. Celebrities began creating their own dots and posting them on Celebridots. Last year the number of participants was 2.3 million.

On September 5, KidLit.TV will be posting a special International Dot Day Ready Set Draw in which Reynolds will be providing tips to budding artists. On September 14, he will be interviewed on StoryMakers about the growth of Dot Day. Molly Mack, a first grade teacher in Seattle, WA, will be celebrating her third Dot Day. She asks students not only to make their mark, but to write a word or two to go with it. “I’m always delighted with the outcome,” Mack writes on her blog. “Every student’s dot is original, and I’m amazed by how these simple works of art inspire us as our year goes on.”

Reynolds is amazed at the exponential growth of International Dot Day. What he finds most moving is the reminder of “what one great teacher can do–especially one that is brave enough to think outside of the box.” He points to teacher Terry Shay, the founder of Dot Day and a music teacher in Traer, IA, who he finds to be much like Vashti.

Shay did “dot projects” with elementary, middle, and high school students. He was pleasantly surprised when he learned that other educators were doing the same. The number of participants continue to grow, with projects now posted on various social media outlets, such as Pinterest. “It is amazing to me,’ says Shay, “that so many people have taken this message to heart. It’s beyond my wildest dreams.”

Reynolds himself is also stunned at the day’s growth. “I pinch myself, thinking that four decades ago I was being told to stop drawing in my classes and pay attention, and here we are in 2016 with a school sanctioned day to celebrate creativity,” he told School Library Journal. “I wish I could go back in time and sit with my 7-year-old self and paint that picture of over 5 million educators and students around the world splashing color with joy! Perhaps I would instead keep it a secret and say ‘Just keep making your mark and see where it takes you.’”



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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.