Interview with RISD Instructor and Children's Book Author, April Jones Prince
The creative and supportive April Jones Prince talks about how we write to create a connection with others, how when she gets stuck as a writer she thinks of the encouraging comments she uses to support her students and how she wants to empower everyone to see themselves as readers and writers.
Together with Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges, April teaches Picture and Word at Rhode Island School of Design. When she feels stuck as a writer, she reminds herself of the encouraging comments she uses to support her students to move past the blank page. She remembers that only she can tell a story in a specific way and that every picture book has a question and an answer that hits the reader in the heart. To support her instruction, April uses a myriad of picture books and Ann Whitford Paul's, Writing Picture Books.
April's newest book, You Are a Reader!/You Are a Writer! is an incredible work of art that should be in every elementary classroom because it emphasizes the fact that every person is a reader and a writer. On the blog Teachers Books Readers, I list ten reasons why every classroom needs this book. For the sake of brevity, I'll only list reason number here. The world needs your students' voices and this gem will teach your students how to put their hearts on the page.
During our discussion, April talks about how she' s learned to put passion on the page whether she's writing nonfiction or fiction. She gives a shout out to Melissa Stewart's fabulous book Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep because it highlights fifty nonfiction authors and how they mine their passions, personalities, beliefs and experiences to create engaging texts. She also reminds listeners that kids love Melissa's book Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers: Celebrating Animal Underdogs because it hits readers in the heart.
Before I list the titles April thinks every classroom should have, we also spent some time discussing an activity that revolves around April's title Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing. The book is the true story of how P.T. Barnum and his elephants helped convince people that it was safe to use the Brooklyn Bridge. When April visits classrooms, she brings in various circus items. The students work together to write descriptive paragraphs about one of the items and based on their descriptions, the other students have to guess if the item is hay for the elephants, or the tophat, or the clown shoe.
April thinks every classroom should have these two titles:
1) Teammates by Peter Golenbock
Teammates focuses on the relationship between Jackie Robinson, who April thinks is the most amazing human being ever and his teammate Peewee Reese. April loves how this book celebrates Jackie Robinson's incredible bravery and fortitude as he desegregated professional baseball and shows readers how to be an ally. Be sure to check out April's early reader about Jackie.
2) Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
This book highlights the many different layers of discrimination in our society in an accessible way for readers of all ages. Duncan's titles are part of the 2021 Global Read Aloud. I'm planning on reading this title to my class and through the event I hope to provide my students a chance to discuss the text with other readers in different places.
April Jones Prince generously donated a signed copy of You Are a Reader! /You Are a Writer! to a lucky podcast listener. There are several ways to enter: 1) Tweet or retweet this episode and be sure to tag me and April, 2) Go to www.katenarita.com/podcast and make a comment on this episode’s post, 3) Make a comment about the episode on our Chalk + Ink Facebook page; and 4) Become a Chalk + Ink Patreon supporter. Patreon supporters are automatically entered into each giveaway. Each one of these actions is the equivalent of one entry which means people could have up to four entries for each giveaway. In order to enter the giveaway, these actions must be completed by midnight on Friday, October 15th. The winner will be announced on Friday, October 22nd, on the podcast as well as on Twitter and on our Facebook page.
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Finally, I want to give a shout out to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink’s podcast art. Sarah’s latest book, Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, earned a starred review from Kirkus.
Here's the homework for October 22nd:
Join the 2021 Global Read Aloud.
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