Interview with Author and Educator, Erin Dealey
The honest and positive, Erin Dealey, talks about how picture books are like theater, finding moments of magic in student writing, and following our dreams. Let’s get started.
When Erin realized picture books are like theater, she had a breakthrough moment in her writing. While reading to her daughter, she thought about how picture books have to be auditorily pleasing because you want people to read them aloud. This simile lead to other connections. In theater, you want people to come back after intermission which mirrors the importance of a page turn. Finally, in riveting theater, there's plenty of action to go along with the dialogue. So, she made sure action packed every page of her manuscripts.
Moments of Magic led to a breakthrough in her teaching. She started a creative writing class in her high school. Instead of focusing on what was wrong with her students' writing during conferences, she started looking for moments of magic in their work. When she found a particularly juicy sentence, she jotted it down and stuck it on her classroom's Moments of Magic bulletin board. Bonus: no need to decorate for Back-to-School Night. This breakthrough moment inspired me so much I created a Moments of Magic bulletin board in my classroom. Now, I just need to get some student samples up there!
Finally, Erin talked about how as teachers we give lip service to the phrase, "follow your dreams." We tell our kids and our students to follow their dreams, yet we don't follow our own. So, she encourages listeners to lead by example and commit to their writing practice and actively pursue their own dreams.
During this episode, we talked about several of Erin's titles. After Erin wrote a holiday skit for her students to avoid talking about Christmas, she realized it would make a fantastic picture book, Deck the Walls. Our discussion led to a fantastic discussion in my classroom about authors' tones. We talked about the warm fuzzy feeling in Snow Globe Wishes, the laugh out loud humor in Peter Easter Frog, and it's a new year so of course we talked about Dear Earth... From Your Friends in Room 5.
Erin thinks every elementary library should have the following titles:
Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
This is Erin's favorite read aloud and she uses the title to teach writing as well.
Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
This is the 2021 Pura Belpre Award winner and Ernesto's new book Falling Short comes out in March. Listen to the Chalk + Ink interview with Ernesto here.
Operation Frog Effect by Sarah Scheerger
Like Locomotion, this is a great novel to study for voice as well because it's told in eight different voices, including one in a graphic novel format. Listen to the Chalk + Ink interview with Sarah here.
Home for a While by Lauren Kerstein
This picture book features a child in foster care who doesn't want to unpack or open up. I haven't read it but it sounds like it might pair well with Kate DiCamillo's The Tiger Rising. Erin thinks it's a great windows and mirrors book to have in the classroom.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez
Old Enough to Save the Planet by Loll Kirby
It features twelve young activists from around the world who are speaking out against climate change and it pairs well with Erin's Dear Earth... From Your Friends in Room 5.
The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher by Harry and Rosemary Wong
Erin's daughter, a second grade teacher, recommends this title for classroom teachers. I read this title back in the nineties, and I still use some of the systems the Wongs mention in their text. The underlying structure the systems provide allow for a lot of student choice in my classroom.
The Creativity Project by Colby Sharp
This has phenomenenal writing prompts written by kid lit creators that you can use in your classroom.
Planet Ocean by Patricia Newman and Annie Crawley
I love this title and have it in my classroom. It has QR codes that feature stunning ocean footage from underwater photographer Annie Crawley.
Erin could have gone on naming titles forever but we stopped there.
Erin generously donated one of her fabulous books to a podcast listener, a picture book critique, and a 30-minute Skype visit to a podcast supporter. There are several ways to enter: 1) Tweet or retweet this episode and be sure to tag me and Erin, 2) Write a comment below, 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, January 14th. The winner will be announced on Friday, January 21st, on the podcast as well as on Twitter and on our Facebook page.
Does hearing about all of Erin Dealey’s giveaways make you feel generous, too? Please leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reviews are a gift for me and for others because reviews help people discover this podcast.
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.
Interview with Author and Educator, Zetta Elliott
This episode is full of heart. Zetta Elliott talks about how magic is for everyone, questions why some books aren’t reviewed, and shares a simple and flexible way to outline a novel that you can try yourself and/or share with your students.
Zetta's written many fabulous books. The ones we discuss in the interview are her Dragons in a Bag series, Say Her Name and the Caldecott Honor winner, A Place Inside of Me.
We talk about how the Dragons in a Bag series celebrates and includes groups of people who have often been omitted from fantasy narratives. In addition, Zetta illuminates urban settings, like abandoned factories, that are rarely if ever mentioned in a genre that elevates secret gardens and rural landscapes.
Say Her Name is an exquisite collection of poems that according to Jacqueline Woodson, "is a tribute to Black Women, in verse." While discussing "For Saundra," by Nikki Giovanni, which is included in Say Her Name, we examine the stereotypical assumption that cities don't make good subject matter for poetry, while trees do.
Finally, we chat about A Place Inside of Me. Zetta explains she changed the order of some stanzas in the poem to make more of a narrative arc. She questions why some books are reviewed while others are not.
If you're interested in winning one of Zetta's fantastic books, be sure to listen to the end of the episode to find out how to enter the giveaway.
Zetta thinks every upper grade classroom should have a copy of Ann Clare LeZotte's Show Me a Sign, which is a tension-filled, adventurous, historical fiction novel, which looks at how society discriminated against deaf people in the 1800's. I totally agree that this book should be in every classroom. I wish I would have mentioned A Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly, which examines some of the challenges that deaf children face today.
Happy listening and happy holidays! Feeling generous? Give Chalk + Ink a holiday gift and leave a positive review wherever you listen to your podcasts.
See you in the new year!
Interview with Elementary Librarian and Author,
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