In this episode, Susan Edwards Richmond talks about the importance of getting outside, cultivating a gratitude mindset, and how it take a community to create a picture book.
Pretty quickly listeners will catch on that Susan Edwards Richmond lives to be outside, whether by herself in the early morning birding or with a classroom full of preschoolers. It's nature that's inspired her to write her books Bird Count, Bioblitz, and Science Play.
In addition to getting outside, Susan works hard to cultivate a gratitude mindset in her own life as well as in her classroom. She talks about how using Traci Sorell's We Are Grateful is a wonderful way to begin the discussion of why it's important to be grateful year round, not just in November.
Finally, Susan talks about how although it may sound trite, it takes a community to create a picture book. Not only does she talk about collaborating with an editorial team, she talks about the importance of listening to professional critiques whether those come from critique group members, editors, agents, or other publishing professionals. If people take the time to critique your manuscript, it's because they see potential in it. So, listen.
As we talked, we discussed the following titles: Braiding Sweetgrass, Miss Rumphius, Finding a Dove for Gramps, Octopuses Have Zero Bones, and Susan's forthcoming Night Owl, Night.
Susan thinks all early elementary classrooms should have these books:
Be a Tree by Maria Gianferrari
Susan loves how this book teaches readers all about trees from the tippy-top to the roots, takes you around the world, and teaches people how to be communal like trees.
Tree Hole Homes: Daytime Dens and Nighttime Nooks by Melissa Stewart
Susan loves the concept and the art, which the illustrator created on actual pieces of wood to incorporate wood's natural grain. Not only does Susan explain that this book is a must-have because it teaches about habitats and animal facts, she gives lists lots of fun classroom activities to accompany this title.
Same, Same but Different by Jenny-Sue Kostecki Shaw
Two pen pals, one from India and one from United States both have commonalities but they write about the unique aspects of their lives like taking a public bus to school versus riding in a school bus. Susan's students really identify with this book. After listening to Susan talk, I ordered it from one of my favorite local bookstores, The Silver Unicorn.
For upper elementary classrooms, Susan recommended Leslie Bulion's Serengetti: Plains of Grass. It's a spectacular book with beautiful, lyrical, primary text and includes informative secondary text with facts about animal habitats and interactions.
If you'd like to win one of Susan's signed picture books or a free picture book critique, leave a comment below.
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As always, many thanks to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink’s podcast art. If you haven’t read Sarah’s book, Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, check it out. It’s on the ALA 2021 Rainbow List and Bank Street's Best Children's Books 2021.
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