Interview with Fourth Grade Teacher and Picture Book Author, Rob Sanders
Welcome back to Chalk + Ink: the podcast for teachers who write and writers who teach. Meet fourth grade teacher and picture book author, Rob Sanders. Rob is the author of funny and fierce fiction and nonfiction picture books for kids that ensure LGBTQ+ students and students who have LGBTQ+ family members see themselves and their families reflected in literature. Rob's dedication to and passion for both of his careers are an inspiration.
In this episode, Rob talks about how he stopped giving away his time to prioritize writing, how breakthrough moments happen every day in writing and teaching if we look for them and how his students inspired him to pursue his dream of becoming a picture book author.
Rob's website is a treasure trove of resources for writing. For two years, Rob blogged about writing every day on his blog Picture This!. Rob created an incredible directory so that people can find the perfect post to help them improve their craft.
Of course since Rob "is a writer who teaches and a teacher who writes," (as Rob said there are no original ideas when I assured him I had no idea about this line in his bio when I created Chalk + Ink) he also has incredible resources for teachers. I've found that many teachers are terrified of teaching writing, but Rob's First Ten Days of Writing: Grades 2-5 will help any upper elementary teacher get started.
Rob thinks all elementary classrooms should have the following books:
1) Gay and Lesbian History for Kids: The Century Long Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Rights by Jerome Pohlen. Rob talks about how as a kid he didn't know the history of the LGBTQ+ community and this resource gives students the opportuity to learn about LGBTQ+ history. Plus, this book has inspired at least five of Rob's own books.
2) Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome. This beautiful biography written in verse is in reverse chronology. It starts out with old Harriet Tubman and goes back in time to when she was young, enslaved, Araminta. This was one of Rob's favorite biographies to share with his students.
3) Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford This book is a collection of poems which Rob feels is a great way to introduce students to someone new.
4) The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patricia McLaughlin which is one of my favorite books and not just because her grandkids attended my elementary school. Rob points out that this book is outstanding because it's written in second person which is rare for a biography and also the whole book is one sentence. The language is stunning and as Rob says the book does unexpected things.
5) Martin and Anne: The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Anne Frank by Nancy Churnin. It's a parallel biography where there are two stories going on at once. Obviously, these two people never met but they were born the same year and both of their lives ended tragically, albeit at very different points in their lives.
I can't wait to enrich my classroom library with these books!
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