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Big books.

Learning to read is an exciting experience for a young child. One new technique in the learning to read process is the use of "Big Books." These books are large, oversized books for the teacher to read in front of the class. Even the children in the back of the room can see a "big book." Quickly, children start to fill in the words after the story is read to them once. I introduced my senior art students to the idea of big books by bringing in The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, in big book form.

We highlighted the following concepts of a successful early reading big book:

* Simple storyline

* Sing song rhythm or a rhyme scheme

* Predictability

* Repetition

* Large illustrations

* Large and clear lettering

With these guidelines, I asked my students to write their own stories. They read children's books for content, and examined illustrations for detail and media. Once students wrote, reviewed and rewrote the original stories, they created a "dummy book." The dummy book demonstrated how the pages and storyline would be organized.

The students depicted various concepts. Sara Kauk wrote about the day of a child from morning until bedtime, stressing the concept of telling time. Deanna Broughton demonstrated colors and counting with food entitled Bananas and More. Cindy Karls reviewed a fourth grade grammar book for her rhyme, Words We Speak, teaching nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. Other students selected rainy days and a family trip to the zoo for their books.

The next step was illustration. Students created their illustrations using cut paper, markers, colored pencils and tempera paint on construction paper or tagboard. They added the simple lettering upon completion at the illustrations, and laminated the finished pages of each book for protection. They punched holes in the side of each page and put the books together using metal rings.

Because the books are actually teacher resources, a special ceremony was held over a lunch hour for the author/illustrator students to present their "big books" to the elementary teachers of their choice. The teachers were thrilled with these wonderful gifts! The creators felt a sense of pride and delight at their "big" accomplishment. Some are even thinking of publication.

Karen L. Watson-Newlin teaches art, K-12, at Albany School, Albany, Wisconsin.
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Author:Watson-Newlin, Karen L.
Publication:School Arts
Date:Feb 1, 1990
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