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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Why a picture matters?

Sometimes what a good story time needs is a good picture. I’m not talking about the concept of storytime as a cute little story the librarian reads to children without doing any planning, hooks, collaboration, or interactivity. Don’t misunderstand me. I absolutely love story time and think we are doing the youth of America an injustice not to read aloud to them any longer in storytime. 

Don’t try to confuse the issue with lessons. I believe we should have lessons, too. We have just gotten too busy to enjoy a good story with students. Librarians feel put down or looked down upon if they’re caught just reading a story to students. 

A good librarian interweaves lots of skills/standards into any story and manages to do it in a way that does not interfere with the enjoyment of the book as the author and illustrator originally planned it. Some librarians like me, choose nonfiction titles to incorporate in almost every story time. Don’t you? If not, here are 3 titles from Capstone Press’ Pebble Plus line that I think you should begin incorporating into K-1 storytime whether its in the library or a classroom. 

Big Predators by Catherine Ipcizade 
ISBN 9781429633161 
24 pages $15.99
Geckos by Joanne Mattern ISBN 9781429633222
24 pages $15.99
Koalas by Sara Louise Kras ISBN 9781429633109
24 pages $15.99

The illustrations make these titles stand out to me. Unlike some books where they blow up photographs to a larger book format but the resolution is blurry, these books seem very well matched for their size. The illustrations of the koala are so clear, you can see the individual hairs forming whiskers and eyelashes. Since I kept pulling these 3 titles out of my large stack, I’m sure students will, also. 

Koalas is part of the Australian Animals set. You’ll want all four titles including Koalas, Kangaroos, Platypuses, and Wombats. The words are so incredibly simply written that anyone can pick these up and share to young audiences. Read Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day then discuss why Alexander wanted to move to Australia. What if he had done so? What animals would he have seen? Discuss the concept that some parts of the world have different animals than where your students live. The simplicity of this title makes it a winner while the pictures will inspire students to pour over the images.

The Geckos book stands out as an awesome example of a good media researcher choosing the best photographs. Thanks Jo Miller. Some of the photographs were so detailed that I had to touch the pages as if I could feel the textures of those geckos. You’ll definitely have some "Ew! Yuck!" reactions to help sell the book. I like the page where we see the gecko licking his eyeball to cleanse it. Oh, yes, then the page where you see the underside of this reptile and his sticky toes. Definitely a page that will be covered with fingerprints. You won’t be able to resist sharing the photographs of the Reptile series with your youngest students.

While I’m not a huge reptile fan and prefer my animals furry, I’m sure the titles in the series will be standouts:

Bearded Dragons
Gila Monsters
Horned Lizards Komodo Dragons

The photographs in Big Predators contain many scenes of big animals seeking prey. The photographs appealed to me because I couldn’t help wondering how the photographers were able to capture these. Were they right there and was the predator hunting them? How did they get the shot? 

Since all the big animals were used in the Big Predators book, where did the rest of the series go? Well, since the series name is BIG, these titles seem appropriate:
Big Bugs
Big Roller Coasters
Big Trucks
Big Predators

Looking for a way to capture the students who just can’t sit still. Give them a good story – even narrative nonfiction, let them touch these pages, and they’ll be hooked on the idea of reading. Go inspire some wonder and some Ew’ing.