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Dianne de Las Casas interview

I appreciate Dianne de Las Casas  answering some questions and updating us on Picture Book Month:

Tell me about the response to Picture Book Month. Have authors stepped up to volunteer? Do you believe the word has gotten out there?
The response to Picture Book Month has been overwhelming! The movement has gone viral and is being celebrated around the world: Australia, Canada, Philippines, UK… The hashtag on Twitter is #PictureBookMonth and you can follow much of the action there. There has been a such a positive reaction to Picture Book Month, which demonstrates that the picture book is indeed alive and loved.
Picture book authors, illustrators, and literacy ambassadors have contributed amazing essays on the importance of picture books. From November 1 to December 1, one essay is posted every day from our Picture Book Champions who include, among others: Peter Brown, Leslie Helakoski, Eric Kimmel, Jarrett Krosoczka, Dan Yaccarino, and Jane Yolen.
Picture Book Month Partners include Better World Books, Children’s Book Council, Reading is Fundamental, and Scholastic. Every week we add more. Bloggers have embraced Picture Book Month placing the Picture Book Month Ambassador logo on their blogs and sites. On Twitter, people are donning the Picture Book Month “Twibbon,” a digital ribbon that is placed on their Twitter avatar (picture).
Schools and libraries have been sending me pictures of their Picture Book Month celebrations. I Skyped with one high school class in Indiana whose teacher, Paul Hankins, is coordinating Skype Read-Alouds in honor of Picture Book Month. These high school students are sharing picture books via Skype with other schools across the country.
I’m astounded and delighted by the show of support for the venerable picture book. Long live the picture book!

What do you think the most important message for the month is?

I believe that the important message of Picture Book Month is that the picture book is an enduring piece of literature, a magical combination of words and art, whose impact on literacy is unparalleled.

The Common Core State Standards focus on the importance of informational text. How do you see this impacting picture book usage in an elementary school classroom?

As a learning tool, there is so much “meat” inside a picture book. With regard to language arts, the picture book is brimming with language, vocabulary, and literary devices such as similes, metaphors, personification, and onomatopoeia. Both fiction and nonfiction picture books bring the world to life for students in a way that text books do not. The picture book is a great way for a teacher or librarian to supplement their lessons. Information can be found not only in the words of the picture book but in the subtext of the illustrations. A picture book is a powerful and beautiful teaching tool.

If you could put only ten picture books in your suitcase to share with every kindergartner in the country, what would you choose?

Oh my goodness. This is the toughest question of all. It’s like a mother to choose her favorite child. But here we go:
  • The Dot by Peter Reynolds – This is an amazing book about creativity and making your mark on the world. This book has a built-in post reading activity. Everyone can make dots! And they will all be beautiful.
  • Wild About Books by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown – This rhythmic, rhyming book espouses the love of books through an enterprising librarian’s stop at the zoo.
  • In My World by Lois Ehlert – Ehlert captures the world through a child’s eyes. The exquisite die cuts, the bright colors, and the simple words are married harmoniously to create a perfect picture book read-aloud for young children.
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel and illustrated by Blair Lent – This book was a childhood love and made me laugh out loud. I fell in love with the sing-songy name. I still sing it! Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo…
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson – This classic has an enduring message of imagination. It’s one of the most creative picture books I’ve ever seen. Then every Kindergartener can be given a purple crayon to see where their imaginations lead them.
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – This classic book is classic for a reason. Monsters are scary but Max tames them and tames himself in the process. And mom loves Max no matter what, leaving his dinner waiting for him, still hot. I love how children can participate in the telling of this story.
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin and John Archambault and illustrated by Lois Ehlert – This is such a fun read-aloud with its catchy chorus. A Kindergarten must-have!
  • Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis – Kindergarten can be a scary place but a child finds out that kindergarten isn’t just fun, it rocks!
  • Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming – If Kindergartens must learn their ABCs, why not construct them? From airbrushing the A to zipping the Z, a little mouse constructs the entire alphabet. LOVE this creative treatment of ABCs!
  • How Are You Peeling? Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers – Talking to kindergarteners about feelings can be difficult. Why not show them? This innovative book using fruits and veggies to demonstrate emotion is just amazing.

How many states have you visited schools as an author & storyteller?
I’ve visited more than 500 cities, 30+ states, and multiple countries. I love doing school visits and inspiring kids to read, write, and tell stories! I have such a marvelous job!
Tell me about your newest title.
My newest book is Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate illustrated by Holly-Stone Barker. It is a wonderful Aztec legend of how chocolate came to the world. The illustrations are gorgeous (cut paper and collage) and I love telling the story because it has a fun refrain plus it involves one of my favorite foods ever – CHOCOLATE. 🙂

November is Picture Book Month! Join the picture book party. Read * Share * Celebrate!

Dianne de Las Casas

Award-Winning Author & Storyteller
Founder of Picture Book Month
The Story Connection
P.O. Box 2656
Harvey, LA 70059
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Children's Books:
  • *The House That Santa Built (Pelican Publishing; 2013)
  • *The Little "Read" Hen (Pelican Publishing; 2013)
  • *Beware, Beware of the Big Bad Bear (Pelican Publishing; 2012)
  • *Dinosaur Mardi Gras (Pelican Publishing; 2012)
  • *Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate (Pelican Publishing; 2011)
  • *The House That Witchy Built (Pelican Publishing; 2011)
  • *There's a Dragon in the Library (Pelican Publishing; 2011)
  • *Mama's Bayou (Pelican Publishing; 2010)
  • *The Gigantic Sweet Potato (Pelican Publishing; 2010)
  • *Madame Poulet and Monsieur Roach (Pelican Publishing; 2009)
  • *The Cajun Cornbread Boy (Pelican Publishing Co., 2009)
Professional Books:
  • *Handmade Tales 2: More Stories to Make and Take (Libraries Unlimited; 2012)
  • *A Is For Alligators: Draw & Tell Tales from A-Z (Libraries Unlimited; 2011)
  • *Tales from the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories (Libraries Unlimited; 2011)
  • *Tell Along Tales: Playing with Participation Stories (Libraries Unlimited; 2011)
  • *Stories on Board: Creating Board Games from Favorite Tales (Libraries Unlimited; 2010)
  • and many more including the best-selling Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take
I love being in the presence of Dianne de Las Casas. She is a storyteller in all aspects. Being in her presence inspires you, fills you with joy, and motivates you to share stories with students.  When I heard that she was helping found Picture Book Month, my first thought was "Of Course!" and then to wonder about some of my other favorite picture book authors. Are they in? Will they be sharing this month? I have to keep checking in at to see who's featured each day.

My next thought was envy. I remember that my friend Nancy Dickinson was able to host Dianne de Las Casas at her school. I want Dianne at my school. I can already envision my students’ excitement. But, how do I pay for this?

May I confess to you my fear on seeking funding for author visits? I worry about how I can justify these and how I can convince administrators of the importance. I have met so many authors that I truly believe change children’s lives through in-school presentations. How do I quantify this to get funding? The same goes for storytellers. I know of several other schools in my district that are able to bring in nationally renowned storytellers. How do they get the funding?

Dianne de Las Casas has provided funding information on her website at <>. Will I be brave enough to begin the drive to fund a storyteller? When I taught at Hickman Elementary we were able to pay for some local authors – usually for less than a thousand dollars. We had Tim Ross, Michael Shoulders, Ronda Flowers, and an author from New Zealand come in.