Kate Messner on How Picture Books Provide a Sense of Comfort and Normalcy
From the NewberyTart Podcast
NewberyTart is a podcast about kids’ books, for adults, and is recorded in Atlanta, Georgia, by two friends who approach the Newbery thing from very different, but surprisingly complementary, directions.
On today’s episode, Marcy and Jennie talk with very prolific author Kate Messner about her twelve (yes, twelve) books out in 2020, plus cricket flavors, women’s suffrage, and how much we all love Meg Medina.
From the episode:
Kate Messner: I know so many teachers who said goodbye to their kids on a Friday afternoon, expecting to see them on Monday morning, but then learned on Sunday night that school would be closed for a while. And then, by the way, it’s closed for the rest of the school year later on. So these people were stranded. I mean, there were teachers stranded at home without any of their stuff. They didn’t have their books. The kids didn’t have their books. They didn’t have anything in those first few weeks, and here was just a huge need to provide something—some sense of comfort, some sense of normalcy.
So a group of us authors said, hey, I’m going to read this picture book online. It’ll be here through the end of the school year. Obviously, it’s not something that’s sustainable to do all the time and we have to respect copyright, but at the same time, so many of us just wanted to provide some comfort during those weeks of transition.
So I just gathered all that stuff together and created a library of resources. A picture book read aloud and people sharing many lessons and drawing lessons, things like that. … You know, just a lot of variety in terms of lessons and some connection and something familiar for kids. In the first weeks, those videos got tens of thousands of views while everybody was figuring it out. Then, of course, schools figured out what they were going to do and how they were going to deliver curriculum. I think the need is a little bit less now than it was, but in those first couple of weeks, it seemed like the need was huge and I was really glad we were able to put some resources together to bridge the gap.
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Kate Messner is passionately curious and writes books that encourage kids to wonder, too. Her titles include award-winning picture books like Over and Under the Snow, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, and How to Read a Story; novels like Capture the Flag, All the Answers, The Seventh Wish, and Breakout; the Fergus and Zeke easy reader series, and the Ranger in Time historical chapter book series. Kate lives on Lake Champlain with her family and is trying to summit all forty-six Adirondack High Peaks in between book deadlines.