Saturday, June 19, 2010
When June rolls around I find that I had better find something really engaging to do with my students if I want to be cheerful. I realized that we had never done my end paper study.
I started by explaining the role of end papers. We talked about browsing in book stores. End papers help move you visually through the book. They keep your interest level high and make it more likely that you will keep turning the pages. End papers are like trailers for movies…they either leave you uninterested or have you counting the days until the movie comes out. Before you even come to the title page, you can be hooked.
After we understand the idea, we start looking at a stack of books. Students give their reviews on the success of end papers in each book using thumbs up or thumbs down. When we got to Grace Lin’s book, Dim Sum for Everyone, one of my classes broke out in cheers. In every class there was at least one person who declared themselves too hungry to go on. In Ian Falconer’s Olivia, the end papers not only delight, they actually make your eye take a journey from left to right. The response was warm. We looked at many examples of brilliant use of end papers before I presented the problem.
I took a book which is a brilliant book in terms of content and illustration. However, the end papers are really subpar. What were they thinking? I primed the book as I had all others. Excitement to see the end papers was high. Then I opened the book. Confusion was written on the faces of most of the children I showed it to. Exclamations of horror were not uncommon. Several children had to be spoken to regarding inappropriate language choices.
The challenge: To create end papers which were superior to the ones in the original book. We read the whole thing so they would have the context. Then I gave students a piece of paper, a pencil and some crayons. They followed through brilliantly.