Monday, December 05, 2011

Anna Walker

I am so happy when I find a new author that I love. Recently, I discovered Anna Walker, an author/illustrator from Australia. How I had missed her books is beyond me, but I am so glad that I've discovered them.  In October, when I attended the CAWP/Literacy Connection conference, I was able to hear Sharon Esswein and Stella Villalba (My World-Mi Mundo) speak about writing in the primary grades. They shared many, many books and I spent quite a bundle after their session.

My favorite find from the session was the set of "I LOVE..."(I Love Ollie) books by Anna Walker.  These are perfect books for K-1 readers and writers and I purchased the whole set for our school library.
One of the challenges is building a school library collection is in finding enough authentic,  quality picture books that new readers can read on their own.  Anna Walker's books have everything, in terms of support, that new readers need. And the books are fabulous.

In each of these books, Ollie (a lovable zebra) shares with us the reasons that he loves one specific thing--such as I LOVE TO SING, I LOVE TO DANCE, I LOVE BIRTHDAYS, I LOVE MY MOM and I LOVE MY DAD.  Each book focuses on one thing and follows the I LOVE pattern.

These are the PERFECT books to use with young students to introduce the idea of reading like a writer--really thinking about the decisions an author makes. For me, one reason for studying an author is to be able to think about what you can expect from this author in the future. Another is in thinking about what you can learn from the author to try in your own writing. Anna Walker's books are perfect for both of these things.

These books each follow a predictable pattern, they use sight vocabulary that new readers are familiar with. There is rhyming in the books and the pictures support the text.  And there is predictability across stories--Fred, the dog is a companion in each book. The beginnings and endings follow similar patterns across books.  The books provide lots for kids to notice and to love. With our first graders, I read aloud 3 of the books as we added on to the things we knew about the books.  They became fast favorites for every class. As these books invite writing, many students took time in library to create their own I LOVE books, after being inspired by Anna Walker. The books took on titles ranging from I LOVE BASKETBALL to I LOVE MERMAIDS.

I love Anna Walker and plan to buy every book she ever writes for kids. She so understands young children and writes to that audience so well.  It seems she is an Australian author/illustrator and I can't see to order some of her books here yet. I need to work on that.

Not only do I love Anna Walker's books, but I think we would be great friends if she were my neighbor.    I spent some time on her blog and it is a great celebration of so many things.  It is definitely a blog that will go into my reader.  So happy to discovered this new-to-me author!

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