Monday, August 19, 2013

B16 optional blog H. summer reading program

H. The summer reading program of doom

I participated in a summer reading program only once. It was around 4th or 5th grade and i remember being incredibly excited about the prospect of getting prizes just for reading. it was one of those rewards programs, you see, and you got better prizes the pages you read in 3 months. This sounded like a great deal because i was planning to read through the summer anyways. It didn't turn out so great though. there were certain books that had been determined to be harder and thus got you more points plus it was all on a per page basis.  This resulted in me ending up picking only books with sparse word count per page (which ended up being boring) and books with a ton of pages in the list because they got me more points, not because i actually had any interest in their contents. but i did it. i read a lot and racked up an amount of points to be proud of.only to discover that i was virtually the only kid who didn't cheat. There were kids who would get irritated reading the label on their soda can riding home on brand new scooters. lets just say i never did that again and stuck to reading what i liked.

B15 optinal post M.

M. Diversity in childrens books.

I think the trend of supporting diversity in children's books is something that is only going to become more common. I support this. i think this new direction has come about due to the changing political and social climate globally. Racism is being actively fought, both from a moral perspective and because, in a global economy and a shrinking planet, everyone will suffer if we can't all learn to get along. Many countries are actively trying to reduce the amount of negativity towards other differences as well like gender identity, sexuality, disabilities and diverse cultures/lifestyles. I am convinced that this is an attempt to influence children while they are still impressionable (whether done intentionally or not, i cannot say), but i'n not sure that its actually a bad thing. This could potentially keep children from falling behind the social times or even become instigators of social progress but I only say this because i agree with it. I'm sure there are people who would disagree with me but i believe the negative consequences of shielding our children from diversity far outweigh the alternative.

Monday, August 5, 2013

B11. Optional blog

G. Your top favorite things to do as a child.

My favorite things to do as a child were very skewed and very easy to fulfill. All the way through elementary school i was thrilled when i was upright, surrounded by friendly faces and not being given a black eye. I think most of my favorite things occurred away from both school and home in the form of solitary endeavors. I spent a lot of time at the library reading and doing school work. I remember being totally addicted to q-bert on the library pc and was absolutely thrilled when i figured out how to cheat and had the high score for years until the computer finally bit the dust. I also read a huge amount of books (the choose your own adventure series was my favorite) and got in trouble quite often because i kept rearranging the organization of the shelves to something i felt was more appropriate. The biggest trouble i got into was when i rearrange the entire religion section because i discovered that the Dewey Decimal system puts Christianity in the religion section and everything else ( ie: Buddhism, Hinduism, Unitarianism, Paganism, etc) in the mythology section.
I also spent a huge amount of time going to music lessons where i played bass guitar and keys. i think this was my all time favorite thing and its a hobby that has survived to present day. I am absolutely thrilled to, as of last month, have a place i can practice again after years in a tiny apartment near DU.
A third favorite thing that i remember doing was going to Wisconsin in the summer to visit my mother's side of the family. They have a huge family reunion every year (which reminds me that its happening this year in about a week) that includes food, games, a 3 hour super hard scavenger hunt, about 150 people (that i am convinced only half of  are actually related to me) and a fireworks show (that i help run) that rivals most big cities 4th of july displays. last year we had over a grands worth of fireworks and even had a dunk tank which we took turns in.
The fourth thing i remember was a ton of fun was jumping off of the damn into the lake near my house. the was a huge concrete lip that would create an 8 foot drop into the water. one year we filled the inside of the frame of a bmx bike with spray foam and took turns riding it off the ramp into the water.
When i was really small i remember that another really fun thing that would happen is when my parents went out for the evening they would have the neighbor girl come over to watch me (not that i needed watching, i was ridiculously self sufficient). It worked out because she didn't actually have to do anything that is usually associated with watching a young person and we would hang out, eat cheerios with sugar poured on them and watch hilariously bad B horror movies. She has since moved to Florida but i actually still talk to her every once in a while.
who needs popcorn?

B10 Optional Blog

I. What is the difference between moral imperatives and social norms?

Moral imperatives and social norms are two things that i think many people get confused, unconsciously, extremely often. Moral imperative is something that must be done because it is the right thing, a social norm is something that people tell you must be done because everyone else does it. It is the widely held belief that a person should behave a certain way in a given context. I personally believe that there are far too many children's books that press the latter. As an artist that deals heavily in addressing social norms and encouraging people to think consciously about everyday activity's that they do a certain way simply because they've never considered why they were doing it that way, I believe that social norms are necessary as a foundation but that they are far to prevalent in society. When asked about the reasons behind a particular activity (riding the bus on a certain route and acting a certain way during the trip for instance, cleaning the house alone, buying food at the supermarket and interacting with the clerk), the response i usually get is something along the line of : "I dont know, thats just the way it is." I've found that "that's the way everyone does it" or "that's the way i've always done it" is the norm for a huge amount of things in daily life that you never even consider doing otherwise. I try to get people to think about it objectively and then decide if it is the way to accomplish that particular act that is most efficient AND the most fulfilling. if it is, go for it. if not, decide how to go about it differently. A great many things in life could be easier and more fun with a minimal amount of thought. Unfortunately, social norms often prevent any thought at all and encourage conformity and a lack of tolerance for diversity. I believe that pushing moral imperatives on youth is a great thing that will help them to grow into morally sound individuals that will endeavor to do the right thing. however, without a solid tolerance for diversity and ability to step outside of social norms, what a person might think is morally right could become very detrimental to those around them who do not conform to regional social norms. some social norms are required for basic functioning in society but i believe too much indoctrination on an impressionable mind can lead down roads best left untrodden.

B9 optional Blog


Children's books often have different illustrators and writers. I think that images in a book can have as dramatic, if not more, an effect on how a child interprets the story and imagery. If done properly, the images can serve to improve the conveyance of the message and increase overall enjoyment of the book but, if done improperly, can skew the message or reduce the coherence of the book. Many books with simple sentences, strange rhyming schemes or made up words benefit immensely from pictures.
The first author that comes to mind when i think about this relationship is Dr. Seuss, a man who was neither a doctor nor a Suess but he wrote some darn fine children's books. Half of everything he wrote was ridiculous, nonsensical rhymes and made up words that were simply fun to say and the images that the provided along side them really help to make a little sense of these strange phrases. The pictures helped you to understand what a Wocket looked like and what color a Truffala tree is. They set moods and pretty much accounted for all of the actions that took place in his books.

I have also seen a huge amount of books, both for children and adults, where it doesnt seem like the illustrator actually read the book before designing illustrations. this can get very confusing when the picture has almost nothing to do with what is supposedly happening.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

B4 Books Chosen

B4 Books Chosen.

Section 1:

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

-I chose this book because it seemed like a very basic starting point for children's literature. It combines simple pictures of familiar items with their names and has a very clear purpose.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

-This book teaches colors and animal names while using simple repetition and rhyming to hold attention. It seemed like a good early reader's educational book.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

-One of the favorite books of a child i know. I thought i would look into it to see if it was educationally beneficial to him as well as entertaining.

Section 2:

Keeper of Soles by Teresa Bateman

-I chose this book simply because it touched on dealing with death. This is something that very few childrens writers will go near and i wanted to see how this author would approach it.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

-I remember this book from my childhood and i personally think its a moving book for any age reader. I want to revisit it and see if its still as emotionally packed a book as i recall.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barret

- I have always loved this book and recently went to see the the film adaptation which i thought was a remarkable success. I remember this book being extremely busy, however and i want to look at it from this perspective to see if it is actually appropriate for preschoolers.

Section 3:

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

-This book is a masterpiece of sequential art story telling. It holds meaning and lessons for anyone that could possibly read this book. I had never thought of it as a children's book, however, and i want to look at it in this light.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll

-I chose this because, really, you cant investigate children's literature without hearing the name Caroll over and over again. I want to assess how this book has held up over the decades and compare it to modern stories.

Section 4:

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

- Another classic that is synonymous with the phrase: children's story. I realized that i never read this the entire way through and I feel that i owe it to myself to re-read it from an adult perspective and find any of the references i may have missed as a child. What an adult and a child might get from this book could, potentially, be extremely different

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

book Idea Sketch

Doodled out an idea yesterday afternoon of what the pictures in my book might look like. This might be more detail than is practical in the time period but i like it.