A Book in Hand

When I worked The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art I created the Whole Book Approach storytime model, and I also developed another model that I called A Book in Hand. In A Book in Hand storytimes, each child has a copy of the picturebook so they can read along with me. And at the end of reading, we’d open books end-to-end to see the whole story laid out before us. I used A Book in Hand with infant, toddler & pre-k classes where I gave a board book copy of the book I read aloud to each child. Older kids often have reading groups at school where each child has a copy of a novel, and I wanted to do the same with little ones reading picture books and board books to let them read pictures & practice book manipulation skills. I did a storytime residency at the BU lab preschool, and one of the most exciting things was seeing how ELL students felt more included as they read pictures & pointed to them even if finding English words to share their ideas was difficult. 

Early on, I gave several presentations on my work developing A Book in Hand storytimes, including a joint presentation with Dr. Jane Lannak from BU entitled “A Book in Hand: Multiple Copy Storytimes and Students Learning English as a Second Language” at the New England Reading Association conference in 2008. I have a book & articles out about the Whole Book Approach, but I haven’t written about A Book in Hand yet. Seeing this video from a Wildwood Elementary librarian who used it with k-2 students to prep for author visits from Corinne Demas & Artemis Roehrig makes me want to revisit A Book in Hand work with kids of all ages. I developed A Book in Hand for the youngest kids to examine book manipulation skill development and to create a sense of access and entitlement to books. But I see great potential for this approach with older kids. I’m especially interested in leading Book in Hand storytimes with wordless picturebooks.

I think I’ll dig up some old files to share about Book in Hand methods that I articulated for people wanting to try it out. One of my favorite things about leading this kind of storytime is that oftentimes with A Book in Hand, the line between book and toy blurs. I love that playful part of it–though it’s true that Book in Hand storytimes can get out of hand. But the happy chaos is worth the sense of delight, discovery, access, and book-entitlement that putting books into kids’ hands at storytime can bring.

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