750Words d3: Ideas (picture books)

Whoo hoo! I’m three for three in the goal of forever! I’ll take it. I won’t publish them all. The purpose of 750Words.com is to just write. It is not to write to you. Sometimes I’m too whiny, sad, or mad. Enough yuck out there without my adding to it.

This topic came to me as I work through a VueJS tutorial by Maximilian Schwarzmüller. I like to have a plan build as I learn. I find it especially helpful as I’m getting smaller chunks in with an instructor like Big Max. Because his tutorial is organised into small chunks, I have little breathers that allow me to think to myself, “How would I use this?”. I could say that after an hour, but then the “this” would be more about a larger concept instead of smaller tools. It’s harder for me to think “How will I use Vue” or “What will I build with Node” than to ask myself how I could use changing the style dynamically with Vue and a method.

I have more time now to think, plan, and write. Not much more time, though, so let me just publish this and move on to my next lesson. (today’s stats)


When I taught math to 4th graders, I loved reading aloud from picture books. People can blather on about chapter books as though a child must graduate from picture books to chapter books completely. Books are no classrooms; however, you learn plenty from them. I believe that a good picture book offers so much more to the reader than what a chapter book can. Mind you, I love fiction and wish I had unlimited funds so that I could sit home and read and not apply for jobs. I am not here to compare the two as though one is better. There’s enough of that bullshit between childless-by-choice and parents, stay-at-home moms and “working” moms (“”s of sarcasm as we know that SaHMs work plenty).
Although I was a math teacher, I read to the children plenty. One group could handle “Flatlands” even. Expurgated. I’m not a fool. The kids were 9 and 10. There were some things they weren’t going to hear for the first time in their math class! I also read “Where the Red Fern Grows”—not once without snotty tears. But what I absolutely loved the most was finding a beautiful picture book. I loved a good story and the complementary pictures. Read, show, read and show. A good story does not have to be a long one. For me, length is how it stays with me.
Mostly the stories I read were what you might think about when you think of a picture book: an adventure, a lesson learned, a special someone, cute animals, etc. That’s what I thought of when I started teaching, but we had excellent librarians when I taught. They pointed me in the direction of picture books that explained math concepts: multiplication, exponents, geometry, etc. How awesome was that? I still refer to those books when I tell people that math and art are not separated. Proportion? Ratio? Geometry? Symmetry? Have you not heard of daVinci, Michaelangelo, Mondrian?
When I stopped teaching, I remember wanting to write children’s books to make math less frightening or to supplement a math concept. Wanting to write is much easier than deciding to write. Deciding to write is different from having the story and concept down.
It goes without saying that I have not written a book, but in the years since leaving the classroom one never leaves teaching), I have discovered my love of coding, specifically HTML/CSS, JavaScript and its libraries. I am currently getting my VueJS and NodeJS on, and while I’m learning them, my mind keeps returning to writing a picture book. I can’t draw. I can. Everyone can. I am not an artist one pays to draw. How is that? Clearer? Especially as I work through VueJS, I think about making a picture book with my words and my SVG illustrations.
Until I get skilled enough, I need a place to store ideas. I’ll start with a few here.
ABC BOOKS
I love ABC books. Edward Gorey is wonderful and a reminder that picture books and ABC books do not have to be cutesy. Why not one for math or narrow it down to geometry? If geometry, less about ABCs and more about just terms? I’m teaching coding to children (middle schoolers). What about the ABCs of dev. Or keep it to language or basics? What about a build-your-own ABC book? Let the student choose the theme, letter (no need to build ABCs in order), and supply their own images? The program could scale the images to the appropriate size. The child just needs to make the SVG on her own. I don’t know. Work with me here! What made me think of that one is that so many city- or town-specific books aren’t about the town the child hails from. Why not have Clare from Pooperville build an ABC book of her town? Andrew from Fartzburg might build the ABCs about what the people in his village do. Why not? ABCs of good deeds? Seriously, ABC books are unlimited as all they have to be is in alphabetical order. How is that for a scope?
I’m too new of a dev to have that be a theme for me, so I’d have to return to that.
RESCUE ANIMALS
I have greyhounds and have fostered them for years. I’m deeply concerned about their treatment by handlers and the industry. I know that some handlers and greyhound owners who race them truly do love their dogs, but the industry is not friendly. You, Mr Gentle Owner, may keep your hound long after she’s stopped winning and until a ripe age of 16, but we all know that is not the norm. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who do not know a lot about the greyhound and don’t think of them as an option for a pet. “They must need a lot of space.” “They must want to run all day.” “They’re so big, and I have an apartment.” All myths. Greyhounds and other sighthounds won’t be for everyone—same with any breed—but the more literature that is out there, the more people will read and consider. Maybe a book will help a greyhound find its forever home, and maybe it will keep the wrong person from adopting and surrendering. No. Do not adopt a greyhound for you to do your 10k runs with. Usain Bolt is not a marathoner, right?
MATH (of course)
I specifically think of 4th graders as they’re at that cusp of going from concrete-sequential to abstract. I used to have a car covered in bumper stickers. Covered! All over. Not just on the bumper. In the middle of the back was one that read “I hate bumper stickers!”. Students who thought that was hilarious were ready for fractions. Those who were stumped and confused? Well, perhaps this year wouldn’t be the year they got fractions. There are so many ways to show math in a picture book: ratio, fractions (but please leave the cliché pizzas out), division, multiplication, factorials, … Of course, addition and subtraction, but that’s getting to an age I’m not aiming at.
AWFUL TOPICS
Huh? What? How hard is it to parent and bring up awful topics? I’m thinking about pet death, a parent’s job loss, bullying, body changes. There are many topics here, but to just write and include images without researching the topic and how to address it to kids? This is heavy. I’d have to be careful. I should be careful with any topic, but obviously these have an edge to them.

I hope to add more when I think of them. I should also probably quit adding and start planning, but that is another post!

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