Phoenix Books Essex's Whole Book Approach Storytime is being held weekly on Saturdays at 1pm, and will move to 11am beginning on October 1st. The “Whole Book Approach” is a storytime model that explores the ways that words, pictures, and book design work together to tell a complete story. It was developed by children’s literature scholar and author Megan Dowd Lambert in conjunction with the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. The concept of “Whole Book Approach” was sparked by a study of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a collaborative effort of psychologists and art museum docents. The adult leads the children in reading the book, rather than reading the book at/to them. VTS questions are applied to picture book art by asking readers “What is happening in this picture?” “What do you see that makes you say that?” and “What else do you see?” One reader may see a great, big dragon in the clouds, another may simply see rain in the forecast; there are no right or wrong answers.
Most weeks, the event is hosted by Phoenix bookseller Johanna Simmons. "I find the Whole Book Approach to be an incredibly effective story time model," says Simmons. "I love the way it encourages us to think outside the box, invites us to search for details in a book, and empowers us to approach each reading with curiosity and confidence."
Simmons studied the Whole Book Approach with its creator, Megan Dowd Lambert, as part of her graduate education at Simmons College. The course focused on book design and its role in the overall narrative; paying close attention to trim size, orientation, cover art, endpapers, typography, and other components of the codex. Lambert - who is also the author of a book on the method, Reading Picture Books With Children - demonstrated her story time technique with young visitors at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and her students were able to observe firsthand how well children - of all ages and learning abilities - responded.
Phoenix Books Burlington's Saturday Storytime, held Saturdays at 11am, has been running since 2012. This year, the bookstore has begun partnering with local co-operative grocery store City Market on some of the weekly storytimes. For example, after reading Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, children made caterpillar-shaped snacks from grapes and other fresh foods. Phoenix's next event with City Market, a Halloween-themed storytime, will feature witches' brooms made from pretzels, cheese, and chives, and will take place on October 29th. Keep an eye out for more events with City Market in the future!