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The Children's Bookshelf: Dear Teacher - August 23, 2021

Dear Teacher: By Paris Rosenthal

Dear Teacher, A Celebration of People Who Inspire Us written by Paris Rosenthal and illustrated by Holly Hatam is a thoughtful picture book about how much teachers encourage, teach and care for the children in their charge. It is designed to be a book that can be given directly to the child’s teacher. There’s a page that allows the child to identify the teacher being admired and a place for the child to sign it.

There is a broad range of activities for which the children in this book thank their teachers-----including encouraging them to dream, making them feel like they matter, being there when they fail, inspiring them to inspire others and giving them permission to think out of the box.

The charming illustrations are full of diverse faces. For instance, a two-page spread of the children playing in a musical ensemble shows light and dark-skinned children making music together as their teacher lovingly conducts. Another spread depicts these diverse kids coming together while thinking out of the box to design and build a star-covered playhouse, a spaceship and unusual head gear with nothing but a huge cardboard box, thread, paint and their collective imaginations! The book closes with these words: “Dear Teacher. You are a gift that keeps giving and this book is my gift to you.”

Dear Teacher, A Celebration of People Who Inspire Us written by Paris Rosenthal and illustrated by Holly Hatam is particularly significant as we count on teachers so very much during these difficult times. It’s appropriate for children 4-8 years of age (Harper/ HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for Dear Teacher, A Celebration of People Who Inspire Us

Older kids:

Have you ever had a teacher who did an extra great job of helping you, encouraging you and inspiring you? Think about it. Every small encouragement counts. Make a list of what that teacher did for you. Then, write that teacher a thank you note. You can decorate your note to match the beauty in your memories.

Thinking out of the box, looking at something through a new lens and having the courage to follow that new approach can lead you to wonderful and new things. Thinking out of the box, however, can be scary. Close your eyes and picture a problem or a procedure that you would like to change or somehow make easier or better. Now let your problem-solving abilities work on the problem by thinking out of the box. Go ahead. The more you play with your imagination, the more you are apt to find a new solution.

Younger kids: Which of the illustrations in this book are your favorites? Why? Draw a picture of your very favorite illustration in the whole book. Remember you can add details. Have fun!

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.