The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Friday, November 13, 2015

New Book Features the Whole Book Approach to Reading Picture Books with Children through a Focus on Artwork and Design

New Book Features the Whole Book Approach to Reading Picture Books with Children through a Focus on Artwork and Design

Last week marked the publication of Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See(Charlesbridge Publishing Inc.) by Megan Dowd Lambert, senior lecturer in Children’s Literature at Simmons College. The book shares with teachers, librarians, parents, and other caregivers the Whole Book Approach storytime model that Lambert, a former educator at The Carle, developed in the early days of the Museum. A portion of the proceeds from the book benefits the Museum, which collaborated on the publication of the book.

The Whole Book Approach, which is central to the educational mission that continues to this day at The Carle, focuses on the picture book as a visual art form and invites children to become active participants in making meaning of all they see and hear during a shared reading. The resulting discussions range from the profound to the hilarious, inspiring adults to make children’s responses to text, art, and design an integral part of their own storytimes. This critical engagement with the picture book as an art form helps educators and caregivers to create interactive storytimes that are really facilitated discussions rather than traditional read-aloud times.

In order to ground adults in the picture book as a visual art form, the book includes chapters on design elements such as trim size and orientation, jackets and covers, endpapers, typography, and more. With examples from well-known picture books, readers will discover how a picture book’s design, illustrations, and words work together to tell a story and how incorporating these elements into shared reading enhances a child’s learning and love of reading.

Lambert began laying the foundation for the Whole Book Approach while working as an educator at The Carle and earning her graduate degree in children’s literature at Simmons College. After several years—and after teaching about 25,000 students and 3,000 professionals—Lambert set out to write this book so she could share the approach with an even wider audience. "I wanted to reflect on and value specific moments of insight, delight, wonder, puzzlement, and pleasure that have arisen from the times when I’ve met children in the pages of picture books and have really listened to what they have to say about what they see and hear,” said Lambert.

Lambert will lead a Whole Book Approach storytime at The Carle on Friday November 13 at 10:30 am in the Reading Library. She will also give a talk about the new book on Saturday December 12 at 12:00 pm in the Reading Library at The Carle and explain the philosophy and practice of the Whole Book Approach and ways to implement these techniques into children’s storytime. These events are free with Museum admission. Book signings will follow the programs.

To see Lambert leading a Whole Book Approach storytime at The Carle, view this video at


Megan Dowd Lambert is a senior lecturer in children’s literature at Simmons College, where she earned her master’s degree in children’s literature (2002) after completing a B.A. at Smith College (1996). She writes for Kirkus Reviews and the Horn Book Magazine, served on the 2011 Caldecott committee, and worked at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for many years, where she led Whole Book Approach storytimes and trained others in her methods. The mother of six children, Megan lives with her family in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her book, Reading Picture Books with Children is on sale November 3, 2015, with a portion of the proceeds donated to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. To receive a review copy or to arrange an interview with Megan Dowd Lambert, please contact Donna Spurlock at (617) 926-0329, ext. 122, or via email at Further information can be found on Megan’s website at and in regular updates to her blog at and on Twitter @MDowdLambert.


Charlesbridge Publishing Inc, based out of Watertown, Massachusetts, publishes high-quality books for children, with a goal of creating lifelong readers and lifelong learners. Founded in 1989, their books encourage reading and discovery in the classroom, library, and home. They believe that books for children should offer accurate information, promote a positive worldview, and embrace a child's innate sense of wonder and fun. To this end, they continually strive to seek new voices, new visions, and new directions in children's literature.


The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a non-profit organization in Amherst, MA, is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. The only full-scale museum of its kind in the United States, The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world. In addition to underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form, The Carle offers educational programs that provide a foundation for arts integration and literacy. Eric Carle and the late Barbara Carle founded the Museum in November 2002. Eric Carle is the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Since opening, the 43,000-square foot facility has served more than half a million visitors, including 30,000 schoolchildren. The Carle houses more than 13,000 objects, including 6,600 permanent collection illustrations. The Carle has three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren. Educational offerings include professional training for educators around the country and Master’s degree programs in children’s literature with Simmons College. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 12 noon to 5 p.m. Open Mondays in July and August and during MA school vacation weeks. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children under 18, and $22.50 for a family of four. For further information and directions, call 413-658-1100 or visit the Museum’s website

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