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The Gordon School

A look inside an author's craft

Second graders are at the end of a year-long study of the craft behind picture book creation.

Thanks to Jazzmin Imani,above, for spending part of her afternoon with Gordon's second grade.

Ms. Imani is a picture book author (and neuroscience student at Brown University) who first met with Gordon students during the GCA Book Fair in December.

All year, second graders study picture books, learning to analyze and critique the many choices that authors, illustrators and publishers make as a book is created.

The year-long curriculum culminates with nominations - and balloting - for the Gordon Multicultural Picture Book Award, given each year by the second graders themselves.

It an art and literature lesson, but also a lesson in the process of how culture is created - what ideas are developed, whose voices are heard, which faces are shown, and who makes those decisions (and gives out the awards).

Ms. Imani spoke frankly with students about the power of representation, explaining how her first book, When Art is Loved, grew out of her desire to see a woman of color in the center of a story about the visual arts.

Both classes got a chance to go deep with Ms. Imani as she revealed the details of her process, from inspiration to ISBN code, and fielded their many questions and ideas in a freeflowing exchange.

One nice thing about the Online Learning Community has been the way it allows many voices into the classroom - special guests like Ms. Imani but also members of our households. Ms. Imani's Q&A today drew queries and suggestions from second graders, but also parents, siblings and caregivers.

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