Author Guest Post!: “Picture Books: Better Than Teddy Bears” By Dawn Marie Hooks, Author and Illustrator of Sarah and Her Twirling Toes


“Picture Books: Better Than Teddy Bears”

I’ve always been a book lover. As a toddler, I fell asleep with my arms wrapped around my favorite book, The Mitten, like it was my teddy bear.  A picture book can be read and reread many times for many months or years and still cherished.  Kids are creative with their books.  He might use his truck book for a car ramp.  She might see if her mermaid book will swim.  That’s not exactly what I have in mind when I encourage creativity, but you can use those cherished picture books for more than reading.  Read, reread, and discover!  Do you have music lovers, math wizards, or budding scientists in your home or classroom?  You can explore those interests with a great book!

Fun activities with a favorite picture book can weave many topics and interests together. Choose the book the kids LOVE and do an internet search for an activity guide with that book.  Many websites (like my author/illustrator website, my publisher’s website, or teaching blogs) include discussion and activity guides.  Sometimes, there are printable worksheets and coloring pages. If an activity guide doesn’t fit your needs, it can spark ideas that do!  Some of you are experts at creating fully customized activity guides.  Others are thinking, “No way!”  Either way, teaching guides can inspire you to create activities for your needs using the book you choose!

When I create materials or talks, I am inspired by what I read – whether it’s the book alone, an activity guide, or an article.  As a classroom elementary teacher, I wrote lesson plans incorporating my favorite children’s books.  Currently, I have the pleasure writing and illustrating picture books and the discussion and activity guides that go with them.  Also, when I am presenting, I like to begin by reading a picture book that captures the attention of the group.  (At least, I hope it does!)  I even do this when I’m talking to parent or teacher groups.  (Don’t you think these books can be just as fascinating to adults?)  Whatever the topic, a great picture book can turn boring into captivating!

Do you have a favorite picture book?  Think of what you can do with it while reading the 14 examples geared toward my new book, Sarah and Her Twirling Toes:

1.      Reading:  Look at the cover of the book (front and back).  Ask kids to predict what the book will be about.  Read the book and check if predictions are correct.

2.      Discuss Manners:  Does it bother you when other people scream?  When is it okay to scream?  When is it bad manners to scream?  Do you have rules in your home or classroom about how loud you should be?

3.      Story elements: Discuss the setting, main character, problem, and solution.

4.      Writing:  Rewrite the story choosing one story element (setting, main character, problem, or solution) to change.

5.      Art:  Create a new cover for the book.  The book is painted using watercolor and gauche. Work with watercolor or choose something else (watercolor pencils, chalk, torn paper art, etc).

6.      Letters:  This book is full of words that begin with the letter “s.”  Search the book for the words.  Make a list.

7.      Synonyms & Antonyms:  Look through the book for the word “scream” and other words that mean the same thing.  Can you think of more synonyms?  Now think of antonyms for scream.

8.      Music and Body Concepts: Sing “Tonsils, Tummy, Heels, and Toes” like “Head and Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”

9.      Cooking and Measuring:  Sarah drank honey ginger tea to try to help her throat.  Make some and have a cup of tea.  Slice lemon thinly until you have ½ cup.  Put slices in a jar.  Slice ginger root thinly until you have ½ cup.  Add to jar.  Squeeze honey into jar until lemon slices and ginger are covered.  Refrigerate for 24 hours.  Stir contents of jar. Put one cup of warm water in a mug.  Add two tablespoons of infused honey into warm water.  Stir and enjoy.  

10.  Science:  Explore the five senses.  Give each child a slice of lemon.  Have them describe the lemon using their five senses – touch, smell, taste, sound, and sight.  Do the same with ginger and honey, if desired.

11.  Health:  Research the health benefits of honey, lemon, and ginger.

12.  Health:  Sarah had “Screamingitis Syndrome,” a fictional condition.  Look up laryngitis and compare the causes, symptoms, and treatment to what Sarah suffered.

13.  Math:  Count how many times Tiger (Sarah’s dog) is in the book.  Multiply by two to find out how many dog ears that would be.  Multiply by four to see how many dog legs that would be.

14.  History: Research the history of tea used for medicinal purposes.

Sarah and Her Twirling Toes doesn’t directly talk about the five senses, synonyms, cooking, measuring, or even good manners.  I took actions from the story (like screaming or sipping tea) and created ideas to delve deeper. 

I hope you are inspired to be creative with picture books!  Pull out the book that’s being used as a car ramp.  Rescue the one that’s swimming in the tub.  Explore those books that are better than teddy bears!  Have fun and share your ideas with others!!

sarah and her twirling

About the Book: Sarah loves how screaming makes her feel. Her tonsils tickle. Her tummy dances. Best of all, her toes twirl! But one day, Sarah’s scream disappears …

This bright picture book celebrates Sarah’s spunky and endearing personality while showing that she can still be herself, with or without screaming.

Access the “Activity & Discussion Guide” for Sarah and Her Twirling Toes here.

dawn m hook

About the Author: Dawn Marie Hooks, M.S.Ed., combines her passion for children’s literature and painting through writing and illustrating picture books. A former elementary teacher, Dawn completed her first book, “Oh, Cookie!” as the final project for graduate coursework. Since then, she hasn’t stopped working on turning more ideas into books. She is a member of SCBWI and speaks to school, parent, and teacher groups.

Dawn currently resides in Vancouver, WA, with her husband, two young daughters, and their feisty puppy, Maui. When she isn’t working, she enjoys family time, Barre3, coffee, sunshine, reading, family vacations, and wakesurfing. Oh, she placed third in Women’s Masters at the 2015 World Wake Surfing Championship!

For the activity and discussion guide and information on giveaways, promotions, and events,  follow Dawn Marie Hooks on, Twitter: @DawnMarieHooks , Pinterest: Dawn Marie Hooks, Facebook: Dawn Marie Hooks.  To purchase any of Dawn’s books, find her on Amazon Author Central, B&N, or your favorite book retailer.

Thank you Dawn for the guest post!

Kellee Signature andRickiSig

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