Welcome to another TAKE FIVE interview. I hope that you’ll take five minutes to get to know more about picture book writer and poet, Michelle Schaub and hear about her latest book, Dream Big, Little Scientist.
Five Questions for Michelle:
1. In Dream Big, Little Scientist, twelve kids get ready for bed in rooms that show their love for different branches of science. How did you come up with the idea for a science bedtime book?
Remember those old Reese’s commercials where two people walk down the street, one holding a chocolate bar and the other a jar of peanut butter? When they collide, one exclaims, “Your chocolate is in my peanut butter!” and the other says “Your peanut butter is in my chocolate!” However, when they sample the combination, they both love it. In my case, the chocolate was science and the peanut butter was a bedtime story. I had been mulling over two separate projects, one a poetry collection that introduced kids to various types of science, and the other a bedtime book. One day, while I was sipping a cappuccino at Starbucks, WHAM! The two ideas collided in my mind, and the result turned out to be pretty tasty!
2. Every page of Dream Big, Little Scientist contains a plethora of images to suggest each child’s particular scientific affinity, from tools scientists use to posters of famous scientists. What resources and suggestions to you have to help educators and parents dig into this multi-layered book?
My editor at Charlesbridge, Karen Boss, the illustrator, Alice Potter, and I worked hard to weave rich content into Dream Big, Little Scientists. On one hand, the book is a lullaby, filled with imagery, rhythm, and rhyme. On the other, it’s an introduction to science, “packed with STEM goodness,” as one reviewer noted. We’ve created several resources to help educators and parents use the book as a launch pad for scientific inquiry. These resources are particularly useful for at-home learning. To start, the final page of the book provides definitions of each branch of science and suggests activities to help children begin to “think like a scientist.” In addition, I’ve created an educators’ guide, available at https://www.michelleschaub.com/educators-guides, brimming with resources to help kids learn more about the scientific charts and tools depicted on each page.
3. Do you have a favorite branch of science?
Personally, I’m a botany girl. I love tinkering in my garden, particularly when it comes to growing heirloom veggies. Each summer, I try to grow a unique vegetable, one I hadn’t heard of before. I tend to choose varieties with names that spark my imagination. Last summer I grew Snow White eggplant. My fascination with heirloom produce is also the reason I love farmers’ markets. I enjoy wandering around the market and discovering new fruit and vegetable treasures. It’s what inspired me to write my first poetry collection, Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market.
As a soothing bedtime book in verse, Dream Big Little Scientists is a natural choice for early childhood through kindergarten audiences. However, the abundance of STEM details in the illustrations and backmatter provide opportunities to engage the curiosity of older elementary students as well. I’ve even had middle school science teachers purchase the book to use as an introduction to the different branches of science they’ll cover in a school year. It would also make a great graduation gift for students planning to study science in college or graduate school.
5. For the last question -- Can you share something that readers might now know about you?
While I write full-time now, for ten years I was a language arts teacher. One of my passions was making poetry accessible and fun for students, so I wove it into my curriculum whenever possible. Each week, I created Friday poetry challenges. For these challenges I introduced poetry forms from different children’s poetry picture books and encouraged students to create their own poems based the mentor texts. I even used poetry to reinforce grammar and vocabulary. I still teach a poetry elective class to third graders, and I love coming up with new lessons to spark a love of poetry. I share those lessons and mentor texts on my site POETRY BOOST, www.michelleschaub.blogspot.com. My resources work for both classroom and at-home learning. I hope, through POETRY BOOST, to spread the message to educators and parents that children’s poetry picture books are an amazing tool to boost student literacy!
Thanks Michelle, for the great information for teachers, librarians, families, and readers of all ages!