April Jones Prince
April Jones Prince created her first book, The Adventures of David, using markers, printer paper, and staples, when she was just five. By the time she was eight, she had decided she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. But it wasn’t until April graduated from college that she realized she wanted to write for children. ""The books we love as children affect us like no other books we read in our lifetimes,” she says. “They stay with us and shape us. Plus, they give kids the perfect opportunity to crawl into the lap of someone who loves them and listen to a good story. What could be better?""
Before becoming an author, April worked in the editorial departments of William Morrow Books for Young Readers and HarperCollins Children’s Books. Today, she works as an editor at Studio Goodwin Sturges in Providence and teaches part-time at Rhode Island School of Design. April is the author of 11 books, with three more on the way. Her books span the range from board books to chapter-book nonfiction and have been designated a New York Public Library’s 100 Books for Reading and Sharing, a CBC-NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book, an Oppenheimer Toy Portfolio Gold Seal, a Child Magazine Best Book of the Year, and Amazon Best Books of the Month and Year. She writes, visits schools, and lives with her family in Massachusetts.
Picture Books: A Singular Art Form (Don't Ever Stop Reading Them!)
Oh, how I love picture books! They are my passion and my inspiration. If you haven't chosen or considered a favorite type of book, I'm on a mission to win you over to Team Picture Book.
Why? Picture books are like no other art form. They’re different from chapter books, graphic novels, and illustrated coffee table books. In a picture book, words tell part of the story, and pictures tell part of the story; neither is whole without the other. The interplay between the two, and between them and the readers' viewpoint and imagination, is where the magic lives.
The way we share picture books is also unique. Picture books, especially those for the youngest readers, are meant to be read aloud. Whether this happens in a group setting or with a child on your lap, it’s a communal, shared, real-time experience that is entirely different from a book club or reading circle. This interaction builds relationships and communication skills in addition to building vocabulary and other language-based abilities. Picture books are often a child's first introduction to art, and to new words and ideas. The stories they tell can mirror a child's own experience, or serve as a window into others' diverse experiences.
Picture books are a gift. (And as a bonus, they smell delicious, too. Have you ever put your nose into one? Go ahead! Ahhhh, that paper/ink/glue bookscent... delectable!) Dive in and enjoy!
I hope they will feel empowered to dream big, to use their voices (via words and/or actions), and to play with words and ideas as a means of self expression and enjoyment. I like to write about people, real and imaginary, who make things happen. And it's fun when you can do that in a way that is playful and maybe even a little unexpected.
I have SUCH fond memories of being read to: Little Women with my mom, and the old Raggedy Ann and Andy books, plus a title called Scallawag and Scottie, with my dad. The latter were my dad's favorite books growing up, and we read his beloved copies. I still have them, and my well-worn edition of Little Women.
I have one sibling, a brother who's 10 years younger than I am. So I also have happy memories of being the ""read-alouder"" and reading Roald Dahl's The Minpins to him.
I go for a walk (often with paper and pencil in hand). I do something I've never done before. I watch a movie I've been dying to see. Or I sit with my "commonplace book," a handmade journal into which I transcribe my favorite quotes, and to which I'm always adding. The quotes never fail to remind me of the big ideas that are important to me and of those I'd like to explore in my work.
I would be an archaeologist!
Some combination of family members comes first. My husband is a writer, so he always has helpful feedback, as do our boys, who are now 12 and 14. I have continually been amazed by the boys' insights and suggestions, from the time they were quite young. My parents have also been astute editors of my work ever since I was in high school. So, my family members are my first readers. Then I have a wonderful network of author-friends, colleagues, and my agent, Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges, to help me refine.
"Happily, yes! In May, we'll see 101 Trucks and Other Mighty Things That Go—the next in a nonfiction series from Scholastic. The oversized board book's short, rhyming text and vibrant illustrations by Bob Kolar are just right for ages 0-5.
Then in November comes Snowy Race, a picture book beautifully illustrated by acclaimed illustrator Christine Davenier. The book, told in two voices, is a lyrical wintry journey through a snowstorm. The big day is finally here. A girl and her father hop in their snowplow–but will they make it to the train station in time? And who’s waiting for them?"
Read, read, read! Read at the breakfast table, in the bathtub, while waiting for the dentist. Listen to audio books in the car. Play Mad Libs at a restaurant. Share poems or quotes that inspire you. Read street signs, memes, slogans. Make reading fun, interactive, and part of your daily life. Let kids choose what they want to read, as choice is empowering and, of course, highly personal. Leave books and other reading materials all over the house for easy browsing and 'dropping in.' We've done this since the time my boys came home from the hospital, and it’s amazing what the four of us will pick up. Make it accessible, and expected, that reading is a part of what you do. Then discuss your reading at dinner or another family mealtime. It'll be the best part of your day—aside from the reading itself, that is!