Using The Whole Book Approach in Picturing America Programs
The Whole Book Approach is an interactive method of sharing picture books that involves the text, art, and design of the book in order to appreciate the book in its entirety. It is a wonderful method to use with any picture book containing notable art and design, but it is a particularly worthwhile approach for Picturing America programs, given the focus on visual content.
The method was developed by Megan Lambert, the Instructor of Children’s Literature Programs at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. The following questions appear in her workshop handout, The Whole Book Approach to Evaluating and Using the Picture Book As an Art Form (PDF).
Book Design Elements to Think About
In order to incorporate the Whole Book Approach with Picturing America programs, staff at the DC Public Library prepared programming guides that include lists of recommended titles related to specific images in the collection. The questions below may be used to frame and guide discussion of these titles, or others in your collection that relate to a given Picturing America image.
Be sure to spend time with each book before you share it with your audience, considering how each element contributes to meaning. Use these questions to guide your own looking and thinking, so that later you can draw attention to aspects of the design and illustration that are particularly noteworthy. You will not necessarily touch on every element for each book, just the ones that are compelling for the book in question.
Jacket: Think of the jacket as a poster for the book and use VTS questions.
Spine: Does the jacket image wrap around the spine? Consider the lettering.
Cover: Cloth bound? Embossed art? Color choices?
Format: Portrait? Landscape? Square? Shaped? Why?
Endpapers: How are these the visual overture for the art in the picture book?
Front Matter: How do these pages ease you into the book proper?
Gutter: How does the artist accommodate or use the gutter between the recto and verso pages?
Typography: How are all elements of the book proper arranged on the facing pages? Consider the absence or presence of frames, the use and pacing of doublespreads and single spreads, font choices, placement of text and pictures, etc.
Medium and Style: How does the artist’s choice and use of medium suit the story? How does the medium generate particular attention to art elements, such as color, line, shape, etc.?