Today, TeachingBooks.net welcomes author Jesse Klausmeier as she stops by on her blog tour to discuss her new book Open This Little Book (Chronicle, 2013).
I have always loved concept books. Whether the concept was ABCs, one-two-threes, or primary colors—you name a concept book, and chances are, I loved it.
Ever since I was five-years-old, I have wished there was a book filled with smaller books inside of it. That is: a book within a book, within a book, within a book, etc. As a child I felt that this kind of book should exist. I even made a prototype by putting one of my bedtime books inside another, inside another. (This was also my attempt to extend nighttime reading with my parents. Clever, eh?)
And then, at the age of five-and-a-half, I took it to the next level when I wrote and mocked up a first draft/book dummy of Open This Little Book.
Fast forward 20-some-odd years: I still passionately believed in the concept of a book within a book. I began to research concept books and could not believe this style of book didn’t already exist—still! So, I decided to create the book.
My research reminded me that concept books have very few words, often include repetition, and sometimes invent a brand new tactile experience and/or book format, such as Dorothy Kunhardt’s Pat the Bunny (S&S, 1940). Finally, concept books usually focus on just one concept.
I felt strongly that the text of Open This Little Book should have layers of concepts: from colors to animals, from sequencing to small motor skills. The overarching concept is that there’s a whole other world within books.
These are the two books, side by side, 25 years apart. As you can see, the vision of Open This Little Book was very vivid at a very young age.
Beyond the text, illustrator-extraordinaire Suzy Lee and I collaborated on how her illustrations could deepen the conceptual layers for older readers. Suzy’s illustrations show us that we bring a bit of ourselves to every story we read, and afterwards, we take away something new that enhances the way we view the world around us. Books introduce readers to characters that can become lifelong friends. There are always more books to read, more friends to make, more perspectives to experience, and more ways we can influence the world around us.
Open This Little Book is my love-letter to books. My greatest hope is that it inspires kids to become lifelong readers—and to write their own stories.