When Don Brown had trouble finding picture books with strong female role models to share with his young daughter, he decided to write and illustrate his own -- a story about an early 20th century pilot named Ruth Law. That started a 25-year career as an Author/Illustrator, with 28 nonfiction books for children and young adults.
"I love nonfiction. I think those stories are just as good as any made up story, sometimes better," said Mr. Brown. "I think people can relate to real people doing real things."
Recently Mr. Brown visited the fourth and fifth graders at Colonial Elementary School to share the process for writing nonfiction that includes doing research, writing and rewriting -- and how that was the same process that the students use.
One student named Makeda was excited for the author's presentation, because she already dreams of being an author. "I like writing stories," she said. "I think it's fun, and I like putting my time into it."
The children also saw how Mr. Brown's sketches evolved into the final paintings used in a book, as well as how the author/illustrator organizes the text and pictures to fill the pages. Mr. Brown brought along a large sheet of paper that consisted of all of the pages of the book before it was bound and cut apart. He noted that the size of the paper is what limits a children's picture book to 32 pages.
Fifth grader Emily thought the presentation was helpful. "If anyone wants to be an author or illustrator one day, you can get the perspective from a real author and illustrator," she said.
In addition to talking about what goes into creating a book and reading a story that he illustrated, Mr. Brown answered questions that included which one of his books was his favorite, where he gets inspiration and even whether he likes peanut butter or not."These kids are great," said Mr. Brown. "I'll talk to anybody from kindergarten through twelfth grade, but I think the kids that get the very most out of it are fourth and fifth graders, and that's what this school is. So to have a whole day of fourth and fifth graders, that's like heaven to me. It was a lot of fun."