CHALK - Bringing the Book to Life

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you will know that I happen to be a BIG FAN of Bill Thomson's wordless picture book CHALK.  It was released a year ago and though I would have selected CHALK for a Caldecott, the committee members obviously didn't agree with me.  Since I am unable to decorate this book with any gold medals, I will have to be content with what I can do. Which has looked something like this...

Emailed the illustrator -
Yes, I have completely been a fangirl when it comes to this book.  When I first discovered it, I immediately hunted down an email address so that I could gush about my love for CHALK with the creator/illustrator. This YouTube interview/video shares a little about how complex it was to create the book. (And how did this not get an award?!)

Bought lots & lots of copies for giveaway:
I was just so in love with this book that I gave it to several children for Christmas and to all of my teaching staff as their holiday present.

If I didn't giveaway a copy, I told everyone to buy it:
I am pretty certain that I have told every bookseller, librarian, and teacher I know about CHALK and that they should buy it. We also featured it at our school book fair in December.

Plan a school-wide Literacy Event around CHALK:
In chatting with Angie (parent volunteer, Literacy Café developer), we decided that it would be wonderful to do something school-wide with the book.  (I suggest that you plan this out several months in advance especially if you are doing something on a large scale.)

Mid-Winter ALA, stop by the publisher's booth:
While wandering around the exhibit hall, I passed by the Marshall Cavendish booth. I had that funny feeling like "I know this name".  I looked at the display of books...and then it hit me, CHALK is published by Marshall Cavendish.  Of course, I blurted out to the staffer my shock that he wasn't displaying CHALK but he appeared to forgive my "foot-in-mouth" moment, when I proceeded to gush about the book and tell him about our plans for a school-wide event centered around it.  (Note: I am not advocating that you tell publishers what books to display, but I do know they really love hearing about the books that you really like.)

Plan out the event:
This included picking a date, creating an invite (thank you Karen), sending out invites, putting out a press release, notifying local law enforcement (we held the event right in front of the school), working with volunteers on all the details (thank you to all my volunteers), and working with teachers on ways that the book can be used in class.

It also included ordering 1,000 pieces of chalk (thank you to the PTA for funding this).

And decorating little bags for the chalk so it would look like the book. (Noeleen, Jon, Irene, and any others I owe you big time.)

Sorting out posters, so that every child would have one.  (Thank you Marshall Cavendish for supporting the event by sending posters for the children.)

Notifying the police for possible crowd control.  Always interesting when you have 350 kids in the front and side of the school.  But everyone did wonderful and the police enjoyed watching the children draw.

We also invited local chalk artists to come to the event and we worked with our local Indie bookstore, Vromans, to provide a way for families to order copies of the book.  The Children's Manager even came over to help out. (Yay to Indie Bookstores and supporting local businesses.)

There were also lots of special visitors who stopped by.  A rep from our local Assemblymember's office and heads for various departments in the District including our Chief Academic Officer, our Director of Elementary Education, Director of Special Education, Coordinators of Visual and Performing Arts, and Language Development.  And toward the end a couple of our Board Members popped by for a visit.  Though we didn't see the local paper, our District's TV department also came out and interviewed staff, children and parents.

Of course, this student kind of says it all:

For more information about Bill Thomson and his incredible book CHALK, check out his website here: 

I also need to extend a huge thank you to Bill Thomson for his continued enthusiasm for what we were planning and his support of this event by contributing items for the school to use in a Silent Auction to raise funds for Literacy.

Though I don't have a picture of this, my favorite moment of the day was hours later when nearly everyone was gone.  The Children's Book Manager and I were chatting in her car and we watched one young student bring her father all the way over to the side of the school in order to show him her drawing.  You could tell by the gestures and actions that she was sharing all about the event with him.  Dad was beaming and clicked a few pictures with the camera on his phone.  It was definitely one of those "awww" moments, but one where you realize how significant the event actually was to the children.

Thank you Bill for inspiring all of the children and staff at San Rafael School.  Come visit any time you are in Southern California.  I can promise you that you will be treated like a Rock Star.