Tuesday, January 14, 2020


I was delighted to have dinner with a college mentor of mine, Dr. Carol Westby, here in Denver at the Great Northern. She was in town to give a presentation for PESI on Narrative Intervention entitled: Developing Social-Emotional Skills & Self-Regulation in Students: Narrative Intervention for Long-Term Academic, Personal & Social Success.

I attended her Friday workshop and was thrilled to hear her talk about using picture books with students of all ages including those at the high school level. I have long advocated using illustrated texts for older students, especially narrative non-fiction picture books that include engaging autobiographies of scientists, mathematicians, sports figures, and important people from history. These books explore sophisticated topics, but the picture support makes them accessible to second language learners as well as to students with limited vocabulary and concept knowledge.

In my upcoming book with Brookes Publishing, I discuss several current picture books appropriate for students of all ages. Watch for Story Frames coming November 2020.

I'm thrilled to announce that Dr. Westby will be writing a chapter for Story Frames about Multicultural Issues. During her December PESI presentation, she discussed this topic at length. She pointed out that western stories tend to have a linear structure while the stories of many other cultures do not. We must exercise caution when listening to the stories of students from other cultures. Otherwise, we might assume that their narratives are incoherent when they are simply following a structure different from what we are used to teaching. This is especially important when using a student's narrative to assess language abilities.

One fun suggestion Westby gave for exploring unfamiliar settings was to use the story of The Three Little Pigs to discuss the different types of homes people construct in various parts of the world. She uses picture books that are take-offs on this story to provide examples such as The Three Little Hawaiin Pigs and the Magic Shark by Donivee Laird as well as The Three Little Javelinas written by Susan Lowell and illustrated by Jim Harris. The latter title is also available in Spanish.


Another book I explore in Story Frames is The True Story of the Three Little Pigs written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. It is told from the perspective of the wolf who claims he was framed and is useful for discussing how spoofs are created from well-known classics and for discussing point-of-view. These tales provide great inspiration for student writing.

Dr. Westby has several upcoming presentations with PESI that are listed below. Live Online Webcasts of the presentations are available on 2/28/20 and 3/20/20. For more information or to register for these events, visit PESI and type Westby in the search window.

Thursday, February 27, 2020  - PORTLAND, ME
Friday, February 28,   2020     - MANCHESTER, NH
Friday, March 20, 2020           -  DENVER, CO
Thursday, April 30,  2020       - NANUET, NY
Friday, May 1, 2020                 - FORT LEE, NJ
Friday, May 15, 2020               - KING OF PRUSSIA, PA