Sunday, May 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Dan Yaccarino - May 20

Happy Birthday Dan Yaccarino - May 20

Just over two weeks ago, National Screen Free Week came to an end, but its message carries on.  Dan Yaccarino, Chris Raschka, Tad Hills, and Bob Staake inspired many families and children to unplug and experience life without a screen. Dan Yaccarino said, "I grew up in a world where computers were as big as refrigerators and not for the average person. I created images and got my hands dirty, did research by going to the library and played games in my backyard.  I think we should all have these experiences, but in order to do that, we need to unplug once in a while." (Random Acts of Reading).

I have to be honest.  As much as I love what Screen Free Week is all about, my family did not participate to the fullest extent.  We talked about it, my kids choose to do other things besides turn on the iPad on many occasions, but we still watched our nightly TV show before bed (and I did not stay off Facebook!). Overall, I feel pretty good about how my family interacts with technology.  However, school is coming to an end very shortly and my wife and I are already making plans to keep our family busy.  We do not want our kids to fall into a routine early in the summer of relying on screens for entertainment.

One of the ways we will be staying busy is by participating in the variety of programs offered by our local libraries. I am so thankful to all the different libraries where my family has been able to attend memorable activities and story times over the years.  For a long time I have wanted to share my family's passion for celebrating children's author and illustrator birthdays as a library program. This week I was able to do just that at the Aurora Memorial Library in Aurora, Ohio.

The initial discussions for the event started many months ago when Sandy Tucker, the children's librarian, and I started talking about possible birthdays to celebrate.  We narrowed down the names and she decided that the perfect author-illustrator to celebrate would be Dan Yaccarino.  I couldn't have agreed more and immediately started thinking about all the books I could read.
We decided to feature the following books for our program: Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly by Carolyn Parkhurst and Dan Yaccarino, Boy+Bot by Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino, and The Birthday Fish written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. 
Last year to celebrate Dan Yaccarino's birthday my family made Raspberry-Marshmallow-Peanut Butter Waffles after reading Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly. I decided that reading this book would be a fun way to start the program.  I printed a recipe for families to take home so their children could be Pirate cooks just like Henry and Elliebelly. (Click here to download and print the recipe.)
My boys and I designed a construction paper craft that would give the children a chance to make their own Bot from Boy + Bot.
I labeled Goldfish Cracker packages that said, "Today I celebrated Dan Yaccarino's Birthday. We read The Birthday Fish.  Thank you for coming to the Aurora Memorial Library."  I thought these would be a nice treat for the children to take home with them after the program.
Sandy suggested that I plan an activity for the children to do while we waited for everyone to arrive.  I came up with a pretend play activity based upon Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and Dan Yaccarino.  Using a utility tub as the trash collector, and cardboard cut outs for the cab, I painted our very own Trashy Town (my kids have referred to garbage trucks as "trashy towns" ever since we first read this book years ago).  
I painted cottage cheese containers to look like trash cans from all the places Mr. Gilly picks up trash.
These two little mice appear throughout Mr. Gilly's work day.
Using duct tape, I made fish to match the story,
and cut banana peels out of fabric.  Both of these items show up frequently in the illustrations of the book.
At the last minute, I made a few pizzas out of felt.  Mr. Gilly collects trash from a pizza parlor.
To finish it off, I added small plastic containers, newspaper ads, and various other small "trashy" items too.  Then, I let my youngest daughter try it out.  She let me know that it was ready for the big day!
On the day of the program, my boys set out their Boy+Bot crafts.
Sandy provided a fishing game with octopuses (Oswalds) and goldfish.
My boys set up the Trashy Town activity too.
For the older kids (the program was for ages 2-5), the library staff collected paper towel tubes and card board boxes for the children to make their own robots.  Dan Yaccarino loves robots!
Sandy had many books by Dan Yaccarino available to be checked out!
My boys made robots as examples to show the other children right before everyone started to arrive.
It was showtime! My first time reading at a library program.  I was so excited that I put on a pirate hat to read Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly!
A lovely young girl makes her Bot with her mom!
A young boy and his mom make a foil robot!
Group photo!
The program would have been a success after reading the three books and making the robots. However, Sandy really wanted to end the program with a special treat like birthday cake.  I emailed Dan Yaccarino and asked him if he would share a birthday memory or tradition.  This was his response:

Ever since I met my wife 20 years ago, she's made me fresh strawberry shortcake for my birthday.  Strawberries are my favorite fruit and my birthday falls right at the beginning of the season.  She used to make just enough for the two of us, but now she makes enough for four because we have 2 children now, who also love strawberries!

After hearing this we had the perfect way to end our birthday party for Dan Yaccarino:
Thank you to Sandy and the Aurora Memorial Library for allowing my family and I to share our love of children's books with you.  It was so much fun!  Thank you Dan Yaccarino for taking the time to share your birthday tradition.  We hope you have a wonderful birthday! Enjoy those strawberries!

Finally, thank you to my mom, for coming down to help me out during the program!  We really enjoyed spending the day with you!

Check out Dan Yaccarino's latest book, DOUG UNPLUGGED:

Here is the trailer:

1. Dan Yaccarino's Website + BLOG
2. Dan Yaccarino's YouTube Channel
3. Follow Dan Yaccarino on Facebook
5. Biography - NCCIL
6. Interview with Janna Longfellow - Part 1Part 2Part 3
7. Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly Trailer - YouTube
8. Backyardigans Website - Nick Jr.
9. Oswald Website - Nick Jr.
10. Willa's Wild Life - Qubo
11. Video Interview with DreamJam World - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (Reads LAWN TO LAWN), Part 4 (Reads EVERY FRIDAY), Part 5 (Reads UNLOVEABLE), Part 6, Part 7
12. Dan Yaccarino "SHOW AND TELL" with Katie Davis - YouTube
13. Dan Yaccarino and Ame Dyckman interview each other - Mr. Schu
14. New NPR interview with Dan Yaccarino (Talking Screen Free Week) - Dan's Blog
15. Happy Birthday Author Birthday Celebration 2012
16. Screen Free Week Video - Huffington Post

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