Yesterday I had the most extraordinary opportunity…
As I was planning for the creation of our own version of Storyline Online here at Lemmer Elementary I sought out several favorite authors recommended by staff. I was seeking (copyright) permission to film our fabulous staff reading one of their books aloud; videos would be shared on this blog with students, staff, parents, and the community etc. In his response, Mr. Eric Litwin had asked to “meet” with me to chat more about early literacy, my experiences etc. I was honored - and very excited to talk about literacy with someone that is as interested as I am!
I knew over the holiday break that I would have time to learn more about Mr. Eric Litwin’s approach to writing books, his passions, his theories. What I didn’t know... is that we have so many shared interests and passions!
Our conversation highlighted our shared understanding of the importance of music and movement in literacy. We talked about literacy trends, research, music, our own personal teaching experiences, practices, goals, and upcoming opportunities. It was truly one of the most significant professional and personal conversations I have ever had. I was just as elated to share with him my “knowledge” as he was eager to share his future endeavors. As the conversation progressed I was truly encompassed by his passion and commitment to early literacy and the integration of music and movement. He shared with me the true depth of his books - the underlying layers - multiple meanings of each; he is absolutely brilliant.
Eric Litwin is a singer, writer, storyteller and performer who incorporates memorable rhythmic text and strategically weaves in interactive language, movement, and prediction opportunities. Readers become quickly captivated by powerful rhyme and repeated text sequences while each experience significantly contributes to children’s emerging literacy skills, language development, and cognitive processes through movement.
He is the author of the first four Pete the Cat Picture Books - These four books have sold over 6.5 million copies, were #1 New York Times Bestsellers, translated into 8 languages! www.ericlitwin.com
What is being said about the new series:
Baker, who said that the acquisition of The Nuts series is the biggest deal she’s negotiated, in terms of number of books, in her decade at LBYR, praised Litwin’s “ability to translate his musicality into picture books. His is a rare talent to be able to combine knowledge of the book form, knowledge of the read-aloud experience, and storytelling expertise.” (PW)
This will be Litwin’s first foray into early readers, and he said he’s excited about creating “musical” books for that age level. “I always have beginning readers in mind when I write my books, because I want children to feel empowered as readers,” he explained. “I’ve received many e-mails, and often get approached by teachers and parents, telling me about children who are not eager readers who can recite my books cover to cover with joy. Those are the greatest stories to hear, and I attribute it to the power of music.” (PW)
Moreso, Eric Litwin’s books and music have a beautiful methodological approach; each piece of his work contributes to the underpinnings of early literacy: multi-sensory integration, auditory discrimination (through pitch variation, expressive language, and phonological awareness), oral language, phonics - as well as active engagement.
Furthermore, Rae Pica (NAEYC, 2010) noted that “combining rhythmic movement with speech and song gives young children an opportunity to further develop their minds. In particular, this combination affects the areas of inner speech and impulse control, which contribute to language development, self-management, and social skills” (Coulter 1995, 22).
It is also recommended to “give children opportunities to listen to the rhythm of language and to actively participate in physical expressions of its rhythm. For example, tapping to the rhythm of poems and rhymes develops temporal awareness…that creates an awareness of the rhythm of literary works and helps children “internalize the beat when they are being read to” (2001, 44).
I am sincerely thankful for the opportunity to have met such an amazing person - I look forward to future opportunities to collaborate with Eric Litwin - he is truly inspirational.
Eric Litwin’s Website http://www.ericlitwin.com/
Eric Litwin Goes 'Nuts' in New Series - Publisher’s Weekly
TeachingBooks.net - Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes Book Reading Complete audiobook narrated by Eric Litwin
Effects of a music programme on kindergartners' phonological awareness skills 1 International Journal of Music Education February 1, 2009 27: 37-47
McEwing, H.E. (2011). Music, movement, and early literacy: A best practices primer for “Gotta move!”. Children & Libraries: The Journal Of The Association For Library Service To Children, 9(2), 29-35.
Kimball, K., & O’Connor, L. (2010). Engaging auditory modalities through the use of music in information literacy instruction. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 49(4), 316-319.
Gina Pepin, Ed.D.
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