Read It. Move It. Share It.
This is the third post in my collaboration with independent dance educator Maria Hanley from Maria's Movers. Each month I recommend a picture book for Maria to incorporate into her creative movement classes, and then we both share our experiences with the book. You can read Maria's post for today here.
Maria hadn't read the book herself, but she asked me a while back if I had heard of it. (She knew about it from a friend of hers, who had apparently been using it in her own creative movement classes.) Even though I have loved Dr. Seuss books for as long as I can remember, I had to admit that I wasn't familiar with this one, so I rushed off to the library to find a copy. And then I "recommended" it right back to Maria because it was so delightful.
My Many Colored Days is not your typical Dr. Seuss book. Yes, it is written in rhyme. And yes, it has a wonderfully playful quality to it, just like the other Dr. Seuss books so many of us love, like Hop on Pop and Green Eggs and Ham. But what is so striking about this book is the fact that it is illustrated by someone--or in this case "someones"--other than Dr. Seuss.
Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher have created the most wonderfully bright and abstract paintings to go along with the book's simple text, which explores different moods in the context of color. There is essentially no white space in the book, so the colors just burst off the pages. The illustrations also take the text one step further, transforming readers from human beings into different animals as they experience the variety of emotions represented in the book.
So why recommend this book for a creative movement class? Well, first of all, it includes a lot of actual movement words--like kick, flap, drag, and jump--that children can have fun exploring. It's also full of words that inspire movement--like slow, low, and busy. And, the book gives children plenty of fuel for interpreting different emotions through both movement and sound.
On Bright Red Days how good it feels
to be a horse and kick my heels.
Some days, of course, feel sort of Brown.
Then I feel slow and low, low down.
Then come my Black Days. Mad. And loud.
I howl. I growl at every cloud.
From the little experience I've had teaching creative movement for three- and four-year-olds (and the lots of experience I've had dealing with my own kids), I know it can be quite difficult to calm them down, especially after so much stimulation. So, luckily, the book also contains some opportunities for stillness.
Green Days. Deep deep in the sea.
Cool and quiet fish. That's me.
Gray Day...Everything is gray.
I watch. But nothing moves today.
It's been a long and busy week for me, with lots of late nights, so I'm pretty worn out. The week is winding down, and all I feel like doing is sitting back and relaxing. I think I'm having a Gray Day. How about you? What color day are you having?
Don't forget to check out Maria's Movers to see how Maria used this book in her creative movement classes. You can also read today's Poetry Friday roundup at A Year of Reading. Happy Friday!
UPDATE: After writing this post, I found out from elementary school dance teacher Rachel Frasier that you can purchase a kit that includes a My Many Colored Days board book, scarves that coordinate with the colors in the book, and a CD with musical selections for the different moods. A ready-made creative movement class. Thanks, Rachel!