Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Children's Literature Web: Books to Discuss Spirituality and Religion with Kids

I made this children's literature web a few years ago for my own personal use. Now I've realized it would be a good resource to share with others. The web lists gentle, engaging children's books that can be used to help children appreciate their spirituality, as well as learn about the world's religions. It also provides supplementary learning activities: literacy-rich, fun activities that kids can do to enrich and extend their reading of the texts. The web is suitable for use by parents and educators alike.

Please send me email me if you'd like to receive a printable .pdf of the web. The .pdf can be purchased for just US $5.00.

Sub-topics include: 

Spirituality: Celebrating Nature & Humankind
The Nature of God
Spirituality and the Child
Religious Figures/Leaders
Creation Stories
Religious Holidays
Religious Folkore
Religious Symbols and Objects
Religion and Morality


It is not always permissible to explore issues of religion and spirituality with children in educational settings. This web was designed for use in settings where the exploration of such topics is permissible. Issues of religion, spirituality and morality can be sensitive topics and this web is not a value-free resource; it allows for a pluralistic exploration of religion and spirituality and advocates generally for the importance of cultivating the spiritual lives of children. You should consult with your principal, supervisor and parents before using this web and the books herein with your students. Educators are advised to examine the books listed here closely before using them with children.

There are a number of helpful non-denominational resources available to assist you as you explore religion and spirituality with children. Some of these include:

Curriculum of Love: Cultivating the Spiritual Nature of Children (Daleo)
Nurturing the Spirit in Non-Sectarian Classrooms (Wolf)
• Grappling With the Good: Talking About Religion and Morality in Public Schools (Kunzman)
Understanding World Religions in Early Years Practice (Lindon)
Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World’s Religious Traditions (Johnson)
Nurturing a Gentle Heart: Exploring Spirituality with Pre-schoolers (Hobby)
The Spiritual Needs of Children: A Guide for Nurses, Parents and Teachers (Shelly)
• Caring for the Whole Child: A Holistic Approach to Spirituality (Bradford & Bowis)
Children’s Spirituality-Teachers’ Perspectives: Nurturing Children's Spirituality in the Classroom 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Publishing with Heart: An Exciting New Children's Anthology from Reflection Press

Click image to magnify

I've been blogging about my first illustration project, a poem I wrote called "Grannie's Coal Pot" that I'm illustrating to appear in an international anthology of writing and art for children.

I'm happy to be able to share a little more about this anthology. The anthology (title pending) grew out of the dynamic and powerful online course, "The Heart of It: Creating Children's Books That Matter" that I took with The School of the Free Mind earlier this year. It will be published by visionary Indie publisher Reflection Press and promises to be a wonderful and meaningful treasure for sharing with children and with our diverse communities.

All of us contributing to the anthology are graduates of the course and we all have a heart for sharing stories and art with children that support and affirm a conscious, inclusive, socially aware vision of the world. We are about reclaiming and building a heritage of storytelling that respects and values children, multiculturalism, first voices, nature, gender diversity and the magic of the human heart. We are being guided on our Heartful publishing journey by Maya Gonzalez, our course instructor, Editor, and Heartful award-winning author-artist. I can vouch for both the heart and talent of the author-artists whose voices and art will commune on the pages of this book.

Please help us spread the word about this revolutionary anthology (How is it revolutionary? Read this post over on the School of the Free Mind's blog to find out) by sharing the beautiful flyer above.

And in case you're wondering about the "Heart of It" course, it runs again this October and you can find out more information about it and how to register here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Grannie's Coal Pot: Final Drawing Revision and Art/Color Sample

I drew this draft of a coal pot
for a spot illustration

Stage Four: Final Drawing Revision

Things are moving along steadily with 'Grannie's Coal Pot', my very first illustration project. The last time I blogged about this project, I'd just submitted the final drawing to the Artistic Director at Reflection Press.

A week later I got an email requesting that changes be made to that drawing. I also received a mock-up of my double-page spread with the poem on one page and the illustration on the other so I could see how my spread would look as pages of a book.

The changes I was asked to make were minimal and that was a relief. I'm not going to post the revised drawing here on the blog (or the final art either); the final art will be a surprise for people who buy the book.

I shared in my last post how I ended up making changes to the illustration during the process of converting the final thumbnail to the final drawing. I should mention now that when working with a traditional publisher, it's very unlikely that changes between the final thumbnail stage and the final drawing stage would be approved unless they had been discussed beforehand. The point of the thumbnail stage is for all the details to be worked out and finalized. This is what the publisher is counting on.

So during the thumbnail creation stage it's very important to spend a lot of time fully exploring all the options until you settle on your final choice. Since I'm a newbie to illustrating children's books and this particular project grew out of a class environment, my publisher gave me some leeway, but again, the standard procedure is that your final drawing should be the same as the final thumbnail, just with more resolution and detail.

Stage Five: Art/Color Sample

Once the revised final drawing was submitted, it was time to move on to the sample art, also known as the 'color sample'. Illustrating is not a wholly linear process and so I started working on the sample at the same time I was doing the final drawing revision.

The art sample is meant to show the publisher what materials/media you're using and how. I say "how" because there are a million ways to use acrylics and then there is your unique way of using acrylics, which is what the publisher wants to see. So the sample art, along with the final drawing, lets the publisher know what to expect from the final art; it helps the publisher understand the palette (i.e., the range of colors you'll be working with) and the style of your artwork so they can visualize and design the book.

The sample art can be a trial run of the illustration or a part of the illustration. It can be a character study using your medium of choice, or a landscape, or even a detail like a hand. For my sample art I zoned in on a section of the illustration.

Clearly, the sample art stage is very important. You want to take time to really play with the materials you'll be using to illustrate the book. Because this is my first illustration project and I'm not quite ready to send my hand-painting out into the world as yet, I've decided to color my final art digitally and so my sample is colored digitally. I'm only just teaching myself digital illustration and I wish I knew more, but I'm working with what I've got. I'm hoping I can produce cleaner, sharper images when it comes to the final artwork. Believe it or not, I did 13 different versions of this illustration before picking 5 to submit. Here are two of them.

I submitted the art sample today and now I await feedback. The next steps are revisions to the art sample (if required) and then it's on to the final art, yikes!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Happy Feet

I'm experimenting with digital coloring for my current illustration project. Today I drew this simple illustration of a happy girl and colored her in Photoshop. I like her so much I thought I would share. I'm now thinking of doing a line of greeting cards (or series of stories!) with her as the central character.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Fisherboy

I did this illustration a while ago. I watched the wonderful movie Life of Pi based on the fantasy novel by Yann Martel. There is a breathtaking scene where Pi is drifting across the ocean in his boat at sunset. I loved that scene and this kind of reminds me of it.