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Look, Lira!

Lira and her caregiver explore the city on the way to see her family.

Photo of Cathy Venette
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Lira is awakened by her parent/caregiver and after getting dressed, they head out the door, across the city, naming things they know as they travel to her grandparent's home for her birthday party.

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

I envision a book that has an illustration on each page that matches the items described in the text underneath it (which has a white background to give the colored text & icons more contrast). The child/adult can simply read the story together at first & as the child grows, they can match objects in the picture w/the words/icons below it. For instance, when the text says "look at the slide", the caregiver/child can match the word/icon "slide" in the text with the slide in the picture above it.

Share your suggested book title

Look, Lira!

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

I have earned a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and have taught in the field for more than 2 decades. I used to print personalized "stories" for my students to help them learn the concepts they were challenged by. I found using icons and colored text helped them, and their family members who sometimes had limited experience with English or reading stories, to learn new vocabulary or concepts. I use rhyme and rhythm to increase predictability in the story which has also been proven to make reading easier and more meaningful to a variety of readers. I've used Tier 1 vocabulary and specific strategies like using red colored font for the word "red" to help readers decode words they might not know. First, the reader learns what one word is through the text/icon, next they try to find the item in the picture above the text, & finally, the child generalizes the knowledge to their own environment (find the object in their neighborhood) and connect it to what they've read.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I have never had the pleasure of visiting Philadelphia, so I drew on my 8 years experience of doing Early Childhood Special Education home visits in the city of Minneapolis to create an urban tale. Minneapolis is a city with amazing diversity in culture, language, and socio-economic status.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

As the readers travel through the city with Lira and her caregiver, they will be exposed to concepts such as colors and numbers as well as common sights one would see in a city. Lira & her parent/caregiver walk and use public transportation while she "looks" for objects people would see every day in an urban environment. By using colored text and picture icons, someone with limited English could easily read the book. By connecting the icons and colored text to real life objects, it will help people learning to read (babies & Eng lang learners) learn sight words. *I used Bing to search for images/icons to use as an example, but ideally the illustrator would create images to match the text.*

Location: Country

I live in the USA.

Location: State or Department


Location: City

I live in Little Canada, which is just a few miles North of St. Paul.

Tell us more about you / your team

I am an Early Childhood Special Education teacher serving families who have children (infant to age 6) with a disability. Through home visits, I have spent almost a decade meeting families in their homes, of all varieties, and helping them learn. I have worked with interpreters (I can speak toddler French, Spanish and Somali), Social Workers, and other service providers, to teach families how to help their child learn, and learn from the families in turn. Early Intervention is my passion and by participating in this "learning exchange" with families, not only have I had the privilege of touching thousands of families but my life has been enriched as well. By teaching foundational skills early, we start children off on a more successful path for the rest of their lives.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

I'm not an illustrator, but I've always been drawn to illustrations like this one; bright colors, only a few people/objects per page, that depict a realistic neighborhood. In my manuscript, I imagine the illustrations would take up the top 3/4ths of the page and the text would be on the bottom 1/4th against a white background.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • SCBWI tweet with a link to the challenge.

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists

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