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The Joy of Art...The Museum by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

It was the last week of the first term and I had wound up the first part of our art theme.

Plans for the next term are underway, books being read and sessions being drawn up.

This last week was planned around a ‘Literacy Day’ event which I have been participating in for many years. Two sessions into the week and I got a response I rarely get....”LAME, the story was so lame.”

I hadn't really connected with the choices this year and ordinarily no matter how much a book is praised, if I do not connect with it, I will never take it to the children. This is my unwritten golden rule. When you do not connect with a book, it will reflect in the way you present it to your children.

So maybe it was ME, or maybe it was the kinds of books we had been reading across the term that made the event book choice pale in comparison. I was a bit out of sorts because I have my lesson plans for the entire week ready by the weekend, an here we were on Tuesday and I had to choose and plan for the new selection.

I remembered a book I had tucked away...The Museum by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. This was actually the perfect choice to recap the books we read this term.

The book begins:

“When I see a work of art, something happens in my heart!”

A little girl walks around an art museum, she is moved by the art work she sees.

Each piece of art evokes something inside of her: silliness, curiosity, joy, the blues and even confusion.

When confronted with an empty white canvas, the little girl wonders what it is supposed to mean. She then realises that the blank canvas is hers to create and express herself—in any way she wants.

The children were able to identify with the art in the book, with the artists we had read about and this book kickstarted a wonderful sharing about which artist's work, from those we had read about, they liked best.

The blank canvas was an invitation to my students to express themselves and they loved having the freedom to do whatever they want.

I revelled in the fact that not a single child asked me what to draw.

I have often noticed children...most often it will be children who have been over stimulated at home by well meaning parents, who are unable to think for themselves. If they are told what to do, they will do so with gusto. But when the choice is left to them they most often stare at the paper unable to decide without suggestions.

So, I couldn’t have been prouder that everyone of my children drew and expressed themselves in different ways. One even wrote on the paper, while announcing that he preferred expressing himself in word, and that was just perfect.

With his trademark exuberant illustrations, Peter H. Reynolds, captures the many emotions one experiences through art, and our individual creative process.

My older students who are familiar with the stories from Greek Mythology, were thrilled with the etymology of the word museum, which comes from the nine Muses, the classical Greek goddesses of inspiration.

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