Gyo Fujikawa wrote and illustrated some of my favorite books from childhood, and I remember mastering her name like other children master “Tyrannosaurus Rex” or “triceratops”.
Gyo Fujikawa. Gyo Fujikawa.
I loved not only her work but I loved how her name rolled off of my tongue. “’Let’s Eat’”, I’d read. “By Gyo Fujikawa.” I’d straighten my back and lift my chin and breathe deeply. And even before I started the book, I’d felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest. I. Could. Read.
Simple books like “Sleepy Time,” “Let’s Eat,” and “Let’s Play” were my favorites; sturdy books with few words, but with illustrations that told stories well beyond what they were intended. Small, detailed, sweet illustrations that allowed me to dive into the pages, play dress-up with the children, run through fields with the children, try chopsticks with the children, or sleep in hammocks with the children.
These books were the perfect combination of simple words and intriguing illustrations that I needed to really open up the world of reading and imaginative play for me. Though the text in these books doesn’t necessarily tell riveting or engaging stories, Fujikawa gave me a starting point. I could feel confident in my early reading and I could imagine myself playing follow-the-leader in line with the children on the pages, my feathery pink boa trailing behind me.
As a writer for Scholastic Parent’s Raise a Reader blog, I hope to help parents navigate this exciting—and important—road of literacy in a fun, supportive, and natural way. Having been a high school English teacher and now being a Reading Specialist, I know first hand how important it is for parents to help build a solid foundation for literacy learning for their children. My background and experience have given me a backpack full of really cool, really easy ways that parents can bring that learning home for their children in as little as 10 minutes each day.
For almost five years, I have shared how I’ve created a “Lifestyle of Learning” for my three kids (ages 9, 7, and 5) on my blog, teachmama.com. I write about how we try to sneak a little learning into everyday experiences, and I let parents know that if I can do it, anyone can do it. Realizing there was a need for all parents to share the cool things they’re doing with their children, I built a forum called ‘we teach’, at weteachgroup.com. There, thousands of parents, teachers, and caregivers share ideas, learn from each other, and grow to be the best teachers they can be for their children each and every day.
I look forward to connecting with you, sharing with you, and learning with you. It’s going to be an exciting journey as we help all our readers find their own, personal Gyo Fujikawa.