reading lois ehlert‘s (2014) the scraps book: notes from a colorful life (Simon & Schuster) took me back to my childhood. in my room with purple carpet, i would draw and write and make things. like ehlert, i also worked with my dad’s tools to make woodcrafts. in all honesty, i just put up a new craft and art desk so that i can once again have a permanent place to create.
as she lets readers into her creative process, ehlert makes a much-needed statement about the importance of creativity, something all too needed in this educational context that has seen a decrease in funding for art programs. what i love about this book is ehlert’s ability to share her excitement and wonder about creating. the book itself – with it colorful assortment of mixed media – is a model of her book’s main message: the awesomeness of leading a colorful and creative life. though the book is 2D, there are several pages (e.g. the table page) that almost have a physicality to them. also interspersed throughout the text are illustrations and artwork from her large collection of children’s books. as such, this book is a visual biography, a scrapbook of her artistic endeavors.
the strength of ehlert’s book is not what it does but what it inspires. parents and teachers should not stop at reading the scraps book. they should create a literary and artistic environment that encourages kids to make their own scraps book. tell me what artistic activities the scraps book inspired in your classroom or at home in the comments below.