WSU student Molly Nelson
Molly Nelson and her vibrant poster

When Molly Nelson was a kid, she liked to read. But unlike some of her classmates in WSU’s teacher education program, Molly didn’t notice the bumpy gold seal imprinted on the front of some of the books she picked up.

Now, the sophomore from Issaquah is keenly aware that the Caldecott Medal designates America’s best picture books. This semester, she read 12 medal winners as part of her Department of Teaching and Learning children’s literature course. In a class assignment, she had to pick one book and create a poster that captured its theme. Her choice was Gerald McDermott’s Arrow to the Sun.

“What I liked about this book was the design was really simple, but the colors were bold,” Molly said of the Pueblo Indian tale. “I did my best to re-create that.”

The future teachers put a lot of time into the assignment. While Clinical Assistant Professor Barbara Ward didn’t grade them on artwork, she was impressed with how attractive the posters turned out.

Students' posters reflect book themes

Barbara, a Pullman faculty member, modeled her “visual literacy project” after one used by Professor Terrell Young at WSU Tri-Cities. Both faculty members are former elementary school teachers. Both are researchers who are active in national and international literacy organizations. Both report that their students enjoy the literacy project, which teaches them how to evaluate books.

“I believe that if we foster a love of reading and an appreciation of quality literature in our preservice teachers, they will fall in love with reading again and feel confident in selecting books to use in their classrooms,” said Barbara. “I want my students to leave WSU ready to teach in a literature-based reading program.”