TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Monday, October 8, 2012

Author Profile: Lois Ehlert

"Make art with what you have!" This week we’re featuring one of our favorite authors and illustrators: Lois Ehlert. Ehlert is known for her bold cut-paper and multimedia collage picture book illustrations. Growing up, her family was always making things. Her seamstress mother and woodworking father gave her scraps of fabric, wood and other materials and encouraged her to make her own creations.

Ehlert writes primarily for emerging readers, but researches and designs her books in such a way that they can also engage older, more sophisticated audiences. Although the text of her books is minimal and sometimes rhyming to meet the needs of younger readers, she adds detail and depth by labeling parts of her illustrations and providing extensive notes at the end of her books, similar to the work of Steve Jenkins and Robin Page.

Ehlert’s books are perfectly suited to reading aloud. You could easily spend hours exploring her picture books with kids. Don’t be surprised if the kids want to make collages of their own or learn more about birds or leaves or other growing things after reading Ehlert's books. This extensive interview covers her childhood, her late start in book illustration, the process she goes through to create books and much more.

Ehlert may be best known for her books about nature. These books about butterflies, snow, leaves, gardening and various animals leave the reader wanting to go outside and experience nature firsthand. This video provides some insight into her fascination with nature and how her books inspire readers to engage with the natural world. 

To intrigue older readers, focus on her innovative design style. Bold use of color and shapes as well as varying page size and die-cut shapes within the pages make for picture books that are both visually and physically engaging. Use her books Color Zoo and Leaf Man, along with My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall, Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley, and books by Laura Vaccaro Seeger to get the kids thinking creatively about what a book could look like.

If you are reading with a younger crowd, explore her concept books like Planting a Rainbow (colors), Fish Eyes (counting), Eating the Alphabet (ABCs) or Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, which she illustrated. Many of her books also have simple rhyme schemes that will appeal to younger children. Feathers for Lunch, Nuts to You!, and Waiting for Wings rhyme.

Whether the book is about outdoor adventures, house pet antics, metamorphosis or ugli fruit, you can be sure that Lois Ehlert's books will delight and inspire readers to learn more or create something of their own. 

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