Art and Literature Come Alive in Beatrix Potter Book Club

Art and literature came together in a special way recently as Lower School art teacher, Mrs. Nancy Gavrish, facilitated a voluntary lunchtime book club for 22 second grade students. This was just one of many book clubs held this year by Lower School enrichment teachers.

In celebration of the 150th birthday of Beatrix Potter, author of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” Mrs. Gavrish chose the book, “Who was Beatrix Potter?” by Sarah Fabiny.  The book is part of a popular biography series offered in the school library.

The students met once a week for three weeks to eat their lunch in Mrs. Gavrish’s room and discuss the book as well as Beatrix Potter’s work. They compared and contrasted Potter’s illustrations with those of other artists, including the illustrators of “Who was Beatrix Potter?” as well as seascapes by Leo Leoni and landscapes by Eric Carle.

The group discussed Potter’s use of watercolor as well as her ability to capture realistic details of Peter and his family in a “fairy tale way,” said Gavrish. They also talked about creating their own fairy tale stories and pondered which humanlike qualities the animals in their stories would possess. Students also discussed how a book’s cover art can affect a student’s desire to read it.

Gavrish’s favorite part of holding the book club was hearing the students’ ideas and thoughts about art and literature. “I am always amazed at how children so young can speak in such a passionate and sophisticated way about someone else’s life.”

The successful book club culminated in a puppet performance of “Peter Rabbit Tales” at the King Center, which was attended by all second grade students.

More student book clubs are definitely in the future for Gavrish, who admitted, “We were all very sad when it ended.”

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