Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

Vermont based author and illustrator, Jim Arnosky, talked to students and parents about some of this work during an after school event at NewBrook Elementary School in Newfane as part of a grant from the Children's Literacy Foundation.

NEWFANE — Author and illustrator Jim Arnosky tries to see if he can turn his “pure experience” from the outdoors into literature.

“They are all created that way,” he said. “I don’t manipulate facts in my books.”

Arnosky visited NewBrook Elementary School on Wednesday. The school received a grant from the Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF) for the program in which the Ryegate-based author and illustrator spoke with children about the joys of reading and exploring nature.

After the presentation, each child could choose two new books to keep. Students at NewBrook, Townshend and Jamaica elementary schools participated as did library directors from the Newfane and Townshend libraries. The schools are part of the West River Education District.

Fiona Chevalier, librarian at NewBrook, called CLiF a “great, great organization,” as its events seek to “bring books to life” by introducing the people who write them to children.

Arnosky is the author and illustrator of more than 100 books and the illustrator of more than 40 books.

“I make books about wild animals and wild places for young people,” he said. “That’s what I do. That’s all I do.”

Support our journalism. Subscribe today. →

Arnosky and his wife Deanna left Philadelphia for a cabin in the mountains of Pennsylvania before moving to Vermont about 50 years ago. He said he “never looked back.”

Arnosky recounted turning down many assignments because he was “very popular” as an illustrator. He would get regular work at Ranger Rick magazine.

“If it wasn’t about nature, I didn’t do it,” he said. “It’s been a long journey but it’s been wonderful.”

He’s written about animals, fishing, boating and things he’s learned from being out in the wild. He and Deanna travel all over for research.

For instance, they went to the Florida Everglades to learn about crocodiles. Students looked at illustrations inspired by the trip.

Arnosky uses a journal to take note of what he sees in the outdoors. He encouraged students to keep journals, which he said will make them read and think more.

A tune Arnosky sang to the students is about a bear he had come across, after the animal was standing less than 13 feet away from him. He also performed one called “The Crocodile Song.”

CLiF says reading aloud to children is “a great way to build a strong relationship.”

“The most important thing adults can do to help prepare children for success in school is to read aloud with them,” states an informational sheet from the organization. “When children listen to a book, they build listening skills, language skills, vocabulary, memory, imagination, attention span, positive behavior patterns, and a positive attitude toward themselves and others.”


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us.
We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.