"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

ReedALOUD: Drawn Together

I recently read Drawn Together, written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat.

In Drawn Together, a young boy and the grandfather who he is visiting are unable to find a way to connect. Language, age, and cultural barriers sit between them. Try as the they might they can't bridge that gap.

The spare text and rich art come together to create a deeply moving story encouraging readers to pause and think and reflect on the small moments on each page
Those small closed hands speak volumes. Their lunches a tangible example of the divide. 
Despite the grandfather's attempts, the divide remains. Frustrated and lonely, the grandson pulls out his markers to draw. The grandfather sees a way they can connect and connect they do. I love this line, "We see each other for the first time."
Bridging language, years and cultures, soon traditional black ink brush strokes are intersecting with lush marker lines. 
I would say that Dan Santat is the master of the great divide, but clearly Minh Le excels as well. This moment is so powerful. When all was going well, that space between them reappears. I wonder what happened. Was it that one of them wanted to say something? It was one of those important teachable moments with students when we could talk about set backs and bumps along the road.
Armed with each other's tools (brush and marker), they once again bridge the gap and their incredible art and storytelling journey results in a bond that needs no words. We readers are happily speechless as well.
There's something special about hearing an author read her or his work. There's a pause or an emphasis that makes me listen and hear what I might have missed when I read the book myself. This is exactly what happened when I heard Minh Lê read Drawn Together. I was touched by the intergeneration story of finding connections and building bridges across time and culture to find that common bond. Hearing Minh Lê read the story reminded me of the universality that can exist in very personal moments. This was his story, yet I thought of my students who, spend time doing just this with their grandparents or older special people in their lives. 

In this book trailer, Dan Santat describes his process for creating the art for the book:
After reading the story, the students talked about having grandparents that speak a language different than we do here at school. The students were invited to share, if they wanted, how they communicated with those grandparents. Some students talked about being bi-lingual, some spoke about using gestures and pictures, and some spoke about beginning to learn their grandparents' language. Other students then shared about grandparents and elder neighbors that didn't understand them because of the generational divide.
Next, the students shared the type of activities or things they do with their grandparents, activities and things that bring them together.
After these conversations, the students had a chance to share again on papers on the tables. They were also encouraged to draw together - to create a story together. I put out sharpies and markers. It was too many students for one collaborative story, but I did see many pieces of art created by smaller groups of students. 
More of their work is below:


  1. Beautiful: The author, the illlustrator, the librarian, the students. xx

    1. Awww....thank you and I agree with you about the author, illustrator and students. :)