Holly Valentine | CATCH a Spark

2021 Year in Review

The holidays mark the perfect time of year to celebrate using children’s literature to spark creativity. We’ve spent the last couple weeks compiling our 2021 books into one document. And do you know what? It was hard to not smile as we remembered reading each and every one of them. In fact, we think it say a lot says a lot for a book that a year later, just seeing the cover can bring the book right back to us and inspire us all over again in ways to use them with our students.

In Iceland, there is an amazing tradition known as Jolabokaflod, or “Christmas Book Flood.” People give books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. And let’s be honest. Is there any better image than a flood of books? (The correct answer is no.)

No matter the celebrations in your family and community, there is no denying the simple pleasure of curling up with a cozy blanket, a favorite warm beverage and a book to escape in. The best ones pull you in and inspire you somehow. And that’s what we have aimed to do with all of our Sparks over the past year. From the stories of artists, to illustrators that make words come alive, to the simplest of characters who will resonate long after the pages of the book close, all of these books have one thing in common – they spark creativity and a reflection of yourself.

The Perfect Gift

Books are a gift from the heart. Gifts from the authors and illustrators. Gifts to yourself and your students or children that can be shared again and again, with different insights coming after each reading.

Book, like the arts, are treasures. Find one to share with someone today. Continue to catch their creative sparks. We will too and look forward to sharing more in 2022. Download the complete set of CATCH a Spark resources below.


About the Author

Holly Valentine is the Director of Curriculum and Assessment for the Institute for Arts Integration and Steam. Prior to joining the Institute, Holly worked as an Arts Integration and Classroom Teacher for 20 years in a suburb of Rochester, NY. She is a certified Arts Integration Specialist and has served as an Arts Standards Writer for the New York State Education Department. Holly has been a recipient of the NYC Broadway League's Apple Award for her work in Arts Education. She also serves as the Director of Education for the Rochester Broadway Theatre League, where she has created nationally recognized programs and develops standards-based curriculum for touring Broadway shows in order to bring the theatre to classrooms and classrooms to the theatre. Holly holds both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Psychology as well as a Masters degree in Education from Nazareth College in Rochester, NY,  where she currently lives.