On September 15, over a million children and adults around the globe will celebrate International Dot Day – a grassroots “creativity & courage” movement, which has generated support around the globe, from participants in all 50 U.S. states, on all seven continents, in 75 countries, and even on the International Space Station. Inspired by Boston-area author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds’ classic “storybook for all ages” The Dot, International Dot Day inspires young and old to embrace the power of personal creativity to change the world.
“It’s so exciting to see The Dot trigger this kind of worldwide movement – especially in schools where creativity is too often squeezed out of the schedule,” said Peter H. Reynolds, creative education champion and New York Times #1 best-selling author/illustrator of books about creativity and learning, including The North Star, The Museum, and his Creatrilogy series (The Dot, Ish and Sky Color). “Teachers know that it’s a great way to start off the school year and invite students to experience the incredible power of creativity — to discover, to express themselves, to problem-solve, to invent, to change the world in positive ways.”
Published by Candlewick Press, The Dot is the story of a perceptive and caring teacher who reaches a reluctant student who thinks she can’t draw by encouraging her to trust in her own abilities and to be brave enough to “just make a mark and see where it takes you.” Exploring the themes of creativity, bravery and self-expression, The Dot has been translated into many languages, including Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Hebrew, Spanish and even Braille. The animated film version, produced by Reynolds’ digital storytelling and educational media development firm FableVision and co-producer Scholastic, earned the Carnegie Medal of Excellence.
International Dot Day began four years ago when Iowa teacher Terry Shay celebrated The Dot’s “birthday” with his class on September 15, because the original publishing date of The Dot is September 15, 2003. Shay, a public school teacher for over two decades, notes: “In The Dot, the teacher’s invitation to be creative becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage for the student, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing. Every great teacher works for those transformational moments.”
International Dot Day has garnered attention in schools, libraries and communities around the globe. Official registrations to participate in the event reached 17,500 in 2011 — and in 2012 soared past the 850,000 mark. Dot Day celebrations now take many forms; from art workshops where students make dots and sign them to animating dot-inspired art/stories on the computer, from weeklong school-wide celebrations to a yearlong theme for a school district. Spearheaded by elementary school teacher librarian Matthew Winner in Ellicott City, MD, there is also an official Skype in the Classroom project (https://education.skype.com/projects/5776-international-dot-day-2013) underway to “connect the dots” between classrooms around the globe using Skype’s live streaming platform.
Earlier this year, a copy of The Dot book was even rocketed into space by Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, serving as Commander aboard the International Space Station. Reynolds explains, “Commander Hadfield snapped a few photos of The Dot book floating in the cupola of the space station. On the last day of his recent Boston visit, he handed me my book, which he had signed, noting that this copy…had made 2,500 trips around the big blue dot — planet Earth.”
This well-traveled copy of The Dot has recently returned to Earth, and will be on display at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA on the actual Dot Day date of Sunday, September 15. Reynolds is being honored with a daylong, museum-wide celebration. Reynolds will be presenting at 1 p.m., followed by a book signing of his many books that celebrate creativity. Additional activities include story readings, screenings of the animated film versions of Reynolds' books The Dot, Ish and Sky Color, and hands-on dot-making in the art studio.
The Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning and Creativity (ReynoldsTLC.org), Reynolds’ non-profit educational R&D and teacher retreat center, has taken on the program support for the worldwide Dot Day event. The organization has built and manages The Dot Club website (www.TheDotClub.org), which provides free registration for the event, along with a free downloadable Dot Day Educator’s Handbook, multi-lingual posters and an official participation certificate. Educational organizations around the globe have embraced the Dot Day movement, including National Art Education Association, Association of International Schools in Africa, Japan Art Education Association, Arts | Learning, Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation, Computer-Using Educators (CUE), National Writing Project and Reading Is Fundamental. International Dot Day partners include FableVision Studios, FableVision Learning, Candlewick Press, Discovery Educator Network, Angela Maiers and Choose2Matter, NYSCATE, colAR - Puteko Ltd., MassCUE, Kids Talk Radio Los Angeles, as well as Skype in the Classroom, and the million people around the world making their mark on September 15.
• Date: Official day is September 15-ish — teachers usually start at the beginning of September and celebrate right through October
• Website: http://www.thedotclub.org/dotday
• Twitter: @DotClubConnect, #DotDay
• Skype in the Classroom Project: https://education.skype.com/projects/5776-international-dot-day-2013
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InternationalDotDay