Ezra Jack Keats

Website review by
Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Media
Ezra Jack Keats Website Poster Image
Stellar resource warmly shares wonder and delight of Keats.

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The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the simple pleasures of childhood: playing outside in snow, looking for a lost dog, and discovering what the world has to offer. Keats' books explore human themes such as loneliness, loss, and love, and kids can learn empathy from each. Kids living in NYC and now San Francisco are privileged to compete in the bookmaking competition, a fun-sounding creative project. Lesson plans run the gamut from how to make rain, collage techniques, and studying the weather, while read-along videos and games promote comprehension, typing skills, and spatial reasoning. Ezra Jack Keats contains a lovely variety of activities and encapsulates the gentle spirit of his diverse works. 

 

Positive Messages

Keats is among a handful of the greatest children's authors and illustrators to truly capture the wonder of childhood. His message is one of human understanding that cuts across all boundaries.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Although the foundation is primarily philanthropic in nature, there are plentiful links to outside retailers for a whole range of Keats stuff, the royalties of which go right back to the foundation.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this site, created by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, reflects the depth and delight of the author's work in so many ways. You can lead your youngest children to the digital books or simple games and find inspiration in the videos of teachers, parents, and kids reading with appreciation and understanding. You can launch older elementary school-age kids into an author study using tons of helpful resources, and you may even learn a few things you didn't know about childhood as well as about the award-winning author.

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What's it about?

Ezra Jack Keats' official website shows off one of the greatest children's author/illustrator's body of work through multimedia, a comprehensive list of lesson plans, ebooks, curriculum guides, character sketches, a biography, and even games using Keats' artwork, story lines, and characters. The games incorporate animated reproductions of original illustrations by the author accompanied by contemporary jazz music. Kids can guide Peter down a snowy hill to ethereal electronic riffs, practice typing as Peter chases Amy down the street accompanied by a snare drum and piano, and search for differences in Man in the Moon side-by-side scenes. Book-activity pages such as the one for Keats' book A Letter to Amy offer up a story synopsis and historical background on mail service, links to related information, a YouTube video, and a link to a Scholastic-based study unit for pre-K through second grade. Teachers will find tons of material, references, lessons, and resources, as will homeschooling and just plain curious families.

Is it any good?

Any parent with very young children will want to share and experience the absolutely timeless literature of Ezra Jack Keats, and a visit to this official website is a great way to do just that. Even adults who think they know Keats will learn something new from the video readings (he often put cameos of himself into his books, and graffiti in illustrations was often a nod to friends). Although the youngest kids won't access anything but read-aloud videos and games without grown-up guidance, older kids will be able to go much farther, learning details about Keats' artistic training and background.

This site's warm tone will motivate big people to curl up at the end of a long day and share what really counts with their kids: time together with a good book. Unfortunately, the landing page is pretty dated, making it less tempting for tech-savvy visitors to click further; an update would help draw them in to all the great content that's only a few clicks away. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it feels like to move to a new place after reading Maggie and the Pirate, especially if that's something your family has done recently. Do you act differently with new people than with old friends? Is it hard to start over?

  • Point out the Keats shelf at your local library to your kids, attend an Ezra Jack Keats story hour, or create one yourself on a snowy day.

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