Written and illustrated by Hervé Tullet
Translated by Christopher Franceschelli
Published by Chronicle Books, 2011
ISBN # 978-0-8118-7954-5
In an educational climate that emphasizes content standards and testing, Hervé Tullet offers a refreshing and brilliant reminder of what reading can do – arguably what is supposed to do – for kids. Open the deceptively unassuming cover of Press Here and follow the directions to unleash the creative and practically magical power of a reader’s imagination. “Press here,” the book begins, indicating a simple, bold yellow dot on an ordinary white page. What happens next – and throughout the book – is just as entrancing as any iPad, video game, or flashy toy. The dot multiplies. Then, those dots change color. Then, they leap across the page, inflate to gigantic proportions, turn out the lights, and perform numerous other incredible acts as readers continue to follow the words and interact with the book. As in his other books, Tullet presents straightforward text with a gentle, cheerful, and captivating tone. The vibrantly painted dots in primary colors dance throughout the book, highlighting the aesthetic pleasure of simplicity. But the real star of the book is the impalpable power of imagination that effortlessly entices readers of all ages to believe that interacting with words and images on a page can still perform amazing feats.
- The Power of Imagination. Press Here taps into readers’ imagination to make the dots come alive. What other seemingly ordinary objects can our imaginations transform? Give students a range of everyday items – spoons, blocks, key rings, etc. – and tell them that they must use their imagination to make them come alive or to turn them into completely different things. Encourage them to be as creative as possible and work together to come up with ideas. Have them play with, draw, and write about the newly transformed objects and showcase them for their classmates. You may also want to read aloud some of the books or visit some of the art and imagination websites listed in the Further Explorations section below to help spur students’ creativity.
- Interactive Read-Aloud. Press Here lends itself to many ways of being read aloud in class, especially to support students’ kinesthetic learning and embodied engagement with books. One way is to enlarge the pages on a document camera or overhead projector and have students press the dots projected on a screen. Another way is to give each student a card of yellow, red, and blue dots. Each time you read aloud a new direction, have students carry it out on the cards they hold. Still another way is to have students act out the parts of the dots as you read aloud the text.
- Fluency and Prosody. Tullet uses words, phrases, and sentences that speak directly to readers in varying tones. Use shared reading techniques to help students practice their fluency (reading aloud with accuracy and proper speed) and prosody (reading aloud with proper rhythm, intonation, and stress of speech).
Grades 4 and up
- Second Person Narration. Press Here directly addresses the reader through second person point of view. Second person is the least common perspective used to narrate texts, but it is often the most captivating for children. Have students try writing a story or revising an already written one using the second person point of view. Make sure to discuss with them why an author might want to use the second person point of view and what effects it has on audiences. Share other texts written in the second person to deepen their understanding of this literary element, such as Choose You Own Adventure Books or excerpts from Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Desperaux and Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
- Press Here as Mentor Text. Help students brainstorm ideas for their own interactive books. Study how Hervé Tullet uses direct, encouraging language to address readers and simple yet vibrant artwork to capture their attention. There is much room for creativity here, and you might want to share other books by Tullet as examples. When the class finishes constructing their books, celebrate them with a publishing party or have students share them with children in younger grades.
- Evolution of Texts. Explore the forms that a “text” has taken over time. Explore cave paintings, cuneiform tablets, papyrus scrolls, and the medieval codex. Watch the YouTube video listed in the Further Explorations section below about the evolution of books. Read Lane Smith’s It’s a Book, which offers amusing commentary on the state of texts in a digitally driven world. How did each of these forms change the way people shared both stories and information? We still write on walls. We “scroll” through a webpage. What has stayed the same? Conclude your exploration with a picture book app. Considering what Tullet has done with Press Here, where do you believe books are headed?
Hervé Tullet’s website
Press Here book trailer
ABCya.com – free online educational games to inspire creativity and artistry
Imagination Factory – lots of links and ideas for creating art with everyday recyclable objects
ARTSEDGE: The Kennedy Center’s Arts Education Network
The Evolution of the Book
The Caves of Lascaux from Lascaux, France
Cuneiform and “The Epic of Gilgamesh” from The British Museum
Egyptian Papyrus Scroll from The British Museum
Medieval Codex – Images from The Pierpont Morgan Library
Cottin, M. (2008). The black book of colors. Ill. by R. Faria. Toronto, ONT: Groundwood Books.
- An amazing atypical book that makes readers experience colors with their fingers instead of with their eyes.
Hall, M. (2011). Perfect square. New York: Greenwillow Books.
- Follow a perfect square’s adventures as it transforms in shape and size.
Ohrt, K. (2011). The rainbow book. Denver: Andrews McMeel Publishing.
- A clever and vibrant book that explores the relationship between colors and emotions.
Reynolds, P. H. (2003). The dot. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
- Little Vashti believes she can’t draw until her teacher advises her to just make a mark and see what happens.
Saltzberg, B. (2010). Beautiful oops! New York: Workman Publishing.
- This wonderful picture book celebrates turning everyday spills and accidents into imaginative and extraordinary things.
Smith, L. (2010). It’s a book. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
- An amusing picture book with entertaining commentary on the state of books in the digital age.
Stein, D. E. (2010). Interrupting chicken. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
- A charming picture book about the ways children engage with books.
Thomas, J. (2009). Can you make a scary face? New York: Beech Lane Books.
- Another interactive book whose bossy main character will surely delight children.
Willems, M. (2010). We are in a book! New York: Hyperion.
- The sweet and comical duo Elephant and Piggie turn their attention to the child who is reading the book.
Ziefert, H., & Tabackm S. (2011). Wiggle like an octopus. San Francisco, CA: Blue Apple Books.
- Like Press Here, this board book directly asks readers to perform actions to their delight.
About Grace Enriquez
Grace is an associate professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former English Language Arts teacher, reading specialist, and literacy consultant, she teaches and writes about children’s literature, critical literacies, and literacies and embodiment. Grace is co-author of The Reading Turn-Around and co-editor of Literacies, Learning, and the Body.
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