All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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A video interview with

Jan Greenberg & Sandra Jordan

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Bio

Sandra Jordan has loved art since childhood. Her mother was trained as an artist and Jordan remembers a house brimming with drawing supplies. And she was always a reader, — digging into books on a wide range of topics, but especially fascinated by historical fiction. She landed a job in children's publishing right out of college ("People were paid to read?"). It also was in publishing that she met Jan Greenberg, after she found her first novel in the Farrar, Straus & Giroux slush pile and signed it up. Jordan lives on the West Side of New York City in an apartment her family calls the Book Midden.

Jan Greenberg was always reading, and observing. Her keen memory and recall of detail has served her well as a writer. Greenberg says "I could reach back into my memories and use them for characters and situations in my books." Like her writing partner, she immerses herself in research for each new project — filling her office with books, interviews, drawings, photographs and music. Greenberg lives in St. Louis with her husband and two poodles, Henri and Thiebaud.

In their first book together, The Painter's Eye: Learning to Look at Contemporary American Art, Greenberg and Jordan describe the basic elements of visual composition through text, images and interviews with artists. In American Eye: Eleven Artists of the Twentieth Century, Greenberg and Jordan share the work and life stories of major American artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Romare Beardon, Jackson Pollock, and Georgia O'Keeffe.

Their tenth book, Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, began with a trip to the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in Long Island City to see an exhibit of Noguchi's stage sets. The famed sculptor did 37 set designs for dance and theater — including his set for the Martha Graham ballet Appalachian Spring. In this picture book, they explore the vibrant collaboration between Noguchi (sculpture), Graham (dance) and Aaron Copeland (music).

In all of their books, they seek to understand the artists as people — to help young readers understand the inspiration and context of the artists' creative work.

Selected Books

from Jan Greenberg & Sandra Jordan


The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius

Age Level: 9-12

George Ohr was a talented potter whose patience paid off — quite literally — for his heirs. Now better known than when he lived, George Ohr's work is now highly valued and prized for its unique glazes and shapes.

Buy The Mad Potter:  George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius


The Painter's Eye: Learning to Look at Contemporary American Art

Age Level: Teen

Interviews with artists provide insight into their work while building an appreciation for it. Rich language is used to describe its impact on viewers.

Buy The Painter's Eye:  Learning to Look at Contemporary American Art


Runaway Girl: The Artist Louise Bourgeois

Age Level: Teen

Interviews with a well-known female sculptor provide insight into her work and the times in which she created them. Liberal photographs, many in color, and where the originals can be viewed enhance this sophisticated look.

Buy Runaway Girl:  The Artist Louise Bourgeois


Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist

Age Level: Teen

While debunking myths that have grown around the well-known artist, the authors provide insight and information about his complex character and the times in which he worked. A way to more fully appreciate Van Gogh's work is also an integral part.

Buy Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist


Andy Warhol: Prince of Pop

Age Level: 9-12

The Campbell's Soup Cans. The Marilyns. The Electric Chairs. The Flowers. The work created by Andy Warhol elevated everyday images to art, ensuring Warhol a fame that has far outlasted the 15 minutes he predicted for everyone else. His very name is synonymous with the 1960s American art movement known as Pop. Warhol's rise, from poverty to wealth, from obscurity to status as a Pop icon, is an absorbing tale--one in which the American dream of fame and fortune is played out in all of its success and its excess. No artist of the late 20th century took the pulse of his time--and ours--better than Andy Warhol.

Buy Andy Warhol: Prince of Pop


Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Through the Gates and Beyond

Age Level: 9-12

In 1981 two artists -- Christo and Jeanne-Claude -- proposed an installation in New York's Central Park that would span twenty-three miles. They received a 185-page response from the Parks Department that could have been summed up in one single word: "no." But they persisted. This biography of contemporary artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude is a story of the power of collaboration, and vision, and of the creation of the spectacular Gates and other renowned artworks. Christo and Jeanne-Claude is a 2003 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Buy Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Through the Gates and Beyond