Itty & Bitty's World

If you are a teacher or educator, interested in having Nancy K. Carpenter visit your school, please contact her regarding times, bookings, and fees.

Nancy K. Carpenter, a graduate of Mount Holyoke College (B.A.in English, 1974) and Brown University (MAT, 1977) is a poet and former high school teacher. She now travels to various pre-schools and elementary schools to share her love of poetry, reading, and horses with students ranging from pre-school to Grade 4, and beyond (poetry workshops and the history of children and miniature horses in the coal mining industry have been shared with high school students).

To date she has visited over a dozen schools, from Denton, TX to East Greenbush, NY, and presented to as many as 3 groups of 100 students each, for 45 minute/one hour per group. Her visits are tailored to the requests of each school. A preliminary meeting with teachers, librarians and administrators often helps determine the focus of each visit.

Itty & Bitty: Two Miniature Horses, Itty & Bitty: Friends on the Farm, and Itty & Bitty: On the Road are geared toward a pre-K through 3rd grade reading level, but there are many areas around the book that can extend the range of the audience.

The simplest presentation, for the youngest readers, is often just a reading of the book to a group, followed by a page by page retelling of the details of each poem and its illustration. Nancy brings along a variety of miniature horse items (everything from halters and bits to an actual mini tooth and a mini-hay bag). A lively Q & A usually ensues. Such groups tend to be small and intimate, with Nancy sitting in a reading circle. For ease of viewing and discussion, if a larger group is attending, the book can be projected onto a screen from a CD.

For K-3rd graders, a Powerpoint Presentation is available, that includes actual pages from the book, a section on “putting the book together,” and a pictorial “history of children laborers & miniature horses in the coal mining industry”. Areas that can be presented and discussed in conjunction with the Itty Bitty series:

POETRY: reading and fun; the sheer pleasure of light verse and rhyme.

WRITING POETRY: Aspects of writing the poems comprising the book; what inspired me; challenges in writing; the art of crafting short poems; keeping the reader in mind; exercises for young writers.

PUTTING THE BOOK TOGETHER: From Texas to New York City to Hong Kong -- Nancy K. Carpenter’s journey from the first poem to the final books -- her inspiration; finding and working with illustrators; getting a publisher; the work of putting a book together (cover, inside flap copy, paper choice, binding, eliciting blurbs) -- the entire process.

HISTORY OF MINIATURE HORSES AND CHILD LABOR IN COAL MINES: The history of the miniature horse breed is directly tied to the history of child labor in coal mines in England, Scotland, Wales, and the US in the 1800’s to early 1900’s. A section of the Powerpoint Presentation is dedicated to this history. Etchings and photos of early conditions in the mines are shown, accompanied by actual artifacts from the coal industry.

HORSES/MINIATURE HORSES: As the text is read, the illustrations discussed, and various horses in general and minis in particular emerges. This is necessary to explain much of what is done in the poetry text, but is also educational. Itty and Bitty are also Pintos, so as a writer I had to research the breed in order to make sure my facts were accurate. Spots abound as I work the Pinto motif into the poems, sometimes as little jokes, and sometimes through the illustrations. Children often find a great affinity with these wonderful equines, especially when they learn about how they helped children in the past, and continue to do so now as therapy animals.

MINIATURE HORSES AS CERTIFIED THERAPY/SERVICE ANIMALS: A short section of a presentation can include the new designation of miniature horses as certified service animals. Unlike dogs, who are most commonly used to help the blind and disabled, miniature horses live much longer, and provide wonderful companionship to those in need. Itty and Bitty enjoy introducing children to “Panda” and “Cuddles”, two of the first minis used as therapy horses.

Find teacher resources for using the Itty & Bitty Book Series in the classroom.

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