Sunday, July 26, 2015

29th July International Tiger Day

International Tiger Day is held annually to raise public awareness of tiger conservation issues. It is becoming more important each year as the number of tigers are decreasing quite rapidly. Recently I heard the tiger keeper from Australia Zoo interviewed on Conversation Hour on the ABC and I found what he had to say fascinating. It lead to me doing a bit of research and thinking it would be a fun topic to explore with students at school.

The fiction tiger titles are borrowed, but the nonfiction books on tigers (in fact any big cats) are very popular in my library. Whenever we put together a display and include a few cuddly toy tigers the books walk out the door. So having a global celebration of tigers is a good excuse to put together a display this week. What is in our library is here on pinterest.

Do a quick survey to see which is the most popular tiger book in your library. I love The Tiger-Skin Rug  by Gerald Rose. The librarian I share the library with loves Augustus and His Smile  by Catherine Rayner. One of the preschool teachers constantly has The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr on loan to her. One of the Kindergarten teachers has become a fan of The Rat and the Tiger by Keiko Kasza since doing a philosophy PD course and the students have become loyal fans of two newer books Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown and The Sea Tiger by Victoria Turnbull.

The shortlist for The Environment Award for Children's Literature 2015 was announced in July and Our Class Tiger by Aleesah Darlison is on that shortlist in the non-fiction category. See the full shortlist here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

26th July National Tree Day

THERE is Chinese proverb that says: "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.''
With National Tree Day on Sunday and Schools Tree Day on today, it is time to think about planting trees.

The aim of Tree Day is to inspire, educate and recruit Australians to come together to make a positive difference to the environment. Native plants, and usually ones indigenous to the area, are planted to provide food and shelter for wildlife, increase biodiversity and combat habitat loss.

If your school doesn't plant trees there are many other ways to inspire children to think about trees and how important they are. Reading picture books about  real people who have planted trees to save their environment  really inspired a group of year 2 readers at my school. They did a small project on Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental activist who planted thousands trees which was initiated by the group reading picture books about her life and achievements. There are now five wonderful picture books about Wangari:
Wangari's Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter
Seeds of Change by Jen Fullerton Johnson and Sonia Lynn Sadler
Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson
Planting the Trees of Kenya  by Claire A. Nivola
• Wangari Maathai by Franck Prevot and Aurelia Fronty

Another book about an environmental project that involved planting trees is
The Mangrove Tree by Cindy Trumbone and Susan L. Roth

And while we are on the subject of trees and biographies have a look at new book
Luna and Me  by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw which tells the story of activist Julia Butterfly Hill who lived in a tree for two years to save it from being chopped down, and 
The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and Jill McElmurry which tells the story of activist Kate Sessions' greening of San Diego.

There is a multitude of fantastic books about trees and planting them. Below are many others worth finding at the library!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

23rd July Hot Dog Day; Vanilla Ice Cream Day

Hot dogs and ice cream are not necessarily topics we associate with children's books, but even national days such as these can in fact be celebrated by reading wonderful children's books.

Mo Willems has both topics covered by his popular pigeon in The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog  and by Elephant and Piggie in Should I Share My Ice Cream?

Tom Watson has both topics covered in his series about Stick Dog, Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog and Stick Dog Dreams of Ice Cream. These quick-read novels are extremely popular with my able readers in Year 2. They will be very excited to see Book 4 has just arrived.

Then these three ice-cream books just should not be missed by anyone!
Vanilla Ice Cream  by Bob Graham
Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sis
I Scream Ice Cream by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Serge Bloch (just amazing word play to revisit and ponder over often)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

4th July Alice Anniversary

The fourth of July marks the anniversary of the day in 1862 when Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)  and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat up the Isis River with the three young daughters of Henry Liddell, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. The middle daughter was ten year old Alice. During the journey Dodgson told the girls a story that featured a girl named Alice who goes looking for adventure. The next day he started writing the story down.  Several versions and trips later on 26th November, 1864 Dodgson gave a handwritten manuscript to Alice  as a Christmas present. Then in 1865 it was published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with illustrations by John Tenniel, so this year marks its 150 anniversary.

The story has become more popular with age as its fantasy world of peculiar anthropomorphic creatures, its structure and narrative course have undertaken much analysis and literary criticism and have thus its characters and imagery have influenced popular culture and literature. There are hundreds of versions available to children and adults. They range from preschool versions such as the board book by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver, through many of the abridged versions by publishers such as Usborne and Ladybird, picture book versions such as the one by Eric Puybaret,  beautifully illustrated versions by renowned illustrators such as Antony Browne, Emma Chichester Clark, Lizbeth Zwerger, Helen Oxenbury and Robert Ingpen right through to annotated versions such as Elucidating Alice for adults and spoofs such as Fifty Shades of Alice. It has inspired musicals, films, stage productions, sculptures, artworks and gardens.

I have collected all the versions in the library and put together a celebratory display.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

25th June Books Light Up Our World

The school holidays have begun, but my planning for next term has begun too. Next term we will celebrate Book Week in Australia and I am programming for lessons and planning the library displays. The theme is Books Light Up Our World. Initially I thought this was a hard theme to get across to under 8s, but the more I mind mapped and explored 'light' the more tangents I went off on. There were all the picture books that featured moonlight and the sun. There were folktales that featured the sun. There were fairytales such as Aladdin that had lamps. There were all the stories associated with festivals such as Divali, New Year, Hannukah, Easter and the Pascal candle. There were wonderful biographies about people such as Florence Nightingale and her lamp, Farnsworth and the invention of television, Edison and Franklin. There are hundreds of nonfiction possibilities to do with sources of light -  'light', 'fire', 'sun', 'stars' etc.

Our school's motto is 'Let Your Light Shine', so then I went off on all the possibilities to do with this and how students could read books that allowed them to follow up with actual practical acts of kindness, helpfulness or a display of their own talents.

Just where to go and how to keep it contained? While doing the bulk loans for classrooms I removed anything that remotely fitted the theme and ended up with piles and piles of books, some of which hadn't left the library for quite a while. I couldn't believe how many picture books had a 'torch' on the cover and even more with one inside!  (see my Pinterest page) Add to that all the First Discoveries Torchlight books and the new series of Shine-a-Light books by Carron Brown and I was really excited about the possibilities.

One of the picture books that I found was  Wonderful Life by Helen Ward. It had been borrowed only once so I sat and read it to find out why it hadn't been more popular. After all, the illustrations were glorious. This is the story of Snutt, a creature who is desperate to explore all worlds, see new things and travel more than any of his kind. It really is  a story that epitomises the theme! It is about creativity, friendship, the environment and following your dreams. I will certainly be promoting it. The vocabulary is worth discussing. What are 'euphoric florifors', tufters' and 'flewimols'? Illustrations such as this one would make a fantastic See Think Wonder discussion. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

21st June Meerkats

The meerkat toy is the most borrowed toy in the library. I bought it to go with Emily Gravett's Meerkat Mail,  but now Richard Byrne's Millicent and Meer and Jan Latta's Mia the Meerkat are borrowed just as much.

20th June Lemurs

Because skunks (14th June) and sloths (20th October) have their own days on which to celebrate and lemurs and meerkats don't at this stage I plan to share the wonderful picture books available to accompany the cuddly toys available for these two interesting animals. Firstly lemurs - the two most recent have great pictures and are such fun.

Follow Me  by Ellie Sandall
Lemur Dreamer by Courtney Dicmas