Tuesday, October 10, 2017

10th October Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day is held every year on the second Tuesday of October. This is not her birthday. That is on 10th December, too close to school holidays and Christmas to celebrate then. Today is a day to celebrate inspirational women in science, technology, maths and engineering, in the hope that by shining a light on such people and increasing their visibility, they can inspire future generations. 

There is so much written about Ada's personal life. She has been the subject of novels, plays and now a large number of picture book biographies.This means that a large number of young children get to know about her 'mathematical genius' and she has become quite a mentor for young girls who enjoy STEM subjects.If you are looking to add books to your library for children as young as eight, these are perfect.

Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Hallmark & April Chu 

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley & Jessie Hartland
and look out for these which will be here early in the new year

Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers  by Tanya Lee Stone & Marjorie Priceman

Ada Lovelace by Isabel  &   (part of the Little People Big Dreams series)

And there is a new series of bridging novels just available about an eight year old, third grade  student with a knack for maths, science and solving mysteries with technology.  Written by Emily Ada Lace, On the Case is book 1 in the series.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

6th October Badger Day

National Badger Day is celebrated on the 6th October annually. I find badgers beguiling. On a recent trip to Britain I was desperate to see one and when I asked where to see one this well-meaning woman said to me, "Oh dear, the only place you'll see one is dead on the side of the road." I continued my road trip and didn't give this comment too much more thought until the last day when about a kilometre from the airport as we were about to return our hire car I saw a badger, dead on the side of the road. In Australia we are quite used to 'roadkill' so my reaction I thought was completely out of character. I was a blubbering mess. 

Probably the first time I thought about badgers, as we don't have them in Australia, was when reading Wind in the Willows. Then when I started teaching Susan Varley's Badger's Parting Gifts was in every classroom and it made me sad. I wanted badger books that were happier and found Nick Butterworth's Percy the Park Keeper series where forest animals appeared so appealing. 

Now there are many more books to choose from in my library and I could put together a lovely display to celebrate today, starting with a plush badger bought at IKEA of all places. Jane Chapman's badgers always look friendly and fun in her illustrations for Karma Wilson's Bear stories. Her badger  in Paul Bright's  Grumpy Badger's Christmas even makes me smile.

The children in my library enjoy three 'badger' series:
• Suzanne  Chiew and Caroline Pedler's  Badger and the Great Storm, Badger and the Great Rescue, and Badger and the Great Journey

• The Mr Badger and Mrs Fox series by Brigitte Luciani  and Eve Tharlet. These five picture books are popular with my children who like the graphic novel format but are looking for shorter stories with coloured pictures.

• And of course there is Leigh Hobbs'  Mr Badger books which have dedicated Year 1 and 2 boy followers.

There are other stand alone picture books, but those above  will get you started on  a good display.

4th October Taco Day

Tacos are the Mexican equivalent of a sandwich and they are very popular with children so it is only fitting that there is a day to celebrate their existence. The two Dragons Love Tacos books by Adam Rubin together with the toy dragon are popular in my library and are often off visiting a family. Read them tomorrow and enjoy a taco filled with your favourite filling.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

16th September International Red Panda Day

Red Panda Day celebrates that smaller panda that is found in the Himalayas. It looks cute, but it features in children's books far less than the bigger black and white panda. In my library there is only one fiction book, Red Panda's Candy Apples and it is written by a New Zealand author Ruth Paul. It is the sequel to Hedgehog's Magic Tricks in which the red panda is a characterA new fiction book, Amy the Red Panda is Writing the Best Story in the World by Colleen Venable will be published in November. The blurb on websites says

An exuberant, hilarious guessing game about storytelling, creativity, friendship, and patience-with the most adorable animal menagerie you'll find anywhere! Amy the Red Panda starts to tell her best friend Mervin the Sloth a story when-uh-oh-a rainstorm of letters pours down! When it stops, Amy reads a sentence in the sky: Amy the Red Panda is writing the best story in the world... Marvin is there to give Amy just the right inspiration. A companion to Mervin the Sloth Is About to Do the Best Thing in the World, this funny-bone-tickling picture book brings back a cast of zany, irresistible animal friends and an inventive, playful format."

There are more nonfiction titles. Among them, these three:


Saturday, September 2, 2017

2nd September World Beard Day

World Beard Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in September and it is not something I have ever given much thought to, but when I read that it was occurring, I thought I should. I am the daughter of a man with a beard, the wife of a man with a beard and the mother of a son who looks like a bushranger, his beard is so bushy. My brother has a beard too, so it seems as if I can't get away from thinking it is the norm for a male to have a beard.

Then I thought I'd look to see what the library had that I could put out on display and guess what there was more than I thought there would be. I immediately thought of Margaret Wild and Margaret Power's Creatures in the Beard which makes the students giggle because there is a robin , a mouse and a baby possum living in Nicholas's father's beard. This book was borrowed last week as it was part of a Fathers' Day display of picture books. As well there were

 • The Lumberjack's Beard by Duncan Beedie. It is a more recent version of this book, in that the lumberjack saves the animals in the trees by keeping them in his beard. It will be easier to find. It has a green message as well.

My Dad Has a Beard  by Kellen Roggenbuck

My Sister has a Big Black Beard and other quirky verse by Duncan Ball and Kerry Millard and

Blackbeard the Pirate by Mick Gowar (one of the Hopscotch readers)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

31st August Book Week 2017

When the Picture Book of the Year shortlist came out I read the books and wondered what I was going to do with my Year 2 classes this year as I thought many of the list would need too much scaffolding to share with them successfully. I read The Patchwork Bike and could see a myriad of possibilities and it reminded me of of many other bicycle books that I had read that were also set in Africa. I then thought about the theme Escape to Everywhere  and thought about whether we could 'escape on a bicycle in Africa'. Mind mapping all these books and possibilities I put together a six week (one lesson a week) study which looked at the role of bicycles in Africa and how it differs from here. We started with looking at the role of bicycles in their own lives, where they come from, what they are used for, how much they cost, how many did each family have and who actually had one and could ride one. We recorded this anecdotally. Then we read these books, located the places on a map and talked at length about the main characters, the places and the bikes in the stories:

Emmanuel's Dream which is a biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a disabled boy who grew up in West Ghana, overcame great difficulties and went on to inspire others. (See Emmanuel talking about his life here.)

My Rows and Piles of Coins is the story of a Saruni who helps his mother carry everything to market in Tanzania each week and realises that a bicycle would change his and his mothers life for the better so he saves his money in order to buy one. He has a lot of coins but learns that it is still nowhere near enough to buy a bike.

The Red Bicycle has a bicycle as the main character.It starts life in  i in North America, being owned and ridden by a young boy.  His bicycle is donated  to an organisation that ships bicycles to Africa and is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family's sorghum field and to the market and then is repurposes as an ambulance.(If you have All Aboard For the Bobo Road, it is also set in Burkina Faso and shows the role of bikes well in the illustrations.)

In A Cloud of Dust tells the story of Anna who has a long walk to and  from school in Tanzania until the school is visited by a bicycle library. At this point I asked the children whether there was any aspect of Emmanuel, Saruni, Alisetta or Anna's life that they thought they would enjoy or like to try. The discussion was amazing. Many students thought these children had a degree of freedom and independence that they did not, some wanted to try working for money and some of the girls commented on liking to live 'without technology'.

Then we read The Patchwork Bike and watched both Maxine Beneba Clark read it on Youtube and it read on Story Box Library where we could see the illustrations in great detail because of their size on the smartboard. The students were fascinated by the way the illustrations were done on cardboard from a box. We talked about what we could use to make a bike. The students designed and drew up plans. I had time to read one class Galimoto too and this class made bikes from cardboard and wire. I was impressed with their  perseverance and their readiness to help each other.

Overall the Year 2 students and I have had a very interesting time in library lessons this term. We have used maps, turned the library into a makerspace to design and make, read good literature, put ourselves in others' shoes, watched film clips and been surprised at just what is happening charity and bike-wise.

Monday, August 28, 2017

28th August Book Week 2017

Well, Book Week 2017 has come and gone. The Early Childhood list of books didn't particularly inspire me to do great things with the books and children, but we did read them. As predicted Chip by Kylie Howarth was the big winner with the children in Kindergarten and Year 1. The library now has masses of seagulls flying 'aerobatically' around the library. It was interesting the connections the children made between the books. The biggest connection was one I hadn't predicted or planned for... and it was that three of the titles The Snow Wombat, Go Home Cheeky Animals  and Gary all had a map in them. Maps are in the new Geography syllabus and Kindergarten were right into following the trail of Gary and the wombat. They were very keen to discuss whether Gary and the wombat took the quickest routes home and if they didn't, why not? When I shared Snow Wombat I also shared Penelope the Pygmy Possum as it too is set in the high country, and the children were keen to draw a map to show where Penelope's partner went to get back to her.

The reading of the road signs in The Snow Wombat  also set the children off on a tangent about what they meant and Kindergarten who had studied Australian animals last term wanted to revisit Sebastian Lives in a Hat  and Wilhelmina Wombat, two books about orphaned wombats. 

The thing that surprised me most sharing the shortlisted books was how little my city-living 5 to 7 year olds knew about living on a farm, living a long way from a city or what it meant to live with a drought. These experiences are just so far removed from any experiences they have had. They are well-travelled but not within Australia. They loved the 'mud' page in All I Want for Christmas is Rain and given more time I think doing an art activity that involved painting with mud or a collage  like those in Nannie Loves would have been worthwhile.

Other events, such as  tabloid reading activities that all the teachers, class and specialists got involved in were well-received  and the children were quick to tell me where they had been and what was read. The teachers all wrote a Book Week message to go with their chosen book and then the books were displayed in the library for loan.

Oh well, now for Book Week 2018 and its Early Childhood Shortlist. Let's hope there's more to work with and a little more depth. It tends to sell the children it is supposed to be for, very short.