Saturday, September 17, 2016

13th September Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day took on even more significance this year because it marked the day that he would have turned 100 years old. The new movie of The BFG has just been released so the children I teach have a renewed interest in Dahl's books. But, I have noticed, that in recent years less and less of my Year 2 students are reading his books independently than used to be the case. While I still have many Year 2 students who are good readers and can probably read most things if they choose to, they are not choosing to read anything that requires reading stamina on their part. They are turned off by the amount of text, the compactness of text and the lack of coloured pictures. They cannot loose themselves for over half an hour of interrupted reading. There are too many other things vying for their time. They are too busy. Such as shame I think. I yearn for the readers I had ten years ago before devices took up so much of their time.

Because of this, earlier in the year I made a decision to replace all of the library's Dahl books with the new, larger format editions that have coloured pictures. I put them on display and made a point of showing them to the children and there has been a resurgence in borrowing of Dahl books. So much so that when I decided to put together a birthday display last week there was only two of his books in the library, the two books of verse and a biography, so not enough to bother! Inadvertently, we celebrated Roald Dahl Day!

Friday, September 9, 2016

7th September Threatened Species Day

"Threatened Species Day is a national day held each year on 7 September to commemorate the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger (also known as the thylacine) at Hobart Zoo in 1936. It is a time to reflect on what has happened in the past and how we can protect our threatened species in the future. A day to celebrate our success stories and ongoing threatened species recovery work."
While there are some books about thylacines I had kindergarten on this day and wanted to read something slightly easier. I had recently purchased Penelope the Mountain Pygmy Possum, which is a story about a pygmy possum in the Snowy Mountains, and these possums are endangered. I knew that the idea of the tunnel under the road would appeal to Kindergarten. They ended up comparing this tunnel with a possum tunnel we have nearby on the Wakehurst Parkway that goes over the road. The information page at the back of the book brought us back to the real issue of pygmy possums and why they are endangered. Many of the children are skiers and spend time at Thredbo so they made some very pertinent connections with the text.  Then the  children wanted to borrow other books about pygmy possums which we don't have, but many borrowed books about Tasmanian devils and bilbies, both of which do also need saving. The conversation came back to the issue of the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect too and Zoos Victoria, so this term's reading has made for some good connections, both text-to-text and text-to-world. 


Friday, September 2, 2016

1st September Post Book Week

Now that Book Week is over and I have the chance to reflect on past weeks and teaching I want to share some successes. Initially I looked at the shortlisted books and wasn't truly inspired. Many of the Picture Books were too sophisticated for my 5 to 8 year olds and some of the Early Childhood list lacked enough 'meat' to warrant more than a  reading. I planned library lessons tentatively and thought I would try some titles out and go from there. I read Jane Jolly's One Step at a Time to Year 2 and was amazed at how much empathy they displayed and how much more meaning it had to them once they could see that it could be a true story. (See video of Mosha, the elephant with a prosthetic leg).  Mr Huff  was a success with all three grades, Kindergarten to Year 2 and it was made even more successful by having Anna Walker read the story herself as she does on Story Box Library.

The 'sleeper' was Phasmid by Rohan Cleave, the story of the endangered Lord Howe Island stick insect which was shortlisted for the Eve Pownall Award. I read it to Year 2 and they were full of questions and wanted to learn more. First we read the book and didn't even get to the end in one lesson. So in the next lesson we watched this video of a nymph hatching and finished the book. In pairs students chatted about what should happen next for the stick insects and made a list of questions they still had. I couldn't get Lord Howe Island phasmids, but I got two Goliath stick insects for the library and all the students, not just Year 2 are now into keeping a watchful eye on Sticky and Twiggy as they have named them. Yesterday I found two preschoolers with books open looking for pictures of Sticky. They found three pictures of a goliath stick insect and were telling their mothers in great detail about them. I haven't read any stick insect books to my preschool classes. They have just observed them in their jar and become fascinated. On the table with the stick insects we put out any information and story books that we had about stick insects for perusal and borrowing. We were surprised how many we had. If you are looking for some this is what we had.

* Stick Insects  by Valerie Bodden
* Stick Insects by Chris Macro
* Sneaky Stick Insects by Rebecca Johnson
Weird Insects by Michael Worek
* Stanley Sticks Out by Peter Rigby and Craig Smith
* Good Trick Walking Stick by Sheri M.Bestor
* Invisible Me by Melinda Shoen
* Walkingsticks  by Fran Howard
* Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer


Sunday, August 28, 2016

22nd - 26th August Book Week

Well another Book Week in Australia is over. This year's theme Australia: Story Country proved to be a good one and each class at my school celebrated with an Australian book that they read and  used as inspiration for discussions and response activities that highlighted places in Australia, either in the form of travel to places mentioned or to the home of authors, illustrators or famous Australians.
Each class did a one page 'postcard' to display for the whole school population and visitors to read read in the corridor. It was a huge success. On Grandparents Day on Friday the corridor was full of children showing adults their work and discussing the books displayed along side. See images below that when joined together made a long Rainbow Serpent winding its way to the library. Not all classes work is here as some had photos or identified specific children. The teachers chose the books to either fit with a unit of enquiry, because it was a favourite book or author or because the students showed interest in it. I was so impressed with the range and what each class did.

There are four classes per grade. The books chosen were:

* My Place  by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins
* Silly Birds  by Gregg Dreise
* Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (new paperback single story editions) by May Gibbs and Mark McLeod
* Koala Lou  by Mem Fox and Pamela Lofts
Year 1
* Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester
* Bright Star  by Gary Crew and Anne Spudvilas
* Where the Forest Meets the Sea  by Jeannie Baker
* Tiny: A Little Dog on a Big Adventure  by Jennifer Castles and Steve Otton
Year 2
* Enora and the Black Crane  by Arone Raymond Meeks
* Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox and Nicholas Wilson (US) and Lorraine Ellis (Aus)
* Home  by Narelle Oliver
* You and Me Murrawee by Kerri Hashmi and Felicity Marshall

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

8th August International Cat Day

I haven't written about any form of Cat Day before because where do I start and finish when talking about children's books about cats, but today I had a thought. This week one of my Year 2 students was reading the picture book biography about Wanda Gag and that gave me reason to pull Millions of Cats  off the shelf to show her. What a good place to start a post about cat books!  This book was first published in 1928 and although illustrated in black and white, young students do still enjoy the repeating refrain and imagining that number of cats. Compare this with a very new 2016 cat' picture book, Brendan Wenzel's They All Saw a Cat which also has a repeating refrain, a clear, crisp cat, but looks very closely at perspective, point of view and subjectivity.

"The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears and paws ...and the child saw A CAT, and the dog saw A CAT, and the fox saw A CAT. Yes, they all saw the cat.' In simple, rhythmic prose and ingeniously stylised pictures, Brendan Wenzel takes young readers on a walk alongside a cat."

And in between these two there has been a myriad of cat books and series of books with a cat as the main character.

Some favourites:
The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr
Diary of a Killer Cat by Anne Fine
Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton
Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires
Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin and James Dean
Squishy McFluff the Invisible Cat by Pip Jones
Ballet Cat by Bob Shea

And don't forget poetry!
The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear
Cats Sleep Anywhere  by Eleanor Farjeon
Macavity; Mr Mistoffelees; Skimbleshanks by T.S Eliot and Arthur Robins

Sunday, August 7, 2016

7th August Olympic Games and South America

Well the Games have started and the students at school have begun to get keener about borrowing books both about the games and individual sports. Year 2 are studying Greek Myths at the moment so they are busy making links between the Ancient Olympics and the Modern Olympics so I thought I'd make some links in the library for Kindergarten and Year 1 with Brazil so that even more resources had an airing.

What better place to start on Brazil and South America in general than to look at Laurie Krebs' amazing travelogue books. As she herself says, I wrote them because...

"In creating my picture books, I have combined my love of children's literature with my love of traveling to fascinating places. I hope through my series with Barefoot Books to introduce young readers to people and cultures that might be unfamiliar to them."  

I am going to start with We're Roaming in the Rainforest and a map of South America so that we can locate pertinent places.

Then we can read other books, from either Laurie Krebs or ones set in South America such as those on the Pinterest page.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

23rd July 1926

The 23rd July is Patricia Coombs' birthday and in an earlier blog on her birthday I was bemoaning the fact that her Dorrie stories were no longer in print, but now that she has turned 90 there are four titles back in print in lovely little hardbacks. The print is still small, the illustrations as they were in the originals but for my fussy readers they look new, the paper is white not yellowed and they feel good to hold. Now to try them out on a new audience. I wonder if the publishers will do any more titles?