Friday, October 28, 2011

30th October Grandparents Day

Grandparents have always played a valuable role in our society by offering care, love and guidance to their children and grandchildren.

On Sunday 30 October 2011, the NSW Government will officially recognise this contribution with the inaugural Grandparents Day. Join us in celebrating the important role grandparents play in our community.

At school we have Grandparents Day in September and the students invite their grandparents to school for a concert and to look in their classrooms. And while they are there many grandparents donate a book to the library in their grandchild's name, so I too am very grateful to grandparents.

There's a myriad of books out there about how special grandparents are, that it is hard to decide what to highlight. Perhaps I should only recommend Australian ones!

Three newer ones by Rosemary Mastnak make being a grandchild seem like fun:
* Dancing with Grandma
* Cooking with Grandma
* Adventures with Grandpa
Two for very young children by Anna Walker
* I Love My Grandpa
* I Love my Grandma
Two by Margaret Wild
* Our Granny illustrated by Julie Vivas
* Piglet and Granny illustrated by Ron Brooks
A Bob Graham
* Grandad's Magic
A Gretel Killeen
* What'll We Get For Grandma? and
* Over the Hill and Around the Bend with Granny and Bert (and Me) by Helen Lunn

Monday, October 24, 2011

24th October International School Library Day

School teacher librarians need to shout out loud at every possibility. We need to make ourselves so indispensable. To quote the Statement on School Libraries in Australia

The school library is a vital teaching and learning environment in the school community.

Having access to a well resourced school library and the services of a fully trained and qualified teacher librarian is the right of every student in an Australian school.

I am very fortunate to teach at a school that is committed to libraries and in fact has three to cater for students from preschool to Yr 12 and IB, an Early Childhood, a Junior School and a Senior School one, each catering to different bodies of students and having very different focuses. But I do feel for colleagues who need to fight for their funds and their status in the school they work at. In the time I have been in this job the way school libraries are funded and staffed has changed greatly. There is a perception that the move away from books and towards technology requires less staff and different staff. Not so, it is still a big and multifaceted job and more than ever needs commitment from governments and funding bodies.

Something that has surprised me over the last year is the number of picture books that have been published extolling the virtues of the book and /or libraries, so they are not forgotten by all. As well as Lane Smith's It's a Book and It's a Little Book there has been, probably among others:

Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson
Homer the Library Cat by Reeve Lindbergh
Book Speak! Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas
Dinosaur vs the Library by Bob Shea
Library Lily by Gillian Shields and Francesca Chessa

Saturday, October 22, 2011

23rd October iPod Day

In 2001,the very first iPod was unveiled, and then went on sale on November 10th of the same year for $399.00 USD. iPod Day commemorates this launch, and recognises just how big a contribution the iPod has made to the accessibility and portability of music. To celebrate this day you must see the dolphin page in A Filth of Starlings. This amazing book by Patrick George illustrates collective nouns in a very novel manner and here is a pod of dolphins wearing iPods. The whole book is bright, clever, different and laden with teaching possibilities. It has a companion as well A Drove of Bullocks and together they warrant serious browsing!

Friday, October 21, 2011

21st October Count Your Buttons Day

When I was a child my mother had a jar full of buttons that she used when she made us dresses, waggas (what she called bed quilts), jumpers etc. She collected them. She even cut them off worn out clothes. Then when it was a rainy day and we were inside we would pull out the bottle and sort them, by colour, by size, by texture, make patterns with them, sew them on to things and count them! It was a fun activity. I can't imagine the children I teach, being interested in counting buttons too often, but recently when we decorated cardboard birds as a follow up activity to Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot (Anna Brandford & Sarah Davis) a large number of children chose to decorate theirs with coloured buttons of varying sizes that I had put out with the other collage materials. And I was surprised to see some choose to give a red button the pride of place on their bird ... no doubt as a result of the story where Violet finds a red button in the dirt at the Saturday markets.

While investigating this day further I learned that there is also World Button Day on 16th November, so I thought that I better think some more about picture books with buttons as a focus. A recent purchase, Button Boy by Rebecca Young and Sue deGennaro is about a boy called Banjo who collects buttons and takes them home to his grandmother who then sews them onto his favourite jumper. He is an endearing character and this story of friendship is about much more than collecting buttons.

Another book that would fit with this theme is Button Up!: Wrinkled Rhymes by Alice Schertle and Petra Mathers. This collection of poems is about clothes so buttons feature in some, but in particular the one that the anthology is named for. The interest here lies in the fact that the articles of clothing have been anthropomorphised and the poems are told from the clothing's point of view.

Moomin and the Birthday Button was the first of a new set of picture books about the Moomins, fictional characters of Tove Jansson which was released to coincide with the Moomins' 65th anniversary. It would also make a good starting point for a study of buttons.

There is also a book in Michael Dahl's 'Know Your Numbers' series called Bunches of Buttons which is about counting in tens. If you have a bottle of buttons this could make a fun maths activity with prep classes.

There, five books to get you started on buttons! And, I haven't even mentioned Corduroy by Don Freeman and none of them are craft books!

Monday, October 17, 2011

17th October National Pasta Day

I don't think we have a Pasta Day in Australia but what a good excuse to get out all the great kids cookbooks and cook up a feast. I love Ready, Steady Spaghetti by Lucy Broadhurst and then you can work your way through all the pasta recipes in the back of Everyone Brings Noodles by Norah Dooley. And while you are cooking and eating you can have fun reading from this list:
Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola. Who can resist the concept of a magic pasta pot?
More Spaghetti, I Say by Rita Golden Gelman
Basghetti Spaghetti by Susanne Vettiger
Spaghetti for Suzy by Peter Coplans
The Spaghetti Tangle by Alexander McCall Smith
Pino and the Signora's Pasta by Janet Pedersen
Make sure you do it on Wednesday because of
Wednesday is Spaghetti Day by Maryann Cocca-Leffler!

Friday, October 14, 2011

15th October Katherine Ayres (1947)

Katherine Ayres is an American author of novels, picture books and poetry. In my library we only know her because of Up, Down, and Around which is a fun picture book about growing vegetables illustrated by Nadine Bernard Wescott. It not only is a good book for any unit of work on growing, vegetables or gardens, it also provides for plenty of study of prepositions. I need to explore more of Katherine's books.

14th October World Egg Day

The International Egg Commission has proclaimed the second Friday in October as World Egg Day. World Egg Day has been celebrated since 1996. According to scientists, eggs are full of nutrients, including health-building vitamins and minerals. Japan holds the lead in egg consumption. Around 16.3 million layer hens are farmed to produce Australia’s eggs. While it’s good news that demand for more humanely produced eggs is growing, with 1.1 million hens raised in barns and 4.1 million hens now raised on free range farms, World Egg Day is a time to reflect on the vast majority of hens still confined in cages – in unacceptable farming conditions.

Do you like your eggs scrambled, poached, sunny-side up or with soldiers? Have fun reading about eggs, laying, producing, incubating, eating, breaking, painting whatever verbs you want to list with the children and of course you need to start with Humpty Dumpty, the silliest egg of all.

14th October Lois Lenski (1893 - 1974) e e cummings (1894 - 1962) Miriam Cohen (1926) Elisa Kleven

Lois Lenski was an American author illustrator who won the Newbery medal for her novel Strawberry Girl in 1946, but she also wrote and illustrated many picture books. The ones about Mr Small are still available and of interest to young children interested in trains, firemen, policemen and the like. She also wrote poetry and worked tirelessly for the disadvantaged. She setup the Lois Lenski Covey Foundation which aims to advance literacy and foster a love of reading among underserved and at-risk children and youth. The foundation provides grants to public libraries, school libraries, and non-profit agencies serving disadvantaged populations. It has been in operation for more than forty years.

e e cummings or Edward Estlin Cummings was an American poet who was the second-most read poet after Robert Frost. He wrote for adults, but many of his poems have become popular with children. If and The Tree are two that have done this. The Tree has been published several times in picture book format. My library has the version illustrated by Mary Claire Smith, but Chris Raschka and others have also done it. Cummings experimented with form, punctuation, spelling and syntax even going as far as abandoning punctuation often. That is why his name is always written in lowercase and without fullstops.

Miriam Cohen is also American. She is the author of many picture books for very young children including a series called First Class Friends, but in my library her two classics about friendship, Will I Have a Friend? and Best Friends are well used by Kindergarten classes.

I wrote about Elisa Kleven last year and I haven't found out much more. I still do not know in which year she was born.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

12th October National Ride to Work Day

NSW Bike Week was held from 18th to 25th September and now today we have Ride to Work Day, neither of which have a direct impact at school, but they do promote the importance of good health and reducing our carbon footprint, so they are things that could be picked up as discussion starters with children. The Ride to Work website proudly states that 'over one hundred and fifty thousand Australian workers are expected to join the commuter revolution and ride to work.' I rode my bike to school every day during primary school and the school had rows and rows of bike racks. Granted it was in a flat country town and another era but it was an extremely enjo
yable and sociable way to get to school. Now I swear at the bike riders who are riding their bike slowly and seemingly obliviously in the middle of the transit lane as I drive to school along a very busy commuter route. How times change.

There is a new book in the shops at the moment, simply called The Bicycle which would make a good follow up to any bike discussion you were having with children. It is a celebration of the bicycle in illustration put together by Colin Thompson as a result of a trip to Cambodia with Save the Children Fund. He writes about how this wonderful book came to be, here on the Readings website. A wide range of wonderful children's book illustrators, fifteen in total have contributed, including Quentin Blake and Shaun Tan and a favourite of mine, Freya Blackwood.

Then if the children are inspired by this book and the reasons behind it, Kate Petty's book for Oxfam, Bicycles will allow children to see the role bikes do play in developing countries.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

9th October Johanna Hurwitz (1937)

Johanna Hurwitz is an American author of novels suitable for fluent readers who do not want a very long book, that is most of my good Year 1 and 2 readers. I bought Mostly Monty and it was a success so I sent for the two sequels. One of them arrived today! I went onto the web to find out more about Johanna Hurwitz and found that today was her birthday. What a coincidence. Monty (aka Montgomery Gerald Morris) is a six year old asthmatic who has trouble with friends and other school concerns like many Year 1 students, but he has a talent for reading so he is perfect for my good readers in Year 1! He is also good for children who struggle with being different because of illness. So look for all three books about Monty and now I need to explore some of her other series.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

5th October Balloons Around the World Day

Today is Balloons Around the World Day! The first rubber balloons were invented in 1824. Professor Michael Faraday used them for experiments with hydrogen at the Royal Institution in London. Today, millions of balloons are manufactured daily in a number of different locations around the world. Balloons feature in many children's books and these picture books are in my library and well-worth a look:
Balloonia by Audrey Wood. This would be my all-time favourite, not because of the illustrations, but because of the idea that it explains to children where balloons go when they let them go ... off to Balloonia and this is a perfect explanation for the age group that I teach.
The Blue Balloon by Mick Inkpen. This is the original Kipper story!
You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Weitzman and Robin Preiss-Glasser. Like Balloonia this textless book is also novel in its idea.
The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gillman. This story about Princess Leora has good themes.
A Balloon for Grandad by Nigel Gray and Jane Ray. Some may feel that this story is farfetched when they see where Sam's errant balloon travels, but the illustrations are beautiful and exotic and there is plenty to discuss.
Cat Balloon by Palo Morgan is a story told in verse of one cat's perseverance while the other animals laze around.
The Yellow Balloon by Charlotte Dematons, was originally published in the Netherlands, is textless and is a bit like a Where's Wally? type puzzle book because there is so much happening on every page and so much to talk about as the reader follows the yellow balloon acrosss the pages.
The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse. This classic, set in Paris tells the story of a small boy and his best friend, a red balloon.
The Purple Balloon by Chris Raschka. This is a very special book and not one you would put out as part of a 'balloon' display as this is a serious book about death. It is crafted for the terminally ill or grieving child. There is a section in the book explaining how to use it and what is the significance of the balloon.