In Australia the theme for Book Week this year is Champions Read, probably partly because of its close proximity to the Olympic Games. As I only teach very young children from 3 to 8 years old, this theme didn't strike me as being that exciting and I wasn't all that enthusiastic, but the more I have thought about it and the wider I am able to make the definition of 'champion' the better I feel about it. I have been putting together a reading list of picture book biographies for teachers and my Year 2 Book Club group and have decided to spread them out over several blog entries. I plan to look at Champions of Science; Champions of the Environment; Champions of Art; Champions of Literature and others as well as Champions of Sport.
For me a champion is:
• someone who surpasses all rivals,
• someone who commits an act and is worthy of positive recognition for such an act,
• someone who vigorously supports a cause.
To start with Science Champions:
Mary Anning (1799 - 1847) fossil collector
As a young girl in Lyme Regis, England she collected fossils along the shoreline. She is believed to have been the first to find the bones of an Ichthyosaurus. There are two picture books that tell her story:
* The Fossil Girl by Catherine Brighton, and
* Stone Girl Bone Girl by Laurence Anholt who also lives in Lyme Regis.
Eratosthenes - (276 BC - 194BC)
Greek philosopher and scientist who compiled the first geography book and accurately measured the globe's circumference. This book tells his story:
* The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky
Galileo (1564 - 1642) astronomer
* Starry Messenger by Peter Sis
* I, Galileo by Bonnie Christensen
John Tebbutt (1834 - 1916) Australian astronomer
* Bright Star by Gary Crew and Anne Spudvilas. This book tells the story of Alicia whose life is influence by John Tebbutt.
* Reaching For the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
Charles Darwin - naturalist
There are a large number of picture books about Darwin's life, but these three are in my library and offer the opportunity for a thorough examination of his work and life with wonderful illustrations.
* What Mr Darwin Saw by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom
* One Beetle Too Many by Kathryn Lasky
* The Tree of Life by Peter Sis
The students who are interested in Darwin will also like this biography about the geneticist, Mendel.
* Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe
And lastly, although I am sure there are many more that you would add, a book about Thomas Edison.
* Odd Boy Out by Don Brown