Sunday, September 30, 2012

3rd October James Herriot (1916 - 1995)

While many of James Herriot's picture books are now out of print, it is surprising how often they still leave the the library. Some because they are on the Premier's Reading Challenge booklist, others because they are illustrated by the popular illustrator, Ruth Brown, and others just because they are about animals. For whatever reason it is good that they are still read by children today.

Friday, September 28, 2012

29th September Reading Champions Part 2

The other success this term followed on from what Steven Layne said at the ALEA conference about it being everyone on the staff's job to sell reading to the students. So every staff member was given six Reading Champion stickers with their name on it which they had to affix to the cover of books in the library. These books were displayed in the library, in classrooms and in the school foyer. Students could then borrow them, and borrow them they did! It caught on like wildfire and staff were asking for more stickers, and then stickers for the children in their class. Students were keen to have their own sticker on a book. The Principal of the school, it is a Preschool to Year 12 school, had stickers, my boss, the Head of libraries had stickers, the non-teaching staff had stickers and the PE teacher and music teacher had stickers.

In other terms I have spoken at assembly, 'sold' books or talked about the Premier's reading Challenge, but this term class teachers with or without their class's help did it. We had a Reading Champion speak at each assembly. The Principal even did it. He is not naturally at home with very young children but he spoke about an Oliver Jeffer's book and did a wonderful job of connecting it to the children's lives.

One teacher took the idea of student recommendations a step further and the students wrote about their book and made a picture of themselves carrying the book for me to display in the library.

29th September Reading Champions

Well it is school holidays, Term 3 is over and I finally have time to write about the successes of the term. Firstly with my Year 2 Book Club students I had fun reading biographies. Extending ideas associated with the Book Week theme, 'Champions Read', I collected together over 30 picture book biographies and designed work cards for each. Each card had only 4 questions on it which were designed to encourage higher order thinking skills. As well each student had a bookmark with generic questions on it to think about while reading the book. Each student took a book to read each week and when they came to the next session they met in pairs to sell their chosen book and then we had a whole group Book Talk/Literature Circle to talk about the week's reading. I often focussed this discussion by asking a question such as, 'What do you most admire about this person?' or asking them to comment upon the setting or the time of the story. By the end of the term most students had read at least eight biographies and we had presented a short reader's theatre-type performance in assembly. It was a huge success and I can't believe how much these children's parents now know about biographies and these people. The parents have come to borrow biographies as well, so for the next term I have removed them from their normal shelves and started a 'Biography Box'. The students were so keen to talk about what they had read. They often used the 'text-to-self' response as well, which made me realise that many of these gifted readers saw themselves in many of the lives they read about. Rather than write out a complete list of the books in the box I have made a Pinterest Board.

 Sample of Book Mark  (the logo was borrowed from a program used in England that I found in Google Images)

While you are reading this book think about these:
Biography of …

Champion of …

Which of these qualities does the person 
you are reading about display?







While you are reading 
this book think about these:

Which of them was of most importance to achieving his/her goals?

Would you like to meet this person?

What advice do you think they would give your reading group?

Sample of Work Card

Book: Blockhead the Life of Fibonacci
Author: Joseph D’Agnese
Illustrator: John O’Brien

1. Whose life is the book about?
This story is about the life of

2. What do you think is the best thing Fibonacci discovered?

3. What would you have done if you had gone to school with 
Fibonacci and you had seen how he was treated at school?

4. How would you describe Fibonacci to your teacher?

Monday, September 17, 2012

15th September Choose Your Favourite Colour Day

What a wonderful day to celebrate with very young children. (You don't need to mention Crayola.) This question elicits so much passion and fervour, everyone championing their own favourite colour and certainly not listening to what other children are saying. Last week I was reading Mozzie and Midgie to a kindergarten class and there are many colours mentioned as the two spoonbills try many disguises in a quest to make themselves 'more special', but they are not colours that children hear often. There was emerald, russet, aqua and crimson. We had fun defining them and then trying to think of other things that were that colour. Next children thought of other colours that were less common like maroon, mauve, violet and lemon.

This inspired me to put together a display of books about colour. There were so many and I was surprised how many were quick to leave the library. Of course there are old favourites like Ella Doran's Colour, Leo Lionni's Little Blue and Little Yellow and Ellen Walsh's Mouse Paint but there have been so many books more recently with a colour in their title. See:
* The Sun is Yellow by Kveta Pacovska (Amazing. Full of hidden treasures and very different)
* Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (How many shades of green did you pick?)
* Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
* Blue Chicken by Deborah Freeman (The children are fascinated by the way the colour is absorbed by the chicken)
* Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff
* The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle
* Red Cat, Blue Cat by Jenni Desmond
* The Red Lemon by Bob Staake