Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year ... no birthday just food for thought. As always I am looking for ways to use literature with children to increase their empathy and I need to get at the boys young before they stop reading any fiction because I believe that it is reading fiction that develops empathic readers. Therefore I really savoured Elizabeth Farrelly's article in the Sydney Morning Herald and began to think about what I could do differently this year in classes to make a bigger impact. There goes my thinking time for the next three weeks!

I thought I'd share two books though today that will make you smile and which offer a myriad of avenues for getting very young children to look closely at feelings, theirs and others'. Both are by European authors and illustrators but available in English. Both appear simple because of their minimal text but they are deceptive and thus somewhat ageless.

Happy  by Mies Van Hout. Have you ever seen so much expression on a fish? This Dutch author's website is available in English and she has ideas for what to do with her book. One of the teachers at my school has used it very successfully for art  and in circle time. My staff had great fun sharing and comparing the French and English version of this book and deciding whether the translation was precise. We now need the original Dutch version and a Dutch speaker to translate so we can discuss it some more.

 In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek and Christine Roussey.   This cover illustration doesn't do this book justice. It has beautiful die-cut pages which show the heart decreasing in size. I haven't seen the original French version of this book.

Happy birthday Olivier Dunrea. His series about Gossie  is ideal for preschoolers and talking about feelings too.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

27th December Erin E. Stead (1982)

Erin Stead is an American illustrator who has now many well-known books to her credit, some that she has illustrated for her husband, author Philip Stead. Look for A Sick Day for Amos McGee which won the Caldecott Medal, Bear Has a Story to Tell and the two she has illustrated for Julie Fogliano, And Then It's Spring  and  If You Want to See a Whale. Erin and Philip have a website called Number Five Bus which has interviews between themselves and other well-known children's book people.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

24th December Christmas Truce

Given the events of late in Sydney, the fact that I am on school holidays and my family are home for Christmas I have spent time recently thinking about what parents have told their young children about
the grim events in the news. At school I try to share tough events through literature that we can discuss at their level. I want them to experience discomfit but within a safe, scaffolded situation that they experience vicariously and where they get to empathise but also to ask questions. This helps then when an unpleasant event or experience is closer to home because they have some schema to fall back upon.

Then this morning I was thinking about Christmas stories and browsing through my Christmas picture book pinterest list,  I saw In Flanders Fields and thought of how a positive experience occurs amongst the grimness of World War 1 in the name of Christmas. A truce is called to the fighting, the singing of carols unites the warring troops and a time of reflection ensues. Similarly there has been an outpouring of goodwill among the people in Sydney and the flowers in Martin Place have allowed a time of reflection and the chance to think about what really matters to each of us.

In the year to come as we mark the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 it is nice to know that for at least a short time, it really was all quiet on the Western Front. I have read this story to my Year 2 children at Christmas and this year I also read them The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree on Remembrance Day because of its reference to this day. The students asked lots of questions, queried why it had taken Ruthie's father so long to come home after the armistice and made connections between this and other books we had read. This is the power of good children's books.

Now there are quite a few titles about the truce and all have good points, but the Jorgensen one works for me because the children relate to the hurt robin and his need of rescue, the black and white illustrations have a subtlety that removes the graphic horror of war and it is just the right length to read in one sitting, but by all means check out the others so you can match your students with the 'right' book.

In Flanders Fields by Norman Jorgensen

Shooting at the Stars  by John Hendrix
Christmas Truce by Aaron Shepard
War Game by Michael Foreman
Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting by Jim Murphy
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon 
The Christmas Truce by Carol Ann Duffy
The Christmas Truce: the Place Where Peace was Found by Hilary Robinson

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

17th December Raul Colon (1952)

Recently I purchased this wonderful new wordless picture book called Draw! It was illustrated by Raul Colon. I wondered why I had never seen any other books by this illustrator. I looked on the library catalogue and found that we did in fact, already have five other books by him. I was surprised because to me Draw! stood out as being 'new', very refreshing and very different. Of course the other titles were beautifully illustrated and well worth a look, but this one is his alone and I think this book is outstanding.

Researching further I found out that today is his birthday and that I hadn't written about him on the blog before. Here you can learn more about him and his 'scratchy' art. Here is an interview with Raul where he explains the backstory for creating Draw! It could be used with a class. His biographies are wonderful, but his life sounds like it would make a good biography too!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

5th December Day of the Ninja

While Day of the Ninja may have started and evolved to be about dressing and behaving as ninjas, it is now a day that is easily celebrated with young children through picture books. Ninjas are certainly 'in vogue' as a topic for them and an abundance of new titles have been published in the last few years. See some of them here on Pinterest. Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat have created two books that are very popular in my library - Ninja Red Riding Hood and The Three Ninja Pigs.

Friday, November 28, 2014

29th November Jon Klassen (1981)

Jon Klassen is the Canadian writer and illustrator of children's books who won both the American Caldecott Medal and the British Kate Greenaway Medal for children's book illustration, for his 2012 picture book This is Not My Hat.  He is the first person to win both awards for the same work. This is a wonderful book, but he has been involved in the publication of many other fabulous books such as I Want My Hat Back and the very recent one Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, which he did with American author Mac Barnett.  Like Klassen, Barnett is young. He was born on 23rd August 1982.

Recently the two of them appeared on a television show where they talked about their new book, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and they looked like they were enjoying themselves so much that it is easy to see why together their books work so well with young audiences. A hole seems like an unlikely subject for a very successful book, but add the diamond and the visual humour that goes with them missing it and it turns into a book that the children 'just get'. The trailer is very funny too! I'm sure there will be much more yet to come from this duo both separately and together.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

23rd November The Twelve Days of Christmas

Browsing through the Christmas picture books I noticed that Alison Jay has done a new version of The Twelve Days of Christmas and I picked it up for perusal, and while it does have beautiful artwork in her trademark style, I did wonder how many copies one library needs of this song, especially a school library like mine where school finishes for the summer holidays three weeks before Christmas and the teachers do so little Christmas-wise with their classes. Some very well known children's illustrators seem to have enjoyed creating their own version - see among others Susan Jeffers, Rachel Isadora, Brian Wildsmith, Jane Ray, Jan Brett, Robert Sabuda, Britta Teckentrup and Jane Cabrera.

One of the most popular holiday songs of all time, 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' probably originated in France during the late Middle Ages and became popular in England as a chant sung without music. The 12 days are traditionally those following Christmas, with the last day being the end of the season. Over the years the lyrics have changed but the song remains a perennial favourite. 

I sometimes use the song to explain to students that the twelve days are the twelve days after Christmas Day that take us up to Epiphany, the day when the three kings went to visit baby Jesus and the day when traditionally we take down our Christmas tree and decorations.

As well there are many spin offs designed to suit a particular place. There are African (A Stork in a Baobab) and Latino (A PiƱata in a Pine Tree) versions and here in Australia there are a myriad of innovations, with emus, kookaburras and platypuses up gum trees and even an underwater version by Kim Michelle Toft. The original by June Williams and John McIntosh is gentle and almost reverent, the newer ones such as the Heath McKenzie version and the Colin Buchanan version are loud and boisterous. At the Lifeline Book Fair this weekend near my home I could have bought a number of each version for as little as fifty cents each! Perhaps good for compare and contrast activities and as background to making your own.

Monday, November 10, 2014

12th November WOW (Wear Orange Wednesday)

It is Wear Orange Wednesday in celebration of everything the SES (State Emergency Services) do to help those in need. The children I teach have probably had little to do with the SES, but I thought it a good excuse to look for ways of celebrating 'orange' through books. This is what I found:

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater is an oldie but goodie that explores the themes of creativity and individuality.
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco is perfect for this time of year as it is a Christmas story based on the traditions of Polacco's own family.
Otto's Orange Day by Jay Lynch is one of the very popular titles from the Toon series of books.
It's an Orange Aardvark by Michael Hall. A fabulous new book, it explores colour, has great holes and lends itself to lots of creative fun.
Big Wolf and Little Wolf, Such a Beautiful Orange by Nadine Brun-Cosme. One in a series of three books about a great friendship between two wolves who share adventures.
Once Upon an Alphabet, Short stories for all the letters by Oliver Jeffers. This is not about anything orange, but it has a spectacular orange cover and it is an absolute wonder.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

10th November Neil Gaiman (1960)

Happy birthday to English author Neil Gaiman. Neil's best known books are beyond the reading capabilities of my clientele, but there are some picture books and easier chapter books for my under 8s. Hopefully having read these they will be keen to read books such as Coraline and The Graveyard Book when they are older.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

October missed birthdays

I have found four October birthdays that I haven't celebrated at school. I am writing them here so that next year I can remember to highlight them

3rd October 1948   Marilyn Singer
The American author responsible for a series of picture books about Talulah, a child ballerina. My girls love her, but even better known for her wonderful poetry, See Mirror Mirror; A Stick is an Excellent Thing  and A Strange Place to Call Home.

4th October 1944 Susan Meddaugh
The American author/illustrator of the series of books about a dog called Martha e.g. Martha Speaks. My favourite of her books Cinderella's Rat.

7th October  Andrea Beaty
The author of the outstanding Iggy Peck Architect  and Rosie Revere Engineer

18th October 1956 Eugene Yelchin
Is a Russian born American illustrator. See Lee Wardlaw's haiku Won Ton and the wonderful poetry book for two voices written by Carole Gerber Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More!

Friday, October 31, 2014

30th October Eric Kimmel (1946)

Jewish American author Eric Kimmel has published many children's books and there are quite a few of them in our library, but today I just want to highlight three. I Took My Frog to the Library just because it's fun and about libraries. The Spider's Gift  because it is based on the Ukrainian Christmas story of why we decorate trees with tinsel and Greek Myths because Year 2 study Greek mythology and we can never have enough books on this topic. Children just love good versions of  these myths.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

26th October Steven Kellogg (1941)

It is hard to believe that I missed writing about Steven Kellogg before this. He has so many children's books that still appeal. I was introduced to his work when I first started teaching and read The Mysterious Tadpole  to a class. They loved it and wanted it read again and again. Everyone wants an uncle to send a gift like that. Jimmy and his boa then became a favourite. The book in our library that goes out the most is How Much is a Million? The young children who this library caters for are fascinated by very large numbers. And of course there is always the dog, Pinkerton.

Monday, October 20, 2014

24th October Monica Brown

Monica Brown writes fantastic picture book biographies of people with Latino heritage. I have four of them in my library and use them when we do a biography unit with Year 2 students. They give white Anglo children an insight into people from cultures they may know little about and they expose them to the Spanish language as well.

I often wondered why someone with a surname like "Brown" seemed so knowledgable about South America so I went searching. Her website enlightened me:

Monica's books are inspired by her Peruvian-American heritage and desire to share Latino/a stories with children. "I write from a place of deep passion, joy, and commitment to producing the highest possible quality of literature for children. In my biographies, the lives of my subjects are so interesting and transformational that I am simply giving them voice for a young audience. I don't think it is ever too early to introduce children to the concepts of magical realism, social justice, and dreaming big!" 

It was also interesting to learn that Monica is a professor of English at Northern Arizona University, specialising in Latino Literature and Multicultural Literature. She also has written picture books that are not biographies. A particular favourite of mine is about a non-conformist girl called Marisol McDonald. She really makes me smile. Marisol is a Peruvian-Scottish-American girl who just doesn't match! I wonder how autobiographical the story is?  Below are her two books about Marisol and two of her biographies, a stunningly beautiful one about poet Pablo Neruda and her newest about Pablo Picasso.

Monica's website will show you all her books, give you resources for teaching, film clips, book trailers and a very quick way to get to know her work. I'm not sure when Monica was born. I have taken the date 24/10 from Eric at Happy Birthday Author.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

21st October Apple Day

I have written about Apple Day before, but when I started pulling books off the shelf for a display I realised there were many more than I had mentioned, especially if it was broadened to include books about apple pies. Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown is a newer title worth looking at and if you want to have fun with a class you can't go past The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky. Children love it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

15th October Emma Chichester Clark (1955)

Just when you think Emma Chichester Clark can't possibly do anything better than she has already done she does something new that has you just staring with awe and wondering how she can keep doing such beautiful books. Just last month there was the new picture book Bears Don't Read which reviews say is a "story of friendship to power the imagination and encourage children (and bears!) towards a lifelong love of reading."

And this month Plumdog, a book which has evolved from Emma's blog about her dog Plum. I love the way she writes and draws about Plum putting words in his mouth about herself and their relationship.

Last weekend I met a friend at the local bookshop where her children were spending birthday money. I was browsing as a I always do, saying in my head that I am not to buy anything for the school library. Well I didn't but I fell in love with a book, Classic Shakespeare Verse selected by Gina Pollinger and guess what it was illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark. What a find...a quote for every occasion, and another classic to add to my ECC collection, along with Grimm's, Hans Christian Andersen, Alice and Pinocchio.

Happy birthday Emma Chichester Clark. I love your work!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

16th October World Dictionary Day

October 16, the birthday of Noah Webster, is World Dictionary Day. Show your appreciation for this most useful of reference books by celebrating Dictionary Day with children --learn some new words, learn how dictionaries came to be, spruce up your dictionary skills, or even create your own dictionary! Look here for lots of ideas on how to have fun with words.

In Australia we are more likely to use an Oxford, a Collins or a Macquarie dictionary than a Webster's, but nevertheless Webster is worth celebrating. There is Noah Webster and His Words  a picture book biography that will be in many libraries and it is an ideal way to introduce young children to Noah Webster. If this creates plenty of discussion you might like to also introduce students to the life of Peter Mark Roget, the thesaurus guru whose life is featured in this new book, The Right Word by Jen Bryant and with wonderful illustrations by Melissa Sweet.

Friday, October 3, 2014

4th October World Animal Day St Francis of Assisi

 World Animal Day is an international day of action celebrated annually on October 4, the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. It started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy who wished to highlight the plight of endangered species.

"Saint Francis of Assisi has always held a fascination for members of all faiths, and his story continues to inspire and motivate us more than seven hundred years after his death. Born into a wealthy family, he led a dissolute life as a young man. Then one day he had a conversion experience while passing a poor leper's hut. From that day on, Francis dedicated his life to helping the poor and outcasts of society and to teaching respect for all living things. He was joined by a noblewoman, Clare, who was soon known as Sister Moon to Francis's Brother Sun." (Amazon) He is responsible for the famous prayer that begins, "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.", the Canticle of the Sun and many stories about how he tamed a wolf and talked to animals. 

Below is a collage of all the wonderful picture books that feature Saint Francis. Lots of well-known authors and illustrators have presented their view of this favoured saint. See Tomie dePaola, Brian Wildsmith, Fiona French, Pat Mora, Demi, Margaret Mayo, Reeve Lindberg and Katherine Patterson. You might even be able to find a favourite of mine, the very old and now out-of-print How St Francis Tamed the Wolf by Gerald Rose.

There are so many wonderful books about animals, including Walker's wonderful Nature Storybooks, anything by Steve Jenkins, those large, beautifully illustrated books with flaps by Francesco Pittau Gervais, anything fro National Geographic... World Animal Day is such a good excuse for a display in the library.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

3rd October World Smile Day

World Smile Day is celebrated on the first Friday in the month of October every year. The idea of World Smile Day was coined and initiated by Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, MassachusettsHarvey Ball is known to have created the Smiley Face in 1963.[1] The World's first World Smile Day was held in the year 1999 and has been held annually since.
After Harvey died in 2001, the "Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation" was created to honour his name and memory. The slogan of the Smile Foundation is "improving this world, one smile at a time." The Foundation continues as the official sponsor of World Smile Day each year.
The message of the World Smile Day 2010 is "Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile." (Wikipedia)

This day makes me a little sad because my son finished high school and shortly after had that yellow smiley face tattooed onto his body, saying, "well no teacher ever gave me one so I got myself one!" I was devastated to know that teachers, their stamps and stickers or lack there of could have such dire effect on a child, and every time he takes his shirt off I am now reminded of the power of teachers.

I have put together a reading list of picture books that feature smiles before. See this entry, and I would like to add The Smile That Went Around the World by Patrice Karst, the author of that book all kindergarten teachers use called The Invisible String.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

31st August International Bat Night

The 18th International Bat Night will take place this weekend. The last weekend in August has been set aside to celebrate bats since 1997. While people who live with bats in their neighbourhood may not be that enamoured of them there are good reasons to ensure their continued existence. Although this may be questioned since the linking in the news of fruit bats and the Ebola outbreak. While this is supposedly an International event, it appears to be about preserving colonies of European bats and Australian Bat Night is celebrated in March.

The children I teach are nearly as interested in bats as they are in sharks, maybe because they fly but aren't birds and maybe because they are fascinated with the way they hang upside down and use echolocation. Consequently the library has nearly as many bat books as shark books. Of course the most popular stories are the series by Brian Lies that started with Bats in the Library, Janell Cannon's Stellaluna  for which we have toys or puppets, Jeanne Willis' Daft Bat and the very old Robert Dickins' Boris the Bat, but many of the non-fiction readers are just as popular. Nicola Davies' Bat Loves the Night, one of the Nature Storybooks series is one of my favourites. Below are the most popular titles.

Monday, August 25, 2014

24th August Ruth Park (1917 - 2010)

Today would have been the birthday of New Zealand born Australian author Ruth Park who wrote for both children and  adults. But I was pleased to learn on her website that she wanted to write more for children as she saw that as a challenge. She is well known for the children's classics The Muddle-Headed Wombat  and Playing Beatie Bow. My clientele cannot read either of these independently yet so they are more likely to meet Ruth, reading When the Wind Changed; The Gigantic Balloon or The Big Brass Key which are in the library.

When I first started teaching every child knew and talked about When the Wind Changed. Now the students I teach have parents who don't want their children reading this book because 'it has a gun in it'. The world has changed. In some ways my students are very connected to the world because of technology, yet because they are not allowed to or do not watch the news, there is much less conversation about national or international news, what is happening in their community or other communities within their city. Their general knowledge, vocabulary and knowledge of idiom and proverbs has diminished. They haven't heard the saying about being careful not to pull a face in case the wind changes and it stays like that. Thus, I'm always in a read or not to read?  Old books that are part of Australian children's literature deserve to be read, even if they need to scaffolded by their historical setting. Recently I did this with Junko Morimoto's Kojuro and the Bears, another story 'with guns' and I was amazed by the discussion that followed.

Ruth Park will also be remembered as the mother of other Australian Children's literature stalwarts, Kilmeny and Deborah Niland.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

21st August Book Week Part 4

Another Book Week initiative that has been a big success is the the wide reading contract that we handed out at the beginning of term. Many of the students had completed the Premier's Reading Challenge,  then read another thirty books so that they could have lunch with the principal in the 'secret garden', so many of them were looking for a new directive. This grid directed their reading for pleasure. Many parents used it as a guide when borrowing from the library too. We had a large bin of textless books, another of picture book biographies, and yet another of graphic novels and toon books which made it easy to locate the books. As each activity was completed the box was coloured in or crossed off. When completed the students brought their grid and a photo of themselves reading to the library for a small reward (a goody bag with eg. a bookmark, sticker, rubber and badge). The photos are on display pegged onto ribbons in the library. The students in extension literacy classes had to do it and record on the back the titles of some of the books they read for certain categories. Many teachers and parents commented on how it made students vary what they read and look at things they may never usually contemplate reading.





in the car

to Mum

a non-fiction book

a book that became a movie


a book with a blue cover

with a friend, a book they recommend

A wordless book

in the dark with a torch

a book with chapters

in the kitchen

a book with your name in it

a book that won an award the year you were born

at the library

something on a Kindle, computer or iPad

in your pyjamas

listen to a story

a book based on a true story or a biography

some riddles or jokes

a book published this year

some poetry

with Dad

a comic, toon book or graphic novel

a book from a series
Return completed grid to the library with a photo of you reading from one of the boxes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

20th August Book Week Connect to Reading Part 3

I didn't purchase all of the Eve Pownall shortlisted books because many weren't easily accessible to children under eight years. So it was hard to go past Jeremy which my students loved. I had read this to them long before it made any shortlist and when I was making up my Clayton's shortlist for the CBC Sydney event in April I told the audience that Jeremy was the most borrowed 2013 Australian picture book in my library so something in this book certainly connects to its audience and my clientele.

Once it made the shortlist we read it again. The children all had kookaburra stories to share. They live in homes with trees and verandahs. This lead to possum stories too. And then we looked at who was telling the story and whether or not it was true. We used Greg Reid's Kookaburras  book from Macmillan's Australian animals series to see if the time framework for Jeremy's growth was compatible with the lifecycle of a baby kookaburra. We read the kookaburra facts on the endpapers as well. The students decided it most definitely could be true. They especially liked that they found out that female kookaburras can have two or three chicks at a time so the chicks that he flies off with could well be siblings.

Next we read Possums in the Roof , a very old book by Julie Morris which is also a story based on real events and looked at the connections between it and Jeremy. Here mother possum has twin babies who get caught under the tiles in a roof cavity. The boy who lives in the house discovers their existence and tries to save them with his father. The students listed many similarities or connections starting with the first person narration and the fact that this book says that it is true. These books were perfect for teaching connections and focussing students in on text-to-self and text-to-text connections.

 These two stories started requests for other true stories about animals so I went looking and was pleasantly surprised to find we actually have quite a few. See the titles on this pinterest page.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

19th August Book Week Connect to Reading Part 2

I shared the shortlist for the Picture Book with my four classes of Year 2 students. I agonised over whether to buy The Rules of Summer as I thought the illustrations were quite dark and the rules worded rather negatively and that I would need to do too much scaffolding to do it justice in one or two thirty minute library lessons. I thought I would wait and see if it won and then decide. Well it did win and I am still not sure what I want to do!

The other shortlisted books were fun to share and easy to use the connection theme with. We stared with King Pig  because the students all wanted to read it. They thought it would be funny and they 'love' Nick Bland books. We book talked it in pairs where the students had to focus on what made it funny and discuss whether or not it had a message or theme. They easily recognised the theme but were surprised that a humorous story could have a serious message. This prompted revisiting other books they knew such as Click Clack Moo Cows that Type  and Farmer Duck.

It also led effortlessly to The Windy Farm which also looked as if it would be humorous. Similarly here the students worked out that this was not only funny but had a deeper message. Two of the classes were currently studying the environment and were keen to talk about energy sources and how common wind energy was. This led naturally to the book Energy Island  by Allan Drummond which tells the story of Samso, a Danish island that is powered by wind energy.

I thought Toby the character in Parachute  may have been too young for my Year 2 students to relate to, but in their Book Talk pairs they quickly began to talk about fears and make connections to themselves. The subject of 'security blankets' arose and one class and I revisited Lisa Shanahan's Gordon's Got a Snookie in order to once again look at the connection between humour and serious themes. The other three classes talked more about overcoming fears and we used Sonya Hartnett's  Come Down Cat to make connections, both literally with cats and heights, but inferentially about how to and when to be brave.

And lastly,  Silver Buttons  which was my favourite and the easiest to get the students involved in. We talked about small increments of time and what could be done in them. We timed activities with stopwatches. We looked at what is 'momentous' and what is 'mundane' and argued the story events inclusion or not.  The Book Talk final discussion was to sum up the book in one word. I was amazed by how well the students did this. There was the obvious 'minute', but others were 'time', 'life', celebration', and 'importance'. I used At the Same Moment Around the World and Just a Second as either pre or post reading.

King Pig  and  Silver Buttons were the most popular of the books we read when the students voted.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

18th August Book Week Connecting to Reading Part 1

It is Children's Book Week in Australia and the theme 'Connect to Reading' has meant some very insightful reading has been happening in my library. My 5  to 8 year olds have been reading from the Early Childhood and the Picture Book shortlists. We have been connecting these titles to other older books that they may not have known too.

We haven't done any art or craft activities yet. I am saving the Reading to Connect activities for fun in the library this week when we will draw with rainbow pencils and paint with mud, as Ann James does in I'm a Dirty Dinosaur, try to draw a duck in a minute inspired by Silver Buttons and make plastic bag parachutes to float our teddies off the second floor down onto the playground.

So far though we have made text-to-text connections between the two lullabies on the Early Childhood shortlist Baby Bedtime and Kissed by the Moon. We played lullaby music and lay down on the mat as I read.

We read The Swap and connected it to Pat Hutchins 1985 classic The Very Worst Monster which is also about sibling rivalry and the need to get rid of a sibling.

We read Banjo and Ruby Red  and connected it with many books Year1 and I had read last term when we looking at chickens and foxes in picture books and talking about stereotypes. The children thought it reminded them of Albert and Lila,  a chicken and pig story where they help each other to outwit a fox and The Chicken Thief  because 'the hen and fox become good friends'. This connection also led to us reconnecting with Bear and Chook the good friends in Lisa Shanahan's award-winning books.

And although we live near the beach, the concept of grommet was very new to my students, so to read Granny Grommet and Me  we first looked at some surfing books and the news report about granny grommets. One of my students connected this story with Olivia Learns to Surf because in it Olivia is taught to surf by her grandmother. We quickly visited it, but the children were much more interested in talking about sea dragons so that is where we went, off exploring them. The book Seahorses and Seadragons led us to connections of all kinds especially once the students discovered from the maps that they could be found in the sea off Sydney. Next we read another Australian picture book Seadragon Sea  by Margaret Spurling.

The shortlisted Early Childhood books were well received by Kindergarten and Year 1 students, but The Swap  and Banjo and Ruby Red  were the most popular by far when we pretended to be judges and voted, so for once the judges agreed with the children which often isn't the case. It is a fitting tribute to Jan Ormerod to have her last book achieve such an award!