Wednesday, February 26, 2014

27th February Strawberry Day

Seeds on the outside, sweet on the inside - February 27th is National
Strawberry Day! Even if they aren't in season, that doesn't mean you
can't enjoy them because today they seem to be in the shops all
year round.

A gift from Chile in the 1700s, garden strawberry plants made their
way to North America in the 1750s. The plant is easy to grow and now 
seems to flourish anywhere in the world. I don't know when or how 
they arrived in Australia.

We only had a handful of books in the library about strawberries, 
so when putting together a table display today I needed to put out
recipe books open to wonderful concoctions such as cake, cheesecake,
shortbread and smoothies made with strawberries.

Books worth having though are:
The First Strawberries by Joseph Bruchac and Anna Vojtech
This is a retelling of a Cherokee legend which explains how strawberries
came to be.
Strawberries are Red by Petr Horacek is a board book about colour but
the cover works well for display.
Life cycles: Strawberries by Robin Nelson is a nonfiction book that looks
at how a strawberry grows.
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Brown Bear
by Audrey and Don Wood. This is an old story but a good one where a
small mouse is determined to save his strawberry from a hungry bear.
Cock-a-doodle-doo by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
Big Brown Rooster is sick of chicken feed and together with his friends
decides to make a strawberry shortcake.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

22nd February World Thinking Day

World Thinking Day is a day of friendship, advocacy and fundraising for 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world. It may well have been started by Girl Guides but what a great day to plan activities that really require children to think deeply or differently or to look at some pioneering thinkers. Locate and share some biographies about people whose thinking  'did break the mould' like Copernicus (whose birthday it was on the 19th February), Leonardo da Vinci, Rosa Parks, Lodner Williams, William Kamkwamba, Elizabeth Blackwell or Margaret E. Knight. 

Try Nicolaus Copernicus, The Earth is a Planet. This is the story of noted scientist and astronomer Nicholaus Copernicus, who, with his extensive research and controversial writings, ultimately challenged the way people viewed the Universe for ages. Born in the year 1473 in Poland, Copernicus was interested in science from a young age. He especially liked looking at the stars, and his favourite subject while attending school was astronomy. But Copernicus disagreed with what he was taught as a student. His teachers claimed that the Earth remained stationary while the heavenly bodies circled it. Copernicus believed that the Earth moved and spun on it's own.  It took him over 30 years to finally publish a book on his findings, and then it took many more years after that for people to accept his views as fact.

Read The Boy Who Harnessed the WindThis is the story of  fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba. His Malawi village was hit by a drought and everyone's crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William had a great idea and built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps.  

Read Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone. This is the story of Elizabeth Blackwell. In the 1830s, when she was growing up women were supposed to be wives and mothers and maybe teachers or seamstresses, but their career options were few. No women were doctors. Elizabeth refused to believe women were not smart enough or strong enough to be doctors. Although she faced much opposition she finally graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant career, proving her detractors wrong and paving the way for future women.

Or read the amazing story of the first Girl Scouts and their visionary founder, Juliette Daisy Gordon Low, Daisy to her friends and family in the picture book biography Here Come the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey. She was not like most girls of the Victorian era.  She loved the outdoors, and she yearned for adventure! Born into a family of pathfinders and pioneers, she too wanted to make a difference in the world. On a trip to England she was introduced to the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides and then combining her ancestors' passion for service with her own adventurous spirit and her belief that girls could do anything, she founded the Girl Scouts in America. 

19th February Amy Tan (1952)

It is American author, Amy Tan's birthday. When I think of Amy Tan I automatically think of the novel, The Joy Luck Club, but did you know she is the author of a picture book? Her book The Moon Lady  which is illustrated by Gretchen Schields is adapted from this adult bestseller.  On a rainy afternoon three sisters long for the rain to stop so that they can do something. Ying-Ying, their grandmother tells them a tale from long ago. It happens on the night of the Moon Festival when Ying-Ying encounters the Moon Lady who grants secret wishes... The tale is haunting and long for a picture book, but worth the effort.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

15th February World Whale Day

Driving through Mona Vale today I saw a sign advertising celebrations for World Whale Day and thought what a pity it was so close to so many other celebrations because children love whales and reading about them and it would have made a wonderful library display. Luckily in Australia we have National Whale Day as well in June so there will be another opportunity to put together a wonderful display of  books about whales.

In fact in the last month or so I have bought several new books for the library that feature whales and these four have especially memorable illustrations and are worth borrowing to read.

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano &  Erin Stead
The Storm Whale by Benji Davies
Whale Shines by Fiona Robinson
Welcome Home by Christina Booth

And of course there's always older favourites that always work well when read aloud such as:
• The Lighthouse Keeper's Rescue by Ronda & David Armitage
My Friend Whale by Simon James, and
 The Morning I Met a Whale by Michael Morpurgo & Christian Birmingham

Thursday, February 13, 2014

14th February Library Lovers Day

It is not Valentine's Day tomorrow. It is Library Lover's Day!
There is just so much to love about your library. My school library was just so busy this afternoon, full of parents and children reading while they waited for older siblings, borrowing books to read for the Premier's Reading Challenge and just generally enthusing with others about what the library has to offer them. At one stage there were ten parents in the queue at the circulation desk and I could not see the door! A teacher dropped in to borrow and ended up staying to help with 'crowd control' and shelving. She will know next time not to pop in between 2.45 pm and 3.45pm if she doesn't want a job.

Preschool lessons started yesterday. The four year olds were just so excited about coming to the library to borrow a book. We had fun with Pete the Cat, sang his song, talked about why he had odd shoes  and a heart  on his blue coat and then borrowed books. We had mothers come in today to tell us that their child had the book out of the bag and was wanting it read before they even had afternoon tea. Another was pleased that her child could sleep tonight and would no longer be asking 'when is it library day?' They feel so grown up coming to the library without a parent! It is so easy to make four year olds love the library.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

7th - 14th February Marriage Week

The week before Valentine's Day is designated Marriage Week. Once I would have thought that wasn't of interest to students under 8, but how wrong would I have been? A while ago one of the preschool classes spent a whole week planning, preparing for and conducting a wedding and reception in their room and the playground. They were so involved. They made invitations, decorations, placecards, the script for the celebrant and designed the outfits using the dress-up box clothes. I even got an invitation to the wedding so I made a gift and went along. The teacher asked me for some books to share with the children so I went looking in the library. We had some but not a lot, so I have added a few more since then. I especially love The Rabbit's Wedding but some of the newer ones have people as characters rather than animals. How to Get Married, by Me, the Bride and Lilly's Big Day will make you smile. The Perfect Flower Girl  is a good choice because it is the story of a Lebanese Muslim wedding and Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding will give you a Chinese perspective. The others cover things that are important to the children, such as being a flower girl or what to do at a wedding. I have quite a display being planned in my head for the end of this week, Love, Kisses, Hugs and Weddings ... so many great picture books to choose from, just as soon as Pancake Day and Umbrella Day are over.