Saturday, January 30, 2016

1st February National Serpent Day

It is National Serpent Day. What is a serpent? A snake, so it is Snake Day! Some websites say it is Snake Day on the 16th July so you can celebrate again then. There are lots of words for 'snake' that children recognise, like adder, asp, python, cobra and boa constrictor. What ever name they have many of the boys I teach are fascinated by them and snake books are well borrowed. In fact, at the moment the display shelves of the library are saturated with reptile books in three sections: snakes and lizards, crocodiles and alligators and turtles and tortoises. The library has only been open for two days and already quite a few snake and crocodile books have gone.

Some of my favourite snake books are:
• Crictor by Tomi Ungerer. This is old but still in print and very humorous.
Snake Supper  by Alan Durant and Ant Parker really makes my preschoolers laugh.
Python by Christopher Cheng and Mark Jackson is one of those wonderful Walker books that has a story alongside factual information in a different font.
I (Don't) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies and Luciano Lozano is also part of that Nature Storybook series.
Akimbo and the Snakes by Alexander McCall Smith is a short novel in the Akimbo series set in the game reserves of Africa.
There's more titles on my pinterest page here.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

24th January Peanut Butter Day

It's Peanut Butter Day. Peanut butter isn't as popular now as it was when I was a child and every child had a peanut butter or vegemite sandwich for lunch. In fact at the school I teach at you cannot have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch as we have so many children who are allergic to peanut products. So today you may not be able to eat peanut butter, but you can read and enjoy this book, Peanut Butter and Cupcake! by Terry Border. Here Peanut Butter goes in search of a friend...

"But sometimes friends are hard to come by, especially when Hamburger has to walk his (hot) dogs, Cupcake is too busy building castles in her sprinkle box, and Egg laughs so hard he starts to crack up! Does Peanut Butter have a soulmate? Young readers will know the answer long before Peanut Butter does and laugh along with each mismatched pairing.
In a story that pairs silliness with poignancy, and friendship with anthropomorphic food, Terry Border, the photography mastermind behind the Bent Objects project, makes a triumphant entrance into the children's book world. Complete with a rhyming refrain, this is sure to be a favorite family read-aloud--and laugh-aloud."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

21st January Hugging Day

Everyone needs a hug sometimes! We shouldn't need a day to get a hug, but it is good too, to have an excuse, so make sure today you give someone a hug. Want to have a hugging reading fest? All the books about Douglas starting with  Hugless Douglas are a good place to start. My library has a big plush Douglas sitting in a reading corner for my students to hug and to read to. Look at the end papers in the first book and have fun acting out all those hugs. Then read Hug Me by Simona Ciraola and talk about how it would feel to be Felipe (a cactus) and not be hugged. Or read The Runaway Hug by Nick Bland and talk about passing on your hug.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

19th January Popcorn Day

It's Popcorn Day. Get out the popcorn machine and eat popcorn while you read any of the books below. Compare the procedure you undertook to get popcorn with the ones in the two expository texts or share a story. The Popcorn Dragon by Jane Thayer is an oldie but a goodie and Frank Asch's title has been reissued in a new cover. Look in the library as there's bound to be other titles as well!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

18th January Winnie-the-Pooh Day

  • January 18th has become known as Winnie the Pooh Day because author A.A. Milne was born on this day in 1882, and it was he and his son Christopher who created this loveable and wise character and introduced him to generations of readers.
  • Interestingly, just this week though, a book about the history behind the bear that inspired the fiction was named as the Caldecott Medal winner. This book, Finding Winnie is written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Australian-born Sophie Blackall. (See Sophie's blog for a four part discussion of the illustrating of this book)
  • Lindsay Mattick is the great-granddaughter of Harry Colebourn, a vet who rescued a baby bear in Canada in 1914. He named the bear Winnie after his hometown, Winnipeg. He took the bear to Europe when he went off to war. Eventually, Winnie ends up in the London Zoo and there he makes a new friend, Christopher Robin, the son of author Alan Alexander Milne. Lindsay's website tells you Harry's story in more detail and has a wealth of information about the making of this book and her family history.
  • Last year American author Sally M. Walker also published a book about the real bear that inspired the stories of Winnie-the-Pooh. Putting these two books and the film A Bear Named Winnie together as a precursor to or a follow up to some fun reading the original stories would make an enjoyable unit of work.

  • I need no excuse whatsoever to revel in the wonderful language, humour and languidness of Pooh.
  •  "If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart… I'll always be with you."
  • And as school rolls around next week I know this will be me...
  •  "When late morning rolls around and you're feeling a bit out of sorts, don't worry; you're probably just a little eleven o'clockish."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

15th January Martin Luther King (1929 - 1968)

When I first started collecting biographies for the library I steered clear of those that were specifically related to American history because I didn't think my eight year olds would relate to these prominent people or be particularly interested in them. I did however buy one about Rosa Parks and not only were my readers interested in her but they were outraged at how she was treated. Two students wanted to read more about 'black people in America' so I went in search of other bibliographies. It was easy to find musicians and sportsmen, but I also bought one about Martin Luther King, Martin's Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier. This highly awarded book, is a portrait of strong man whose dream changed America and the world and it does seem that Australian eight year olds can see that and wonder at its ramifications. It would make the perfect read for today, Martin Luther King's birthdate.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

14th January Shoe Buying Day

The PBS Calendar lists activities for parents to share with their children each day and today they are buying shoes. In Australia it is an activity that is on many parent-to-do lists as the new school year starts in two weeks. Remember that scene when Alexander is made to buy 'plain old white ones' when shopping for sneakers with his mother and brothers in Alexander's Terrible Horrible No-Good Very Bad Day.

I went searching for a Shoe Day as after all there does seem to be a day for everything else even 'socks', but besides Two Different Coloured Shoes Day on 3rd May and Sneakers Day on 9th October there wasn't a specific Shoe Day. So I'm instigating one, by saying there is a multitude of books, rhymes and songs which to explore when celebrating 'shoes'. And I have decided to start the term with my preschool classes doing that. I will have four or five lessons with each group so I think we will probably look at some aspect of shoes for each session. Usually we have a book, a rhyme or song and some activity.

They will all have new shoes and we will have plenty to look at, compare and discuss. We will see who has shoelaces, who has buckles and who has velcro. We will start with the book Whose Shoes? and find out how many different shoes there are and how many words we have for types of shoes. This video and song will help add to the list of shoes too.

We will have fun with Pete the Cat. He has two books which feature shoes... Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes and Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes The children love to sing along with these which we can do courtesy of YouTube.

In each lesson with preschoolers I also like to introduce or revisit a nursery rhyme as they enjoy reciting them and don't know them like they used to. There are four that I can think of that feature shoes.
• 1 2 Buckle My Shoe
• There Was an Old Lady
• Cobbler Cobbler
• Diddle Diddle Dumpling My Son John

There are also a large number of songs complete with actions here.

While 'rhyme' is centre-most with preschoolers it will be fun to share books that are written in rhyme like
What Can You Do With a Shoe?  by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers and Maurice Sendak. What a great question to discuss before even reading the book. Then look at the rhyme...
What can you do with a shoe? You can put it on your ear or wear it on your head or butter it like bread or use apple jam instead!
• Grandpa's Slippers by Joy Watson. This is part of a series of books about Grandpa and his clothing. They are written in rhyme and children and grandparents both laugh when these are read aloud.
Shoes From Grandpa by Mem Fox and Patricia Mullins. This is a cumulative rhyme where family members describe the clothes they plan to give Jessie to go with the shoes from Grandpa.

Next dogs and shoes. Discuss what dogs do with shoes and then introduce these three books:
One Two That's My Shoe! by Alison Murray
Shoe Dog by Megan McDonald and Katherine Tillotson
A Dog Wearing Shoes  by Sangmi Ko.
Each of these is humorous and likely to enthuse the children to talk.

And of course there's always fairytales. Here are five which feature shoes:
• The Elves and the Shoemaker
• Puss in Boots
• The Twelve Dancing Princesses , and
• Red Shoes  by Hans Christian Andersen.

See the shoe possibilities really are endless!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

8th January Bubble Bath Day

Having a bubble bath is so relaxing. Only thing better? Reading a book while soaking in the bubble bath, not that I tell the students I teach to read in the bath. While there are are some picture books about bubble baths, none are great literature so don't rush off to buy them. Instead use Bubble Bath Day to read an old favourite that my preschoolers just love, The Lady With the Alligator Purse. And even if you don't have this book you will know the verse from your own childhood,

Miss Lucy had a baby
His name was Tiny Tim
She put him in the bathtub
To see if he could swim.
He drank up all the water.
He ate up all the soap.
He tried to eat the bathtub
But it wouldn't go down his throat...
Have your preschoolers act out the parts, Tim, Miss Lucy, the Doctor, the Nurse and the Lady with the alligator purse.  And if you don't want to share this, find Margaret Mahy's Bubble Trouble and enjoy it with children or visit the library titles shown below.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

6th January Bean Day (Part 4) Jonathan Bean

Jonathan Bean is an author illustrator based in Pennsylvania in the US. Until his picture book Building Our House, I hadn't noticed his illustrations in other authors books, but after doing a search I realised I already had books in my library with his illustrations, even one by an Australian author, Wendy Orr's novel,  Mokie and Bik Go to Sea. Lynne Jonell's series of novels about Emmy had been popular with a small group of good readers and I loved their covers, but hadn't 'twigged' to the fact that Jonathan was the illustrator. Last year I added Deborah Underwood's Bad Bye, Good Bye and At Night which I really love and thus got a new appreciation of Jonathan Bean's work. I am now off to buy his newest title This is My Home, This is My School. Very few of the students I teach would know about homeschooling so I'm sure this book will lead to some interesting discussion.

When I do displays in the library I always 'go off on tangents' so sometime this year as part of the International Year of Pulses, Jonathan Bean will have his own display as an 'author/illustrator to watch'!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

6th January Pulse Feast

2016 is the International Year of Pulses. Visit the website and see a film clip that explains what pulses are and why we should celebrate them. Pulse Feast is celebrated on 6th January (aka  Bean Day). This feast encourages people around the world to eat pulses, to show their love of beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. It also aims to raise awareness of the health, nutrition and sustainability benefits of pulses for people, animals and the planet.

And as I have written about for the last three days, and will again tomorrow there are hundreds of picture books you could use to also celebrate pulses.

Strictly speaking pulses are seeds, so they are dried beans and peas rather than the fresh vegetables, so today I searched the library catalogue for books about baked beans and was surprised to find we had some. You may have some of these too, even though some are old.

While reading these remember the song Musical Beans

Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So we have beans at every meal!

And then you will have to read It All Started With a Bean by Katie McKy.

Monday, January 4, 2016

6th January Bean Day (Part 3)

Now for having fun with Jack and the Beanstalk. When I survey my four kindergarten classes to see which fairytales they know, unlike many others, they do know this story. When questioned further they know there is  a giant, magic beans and a beanstalk. A few children will know Fee Fi Fo Fum, but not many. So they are very happy to read and compare versions and then look at 'corrupted' modern retellings. If you know the original well then it is easy to laugh at the spoofs. Many of the spoofs are in small chapter book format too, so they are ideal for my budding readers.

I love Raymond Brigg's Jim and the Beanstalk. Mary Pope Osborne has swapped Jack for Kate in Kate and the Beanstalk. Who can resist a book with the title Jack and the Baked Beanstalk? It has a modern twist where the beans come in a can, but still Jack's mother throws the can out the window in disgust. Jack  by Liesl Shurtliff is a novel length 'true story of Jack and the Beanstalk' which takes the concept of fractured fairytale to its full extent and makes a good serial. It's Not About the Beanstalk by David Parkin is a short chapter book which is part of a series about three friends who explore fairytales from around the world. Collect together all the versions of the beanstalk story you can find and have some fun!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

6th January Bean Day (Part 2)

Why is Bean such a common name in the world of children's books? It's not like it is this common in real life!

All of the books pictured above are part of a series of books except Bella and Bean by Rebecca Kai Dotlich.  This is a sweet picture book which certainly appeals to my pink-loving girls. It tells the story of two mice or rats, Bella, a moody poet and Bean, who is energetic and interrupts Bella's quiet constantly wanting her to join in some fun rather than composing. These two mismatched friends do influence each other though and by the end of the book they are writing a poem together. Lots of good vocabulary and lots to talk about especially in regards to friendship.

In the picture book series Zoe and Beans by father and daughter team Chloe and Mick Inkpen, Beans is a dog. Zoe and Beans do things that all preschoolers do but they also find themselves in adventures with pirates and on the moon which adds an element of creative play.

Beandog and Nugget by Cherise Mericle Harper is a series of easy graphic novels about two friends.
In The Ball, the first book in this series, Bean Dog and Nugget lose Bean Dog's shiny new ball in a bush. They dream up elaborate and silly ways to get it back while they argue about who is actually going to go and get it. Enter Superdog and Ninja Nugget for a hilarious ending that kids will love and relate to. Then in The Cookie the two think up ways to share the cookie. I am always looking for cartoon-style easy to read books for the library and these are perfect.

Ivy and Bean don't need an introduction. These two girls and their series of books are among the most borrowed early reader series in my library. Here Bean, short for Bernice is the tomboy, green- loving, anti-dress wearing half of the dynamic duo. Her friend Ivy is the more intellectual, quiet, pink-loving is the other half. In each of the ten books about them they cause much mischief and humour that 6 to 9 year old girls seem to really enjoy.

Beany  is a character who is brought to life in a series of books written by Susan Wojciechowski. Book one of five, Beany (Not Beanhead) introduces Bernice Lorraine Sherwin-Hendricks, aka Beany, a girl with twenty-three freckles, a bossy best friend, and a tendency to worry over just about everything! Bean is based on Susan's daughter Mary and in each of the books Beany tackles school anxieties 'with grit and fortitude'.  A good step up from Ivy and Bean!
Now for the three protagonists who have Bean as a surname!
Harriet Bean is a series of three books by Alexander McCall Smith. Harriet Bean, the heroine of each loves nothing more than a good mystery so together with her five extraordinary aunts (Veronica, Harmonica, Majolica, and twins Japonica and Thessalonika), she is always ready to take on a new case.
The Clarice Bean  series is a mixture of picture books and novels. The picture books are popular in my library but the chapter books are beyond the majority of my eight year olds. Lauren Child's wit is sophisticated, but like the other heroines listed above Clarice also has childhood worries, has to deal with unwanted changes, family and sibling issues and finding friendships.

Willa Bean is a lovable curly-haired cupid. She is very different from other cupids with her 'milli-bajillion' freckles, crazy mess of hair and purple wings. She attends the Cupid Academy and lives on Nimbus. There are five books in the Little Wings series about Willa Bean and they are easier to read than Jill Murphy's Worst Witch series and deal with similar school and friend problems.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

6th January Bean Day (Part 1)

The 6th January is Bean Day.  I was surprised to find that such a day existed. Websites say it is a day to celebrate beans of every sort in any way you want or can think of. So obviously I thought about books and then realised that I could think of four different 'bean' ways to do this:
1. Look at books, fiction and non fiction books that are about the vegetable, beans.
2. Look at all the books where a character has 'Bean' as a name.
3. Look at stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk where beans or beanstalks appear. There are so many versions of and spoofs of this story, and
4. Look at the books by author/illustrator Jonathan Bean.

See I told you. I could have fun with 'beans' for  a whole week and I haven't even looked at jellybeans. I would also want to grow some beans because they are so easy to grow and children love watching the changes. You might have Amanda Graham's Five Beans big book in your school and be able to put the procedural text into reality. This book, part of the Wings series of books for young readers is ideal for 5-6 year olds. Otherwise there are quite a few very good expository texts about the lifecycle of a bean that you could follow. My school also has a big book of Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen's  Jasper's Beanstalk and the children love laughing at Jasper's antics as he waits for his beanseed to grow.

Other than growing beans, there is always cooking with beans, say Mexican-inspired wonders or soup, craft with beans or just reading good stories such as the very funny Bean Thirteen by Matthew McElligott or Mice and Beans by Joe Cepeda and Pam Munoz Ryan. Skippyjon Jones has quite a cult following in my library too so this title could be fun too.

Tomorrow Part Two will cover all the book characters who have Bean as a name.