Thursday, September 29, 2016

1st October National Ghost Hunting Day

I have just come home from school where I was doing the library displays for the beginning of next term. Halloween is quite popular with the children I teach, possibly because of the large number of expat families at school. I like the chance to get all the books out that feature ghosts, witches, wizards, monsters and 'creepy dark'. These books tend to only go out of the library at this time of year when they are 'facing'  children and being talked about. I also take the opportunity to do a pumpkin display and this year bats. In that way there is a good balance of fiction and nonfiction out and there's plenty to explore.

So when I noticed that in the USA the first day of October is Ghost Hunting Day I thought it very fitting that October starts and finishes with ghosts. There's so many good books to read with ghosts as characters. In the the picture books these are popular:
Ghost in the House by Ammi-Joan Paquette
Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara
Leo a Ghost Story by Mac Barnett
Little Ghost by Vivian French
We're Going on a Ghost Hunt by Susan Pearson
We're Going on a Ghost Hunt by Marcia Vaughan
Ghost  by Luk Depondt and Guido van Genechten
Ready Steady Ghost! by Elizabeth Baguley
Zen Ghosts by Jon M. Muth

As the school year gets closer to the end, I also have a larger number of fluent readers looking to immerse themselves in a good chapter book or series of books, so I have also put these 'ghost' stories out on display.

The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler    (eight books)
Ghost Hunters and the Incredibly Gruesome Ghost by Cornelia Funke (four books)
The Toilet Ghost by Pamela Butchart ( one of the three stories from Wigglesbottom Primary)
Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street Ghost by Kjartan Poskitt (one of six books)
Knitbone Pepper Ghost Dog by Claire Barker (one of three books)
 Ghosts on the Loose  by Tim Healey  (one of the Mortimer Keene series of five books) )
 The Ghost Library by David Melling
The Ghost Teacher by Tony Bradman
The Little Ghost by Otfried Preussler
The Case of the Graveyard Ghost and other Mysteries by Duncan Ball
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Here's quite a list to get you started on the ghost hunt!


Saturday, September 17, 2016

13th September Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day took on even more significance this year because it marked the day that he would have turned 100 years old. The new movie of The BFG has just been released so the children I teach have a renewed interest in Dahl's books. But, I have noticed, that in recent years less and less of my Year 2 students are reading his books independently than used to be the case. While I still have many Year 2 students who are good readers and can probably read most things if they choose to, they are not choosing to read anything that requires reading stamina on their part. They are turned off by the amount of text, the compactness of text and the lack of coloured pictures. They cannot loose themselves for over half an hour of interrupted reading. There are too many other things vying for their time. They are too busy. Such as shame I think. I yearn for the readers I had ten years ago before devices took up so much of their time.

Because of this, earlier in the year I made a decision to replace all of the library's Dahl books with the new, larger format editions that have coloured pictures. I put them on display and made a point of showing them to the children and there has been a resurgence in borrowing of Dahl books. So much so that when I decided to put together a birthday display last week there was only two of his books in the library, the two books of verse and a biography, so not enough to bother! Inadvertently, we celebrated Roald Dahl Day!

Friday, September 9, 2016

7th September Threatened Species Day

"Threatened Species Day is a national day held each year on 7 September to commemorate the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger (also known as the thylacine) at Hobart Zoo in 1936. It is a time to reflect on what has happened in the past and how we can protect our threatened species in the future. A day to celebrate our success stories and ongoing threatened species recovery work."
While there are some books about thylacines I had kindergarten on this day and wanted to read something slightly easier. I had recently purchased Penelope the Mountain Pygmy Possum, which is a story about a pygmy possum in the Snowy Mountains, and these possums are endangered. I knew that the idea of the tunnel under the road would appeal to Kindergarten. They ended up comparing this tunnel with a possum tunnel we have nearby on the Wakehurst Parkway that goes over the road. The information page at the back of the book brought us back to the real issue of pygmy possums and why they are endangered. Many of the children are skiers and spend time at Thredbo so they made some very pertinent connections with the text.  Then the  children wanted to borrow other books about pygmy possums which we don't have, but many borrowed books about Tasmanian devils and bilbies, both of which do also need saving. The conversation came back to the issue of the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect too and Zoos Victoria, so this term's reading has made for some good connections, both text-to-text and text-to-world. 


Friday, September 2, 2016

1st September Post Book Week

Now that Book Week is over and I have the chance to reflect on past weeks and teaching I want to share some successes. Initially I looked at the shortlisted books and wasn't truly inspired. Many of the Picture Books were too sophisticated for my 5 to 8 year olds and some of the Early Childhood list lacked enough 'meat' to warrant more than a  reading. I planned library lessons tentatively and thought I would try some titles out and go from there. I read Jane Jolly's One Step at a Time to Year 2 and was amazed at how much empathy they displayed and how much more meaning it had to them once they could see that it could be a true story. (See video of Mosha, the elephant with a prosthetic leg).  Mr Huff  was a success with all three grades, Kindergarten to Year 2 and it was made even more successful by having Anna Walker read the story herself as she does on Story Box Library.

The 'sleeper' was Phasmid by Rohan Cleave, the story of the endangered Lord Howe Island stick insect which was shortlisted for the Eve Pownall Award. I read it to Year 2 and they were full of questions and wanted to learn more. First we read the book and didn't even get to the end in one lesson. So in the next lesson we watched this video of a nymph hatching and finished the book. In pairs students chatted about what should happen next for the stick insects and made a list of questions they still had. I couldn't get Lord Howe Island phasmids, but I got two Goliath stick insects for the library and all the students, not just Year 2 are now into keeping a watchful eye on Sticky and Twiggy as they have named them. Yesterday I found two preschoolers with books open looking for pictures of Sticky. They found three pictures of a goliath stick insect and were telling their mothers in great detail about them. I haven't read any stick insect books to my preschool classes. They have just observed them in their jar and become fascinated. On the table with the stick insects we put out any information and story books that we had about stick insects for perusal and borrowing. We were surprised how many we had. If you are looking for some this is what we had.

* Stick Insects  by Valerie Bodden
* Stick Insects by Chris Macro
* Sneaky Stick Insects by Rebecca Johnson
Weird Insects by Michael Worek
* Stanley Sticks Out by Peter Rigby and Craig Smith
* Good Trick Walking Stick by Sheri M.Bestor
* Invisible Me by Melinda Shoen
* Walkingsticks  by Fran Howard
* Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer