Wednesday, May 24, 2017

29th May Learn About Composting Day

I missed International Compost Awareness Week which ran from 7th to 13th May. This is a shame because their website has lots of good ideas to hook into. So instead I'm showing you books to advance the composting cause in preparation for the 29th May which is Learn About Composting Day. Did you know there were this many books specifically on composting? They make it so easy to be informed and to start a project that creates compost.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

16th May Drawing Day

Today is Drawing Day ! Drop everything and draw. You know you would like to.
Pull out these books and get inspired. Bob Raczka's new book Niko Draws a Feeling will empower you to be able to draw anything even your feelings!



Saturday, May 13, 2017

13th May Train Day

Train Day is celebrated on the Saturday closest to the 10th of May. The students I teach, all of whom are under eight would not see or catch a train very often. Where they live is not on a railway line, yet I still have many small boys who are fascinated by trains. I think the fascination probably starts with Thomas the Tank Engine, but it moves on to Benedict Blathwayt's Little Red Train  series and then I find that most of those smitten will borrow any train book. Consequently the library has a good collection. Some of the more borrowed ones are here:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

7th May Lemonade Day

How many 'lemonade' books could a library have? Well I was surprised to find eleven! So many of the picture book series have a title with a 'lemonade' stall. Is this still really every child's first attempt at being entrepreneurial? The  originator of this dayMichael Holthouse thinks so and it is now a highly organised event in the United States.
Look for these books and as well as the series you will find a wonderful poetry book, Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word,  a book that introduces children to bar graphs Lemonade For Sale,  a story that will have children giggling with power because they know that what the turkey is about to drink is not lemonade, I Love Lemonade,  a beginning chapter book, Magic Lemonade and a story about mindfulness and meditation, The Lemonade Hurricane.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

1st May Mother Goose Day





Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.

Jack's mother came in,
And caught the goose soon,
And mounting its back,
Flew up to the moon.


At school we have celebrated Mother Goose Day before. I have a talking Mother Goose plush toy which recites nursery rhymes and as a prep school library that caters for 3 to 8 year olds we have quite a few anthologies of nursery rhymes. These are not borrowed by parents or children. The parents all think their children are past that and that nursery rhymes are for babies. I find this sad, because the students I teach do not know their nursery rhymes, beyond Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; Humpty Dumpty; Incy Wincy Spider; Little Miss Muffet; and Baa Baa Black Sheep. If I say the opening lines of many others, they can't always finish them.

This year I decided to put together a display for Mother Goose Day of nursery rhyme mashup stories, that is stories that have characters from nursery rhymes but not the usual words. Then when parents borrow these to read with their child, perhaps through discussion they will realise their child does not know the original rhymes and will then come back to the library looking for books that give the original rhymes and further verses beyond what they know.  I would love it if they knew The Grand Old Duke of York; Cobbler Cobbler; Hickety Pickety; Hickory Dickory Dock; Sing a Song of Sixpence and many more.Of course there are preschool children who do know them and they are very good at completing rhymes, predicting rhyming words and are well on their way to reading.

When I started to collect books together for the display I found the library had 94 books with 'nursery rhyme - fiction' as a subject heading so it wasn't hard to find suitable reading material for my audience. Here is a pinterest page of what I found.

Monday, April 24, 2017

27th April World Tapir Day



What is a tapir? This is a question I was constantly asked in the late 1990s when my students were very keen on a series of books about Howard, a hippo and his friends that was written by Colin West. Howard has a 'special friend called Lucy. She's a tapir.' Back then I found it hard to find any books about tapirs and we couldn't just 'google' tapirs. We looked them up in an encyclopedia. 

I hadn't given tapirs a lot of thought for quite a while but then Polly Faber's Mango and Bambang burst onto the scene. It was so popular and I began to get that question again...what is a tapir? How do I say this word? So I went looking again. Now I can google and quickly satisfy my readers' curiosity. 

Imagine my surprise then when I read that there was a World Tapir Day. We had better celebrate it, especially now that there are four Mango and Bambang books in the series and they are so popular. Last week I picked up a new Phillip Gwynne picture book at the book shop called Brothers from a Different Mother  and guess what it was about a tapir. 
On the World Tapir Day website it said,





Despite their size, history and ecological importance, tapirs remain one of the least recognised species of animals.  In comparison with other animals, tapirs feature little in the collective consciousness and are frequently misidentified by zoo visitors.  Even in their home ranges, tapirs receive little attention, with exotic species featuring more prominently in zoos, children's books and the media.

So authors are doing something about it, it would appear. Will tapirs soon be as popular as sloths and lemurs have become in children's books? Here's what I found in my library to make a display for the first day back at school this term.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

19th April Banana Day

Banana Day is held annually on the third Wednesday of April.  

There are so many books you could use to celebrate Banana Day. These are only the ones in my library with the words banana or bananas in the title. There are many more where they are in the illustrations. 

Most of the books feature bananas as fruit, but a few look at 'going bananas' an idiom which means acting irrationally or crazy, something completely different and unrelated to the fruit. Where did this idiom come from? 

Young audiences will laugh at Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas, love the riddles in What Do You Call a Gorilla with a Banana in Each Ear? , be able to learn where bananas come from in  Juliana's Bananas and  thoroughly enjoy the poems in Michael Rosen's anthology of poems Bananas in My Ears

Saturday, April 15, 2017

17th April Haiku Poetry Day


Haiku is a form of poetry that originated in Japan and for hundreds of years, school children in Japan have been introduced to poetry through the work of Issa. He was born in central Japan in 1763 and began writing poetry as a young child. Issa had a deep love for the natural world and it is the natural world that is the subject of not only his poems, but most traditional haiku. The book Cool Melons is a classic introduction to Issa's poems and an inspirational book about haiku, nature and life.

Traditionally haiku consist of 17 on ("syllables"), in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 on respectively. They take nature as their subject and include  the juxtaposition of two images or ideas.Today's haiku play with the format, but usually stick to the three lines and about 17 syllables. See this lesson on youtube.

The teachers at my school make good use of the books of haiku that I have in the library, so I am happy to add new ones if I know they will be used. We have these.There is something for everyone here and quite a range. Betsy Snyder writes haiku for the very young, even for board books. There is a couple of 'how to' books, anthologies of poems and stories told in haiku.


 If you are looking for  beautiful books that use haiku as an integral part of their storytelling technique, read  Hi, Koo! by Jon J. Muth and Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young. Whether  studying haiku or just just sharing a good book these two are worth the effort.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

7th April International Beaver Day



It is nice that there is an International Beaver Day, but I do wonder why because not everywhere has beavers. We certainly don't in Australia. For me they fall in the same category as otters and raccoons, cute looking and make great book characters, but I've never seen a real one. I'd like a plush toy one to go with the books in the library. It is always easier to get a book to leave the library if it has an accompanying toy.

We have these books and all have a good story with a message to impart that is worthwhile, but not heavy handed.





Monday, April 3, 2017

4th April World Rat Day

Tomorrow is World Rat Day. Not sure I want to celebrate rats but there are a couple of families at school with pet rats and people do say that they make good pets. What I can't believe is how many children's books have rats in them...and I do love The Rats of NIMH. When I looked up the catalogue today I found it hard to believe that we had over 80 books with 'rats' as a subject heading and that was in a library just for 3 to 8 year olds. When I added the other two libraries at school there were many, many more so they are a popular animal in children's books. So off you go to the library and borrow a story that features rats. Enjoy!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Too Wet March

Well in February we sweltered because it was too hot. Now in March it is so wet and very often humid as well. The weather in Sydney has certainly been extreme. Just as well we have lots of books about 'rain'. Even without doing floods or any other extreme weather events we managed to find 30 books for a display. There are two exceptionally good new ones Rain by Sam Usher  and Watersong by Tim McCanna. Both of these are for very young children. They both feature stunning illustrations.
Watersong is a celebration of onomatopoeia. Rain is a narrative about Sam and his grandfather's adventure in the rain. If you are teaching preschool combine these with Who Likes Rain? by Herbert Yee. If you have older students revisit Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault's  beautiful word images in their poem Listen to the Rain. 


The children I teach often ask where do the animals go when it rains, so books such as Gerda Muller's  Where Do They Go in the Rain? and Harriet Ziefert's Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain? help address this question.

Just when the students start to whinge about not being able to go outside it is time to share Rain School by James Rumford and if you can find a copy, Children of the Yangtze River by Otto S. Svend because they will then appreciate their own school and ability to stay dry. These two stories show children as capable problem solvers, hard workers and useful in a time of difficulty.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

21st March World Poetry Day



A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language. W. H. Auden 


I try to share poetry on Tuesday 21st March every year, sometimes just with the classes I teach, sometimes in assembly or sometimes I organise a whole school celebration. At my school the whole school is involved in eSmart Week events so unfortunately poetry will come off second best. All the more reason why my lessons in the library this week will all involve sharing poetry.

Here are five newish books that are well worth adding to any collection:
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer
This story celebrates poetry found in the world around us.  What is poetry? It is glistening morning dew. It is crisp leaves crunching. If you look and listen, it's all around you.
All the World a Poem by  Gilles Tibo
Also for young children this is a tribute to poetry. Each poem is illustrated with paper collage art which is child-like and takes poetry to the level of the child.
 A Great Big Cuddle Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell.
This wonderful book has just been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award. Enough said.
Macavity The Mystery Cat by T.S.Eliot and Arthur Robins
This is a picture book version of this great poem. Arthur Robins has now done four of the cat poems as picture books...see Mr Mistoffelees, Skimbleshanks and Jellicle Cats as well.
A Poem for Every Night edited by Allie Esiri.
This is a magnificent collection of 366 poems for older children, one to share ever night of the year. The poems - together with introductory paragraphs - have a link to the date on which they appear.



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

16th March National Hiccup Day

Yesterday I collected together all the books in the library catalogue that had 'hiccups' in the title. I couldn't believe there were 17 books! I have put a picture of 16 of them below. We also had Nette Hilton's short novel The Hiccups. Often around Halloween I share Lee Weatherly's The Scariest Monster in the World. In this story the monster gets a bad case of hiccups and the other creatures try all the cures! The children love this story especially how he finally does get rid of the hiccups. If you have this story it is the perfect story for Hiccups Day! What causes hiccups anyway? I'll look tomorrow in one of the nonfiction books in the display.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

13th March Janeen Brian

Janeen Brian will celebrate her birthday on the 13th March and I will get out her books for my preschool classes that visit on that day. I'm a Dirty Dinosaur  is such a favourite. The children love joining in with all the verbs. I have just purchased her new book, Little Chicken Chickabee  and I am eager to try it out. It too, has opportunities for joining in.

Of course she writes for older children as well. She has written several books for the Solo series for beginning readers, biographies for the Meet... series and novels for older readers. She is extremely versatile.




Tuesday, March 7, 2017

8th March International Women's Day


Each year in the library we put together a display for International Women's Day. Usually it focusses upon the many picture book biographies that we have added to the library's collection. See all the female biographies listed here. But as well I try to share books that have a strong 'gender' theme or are anti stereotype. I feel that this is as necessary as it has ever been and reading 'that The wWorld Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186', we still have a long way to go.Here are three newer picture books that I haven't written about before.

The Ricker Racker Club by Patrick Guest and Nathaniel Eckstrom really made me smile as at times the characters and situations sounded like the children I teach.The boys have created a club. Poppy really wants to be in the club and does everything the boys ask her to do. Finally the boys, Max and Ollie acknowledge Poppy's bravery and make her an equal partner in the club. Poppy succeeds, in the process showing how capable and spirited she can be. Use the illustration of the sign on the back cover of the book to start a discussion with the class before you even open the book to read.

"So much to like in this book; the rhythm of the text, the bountiful illustrations, the well defined characters and the strong messages of acceptance and empathy.  The story sets an ideal child’s adventure world as the ideal place to learn and grow emotionally..."   Reviewed by Chris Dayman

 Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery by David Gordon.

Here there are some extremely cute (read dressed in pink and very girly) animals. When Karen's sandcastle is destroyed by three boys, Skylar, Mike and Trent, her friends are not daunted. They rally and come up with plan after plan to thwart the boys. What they build will not be destroyed and it involves driving a bulldozer!

Beautiful  by Stacy McAnulty and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff.
This book is purely a celebration of girls and what they are capable of...'beautiful girls deserve compliments because they make the world...BEAUTIFUL.'

So many wonderful books to share with young children on a day well worth promoting.




Thursday, February 16, 2017

Too hot February!

We have sweltered at school since the term began. The heat and humidity seem interminable. It doesn't make for productive teaching when everyone just wants to get cool. Why aren't schools air-conditioned? I tried the 'power of suggestion' by putting together library displays about swimming and ice cream.

Many of the preschool classes have been to the library for the first time and it is a long walk (not really but they think it is) so we pretended to eat ice cream, acted out an ice cream poem and read Sam Lloyd's Two Little Aliens . In this story two aliens find ice cream and don't know what to do with it. It always makes the children feel so knowledgeable and they laugh at the aliens.

The displays worked. All the ice cream books left the library very promptly.They went before I even had the chance to share Bob Graham's Vanilla Ice Cream or Peter Sis' Ice Cream Summer. I always  enjoy sharing Mr Plunkett's Pool too, as there are so many scenarios that arise and can then be  discussed by the children, especially with my students who think that everyone has a pool or lives near the beach.

Below are some of the books we put out on display.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

14th February Library Lovers Day

I had fun at school today! I wrapped a book up in a parcel for each class and left it on the teacher's chair in the classroom for the class to find at the start of the day. I pasted the Library Lovers Day heart and International Book Giving Day logo on the parcel with a heart-shaped  note suggesting that they enjoy sharing the contents. All of the books I chose were about reading for pleasure and they were given out at random to my twelve K - 2 classes. Four of the teachers gave me very positive feedback and several children came to the library to thank me for their book. They guessed they were library books because of the spine labels and covering! Yes, it was a bit of an effort, but well worth it, if the students respond positively to the library, books and reading.

Friday, February 10, 2017

12th February Darwin Day


While he was in Australia, Charles Darwin saw animals that lead him to think about how animals came to be and natural selection and thus began his thinking and work that lead to his Theory of Evolution.

Talking about this anniversary on Charles Darwin's birthday with students always elicits much discussion and there are always requests for books so they can read more. 

These three books are a good start but there are many picture books on evolution that are easy enough for eight year olds to begin an interest. Also see here for two other other books.




Friday, February 3, 2017

3rd February Bubblegum Day


The first Friday in February is Bubblegum Day. It began in 2006 when children's author Ruth Spiro decided that there needed to be a day to celebrate education, philanthropy and bubblegum! She has written a book called Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist, but I have not seen it. If I was looking for a book about bubblegum in my library I would resurrect my favourite B is For Bubbles  by Pamela Shrapnel and Noela Young. It is long out of print, but I have kept my library's very tatty copy on my shelf of 'specials'. It is perfect for Year 1 children who have lost teeth and just cannot blow bubbles with gum.

If you haven't got this book then the much more recent  Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum by Lisa Wheeler  is lots of fun to share with children and Chavela and the Magic Bubble  allows for a much deeper discussion about diversity and ecology.







Wednesday, January 25, 2017

31st January Bryan Collier (1967)


Bryan Collier is an American children's picture book illustrator whose work is not well known in Australia, but those that I have seen are particularly memorable. His better-known books are biographies of very famous black Americans such as Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks and Mohammed Ali.

I like telling my students about how Collier became interested in art at a very early age and  was inspired by the picture books of Ezra Jack Keats such as  The Snowy Day  and Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Look for these in the library:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

23rd January Georgia O'Keeffe (15/11/1887 - 6/3/1986)

Georgia O'Keeffe is a most amazing American artist and there is an exhibition of some of her work visiting Australia at the moment. Last week I was fortunate to see it and I was not disappointed. It is part of an exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne. Her works are displayed with well known Australian woman artists Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington Smith whose body of work are much easier to see if you live in Sydney.

Georgia made up her mind to be an artist at ten years old  and there are some wonderful picture book biographies about her so it is easy to share her work with young children. They are fascinated that she was so young when she decided on her vocation. They like the bones and the sheer size of her flower paintings. We have three biographies:
My Name is Georgia  by Jeanette Winter
Georgia's Bones by Jen Bryant and Bethanne Anderson
Through Georgia's Eyes by Rachel Rodriguez and Julie Paschkis
and a new one has just been published by Tate Publishing
Meet Georgia by Marina Muun






I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way – things I had no words for. (Georgia O'Keeffe)