Saturday, June 17, 2017

20th June World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day, an international observance observed June 20th each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world.

From the 18th to the 24th June is Refugee Week, a week that seems to grow in significance every year as the world deals with more and more refugees. I have written about books to use during this week before, here, here, here and here, but this year I want to share two new books which are ideal to share with very young children. Books such as Barroux's Welcome looks at what we need to do, but for students to have empathy for refugees, 'walking in their shoes' using books such as these two may be beneficial.

My Name is  Not Refugee by Kate Milner
Here a young boy discusses the journey he is about to make with his mother. They will leave their town, she explains, and it will be sad but also a little bit exciting. They will have to say goodbye to friends and loved ones, and that will be difficult. They will have to walk and walk and walk, and although they will see many new and interesting things, it will be difficult at times too. It is a powerful and moving exploration that draws the young reader into each stage of the journey, inviting the chance to imagine the decisions he or she would make. This is Kate Milner's first book. Here is some of the background to its publication.

• My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo
Here we see the story of a Syrian boy, Sami. Behind Sami, the Syrian skyline is full of smoke. The boy follows his family and all his neighbours in a long line, as they trudge through the sands and hills to escape the bombs that have destroyed their homes. But all Sami can think of is his pet pigeons--will they escape too? When they reach a refugee camp and are safe at last, everyone settles into the tent city. But though the children start to play and go to school again, Sami can't join in. When he is given paper and paint, all he can do is smear his painting with black. He can't forget his birds and what his family has left behind. One day a canary, a dove, and a rose finch fly into the camp. They flutter around Sami and settle on his outstretched arms. For Sami it is one step in a long healing process at last. A gentle yet moving story of refugees of the Syrian civil war, My Beautiful Birds illuminates the ongoing crisis as it affects its children. The artwork is beautiful, Sami has the same concerns as all children and can still think of others besides himself.

"This story of one frightened little boy who finds strength in caring for animals and uses that strength to comfort other kids is an excellent means of explaining a difficult subject to young children. "(Kirkus)

This story could be paired with Lost and Found Cat  by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes which also looks at a young child having to leave a pet behind.

In fact, there are beginning to be a lot of children's books that have the plight of refugees as a theme. On this pinterest page there are picture books worth looking for in your library.

17th June Eat Your Vegetables Day

Our school is a Sip and Crunch School so I see children eat vegetables everyday, mainly carrots, celery, cucumbers and tomatoes. And in the last month I have bought five new books which feature vegetables so Eat Your Vegetables Day turns out to be a good day to celebrate in the library. Last week the preschool classes and I had fun reading There's Broccoli in My Ice-cream and when I asked them what their favourite vegetable was there was an amazing variety listed. It was fairly unanimous though that no one liked zucchini. I've ordered Zora's Zucchini. We'll see if it can change perceptions. Look here for all the library's vegetable books.

Friday, June 9, 2017

9th June Don't ...

Earlier in the year we had a display in the library of books with 'No' as the title. We did it as a joke initially because one of us said, "I wish someone would just say 'no' to these kids!"But, it was a big success. We'd hear the children, even preschoolers reading the titles with all sorts of different intonation. Then this past week we put out all the books in the library that say 'Don't Open this Book'. It was so sweet watching the children go up to the book read the title and prevaricate. Some came to ask if they could. Others tried to peep. Some said I'll borrow this and open it at home. Having only under eight year olds is so nice sometimes!

It was such a success that we then went looking for other titles that gave an instruction starting with 'don't' or 'do not'. Here's what we found and all but three were out of the library by yesterday!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

14th June International Bath Day

It is International Bath Day. So many children's books feature bathing, either as the story, a good way to finish a story or 'for shock value' with very young children, so on this day for celebrating baths I have put together a fun display in the library. I know most of the books will leave the library.
Remember even Harry the Dirty Dog and Paddington Bear have baths!

Probably the most well known bath story would be Pamela Allen's Mr Archimede's Bath. This book is still in demand both with children and teachers who are using it for a science lesson. Time to Get Out of the Bath, Shirley  by John Burningham is perfect for a visual literacy lesson as it tells two conflicting stories through the pictures and words. My preschoolers love Emma Quay's Rudie Nudie 'because they have no clothes on!'. One of my Year 2 teachers serialises Harry the Poisonous Centipede by Lynne Reid Banks and the children giggle at the thought of a centipede coming up the drain in the bath. The picture books about bath monsters, sharks and giraffes in the bath and  have a similar effect on younger reader.

When my son was young he was mad on fishing and we had a Keith Faulkner book, A Fisherman's Tale about a boy who caught a fish that he kept in the bathtub because it kept growing until it was obviously a whale. I think it was his ultimate fantasy. Maybe There's a Dinosaur in the Bathtub will do that for a young reader today. Whale in the Bath by Kylie Westaway would be one of the most borrowed picture books this year so far. I'm sure the Premier's Reading Challenge sticker helps but given the number of books in the library with stickers it must have something else going for it. And if it is a while since you've read Glenda Millard's Unplugged!  dig it out and at least you'll feel warm.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

5th June Hot Air Balloon Day

I have written about Hot Air Balloon Day before here, but recently I have added three new books to the library which are well worth searching out for this topic or just as good reads.

 Lighter Than Air  by Matthew Clark Smith and Matt Tevares tells the story of Sophie Blanchard, the first woman pilot. A must read for all girls who need convincing they are capable of anything.

 A Voyage in the Clouds by Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall is another         story loosely based on a true event in history.

How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea  by Kate Hosford and Gabi Swiatkowska is a fun story about a hot air balloon trip that the queen takes.

2nd June Danny Parker

I know it's a bit late, but I have just learned that Perth author Danny Parker celebrated his birthday on 2nd June and he is not in my blog's birthday list. I will celebrate his birthday in the library next year. He has certainly come to the forefront of Australian picture books recently with so many prize nominations. I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the depths of Molly and Mae which is a notable book nominated for the CBCA  Shortlists for 2017. His stories have certainly benefited from the high profile illustrators Matt Ottley and Freya Blackwood who have illustrated many of his stories. His chapter book series Lola's Toybox  has a steady following of Year 2 girls in my library too.

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.


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.