Saturday, August 12, 2017

August Platypus Month

If you live in the Australian Capital Territory during August you can be on a platypus watch. How exciting. These animals are  special, but elusive, so to see one in its natural habitat would be so memorable. There is a good summary of what to know about platypuses here.

There is not an abundance of picture books about the platypus. Unlike echidnas, possums, wombats, kangaroos, bilbies and koalas who feature in stories and expository texts, platypus don't  and when they do they are often not written or illustrated by Australians.

Sue Whiting and Mark Jackson's  Platypus  is the most recent and the best. This book is part of the wonderful Nature Storybook series where there is two fonts, one telling a narrative and the other giving facts about the animal.  These other three are older, but they will add to your knowledge and allow the reader to see the platypus as a story character and learn some of the Aboriginal Dreamtime connection it has and they are published in Australia.

Little Platypus by Nette Hilton and Nina Rycroft
• The Platypus What is it? by Jo Brice and Gregory Rogers
The Little Platypus and the Fire Spirit by Mundara Koran

12th August World Elephant Day

On August 12 World Elephant Day asks us to help conserve and protect elephants from the numerous threats they face.

It is not hard to feel empathy for elephants. It is not hard to get very young children interested in elephants either. There are so many picture books and  short novels for young children that introduce them to some of the difficulties faced by elephants. Recently a group of students and I shared Queenie by Corinne Fenton and we had a long discussion about whether or not elephants should be used to 'ferry' people around zoos. The World's Greatest Elephant by Ralph Helfer is a good book to share to discuss whether elephants should be part of a circus. One Step at a Time by Jane Jolly and Faithful Elephants  by Yukio Tsuchiya allow children to see how elephants can be innocent bystanders in a war.

Two chapter books that my Year 2 and 3 readers enjoy, but are moved to talk about are Tua and the Elephant  by Randall Harris and Akimbo and the Elephants by Alexander McCall Smith.

There are so many wonderful books to introduce children to the marvels of elephants, both expository texts and faction, where they can learn about their life in the wild and what threatens their existence.

For more elephant picture books look here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

29th July International Tiger Day

I have written about this celebration before here, but I need to tell you about some tiger books that have been added to the library since then and two of them are never in the library. As soon as they are returned, they leave again. They are:
• There's a Tiger in the Garden  by Lizzy Stewart
• Tiger in a Tutu by Fabi Santiago.

As well, this year I have purchased these
Cinnamon  a fable by Neil Gaiman.
Never Tickle a Tiger by Pamela Butchart
Goodnight Tiger  by Timothy Knapman
Tiger Tiger  by Jonny Lambert

There are 125 fiction books in the library featuring tigers as well as several lovely nonfiction titles, so come the end of the month the library will be roaring with tigers!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

24th July Amelia Earhart Day

Amelia Earhart Day is celebrated on July 24, 2017. Amelia Mary Earhart (July 24, 1897 - disappeared July 2, 1937) was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first aviatrix (female pilot) to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. 

I have written about Amelia before here, but many more children's books have appeared about her since then and you need an update about my daughter and her flying progress. She does not yet have a pilot licence but continues to have lessons and enjoy any opportunity to go on a plane.

Tomorrow at school we will put out all our books about Amelia Earhart, including these two new ones and 'escape by plane' but unlike her we will land safely.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

16th July Guinea Pig Appreciation Day

Guinea Pig Appreciation Day only started last year, but it would be a huge hit in my library as the young children I teach love guinea pigs and I am constantly asked for guinea pig stories. Fortunately we have a large number and some of them are series so they can 'get hooked' and keep reading. Humphrey's Tiny Tales by Betty G Birney have been popular and the graphic novel series Guinea Pig Pet Shop Private Eye by Colleen A F Venable has a large following too. We used to have a wonderful Folkmanis guinea pig puppet too, but sadly he was borrowed, never to return. I do know he is probably well-loved! The display does work without accompanying toy or puppets.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

14th July Pandemonium Day

I love the word 'pandemonium' and so do young children. They feel a great sense of achievement when they say it. Therefore I really enjoy reading books to my preschool classes that use that word. Some of my favourites are:

My year 2 readers get quite engrossed in Jeanne Willis' Penguin Pandemonium series too.

I also love the origin of the word, not that I would be teaching Kindergarten about Milton.

 1660-70; after Pandaemonium, Milton's name in Paradise Lost for the capital of hell; see pan-, demon, -ium

Given how many times it is spelled to feature 'panda' in the title though perhaps it should have been spelled with the 'a' not the 'e'.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

9th July Ada's baptism

I have just come home from a lovely celebration for a friend's baby, Ada Grace. For the last week I have been agonising about what gift to give her. I always give this family books, so I felt quite sure they would expect me to arrive with books, but what to take? I had given Ada's older sister picture book bible stories for her baptism, but felt I had chosen the best of these then. So finally I decided to give Ada some books about exemplary Adas. Well as it turned out I had a lot to choose from, all of which she would grow into at some stage. In the end I bought a current favourite, Ada Twist, Scientist and one of the wonderful biographies on Ada Lovelace, Ada's Ideas, but it could have just as easily been any of these below. The one at the top right is book one of a new series about Ada Lace, an eight-year-old girl with a knack for science, maths, and solving mysteries with technology. It will be out in August and I will buy it for the library.

Friday, July 7, 2017

7th July Global Forgiveness Day

July 7th is celebrated as Global Forgiveness Day. Forgiving someone, asking for forgiveness and apologising are often not easy things to do. It  is something we work hard on with the very young children I teach. Teachers often burst into the library saying, 'Quick I need a book about forgiveness for circle time.' And of course no book does exactly what they want, but I often use these to get teachers started.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

7th July Chocolate Day

There are several times a year to celebrate with chocolate, but it is a while since Easter and still some time till Christmas or Valentine's Day so it is timely to have a Chocolate Day in the middle of the year, especially when it is cold here in the Southern Hemisphere.

Latest reports suggest that regular intake of chocolate and cocoa could be beneficial for cognitive functioning over time, thereby staving off degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  People who ate chocolate every day were found to have better attention spans, working memory, ability to process speed and verbal fluency, but it should be dark chocolate to avoid health problems associated with high sugar intake.

The most popular book about chocolate is probably Charlie and the Chocolate  Factory by Roald Dahl, but there are many other wonderful novels which allow fans to read more about the wonders of chocolate. The books below are ideal for reading at times other than Easter and when you are feeling like some chocolate.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

3rd July International Plastic Bag Free Day

Today needs to be a  Plastic Bag Free Day! My local council has designated the whole of July as a plastic free time in order to make each of us contemplate what plastic bags do to our environment.International Plastic 

This most popular of disposable carrying devices that  we pick up from retailers are used for an incredibly short time, usually under 25 minutes, and are then disposed of. They may pass out of our thinking then, but they do not pass out of our world. Plastic bags remain in the world for anywhere from 100-500 years before finally decaying completely, and have a profound impact upon our environment as a result.

Out in the great reaches of the ocean are massive reefs made up of all sorts of plastic waste, and plastic bags play heavily among them. Such is the magnitude of the problem that these great floating islands reach hundreds of miles, like great monuments to mankind’s wastefulness, and disregard for the world upon which we live. International Plastic Bag Free Day gives us an opportunity to remind ourselves, and others, that every action we take, and every bag we dispose of, effects the lives of everyone in the world for generations to come.

I find that the children I teach are very aware of plastic in the oceans, but not so aware of its ramifications elsewhere such as in landfill. Luckily there are some wonderful picture books that can be used to start any discussion on what happens to plastic when it is not disposed of responsibly. 

One Plastic Bag  by Miranda Paul and Elizabeth Zunon tells the story of Isatou Ceesaya, a Gambian woman, 
 who came up with a way to recycle the plastic bags that had littered the landscape in her nation, an act that saved the environment and transformed her community.

Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser and Barry Root. This story follows a plastic bag on its  journey from a landfill into a series of townspeople's lives. One cold morning in early spring, a bulldozer pushes a pile of garbage around a landfill and uncovers an empty plastic bag a perfectly good bag, the colour of the skin of a yellow onion, with two holes for handles that someone has thrown away. Just then, a puff of wind lifts the rolling, flapping bag over a chain-link fence and into the lives of several townsfolk a can-collecting girl, a homeless man, a store owner not that all of them notice.

Theo and the Giant Plastic Ball  by The United Nations Environment Program and Adrienne Kennaway tells of Theo and his quest to improve at football by making a ball out of discarded plastic bags. This then leads to clearing up his local environment and the realisation that by the community working together they could maintain a cleaner, more healthy environment.

Plastic Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman and Anne Crawley tells of a team of scientists who explore the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where millions of pieces of plastic have gathered, having drifted there from rivers, beaches, and ocean traffic all over the world.

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle by Alison Inches and Pete Whitehead is the diary of a plastic bottle. It goes on a journey from the refinery plant, to the manufacturing line, to the store shelf, to a garbage can, and finally to a recycling plant where it emerges into its new a fleece jacket! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

29th June International Mud Day

The creators of International Mud Day wanted to find a way to help all of the children of the Earth feel closer to each other…and what a better way to do it than through the Earth itself? International Mud Day began in 2009 at a World Forum event, when Gillian McAuliffe from Australia and Bishnu Bhatta from Nepal got together to talk about ways to encourage feelings of community and appreciation for the world around us. It has since become a day where children, adults, and organizations across the globe get muddy to raise awareness about the importance of nature for children. 

Mud has always been an important element of childhood. Today most outdoor play occurs at schools/preschools and therefore it is important that schools begin, or continue their discussions and exploration into mud play (and other nature play concepts).

The school I teach at does value outdoor play. Kindergarten go to Bush School once a week for all of second term and then to Beach School once a week for all of fourth term. Here they get to revel in mud, sand, play with stones, sticks, in trees and immerse themselves in nature. Of course what they do here is supplemented by the more formal curriculum in the classroom, which in turn allows for much sharing of literature. If you are looking to 'celebrate mud' try these.

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.