Tuesday, October 10, 2017

10th October Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day is held every year on the second Tuesday of October. This is not her birthday. That is on 10th December, too close to school holidays and Christmas to celebrate then. Today is a day to celebrate inspirational women in science, technology, maths and engineering, in the hope that by shining a light on such people and increasing their visibility, they can inspire future generations. 

There is so much written about Ada's personal life. She has been the subject of novels, plays and now a large number of picture book biographies.This means that a large number of young children get to know about her 'mathematical genius' and she has become quite a mentor for young girls who enjoy STEM subjects.If you are looking to add books to your library for children as young as eight, these are perfect.

Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Hallmark & April Chu 

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley & Jessie Hartland
and look out for these which will be here early in the new year

Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers  by Tanya Lee Stone & Marjorie Priceman

Ada Lovelace by Isabel  &   (part of the Little People Big Dreams series)

And there is a new series of bridging novels just available about an eight year old, third grade  student with a knack for maths, science and solving mysteries with technology.  Written by Emily Ada Lace, On the Case is book 1 in the series.



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

6th October Badger Day



National Badger Day is celebrated on the 6th October annually. I find badgers beguiling. On a recent trip to Britain I was desperate to see one and when I asked where to see one this well-meaning woman said to me, "Oh dear, the only place you'll see one is dead on the side of the road." I continued my road trip and didn't give this comment too much more thought until the last day when about a kilometre from the airport as we were about to return our hire car I saw a badger, dead on the side of the road. In Australia we are quite used to 'roadkill' so my reaction I thought was completely out of character. I was a blubbering mess. 

Probably the first time I thought about badgers, as we don't have them in Australia, was when reading Wind in the Willows. Then when I started teaching Susan Varley's Badger's Parting Gifts was in every classroom and it made me sad. I wanted badger books that were happier and found Nick Butterworth's Percy the Park Keeper series where forest animals appeared so appealing. 

Now there are many more books to choose from in my library and I could put together a lovely display to celebrate today, starting with a plush badger bought at IKEA of all places. Jane Chapman's badgers always look friendly and fun in her illustrations for Karma Wilson's Bear stories. Her badger  in Paul Bright's  Grumpy Badger's Christmas even makes me smile.

The children in my library enjoy three 'badger' series:
• Suzanne  Chiew and Caroline Pedler's  Badger and the Great Storm, Badger and the Great Rescue, and Badger and the Great Journey

• The Mr Badger and Mrs Fox series by Brigitte Luciani  and Eve Tharlet. These five picture books are popular with my children who like the graphic novel format but are looking for shorter stories with coloured pictures.

• And of course there is Leigh Hobbs'  Mr Badger books which have dedicated Year 1 and 2 boy followers.

There are other stand alone picture books, but those above  will get you started on  a good display.

4th October Taco Day

Tacos are the Mexican equivalent of a sandwich and they are very popular with children so it is only fitting that there is a day to celebrate their existence. The two Dragons Love Tacos books by Adam Rubin together with the toy dragon are popular in my library and are often off visiting a family. Read them tomorrow and enjoy a taco filled with your favourite filling.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

16th September International Red Panda Day

Red Panda Day celebrates that smaller panda that is found in the Himalayas. It looks cute, but it features in children's books far less than the bigger black and white panda. In my library there is only one fiction book, Red Panda's Candy Apples and it is written by a New Zealand author Ruth Paul. It is the sequel to Hedgehog's Magic Tricks in which the red panda is a characterA new fiction book, Amy the Red Panda is Writing the Best Story in the World by Colleen Venable will be published in November. The blurb on websites says

An exuberant, hilarious guessing game about storytelling, creativity, friendship, and patience-with the most adorable animal menagerie you'll find anywhere! Amy the Red Panda starts to tell her best friend Mervin the Sloth a story when-uh-oh-a rainstorm of letters pours down! When it stops, Amy reads a sentence in the sky: Amy the Red Panda is writing the best story in the world... Marvin is there to give Amy just the right inspiration. A companion to Mervin the Sloth Is About to Do the Best Thing in the World, this funny-bone-tickling picture book brings back a cast of zany, irresistible animal friends and an inventive, playful format."


There are more nonfiction titles. Among them, these three:




 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

2nd September World Beard Day

World Beard Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in September and it is not something I have ever given much thought to, but when I read that it was occurring, I thought I should. I am the daughter of a man with a beard, the wife of a man with a beard and the mother of a son who looks like a bushranger, his beard is so bushy. My brother has a beard too, so it seems as if I can't get away from thinking it is the norm for a male to have a beard.

Then I thought I'd look to see what the library had that I could put out on display and guess what there was more than I thought there would be. I immediately thought of Margaret Wild and Margaret Power's Creatures in the Beard which makes the students giggle because there is a robin , a mouse and a baby possum living in Nicholas's father's beard. This book was borrowed last week as it was part of a Fathers' Day display of picture books. As well there were

 • The Lumberjack's Beard by Duncan Beedie. It is a more recent version of this book, in that the lumberjack saves the animals in the trees by keeping them in his beard. It will be easier to find. It has a green message as well.


My Dad Has a Beard  by Kellen Roggenbuck

My Sister has a Big Black Beard and other quirky verse by Duncan Ball and Kerry Millard and

Blackbeard the Pirate by Mick Gowar (one of the Hopscotch readers)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

31st August Book Week 2017

When the Picture Book of the Year shortlist came out I read the books and wondered what I was going to do with my Year 2 classes this year as I thought many of the list would need too much scaffolding to share with them successfully. I read The Patchwork Bike and could see a myriad of possibilities and it reminded me of of many other bicycle books that I had read that were also set in Africa. I then thought about the theme Escape to Everywhere  and thought about whether we could 'escape on a bicycle in Africa'. Mind mapping all these books and possibilities I put together a six week (one lesson a week) study which looked at the role of bicycles in Africa and how it differs from here. We started with looking at the role of bicycles in their own lives, where they come from, what they are used for, how much they cost, how many did each family have and who actually had one and could ride one. We recorded this anecdotally. Then we read these books, located the places on a map and talked at length about the main characters, the places and the bikes in the stories:

Emmanuel's Dream which is a biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a disabled boy who grew up in West Ghana, overcame great difficulties and went on to inspire others. (See Emmanuel talking about his life here.)

My Rows and Piles of Coins is the story of a Saruni who helps his mother carry everything to market in Tanzania each week and realises that a bicycle would change his and his mothers life for the better so he saves his money in order to buy one. He has a lot of coins but learns that it is still nowhere near enough to buy a bike.

The Red Bicycle has a bicycle as the main character.It starts life in  i in North America, being owned and ridden by a young boy.  His bicycle is donated  to an organisation that ships bicycles to Africa and is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family's sorghum field and to the market and then is repurposes as an ambulance.(If you have All Aboard For the Bobo Road, it is also set in Burkina Faso and shows the role of bikes well in the illustrations.)

In A Cloud of Dust tells the story of Anna who has a long walk to and  from school in Tanzania until the school is visited by a bicycle library. At this point I asked the children whether there was any aspect of Emmanuel, Saruni, Alisetta or Anna's life that they thought they would enjoy or like to try. The discussion was amazing. Many students thought these children had a degree of freedom and independence that they did not, some wanted to try working for money and some of the girls commented on liking to live 'without technology'.

Then we read The Patchwork Bike and watched both Maxine Beneba Clark read it on Youtube and it read on Story Box Library where we could see the illustrations in great detail because of their size on the smartboard. The students were fascinated by the way the illustrations were done on cardboard from a box. We talked about what we could use to make a bike. The students designed and drew up plans. I had time to read one class Galimoto too and this class made bikes from cardboard and wire. I was impressed with their  perseverance and their readiness to help each other.

Overall the Year 2 students and I have had a very interesting time in library lessons this term. We have used maps, turned the library into a makerspace to design and make, read good literature, put ourselves in others' shoes, watched film clips and been surprised at just what is happening charity and bike-wise.


Monday, August 28, 2017

28th August Book Week 2017

Well, Book Week 2017 has come and gone. The Early Childhood list of books didn't particularly inspire me to do great things with the books and children, but we did read them. As predicted Chip by Kylie Howarth was the big winner with the children in Kindergarten and Year 1. The library now has masses of seagulls flying 'aerobatically' around the library. It was interesting the connections the children made between the books. The biggest connection was one I hadn't predicted or planned for... and it was that three of the titles The Snow Wombat, Go Home Cheeky Animals  and Gary all had a map in them. Maps are in the new Geography syllabus and Kindergarten were right into following the trail of Gary and the wombat. They were very keen to discuss whether Gary and the wombat took the quickest routes home and if they didn't, why not? When I shared Snow Wombat I also shared Penelope the Pygmy Possum as it too is set in the high country, and the children were keen to draw a map to show where Penelope's partner went to get back to her.

The reading of the road signs in The Snow Wombat  also set the children off on a tangent about what they meant and Kindergarten who had studied Australian animals last term wanted to revisit Sebastian Lives in a Hat  and Wilhelmina Wombat, two books about orphaned wombats. 

The thing that surprised me most sharing the shortlisted books was how little my city-living 5 to 7 year olds knew about living on a farm, living a long way from a city or what it meant to live with a drought. These experiences are just so far removed from any experiences they have had. They are well-travelled but not within Australia. They loved the 'mud' page in All I Want for Christmas is Rain and given more time I think doing an art activity that involved painting with mud or a collage  like those in Nannie Loves would have been worthwhile.

Other events, such as  tabloid reading activities that all the teachers, class and specialists got involved in were well-received  and the children were quick to tell me where they had been and what was read. The teachers all wrote a Book Week message to go with their chosen book and then the books were displayed in the library for loan.

Oh well, now for Book Week 2018 and its Early Childhood Shortlist. Let's hope there's more to work with and a little more depth. It tends to sell the children it is supposed to be for, very short.








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. 


See:
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 life...as 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.