I have created a special display of picture books about people who, sparked by imagination or insatiable curiosity, had big ideas they developed in order to help others. As I explained to our students, big ideas can come from observing nature or from identifying a community need. Big ideas can lead to social justice, new realms of study, artistic breakthroughs, and even new kinds of toys. Here are a few of my favorites. Scroll over the images for captions. These books are available through your local independent bookseller or several online sources.
Today is #WorldElephantDay! Celebrate with these books, available in the CHS Library. I can’t recommend Babar, even though it is considered a classic by many. (First, him mom is killed by an elephant hunter. Themes of colonialism, assimilation and power abound, along with other negative stereotypes. Use with caution and a great deal of discussion!)
I was one of over 14,000 lucky teachers, makers, and other educators who descended on Denver for the International Society for Technology in Education’s annual conference at the end of June. Renowned futurist Michio Kaku‘s opening keynote got us all thinking about the future, and what’s in store as technology evolves in realms as diverse as medicine, education, and space exploration. Among my favorite hands-on sessions was an e-textiles workshop. I hope to bring e-textiles into Concord Hill’s maker curriculum. Robotics and programming demonstrations provided additional opportunities for me to try various coding and fabrication methods. Virtual reality offerings, including the Nearpod “virtual field trips” were plentiful; the apps and devices combine to produce stunning learning experiences that take students beyond the school campus. At the annual Librarians’ Network breakfast meeting, we learned more about theFutureReady program and how librarians are critical to its success. Additionally, keynote speakers Brad Waid and Drew Minock captivated their audience as they described the global impact of social media, and the leadership role librarians should embrace in preparing students for the future. Waid and Minock are known for their,”Two Guys Show” podcast. My days in Denver were not only about learning; connecting and re-connecting with friends, other makers, and librarians was so much fun — as was attending a Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field!
On the heels of the previous post, here is another “10 for 10” list. Here is a list of ten books I enjoy sharing with my students. They may be used for a Girl Power book club, but they are not just for girls! These talented, resourceful girls pursued their dreams, perhaps despite overwhelming challenges.
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark; illustrated by April Chu. This new book describes how Ada, fascinated by mathematical calculation and inventions as a young girl, defied stereotypes of her time to design an early computer and complex algorithms for it. The work she did in the 1840’s involved breaking down complex mathematical problems into a series of simple steps — programming techniques still used today.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Rafael Lopez. This winner of the Pura Belpre Award tells the story of how a Chinese-African-Cuban girl named Millo Castro Zaldarriaga broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers in the 1930’s. The rhythmic text pairs well with the topic of a young percussionist.
Stone Girl, Bone Girl: the Story of Mary Anning by Laurence Anholt; illustrated by Sheila Moxley. Here is the story of the girl who discovered important fossils of dinosaurs in early 19th century England. Mary became the inspiration for the familiar tongue-twister, “She sells seashells by the seashore.”
Kate Shelley: Bound for Legend by Robert D. San Souci; illustrated by Max Ginsburg. This book tells the story of how a brave teenager made a terrifying trek through a storm in 1881 to inform train station agents that the railroad bridge downstream was washed out and men from an earlier train were trapped in the raging river. Her brave actions saved the men and diverted disaster.
Sonia Sotomayer: a Judge Grows in the Bronx by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Edel Rodriguez. Bilingual texts tell the story of the girl who dreamed of becoming a judge. Her intelligence and hard work eventually led her to the Supreme Court of the United States, where she became the first Latin American justice.
Firebird by Misty Copeland; illustrated by Christopher Myers. This poetic story of inspiration may encourage other girls to follow their own dreams. An author’s note provides further information of how Misty Copeland worked hard, following her own dream to be a successful ballerina. Beyond the story: In 2015 Copeland became the first African-American woman to be promoted to Principal Dancer of the American Ballet Theatre.
Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell. This simple biography of Jane Goodallfocuses on the naturalist’s childhood, when she dreamed of “a life living with, and helping, all animals.” Author’s notes take readers beyond the story to information about Goodall’s continuing story as founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles; illustrated by George Ford. First graders love this story of the brave six-year-old girl who became the first African-American child to enter an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. This is a fine example of a book that shows students that children can help change the world.
Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull; illustrated by David Diaz. This is the story of a young woman who was so determined to overcome a polio-inflicted disability that she became a runner and won three gold medals in the 1960 summer Olympic games. The bright illustrations stand out against sepia-toned photo backgrounds.
Malala: a Brave Girl from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter. Here is the story of Malala Yousafzai, who, at age eleven, began speaking out against the Taliban’s oppressive policies regarding educating females. Despite being shot, Malala continued her activism She is the recipient of many humanitarian awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, of which she is the youngest-ever winner.
In February the Picture Book 10 for 10 Google+ community turns its attention to nonfiction picture books. Here are ten of my all-time favorite nonfiction books about animals. Most of them can be enjoyed by pre-K students, as well as older children. Author information and summaries are included below.
Emu by Claire Saxby and Graham Byrne. The cover alone is reason for this large book to make the list. This book beautifully introduces readers to a male emu, and shows how he cares for his hatchlings as they avoid dangers of the eucalyptus forest in Australia.
Seahorses by Jennifer Keats Curtis and Chad Wallace. Curtis won the Children’s Choice Book Award in 2015 for Kali’s Story, but I prefer this lovely introduction to seahorses. Wallace’s art complements the text, and the book includes a glossary and list of sources.
Finding Winnie: the True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall. Much has been written about this Caldecott winner. I have found that some preschoolers have difficulty following the timeline or the “story wihtin a story” concept, but for older children who can keep the cast of characters straight, this book is a winner!
Little Pink Pup by Johanna Kerby. This delightful book uses photographs to document how Pink, the runt of a pig litter, is adopted by an indoor dachshund mother. Pink’s doggie siblings accept him, as well.
Gorillas by Seymour Simon. I could only choose one book by Seymour Simon, and this is it. Simon’s photographs allow children to get a close look at the gorillas, and to learn about their behavior.
About Marsupials: a Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill and John Sill. This is a good sample from the Sills’s series. Simple text and colorful illustrations provide a great introduction to an interesting infraclass of animals.
Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore. This book, winner of the Siebert Medal, uses text and colorful collage illustrations to describe the history of the Puerto Rican Parrots and ongoing efforts to save the birds.
Hello! Hello! by Miriam Schlein and Daniel Kirk. Describes and depicts how various animals greet each other. Currently available only in paperback, with different cover from the one pictured above.
Look Inside an Ant Nest by Megan C. Peterson. From Capstone Press’s Look Inside Animal Homes series, this book gives children a close-up view of an ant colony.
Lucky Dog –Owney, U.S. Rail Mail Mascot by Dirk Wales and Diane Kenna. This book depicts the true story of a stray dog who became a Rail Mail mascot, riding the rails to help deliver U. S. mail from 1888 to 1896. This makes a great read-aloud for students who are learning about the postal system (or dogs).
Well, winter is plodding along, and our special book display features timely offerings. Our January display highlighted books about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., along with other books with winter themes — including poetry, snowboarding tips, and more.
Preprimary pals are enjoying hearing stories about castles and the people who live and work within them. Our read-aloud selections included a couple of “oldies but goodies,” Tomie DePaola’s The Knight and the Dragon, and Arnold Lobel’s Giant John. The children also are having fun in the Makerspace, using our Tegu blocks, Duplo bricks, and other building materials.
Primary students were entertained by one of my favorite new picture books, It’s Only Stanley. This picture book by Jon Agee tested the children’s powers of observation, prediction, and inference — and it was very funny, too! We also shared William Steig’s Brave Irene, which sparked a discussion about personal bravery and pride. Kindergartners had only two library classes in January because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and a snow day. One of their classes featured a new picture book called The Bear Ate Your Sandwich. The children enjoyed listening to the story, as narrated by a dog, of what happened to a child’s missing sandwich. At the end of the story several students had their own ideas of what really happened. When the Kindergartners choose their books to check out, they are finding sight words and telling the stories to their friends with feeling. I love to watch them sharing!
First Graders are enjoying folktales from China, in conjunction with their classroom social studies curriculum. The tales I read aloud are notable for their scenic illustrations and young, resourceful protagonists. Two favorite stories are The Junior Thunder Lord, by Laurence Yep, and The Seven Chinese Brothers, by Margaret Mahy. After hearing a story the first graders enjoy looking for books to take home. They also construct in the Makerspace, using Lego bricks and the Strawbees.
January library classes for Second Graders were devoted to learning how to find library items using our online catalog, Alexandria. The students first learned about means of access — author, title, subject, or series — then tested the system using iPads. They were rightfully proud when their searches led them to the desired items on the library shelves. The children will continue to hone their Alexandria skills, working individually or in pairs. You may find our Alexandria catalog online here; click on “Researcher” to reach the catalog interface used by our students. They also have experimented with some robotic devices from the Makerspace.
Coming soon to a YouTube channel near you: our Third Graders‘ book trailers! The students are engaging in some app-smashing as they prepare video book trailers, recommending CHS library books they have read recently. After preparing their reviews using a book review template from readwritethink.org, the children will use the DoInk Green Screen iPad app, incorporating book images and video to produce the trailers. I will post the trailers to our YouTube channel, and the students will generate QR codes linked to the videos. These QR codes will be posted in the library, and possibly in other areas of the school. I hope the third graders will repeat the process throughout the year, compiling a collection of recommendations. We will share our first set of trailers at a special third grade library book club “World Premiere Party” in late February.
As the month draws to a close, I enjoy reflecting back on our library activities. All grades wrapped up a month-long study of the books of Susan L. Roth by celebrating with her at Concord Hill’s 50th birthday party on October 3rd. Susan’s collage demonstrations were phenomenal, and her personalized book-signings made her visit even more special to CHS families. I was so proud of how well our students listened respectfully and asked thoughtful questions based on their knowledge of Roth’s books. I am especially indebted to Susan for donating some of her books to the library collection!
Susan was not our only visitor. We welcomed visitors from the AIMS accreditation committee into library classes. Even our youngest students were comfortable with the visitors, and several struck up conversations and asked the visitors to join them in the Makerspace. One of the visitors enjoyed a Maker activity so much that she intends to replicate it back at her own school!
Also in October, we have highlighted the picture books of Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She is the featured author selected as the Global Read Aloud 2015 picture book study. Teacher librarians worldwide are sharing their activities via twitter and the hashtag #GLA2015. Concord Hill students and teachers especially like Friendshape, The OK Book, and Duck! Rabbit! Rosenthal’s picture books are on display in the library until November 13th.
In addition to our school-wide celebrations described above, individual classes have been learning library routines, enjoying story times and maker activities, and sharing their love of books with me. In Preprimary, we have explored colors and basic shapes through picture books, including Perfect Square and Mix it Up. Children used colorful craft sticks to create various geometric shapes in the Makerspace, as well.
Primary class children have enjoyed picture books that promote curiosity and invention, including Sam and Dave Dig A Hole, and The Most Magnificent Thing. I might undertake a special Makerspace activity with the children that will support their classroom inquiry into wind.
Kindergarten, like Preprimary, focused on shapes and colors in the classroom. I supported their interest through picture books such as Friendshape (see above). We will undertake a special Makerspace project related to Rosenthal’s The OK Book; we will share the completed projects with parents.
First grade library story times are devoted to folktales from around the world. We started our exploration with “pourqoui” tales, also called “why stories.” We imagine that we are children from another time and culture, asking our parents a “why” question, such as, “why does the elephant have a trunk?” The stories I read aloud provide culturally interesting, if not scientifically accurate, answers.
Second graders have been hearing tales and legends of the Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands. One favorite was The Great Ball Game, illustrated by our visiting author, Susan L. Roth, and featuring lacrosse, the official team sport of Maryland.
Third graders are busy makers in library class! They created collaborative structures based on the Watts Towers and inspired by visiting author Susan L. Roth’s book, Dream Something Big. The children also have heard some Norse myths, viewed a short video about Vikings, and completed additional Viking-related activities. Several of the students created Viking longboats out of LEGO bricks or other materials; others experimented with Cubelet robotic blocks or assembled LEGO community helpers for the younger students to enjoy. We are sharing our Maker activities with parents via Seesaw.
The month ends with Halloween stories for all! Happy Halloween!
The Preprimary class has learned so much about birds! Each child learned about a different kind of bird and made a book about it. The children kindly are sharing their books with the rest of the school in the library for one week.