#365PictureBooks No.50 The Beatles were fab (and they were funny)

“Q: How do you find all this business of having screaming girls following you all over the place?
George: Well, we feel flattered . . .
John: . . . and flattened.

When the Beatles burst onto the music scene in the early 1960s, they were just four unknown lads from Liverpool. But soon their off-the-charts talent and offbeat humor made them the most famous band on both sides of the Atlantic. Lively, informative text and expressive, quirky paintings chronicle the phenomenal rise of Beatlemania, showing how the Fab Four’s sense of humor helped the lads weather everything that was thrown their way—including jelly beans”. Publisher

I discovered this book on my quest for more picture book biographies to use with our PYP : How we express ourselves units of inquiry. I’ve been trying to widen the scope of our collection in the arts area by including books on the different types of art forms including music and dance.  This book is great introduction to one of the most well known rock and roll bands of all time for children, so you won’t find information here about their dabbling in drugs or spiritual awakening. There is plenty describing their early years, from first getting together in Liverpool and naming their band through to all the heady years of Beatlemania. The book describes how their quirky and intelligent sense of humour helped them cope with the rigours of new found fame and the pressures on their friendship. Interestingly, you can see how the older generation of the time would have found this type of humour silly but to me it seems very clever.

Photo source: http://www.stacyinnerst.com/stacyinnerst.com/SI_Beatles_Naming_the_Band.html

The full colour illustrations are outstanding and when I looked through the book I noticed these first before reading the text in a second sitting.  The cover with its sunny yellow cover almost commands the reader to pick this off the shelf. The book would be excellent shared between those of us who were alive when the Beatles were at their peak and a new generation of kids who are still hearing some of these songs today. Great to pair with a standard non-fiction informational text like the Story of rock and roll – picture book biographies like this one really bring the musicians to life. I think playing some of the songs before or after reading would help deepen the connections.

This picture book could also be used as part of a Unit on then and now – looking at the differences of 50 years ago and today, to show children how music and teenage life have changed between their grandparents era and theirs.

Bibliographic details:

The Beatles were fab (and they were funny) / Written by Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer and illustrated by Stacy Innerst

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

40 pages

ISBN: 9780547509914

I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries but I have just ordered a copy for our school library.

#365PictureBooks No. 49 Thank you, Mr Falker by Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco is now one of America’s most loved children’s book creators, but once upon a time, she was a little girl named Trisha starting school. Trisha could paint and draw beautifully, but when she looked at words on a page, all she could see was jumble. It took a very special teacher to recognize little Trisha’s dyslexia: Mr. Falker, who encouraged her to overcome her reading disability. Patricia Polacco will never forget him, and neither will we. ” Publisher

I chose this book because I have just finished reading Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a tree and it is also Dyslexia Awareness Week here in New Zealand  16-22th March 2015.

Both of these books remind librarians and teachers that often, unless children are lucky enough to meet the right teacher or other adult who recognises that they are dyslexic and then get them the right reading help, then they can so easily ‘fall through the cracks’. This book is heart-wrenching, but one that will resonate with many teachers and librarians. The story is semi-autobiographical and because Patrica Polacco grew up in a different era her little self in the story is taunted with the “D word” – dumb. We don’t hear the word ‘dumb’ so often now, it’s not so politically correct, but there are plenty of other ways students can be made to feel different and the very opposite of smart. A book like this is wonderful for promoting empathy within a class and also provides a positive story for any student feeling they aren’t as smart as anyone else. The illustrations perfectly illustrate the frustration, embarrassment and shame of the young Patricia and I know many children will sadly identify with this.

Here is a video of the book being readaloud with subtitles

You can see/hear other great picture books being read aloud at the Storyline website here:http://www.storylineonline.net/

There are so many things we can do to help our dyslexic students and to do this we need to collaborate with teachers and learning support specialists. In the library we are trying to build our collection of dyslexia friendly titles published by Barrington Stoke and our collections of audiobooks – both on CD and digital. Most importantly we are trying to be part of the partnership between student, teacher, school and parents – with parents being an important advocate and voice for their own child. It’s all part of offering a student centric library service. We often work with children individually to help them choose books and to get their reading mileage up and this seems to work well as they aren’t influenced by their peers as they in a regular library session (there is no pressure to borrow the same books or to be made to feel ‘dumb’ when they choose easier books).

I met a young year seven student and his mother in the Library last night. She had heard we had audiobooks and wanted to know more about accessing them. It was wonderful seeing how excited the boy was when I showed him our OverDrive collection. He was delighted to not only find audio editions of popular current fiction, but also to be shown how he could download then change the settings on an ebook to make it more readable (sepia toned background, lighter text colour, font choices and he could make the text  as big as he liked). He could also borrow any book he liked and it’s absolutely private – no peer pressure! I also showed him how to turn on the accessibility options in the settings area of his ipad which meant he could highlight text in many apps including emails from his teacher and have them read aloud. Unfortunately they had to leave before I could also show them the collection of Barrington Stoke titles which I am pretty sure they don’t know about. I’m going to invite both student and Mum back to show them these and get feedback on the types of titles we need more of. We will need a bigger selection of titles so that children feel they can make valid personal choices about what they read, just like their peers when choosing from the whole library collection.

Both Thank you, Mr. Falker and Fish in a tree are essential school library purchases in my opinion.

Biographical details:

Thank you, Mr. Falker / by Patricia Polacco.

Published by Philomel, 2001.

48 pages.

ISBN:9780399237324

 

Fish in a tree / by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015.

ISBN:9780399162596

 

 

 

#365PictureBooks No. 48 Construction by Sally Sutton

Hoist the wood. Hoist the wood. Chain and hook and strap. Swing it round, then lower it down. Thonk! Clonk! Clap! Build the frame. Build the frame. Hammer all day long. Make the stairs and floors and walls. Bing! Bang! Bong!

I read this book to some classes with lots of wriggly, hot and bothered boys today and it was perfect. Everyone, both girls and boys, had stories to share about everything to do with building, construction, their experiences with people who wear fluro safety vests – most kids had some sort of experience with home renovations and some lived in suburbs where new public library buildings had recently opened. We talked very conversationally about our library building and the differences between a school library and a public one. Sometimes I really enjoy the library read aloud sessions where it is a little unplanned and casual, and we end up having open conversations. Both of Sally’s books in this series (Road works and Demolition) were checked out after this one was read and both by girls!

Bibliographic details:

Construction / Written by Sally Sutton and Illustrated by Brian Lovelock.

Published by Walker Books, 2014.

ISBN:9781922077301

#365PictureBooks No. 47 Naked!

A hilarious new book about a boy who refuses to wear clothes, from comedian Michael Ian Black and illustrator Debbi Ridpath Ohi, the team that brought you I’m Bored, a New York Times Notable Children’s Book.

Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, whose “smart cartoony artwork matches Black’s perfect comic timing” (The New York Times Book Review), have paired up again to showcase the antics of an adorable little boy who just doesn’t want to get dressed.

After his bath, the little boy begins his hilarious dash around the house – in the buff! Being naked is great. Running around, sliding down the stairs, eating cookies. Nothing could be better. Unless he had a cape..Publisher

This would be such a fun read aloud, even in a school library. I loved the time when my own children were toddlers and there was a little fun relaxed interlude of running around NAKED! after the bath and before being forced into into jammies. This book captures that interlude perfectly. The little child is delighting in his freedom but the look on the mothers face will be familiar to many parents…”I am going through all the steps until I get you into bed …aka I’m exhausted”! The comic style artwork of this is absolutely perfect with the style and pacing of the text.

Cute and funny and kids will love this!

Bibliographic details:

Naked! / Written by Michael Ian Black and Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2014.

40 pages.

ISBN 9781442467385

I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries.

#365PictureBooks no. 46 I and I : Bob Marley by Tony Medina

Brimming with imagination and insight, this biography of reggae legend Bob Marley features soulful, sun-drenched paintings that transport young readers to Marley’s homeland of Jamaica, while uniquely perceptive poems bring to life his journey from boy to icon“. Publisher

At first glance I thought this picture book featured the lyrics of Bob Marley, however reading it once I had arrived home from the Public Library, led to the delightful discovery that the author has written the story of the life of Bob Marley in free verse. I didn’t know much about Bob Marley before reading this book and I suspect many kids won’t know his name these days unless they are familiar with his enduring and very catchy lyrics.

For our students that inquire into different forms of artistic expression through their PYP : How we express ourselves unit of inquiry, music is one area I need to resource more fully. I’ve recently bought some multiple user ebooks on hip-hop because we had a hole in our collection in that subject and I can see some books on reggae would be a good addition too. I’ve had some interesting conversations with our Music and Performing arts specialists recently – one part of our teaching team that I think has been overlooked in our resourcing mix in the past. I think they deserve some resources that they can use to paint a very holistic picture of any artist – musical or visual – when they are teaching about styles and movements.

I love this…and when the verse is combined with the warm, ocherish, plump illustrations, the words and pictures paint a very vivid picture of the boy, the man and the musician.

Mama just a caramel country girl shy as can be

And Papa many many years older than she

Papa is a white man so I’ve been told

My face a map of Africa in Europe’s hold

My heart the island where he and she both meet…

From “My heart the Island”

I found this perceptive review from Elizabeth Bird at NY Public Library. (My goodness she can write – one of the best book reviewers out there imo)

Bibliographic details:

I and I : Bob Marley / Written by Tony Medina and illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson.

Published by Lee & Low Books, 2009.

48 pages.

ISBN:9781600602573

This is available via back order on Wheelers – NZ $36.99, but I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries.

My opinion on the print vs digital ‘war’

Image Source: Wiki Commons

 

Can you the see the bee in the bonnet in this picture?
No?
This article appeared in the Washington Post on February 22nd 2015 : “Why digital natives prefer reading in print

 

The link was posted on the NZ School Librarian ListServ today and predictably due swift responses affirming a preference for print over digital.

 

I sighed loudly. I thought and fumed a bit.

 

I sighed again as I considered replying to the thread on the ListServ.

 

The bee in my bonnet? I get very frustrated when librarians appear to gleefully seize upon any article or piece of ‘research’ that ‘proves’ that print is winning the ‘war’ against digital. Why is it a war or even a battle? Why do some librarians see the future as print OR digital, rather than print AND digital?

 

What upsets me is not so much whether the opinion expressed in the article is right or wrong (or some shade of grey in between), but the attitude to the adoption and acceptance of new digital forms by my librarian peers. They use any article like this one as validation for their choice not to introduce digital formats or a reason to continually justify their reluctance to do so.

 

My opinion: We are not preparing students for the same world many of us grew up in, or are living in now.

 

Regardless of whether individuals prefer print or digital for reading for pleasure, they need to learn how to synthesise and comprehend any information presented digitally for research purposes. The reality is that even in a school library with a predominantly print based collection (no matter how comprehensive and up-to-date), sometimes the best information on a topic will be online.

 

I also read this local article today and two snippets provided me with food for thought:

 

“The average Kiwi teacher is a woman in her early fifties. She’s facing a generation of kids she wasn’t trained to teach who have grown up with Wi-Fi, the cloud and hand-held technology”.

 

“The full impact of digital kids was expected to hit over the next couple of years, as a critical mass of children now under 10 floods the education system”.

 

I wonder if the average school librarian is of similar age?  Given I am a woman in my early fifties I am prepared to say that age and gender is no indicator of mindset and rate of technological adoption. I have met so many incredible teachers and librarians via social media and conferences that have an incredibly open mind about the use of technology, adapting to change and being motivated self/life-long-learners.

 

If I ever hear a teacher tell a student, who is happily reading an ebook, that she wants them to choose a ‘real’ book instead, I blanch. An ebook is a ‘real’ book – it’s just in a different format. For some students that difference in format can be a game changer. I have seen a number of struggling students become readers, by using technology where they get to control the text size, font type and background page colour and use an inbuilt dictionary or enable text to speech features for words they don’t recognise or understand. When I hear librarians justifying their decisions to not introduce ebooks into their collection, or doing it very reluctantly, because of their own preference for reading and researching in print, then I also blanch.

 

Students accessing a multiple user, recently published, non-fiction ebook access the same text as their peers (they haven’t missed out because another student checked out the best book first or because the Library only owns one copy). Every student in a class or year level can access the same material. For differentiated learning they can make use of the different text types and images in the text exactly the same way they do using the print edition or they can choose a lower or higher level book on the same topic from a group of ebooks curated along with other resources related to their inquiry issue. They can also highlight and take notes in their own words (but not cut and paste like they could with a website), store their notes in a personal notebook and immediately add the resource they are using to a bibliography or prepare a citation.

 

My opinion: Reading digitally is a skill that needs to be learned like any other literacy.

 

Our own preference for print and/or the problems some of us have coping with electronic text should not be used as a yardstick to gauge whether or not we allow students ready and easy access to non-print formats. Our own biases towards print should also not prevent us from teaching students to be effective users of information in all formats. We are doing our students a major disservice if we do not prepare them for a world where most of the research they do in the workforce will be digital. I feel it’s part of my role (and should be for every other future focussed Librarian and teacher that young learners encounter) to enable them to be future ready and to be able to navigate text and visual information wherever they find it and in whatever format. Don’t we want our learners to apply all the critical skills they have learnt about identifying and using appropriate, authoritative and relevant sources to whatever they are accessing or reading? Does it really matter if the information source students use is print or digital as long as they can use both equally well?

 

‘The digital natives’ referred to in the Washington Post article are predominantly college (university) students, and although this group grew up with computers and more recently easily adopted mobile devices, many of them have not had the same exposure to extensive and ‘every-day’ use of ebooks, ejournals, and websites for research, until they got to senior high school or university, that younger kids are used to using right now, today.

 

Many students in the younger years in primary schools right across New Zealand are already using more technology than the ‘digital natives’ portrayed in the article did at the same age during their years at school. We have students in Year 1 who use a combination of non-fiction print and ebooks for inquiry and then pick from a variety of digital tools to present their learning. Our students from Year 3 up, are writing their own blogs and reading and commenting on the learning reflections of their peers. All of these students still have ready access to a wide selection of print resources and they have a choice of format for their recreational reading as well. There is a noticeable difference in the levels of ebook use for reading for pleasure between our youngest students and those at the higher end of the school. As these younger students grow with their devices and acceptance of digital forms I expect the numbers reading ebooks at different year levels in future years to change significantly.

 

The reality is that I can get more books into more hands if I use a combination of print and digital format than I could if we used print alone. Students have the convenience of accessing books (not just websites and YouTube videos) from anywhere at anytime (and not only when the library is open during school hours). Our students are learning to be ‘ambidextrous’ and switch between formats and to handle a variety of text styles and layouts. It’s really important for the success of our students that we provide them with  great quality, current, authoritative resources. For some topics there may be more material available in one format over another. Publishing and content availability is in transition and it is is almost impossible to predict what resources students and workers will be using in the future. I doubt very much that they will only be using print.

 

Whether or not I love to read ebooks, or if I struggle with online forms, or even if I swoon at the smell of a paper book… none of these things should have any bearing on the level of encouragement and support I give to young readers and learners to make the best use of the resources they need to learn to use so that they will thrive in their future.

 

Rant over.

#365PictureBooks No. 45 My two blankets by Irena Kobold & Freya Blackwood

Cartwheel has arrived in a new country, and feels the loss of all she’s ever known. She creates a safe place for herself under an ‘old’ blanket made out of memories and thoughts of home. 

As time goes on, Cartwheel begins to weave a ‘new’ blanket, one of friendship and a renewed sense of belonging. It is different from the old blanket, but it is eventually just as warm and familiar.” Publisher: RandomHouse

Teacher’s notes

A lovely book to use with students in our multicultural school where we have many ESL students. It describes the loneliness of life for someone in a new land when they have nothing in common with the local people, but especially when they cannot communicate via spoken language.  A wonderful title to built empathy and understanding. I might use this with the Keeping quilt by Patricia Polaccio. In My two blankets the blankets are figurative andrepresent Cartwheel’s memories of sights, sounds and language. In the the Keeping quilt – the quilt is made up of fabrics from clothing from “home” and it becomes a tangible family heirloom containing the memories and history of the family.

This will be a wonderful book to use when introducing our Year 5 Unit of Inquiry Where we are in place and time : Migration (Human migration is a response to challenges, risks and opportunities;The reasons people migrate; Migration throughout history; Effects of migration on communities).

Bibliographic details:

My two blankets / Written by Irene Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood.

Published by Hardie Grant Egmont, 2014.

32 pages.

ISBN:9781921714764

 

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