Tag Archives: Empathy

#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 Day 40 I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings

Read this article from the NZ Herald and watch the Mum’s video before reading this post. We need to think about how we can support all kids in our schools.

The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere

This is an essential tool for parents and teachers to share with children whether those kids identify as trans or not. I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions. I found it deeply moving in its simplicity and honesty.”—Laverne Cox (who plays Sophia in “Orange Is the New Black”)

From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers“. Publisher.

“We understand now. Be who you are. We love you no matter what.”

How I wish every transgender child had parents as accepting and loving as the parents of Jazz Jennings. This is a book I think every school librarian should at least be aware of, or have available for the parent curious about whether their child is transgender and for the child who needs positive affirmation that everything is OK and they are not alone. I’d like to think it could be used to help other children become more empathetic.

Bibliographic details:

I am Jazz / Written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, pictures by Shelagh McNicholas.

Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014.

32 pages.

ISBN:9780803741072

I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries.

#365PictureBooks Day 32 – The lion and the bird

One autumn day, a lion finds a wounded bird in his garden. With the departure of the bird’s flock, the lion decides that it’s up to him to care for the bird. He does and the two become fast friends. Nevertheless, the bird departs with his flock the following spring. What will become of Lion and what will become of their friendship? Publisher.

This is a very quiet and understated tale of friendship, loss, the passing of the seasons and reunion. The book has some text but many of the pages are presented without words and the whole book would actually read beautifully as a wordless picture book. The calm and nurturing nature of the lion, as he nurses the bird back to health, is beautifully represented. The reader will feel the incredible heart -wrenching sadness and loneliness of the lion as he farewells the bird when he flies away in the spring. When the bird returns the following autumn when his flock are heading south you can’t help but rejoice with the lion.

A beautiful book to share with reflective and sensitive children.

This book makes you feel.

Other links:

brainpickings.org beautiful reproductions of the pages and a lovely reflective review of the book.

Picturebookmakers.com  read an interview with Marianne Dubac.

Bibliographic details:

The lion and the bird / Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc, translated from the French by Claudia Z. Bedrick .

Originally published as: Le lion et l’oiseau

Published by Enchanted Lion Books, 2013.

64 pages.

ISBN:9781592701513

Borrow from Auckland Libraries.

#365PictureBooks Day 21 The invisible boy

Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource.

Includes backmatter with discussion questions and resources for further reading”. Publisher: Random House

I found my heart breaking a little when I read this book. Brian, is the invisible boy in this story. He is invisible because he is not even noticed by his classmates or teacher. The children who are noticed, are the loud, the demanding, the whining and the complaining children that seem to demand and get all the attention. Brian is flying ‘under the radar’. Brian’s invisibility is represented by his pale grey pencil drawn image on the pages when everyone else is drawn in colour. There are pages where we see Brian getting pleasure from his drawing and his images of dragons and superheroes are very revealing about his desire for friendship and acceptance. As Brian is introduced to another new boy a little colour fills his face and as he begins to make friends with Justin and collaborate with his peers he is gradually drawn using full colour too.

This would be a wonderful book to share with students at the start of the school year or at any time when issues arise. It is a salient reminder for all the popular kids to see things from the POV of the quiet, the shy and the introverted. This book really reinforces the importance of kindness. Heartily recommended for all school libraries.

Author website: Trudy Ludwig

Bibliographic details:

The invisible boy  /  by Trudy Ludwig ; illustrated by Patrice Barton.

Published by Random House, 2013.

32 pages.

ISBN:9781582464503

NZ RRP $33.50

Available from library suppliers, good independent bookshops or borrow from Auckland Libraries

A story to capture your heart and never let it go… ‘The One and only Ivan’

It is almost impossible to describe the impact this book has on everyone that reads it.

“Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part.” 

alt=one and only ivan applegate cover

The one and only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Published by Harper Collins, 2012. Available in NZ bookstores in the PB edition pictured here, rrp.$18.99

From the publisher:

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

Book trailer:

Reviews and praise:

Kirkus Reviews (starred review): “How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage. … Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates.”

Gary D. Schmidt “This book will break your heart—and then, against all odds, mend it again.”

Source: Author Website

What do I think about this book?

Another book I am reviewing and recommending late in the piece. Like Wonder by R.J. Palacio, I am hoping this book wins a Newbery Honor if not the Newbery Medal (announced January 28th 2013).

I challenge anyone young or old to read this and not see animals in captivity in a new light.

The One and Only Ivan is a work of fiction, but the inspiration for this imagined tale lies with a true story. Ivan, a real gorilla, lived at Zoo Atlanta, but on the way to that happy ending, he spent almost three decades without seeing another of his own kind before being moved to Zoo Atlanta in 1994.” Katherine Applegate

The story is told by Ivan from his point of view. I love the way the author captured the way an intelligent creature might see humans (his captors) and how he would rationalise his captivity. We come to really understand him, where he came from and who he is.  The way he rises above his own struggle for survival in order to help the baby elephant Ruby is a lesson for all children in understanding empathy, caring, kindness, hope and love.

This is a beautiful and moving narrative and is powerful as a read aloud. Useful for teaching both narrative and simile. Chapters are mainly short with lots of white space giving the book an airy poetic feel. The structure and layout is great for reluctant readers who struggle with too much text.

Highly and heartily recommended for Year 5-Year 8. Copies in both our Junior Library and Middle Senior too.  (From Year 4 or 8 years old as a read aloud with lots of discussion and tissues!)

Author website:

http://theoneandonlyivan.com/book/

Teacher’s resources:

http://files.harpercollins.com/HCChildrens/OMM/Media/OneAndOnlyIvan_DG_4.pdf

Extra Ivan goodness :

Interview with Katherine Applegate (Publisher’s weekly) about how the story of the ‘Real Ivan’ was Katherine’s inspiration: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/49777-q-a-with-katherine-applegate.html

Teachers – see this moving video by wonderful 4th Grade teacher Colby Sharp – I love how he talks about how this book affected his students. This is a teacher passionate about books and reading! Link to Mr Sharp’s blog here

Quotes from the book (Compiled at Goodreads) can be found here

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Don’t judge a boy by his face… ‘Wonder’ by R.J. Palacio

A book that has made a huge impact since it’s debut and release in early 2012 – I think it is a stimulating story for teaching about the PYP attitude ‘Empathy’ and encouraging Kindness. This is a powerful narrative – brilliant for reading aloud.

wonder-cover

Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Published by Random House, 2012. Paperback available in NZ book stores rrp: $19.99

Synopsis:

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

Reviews & Praise (source author website):

Kirkus Reviews December 2011: “After being homeschooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle-school life when he looks so different from everyone else?”

“Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too. A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.”

Publisher’s weekly: “…Though he has some expectedly horrible experiences at school, Auggie has lucked out with the adults in his life–his parents love him unconditionally, and his principal and teachers value kindness over all other qualities. While one bully manages, temporarily, to turn most of Auggie’s classmates against him (Auggie likens this to becoming the human equivalent of “the Cheese Touch,” a clever Diary of a Wimpy Kid reference), good wins out. Few first novels pack more of a punch: it’s a rare story with the power to open eyes–and hearts–to what it’s like to be singled out for a difference you can’t control, when all you want is to be just another face in the crowd. “ 

Book trailer:

Author interview:  R.J. Palacio talks about her inspiration and has some ideas for teachers wanting to use the book trailer as a provocation for discussion:

What do I think about this book?

I am rather late highlighting this book – when it came out last year I wasn’t working as a children’s librarian and I hadn’t started this blog. I read it late last year as a copy was held in the Middle School section of my library. Recently my family listened to the audio book as we made a road trip around the South Island of New Zealand. I was incredibly moved by the book when I read it and again, as my whole family aged 10-49 were enthralled by the story (there were times we all had tears rolling down our cheeks – the next minute we would be laughing out loud). It is both sad and uplifting at the same time – and the author never lets things get too maudlin, the sadness is tempered with just the right amount of humor. This is one of those memorable stories that stays with you weeks and months after reading it, probably for life!

‘Choose Kind’ will be the focus of the first Library display I make this year. I would love to inspire all my students to start the year thinking about others and how to treat everyone in their lives, and everyone they meet, with kindness and caring. This book has a powerful anti-bullying message. Recommended for ages 9/10 through to adult!

CHOOSE KIND CAMPAIGN:

Blog at Tumblr

Teacher resources:

http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Wonder_EG_WEB.pdfReviews:

Teach mentor texts post on Wonder: http://www.teachmentortexts.com/2012/04/wonder.html#axzz1rpDrD0mC

Author website for RJ Palaciowww.http://rjpalacio.com

Gangsta Granny

gangstagranny

Gangsta granny by David Walliams, Published by Harper Collins Children’s, 2011. Illustrated by Tony Ross.

“Meet Ben’s granny. She’s very much your textbook granny: she has white hair, she has false teeth, she has used tissues up her sleeve….and she is an international jewel thief!”

Ben is bored beyond belief after he is made to stay at his grandma’s house. All she wants to do is to play Scrabble, and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn’t know about his grandma: she was once an international jewel thief and she has been plotting to steal the crown jewels. Now she needs Ben’s help.

What do I think about this book?:

I hadn’t read one of David Walliam’s books before so I had no idea what to expect. I did know that he wrote a lot of the “Little Britain” comedy show, but this wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed. David Walliams had also been described “as the next Roald Dahl” – setting the bar very high for comparison. We have a couple of David’s earlier books in our library (Mr Stink and the Billionaire boy) but when my daughter was given this one as a birthday gift I decided to try it.

To say that I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. This is a lovely story, with typical understated British humour but like Roald Dahl, David Walliams is able to get the reader to develop a great deal of empathy towards the characters in the book and the relationships between them. Initially, Ben hates his weekly visits with his granny, this is reinforced by the attitude of his parents who coldy drop him off every Friday night as quickly as possible without even talking to her. Ben gradually comes to see his granny as more than an old person who only seems to like playing scrabble and reeking of cabbage. There are sad moments in this book that will make many children and adults reflect on our relationship with the elderly today, but plenty of happy moments that remind us how we should value the special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. This book is recommended for 9+. This author and his wonderful picks are a good mix with Andy Stanton (Mr Gum), Philip Ardagh (The Grunts) and Jeremy Strong (Various).

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