Saturday, October 29, 2011

The wonderful sound of your own stories....

Last Wednesday our primary school children had a story time - all at the same time - but with different languages being used to tell and read the stories. We had English, Turkish, German, Korean. Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Japanese, Hebrew, French.... some groups were very large (split into upper and lower primary) and others were a select few. Our readers and storytellers were teachers, parents and students. In some groups the older sibling was reading to her younger siblings. We used story books and the International Children's Digital Library to provide story books when we didn't have that language represented. There was great excitment as the children gathered in the various rooms. It was wonderful to hear the chat and the enjoyment. We hope to run this again in February during our love reading week. Thank you to all my colleagues at IICS and the students who took part.

Why do this? There is a lot of research as to how the students' home lnaguages are important to the acquiring of a second language. In our school the language of tuition is English. For some of our students the only time they speak, listen, read or write in English is at school. There is evidence to suggest that free voluntary reading of the home language supports development of the second or third or fourth languages of the student. A paper was presented at the 'Hands on Literacy Conference' in Singapore in 2008 by Jan Stipek investigating the value of free voluntary reading. It is well worth the read. I hope when we run the event in February we will have free voluntary reading for the Mirddle School children at the same time. They will be encouraged to bring any reading material in a language the use in their homes. Let's see where all of this leads.

This explains my passion for libraries.....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book 19 - Peak by Roland Smith - Tibet and Nepal

When Peak Marcello, a fourteen year old, is caught and prosecuted for scaling New York skyscrapers, his father suddenly reappears in his life and whisks him away from the publicity to his climbing operation at Mt Everest. Peak hasn't seen or heard much from his father in 7 years and their estrangement continues as his father, Josh, has to cater to his clients, wealthy mountaineers who have paid him to help them summit Everest. Peak joins the group as his father sees an opportunity to ensure his business gets publicity in getting his son to be the youngets person ever to make it to the summit. Peak rises to the challenge and in doing so comes to some new understandings about himself, his father and the sherpa people who give their lives assisting the foreign climbers.

Peak is the narrator of this story but he shares the limelight with Sun-jo, the grandson of his father's close friend a monk called Zopa. Many things can be learned from the world's highest mountain it seems. I think the book's last sentences are a good summary without being a give away of the plot."The only thing you'll find on the summit of Mount Everest is a divine view. The things that really matter lie far below." I enjoyed this book and can thoroughly recommend it.

Roland Smith's website and a Teen Ink review by Elliot K of Colarado Springs also catch the book trailer below....

Friday, October 21, 2011

Readicide while on librarian training...

Is it a terrible thing to not only be reading this book while on IBO Librarian training but also to recommend it to other librarians at the same time?

Kelly Gallagher is a classroom teacher in Anaheim, California. He teaches English and reflects about his students' progress as readers, as learners and as thinkers. Not surprisingly he finds that many factors that are turning students off reading are able to be changed by teachers and schools. He ideas are practical and support by excellent research.

I agree with everything I read. I would love to introduce the article of the week idea he writes about in chapter two. I am challenged by the idea of creating relevant summer reading programmes. As a former teacher of English,  I also recognise the need to frame the challenging literature our students are invited to read to encourage them to engage with it fully.

I have one question though - why does Kelly Gallagher not enlist the assistance of the school librarian? It seems to me that the most amazing resource Gallagher had at his disposal was his school library. He does mention checking out a book from the library. He then boasts that his classroom library has thousands of books - how redundant. He seems totally unaware of the value of the school library and the skills of a school librarian - story divas (the subject of a future post). This is a real indictment not of Kelly Gallagher but of my profession. We often work so quietly in the background we are overlooked. I think we need to ensure that all our teaching colleagues know the value we can add to their programmes. We can help reverse readicide in our school. We need to be loud and clear and specific in the contribution we make.

This book challenges me as a school librarian. It challenges me to create meaningful collaboration with my teaching colleagues to ensure our school is not engaged in readicide.

This is an important book for teachers and librarians to read and talk about.

For other interviews with Kelly Gallagher
The tempered radical which states that this book raises issues for the whole community.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book 18 - Schooled by Gordan Korman - somewhere in the USA

This book is so funny I laughed out loud sometimes. The Rap Book Report above tells you the story so I won't re tell it here. Gordan Korman is an amazing Young People's writer - his books are light hearted yet make a significant point. At the moment we have this novel in the PYP section - I think I will shift it to Young Adult. It is about grade 8 students and manipulation. Might be too subtle inplaces for our younger readers.

Gordan Korman's website and a reviewer has banned this book in her house - find out why

Monday, October 10, 2011

Books 17 - Sudden Impact by Lesley Choyce and See No Evil by Diane Young - Canada

Both of these books have been published by Orca Book Publishers based in Victoria, BC, Canada. They are part of the  Orca Currents series which are short high-interest novels with contemporary themes, written expressly for middle-school students reading below grade level. We bought 12 titles to add to our 'Quick Reads' in the Young Adult Fiction section of our library.

Sudden Impact addresses the issue of organ donation through the illness of Tina's best friend Kurt. The characters are credible as is the situation they face. The novel has great pace and is very readable. It was a 'Quick Read' for me and I am sure many of our students who are learning English or who struggle to get into books will enjoy this story.

See No Evil is about Shawn and his friend Daniel who witness a person being badly beaten behind the mall. They both know who is responsible for the attack but are too fearful to say anything to the Police. The story is again very credible and fast paced. Shawn is also trying to care for his younger brother as their father works and their mother no longer lives in the same city as them. Another worthwhile read I will be recommending to our students.

We will be selecting more titles from this series for our orders this year.

Sudden Impact on Orca books' website and reviewed at Teen Link reviews by Jenna F

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book 16 - The Sniper by James Riordan - Stalingrad, USSR

The snipers of Stalingrad were legends in their time. During the German assault on this city the snipers were tasked with the most difficult tasks. Capturing or killing enemy officers was their number one priority. They were known as the bravest of the brave. 

This book follows the lives of a group of young people who were in school one week and plunged into battle the next. The main character is Tania. As oneof the older students she is forced into the anti-aircraft gunners and her first experience of combat is the four days and nights of shooting down German bombers over her city. She returns home exhausted to find her house empty and signs that her family has fled the city. Determined to help her country as a nurse Tania sets off to find the place where she can volunteer. Instead she is sent off on a dangerous mission to deliver a message to her father's commanding officer. Her success in completing this task brings her to the attention of the recruiter for the sniper team and suddenly she finds herself in training along with other young men and women. 

I liked the way James Riordan shows us Tania's transition from an innocent, naive, school girl to a battle hardened sniper. She makes some serious mistakes and Riordan in no way sugar coats the consequences of sending inexperienced young people into the war zone.

 This story is based on actual events. James Riordan has visited Stalingrad many times, having studies Russian in Birmingham and Moscow. In 2006 he actually met Tania Chernova, known as the sniper of Stalingrad. Tania was awarded the Red Star for bravery due to her courage as a sniper during the seige. Riordan based his character of Tania on her life. 

Read some of the book here on Google Books

Friday, October 7, 2011

More signs and wonders

Pictured to the left are our newest idea for library signs - we call them "danglers". We have chosen the nonfiction books our children ask for most often and have found an appropriate picture to represent each one. We have these images laminated and then use the laminated strips left over to attach them to the shelves. It creates a great 3D effect and at the same time helps our pre literate students find the kinds of books they like to read with their families. 

As we hear more requests we add them to our list of danglers to create - so far the production list includes books about cars and space. Even our older students and staff like them.

We also have added two new graphic novel bins to the Primary Nonfiction area. We have kept our graphic novels at Dewey 741.5 but put them in these bins. The books are then face out and the students can flip through them to make their selections. The first bion pictured is one of the primary ones and the second one is the MYP/DP bin. As you can see we may need a new bin for the secondary school graphic novels very soon.

The result of these signs and wonders - more books are being borrowed from these sections.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book 15 - War is boring by David Axe and Matt Bors - Iraq, Lebanon, Washington DC, East Timor, Afghanistan, Somalia, Detroit, Chad

This graphic novel follows the war correspondent David Axe as he recounts to his driver in Chad his various experiences in the world's war zones. He reflects on the fact that often in these situations he simply waiting for 'something' to happen and then when it does he has to be in the right place at the right time. When he does venture back to the safety and peace of his native USA it is not long before he realises that  "As boring as war can be... peace is much worse." Also David hates being called a 'war correspondent'. The reader is taken into the dangerous war zones of the world following David as he writes about his experiences. The language and pictures reflect the realities of the war zones he visits. David sees himself as a war tourist and writes his observations on the web comic "War is boring" - see link below. We can see how his experiences have turned him into a journalist who is trying hard to bring the injustices of war to the world's attention.

I am not a great reader of graphic novels but this one certainly arrested my attention. Definitely for older students due to the use of profane language and some of the content.

David Axe has a blog called 'War is boring'

Interview with David Axe by his some times editor, Noah Shachtman - warning language may offend.

Reviewed by Powell's Books review a day

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book 14 - Veronika decides to die by Paul Coelho - Slovenia

I am pleased that we have placed this stunning novel in the adult fiction of our K-12 library. As its title suggests it is about a young woman who decides to commit suicide. Veronika has a very ordinary life, one without the depths and heights of any emotion and it is in this blandness that she decides to take her own life. Despite this attempt she actually wakes up in a hospital, a mental hospital, and she is told she has done such irreparable damage to her heart that she only has a few days left to live. Suddenly her whole attitude changes from resignation to inevitable death to making the most of any moment she has left. The other patients in the hospital also have an effect on Veronika's beliefs about what is normal, what is happiness. The book ends on a very hopeful note. I am always a little cautious about having books about suicide in a collection for Young people but this book is worthy the discussion it will create as people read it.

Paul Coelho is the author of many best selling books. This interveiw with the Telegraph newspaper provides some interesting insights into the writer's life and his spiritual journey.

For a review of 'Veronika decides to die' see the blog Book reviews by Bookovers for booklovers