A lion, who starts visiting a library, runs into trouble when he tries to both obey the rules and help his librarian friend in The Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen. One of our grade 3 students happened to mention that her family has a copy of the book at home, and that her book was in Korean! I told her that I would love to see it if she was allowed to bring it in.
Generously, her mother brought the book and offered to allow us to keep it for a week or so, so that the students would have a chance to see it. It was fun to read the book in English to Grades 1, 2 & 3 (it’s a lovely read) and then to show them the Korean copy, which is identical to our copy except, of course for the text itself. It was a great opportunity to talk to the kids about translations and how people all over the world want to read great books.
At the beginning of the month, Kindergarten enjoyed I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a Word by Laurie Knowlton and sat amazed as the librarian in the story (in the manner of “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”) downs various library items all for the love of the word ‘read’.
For the rest of the month we enjoyed celebrating snow and winter. A Big Book and penguin puppet made the inimitable and admirable Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester even more enjoyable. Tacky is a character that helps us to celebrate uniqueness in people. When it Snows by Richard Collingridge makes us want to use our imaginations to travel anywhere and do anything when we’re playing. In our last November library class we read the classic Thomas’ Snowsuit by Robert Munsch, causing a run on the plethora of Munsch books, which, with Munsch’s incorrigible humour, never become outdated.
Dr. Seuss’ The Butter Battle Book was the choice for Grade 1 in anticipation of Remembrance Day. This story of the Yooks and the Zooks, who go to war over the way they butter their bread and the escalation of weaponry that ensues is the perfect allegory with which to start thinking about Remembrance Day.
I couldn’t resist sharing the new Tacky the Penguin Big Book with Grade 1 in the second week and although a familiar character to most of them, the students were tickled by Tacky’s quirky appeal, especially augmented by a tackily attired penguin puppet).
Continuing our intermittent discussion of the grade 1 science theme: Needs of Plants and Animals, we learned a few facts in Bears by Gallimard Jeunesse, a delightful, nonfiction First Discovery book where brightly colored transparent pages hide and then reveal secrets like a bear snoozing cozily in his den. To follow, the fictional The Very Hungry Bear by Nick Bland was a a good illustration of how an animal’s needs are met within their own, special habitat.
The arctic is a very popular theme Social Studies with the Grade 2 students; especially polar bears. In November we looked at and read several books about polar bears including Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer, Little Snow Bear by Hazel Lincoln and The Polar Bear’s Gift by Jeanne Bushey. We learned that polar bears are perfectly adapted to live in the cold, barren arctic; that they would not survive in warmer climates. We learned that polar bears need to be able to go out on the sea ice to hunt seals and that compassion is an important characteristic of a great hunter. I bring out a large pile of books on the arctic, the Inuit, inuksuks, polar bears and penguins each time Grade 2 comes in and almost all of them are checked out by the end of the class.
With other things getting in the way – like The Library Lion in Korean (see above) – we only had 2 short readings of the novel Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark. Because of where they follow in the school day, this class is a short one. A maximum of 10 minutes each week is not enough to get into a novel so I will summarize for them, hope a few of them decide to pick it up in the future, and move on to other things.
Tyrant of the Badlands by Sigmund Brouwer continues to captivate the Grade 4 class as Ricky/Rocky works at creating a convincingly delinquent persona while at the same time staying out of any real trouble.
Grade 5 voted to continue carry on with A prairie as Wide as the Sea by Sarah Ellis. They are intrigued by Ivy’s struggle to learn the Canadian vernacular for many of the British terms she uses and with the familiar and not-so familiar scrapes she gets into as she adjusts to this new way of life.
Parvana’s diminished family has found new friendship and support in one of her former teachers. Parvana herself has run into a school friend, who is also posing as a boy. What they decide to do to earn money for their family has shocked and disgusted the Grade 6 class as we continue reading The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. The students are transfixed, appalled and truly enlightened by this tale of a young girl’s struggle to support her family in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
December will be a short month in school with Christmas holidays taking out a chunk and we are all looking forward to our annual “Share the Gift of Story” community readers program.