the fantastic world of literature

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Literary Bibliography

This is the best part of my blog where I can tell you about the books I like, and would recommend. My final practicum is with a fantastic teacher who teaches her Ks' and grade ones with literature. She incorporates literature into every subject. In the last 3 weeks I have learned so much more about literature and about books in particular through my observations of her class. Here are the books I think could be integrated into several core subjects. Enjoy!
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema is a truly wonderful story that will spark discussions in weather patterns, droughts, and culture. It can be used in science, socials, and language arts as it has a wonderful rhyme and pattern to it. This book has been read on the Reading Rainbow and is a truly wonderful multicultural book. This book is for children ages 4 -8.

Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully is about a young girl who lives in Paris and who meets a famous high wire walker, the great Bellini. Unfortunately Bellini has lost his nerve and Mirette saves the day by helping him through his problem. I think this story is great because it shows a girl as a heroine for a change instead of a boy. This book can spark discussions about jugglers, mimes, and acrobats, and what people did for entertainment in the 19th century before TV. This book is suitable for ages 4-8

The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden is another very interesting story about how one man fights pollution in his town of Wartville. This book can be used in science, and can spark a recycling project. It can also be used to begin discussions about trash and how to keep our earth clean. This book is for children aged 5-9

Now for something a little different, I offer you the Tom Corbett series of space cadet books by Carey Rockwell. These are great books for older readers in the intermediate grades. I used to read these science fiction books when I was about 10 or 11, and had to sneak them out of my brother's room as they were his, and he would not have liked it if he knew. These stories lead you into the lives of Tom Corbett and his two buddies who travel through intergalactic space on their numerous adventures. Although these books are quite dated, I believe they would still make a great contribution to your classroom library. I know I will buy them now that I know Amazon books has them.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this bibliography as much as I enjoyed putting it together. If you are wondering how my teacher teaches about author schema's and forshadowing to her Ks' and ones, she uses a book called Mosaic ofThought which discusses about 8 different strategies to teach children how to comprehend what they are reading. I found a copy at Books and Company, it is not cheap but well worth it. My school has recently recieved an award from the Ministry of Education because of the strategies in this book that the whole school uses. All I can say is try it, what have you got to loose?

Evaluating Multicultural Literature

This book Necklace of Stars was written by Veronika Martenova Charles, a Polish woman who immigrated to Canada from Poland. Ironically this book is about a little Mayan boy who dreams about growing up and moving to the big city away from his rural life. He learns from his father that their land is ancient and it was inhabited by his proud Mayan ancestors before the time of the Spanish conquest. To tell you the truth, I chose this book because I was enchanted by the colorful illustrations, and because I am a history major and enjoy reading about other cultures. To be sure this is a good story, however after careful persusal of the pictures I don't think it does justice to the storyline. For example, Miguel, the little boy in the story is always looking away from the reader. Perhaps it is because he is always dreaming, but I find this disturbing. When the reader does get a good look at him, he looks like a little brown boy with Caucasian features, although both his parents have Mayan features. Why is it that illustrators don't like to portray children in their true heritage? Does it mean that parents might not choose this book for their children if the child looks too much like a child of color? When reading mulitcultural books to children, I would want not only the story to be a true depiction of the culture but the pictures should be as close to what the cultural features of individuals look like as well. If you have any comments about this I would welcome them

Read Aloud

My read aloud was Strega Nona Meets her Match, one of a series about the old Italian witch who lived in Calabria, Italy with her two helpers Bambolona, the bakers daughter and of course bumbling Big Anthony who can't do anything right. These books were written by Tommie De Paola in the 1970's and chronicles the many adventures of these three loveable characters. I chose this book because I used to read Strega Nona to my own children when they were young, and so they hold a nostalgia for me. Since then I have read these books many times to my students on practicum. I begin by introducing the author, then letting the children know where Calabria is, and where Italy is by showing them on a map. This is a great way to introduce geography to children. Once I begin reading the book, I read it with an Italian accent, which lends a little bit of authenticity to the story. Whether the children care about my accent or not, these are great books which deal with moral issues such as greed, and what can go wrong when you take other peoples things. I highly recommend the Strega Nona books to all of you, and hope you make them part of your classroom library.

teaching with NightJohn

Night John has a powerful message about the bravery to educate others. Night John chose to give up his freedom in order to stay and educate the slaves on the Waller Plantation. This is such a wonderful book and can be integrated in so many ways into our teaching. For example, February is black history month, and granted it is about the contributions of black people in the development of BC and Canada, never the less Night John can be incorporated into Social Studies. Children should know how slavery came about and in what part of the U.S. slaves were kept. We can incorporate Night John into Canadian S.S. by depicting Canada's part in the underground railroad. We can use Night John as a springboard to introduce other famous black people such as Sammy Richardson who was awarded the silver medal at the 1936 olympics, and Dr. Rosemary Brown, who was the first black woman elected to political office in Canada. In addition BC's history includes John Robert Giscome who spent time in the Fort George area between 1862- 1863 (Courtesy of the PG Citizen, Jan. 30, 2006)
If you are interested in taking your class to the public library, there will be a children's story telling by Keith Hall who wrote Uncle Manta and the Children of Pride, on Feb 25.
Of course Night John is a wonderful book to bring awareness of issues surrounding racism and discrimination.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Don't judge a book by its cover

Have you ever picked up a book in the bookstore and looked at the cover, read the summary in the back and said this book is not for me? Why do we do this? Is there something about the appearance of a book that makes us buy it and take it home even if its not what we are looking for? Or is it that we like the summary and think we can like this book? These are questions that intrigue me as this has happened to me many times. When my children were at school I would go to the bookstore and just browse and find a good book to read. I don't know how many times I walked right by this one particular book, looked at it and said "no thanks".
One day I got pneumonia and was very ill for several weeks. My husband lovingly went to the library for me and brought back several books on tape, this one particualr book being one of them. Since I had no choice, being a captive audience and all,I put it on.
From the first chapter I knew I had stumbled on to a gem. Since then I have read six other books in a series by the same author over and over again.
I have told you this because this is how I felt about The Giver that Cathy is reading to us now. My children and I ordered many books from Scholastic and The Giver was in the catalogue for a long time. Everytime I saw it and read the summary I thought it just wasnt' for me or my children. Well I was wrong again, and look what I would have missed out on if Cathy had not introduced it to me.
I was even forced into reading a Nancy Drew book before I realized how good they were. What I am trying to say is that to our students a good book is competing with TV, video games and the computer. You are still sitting reading a book, however you are expanding your mind and entering a world you might not have imagined full of adventures you would never partake in. This is why we have to let our students know when we have read a good book so they also can enjoy it. Even if it means reading them the first chapter or a highly exciting part just to hook them.
I bet some of you have also walked right past a book that might be filled with wonders and excitement but you will never know unless you pick it up and read it.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The wonders of Literature

I love this course purely for the fact that we actually get to read something we enjoy.
My love of reading began many years ago in our little apartment which I shared with my mother and my brother in Hungary. My father had already escaped the country and so it fell to my mother to be both mother and father to us. Strangely I don't remember her reading to us at bedtime but I do remember sitting in our tiny kitchen with my mother ironing sheets for a medical clinic she worked for and my brother entertaining us with his reading. He was only in grade three but had such a way of making the characters of the story come alive. When he would get to some really interesting parts he would sometimes be unable to wait to see what would happen and read on silently. I would get so upset and beg him to read it so we could also find out how the story unfolded.
My brother and my mother (whenever she got the chance), would read many fairy tales by the brothers Grimm or by Hans Chrstian Anderson. One of my favorites was the Snow Queen. One Christmas I was given this book and it had beautiful illustrations which I loved to look at and read. The story was about a little boy called Kay and his friend Gerda who lived right next door. One winter the Snow Queen came for Kay and took him to Lapland where his heart was turned into ice. Because Gerda loved him so much she went looking for him and the story is filled with her adventures. She meets Gypsys, Prince's, Lap women and Finnish women, and reindeer. It is a story of love and perseverance.
I would love to read this story to my students because it has a moral message. If you are truly a friend to someone you will not forget them and help them in their time of need. As well the story is rich in relaying vivid images of different countries and cultures.
I have enjoyed reading most of your comments and look forward to listening to all of you read your stories in the next three weeks.