We want to help create motivated and engaged young readers. This blog is about children's and YA literature (especially New Zealand), literacy research, and ways to get, and keep, kids reading.
Fiction picture books with a re-cycling/conservation theme are happily on the increase, and these recent examples cover three different aspects of the topic. All contain enough factual information to make them useful and attractive additions either to classroom study or for simply raising awareness. And, most importantly, they do it with a sense of fun.
George saves the world by lunchtime by Jo Readman, illustrated by Ley Honor Roberts
is set to become a re-cycling classic. Led by his feisty Grandpa, George learns how he can save electricity; dramatically reduce rubbish; cancel carbon miles by shopping locally, etc, etc—next step World Peace, perhaps? This true Super Hero in re-cycled clothing from the Op Shop will probably manage that as well. Jo Readman's earlier book The world came to my place (2004) seems oddly in denial as far as food miles are concerned, but, like George, it has the suitably green credential of being inspired by Britain's famous Eden Project
Published by Random House
Lucy's cat and the rainbow birds by Anthony Hill, illustrated by Jane Tanner
Lucy loves her cat (Jane Tanner's superb illustrations would make it hard not to love this animal) and Lucy's cat loves catching native birds. Set in Australia, this book deals with what is an everyday dilemma for many New Zealanders, and provides a sensible workable solution… although one which the birds probably appreciate more than the cat does!
Published by Penguin
365 penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental, illustrated by Joelle Jolivet.
This is a big book in more than one sense of the word, measuring an impressive 36 x 28 cms and covering a wide range of topics, from various aspects of maths through a lot of useful penguin information to the melting of the polar ice caps. When the first penguin arrives on their doorstep by post the family are intrigued and amused. By penguin number 50 some of the shine has worn off, and on New Year's Eve ..
"..365 guests in dinner jackets were in the house.
But we had New Year's Eve (outside) on the lawn."
All is revealed with the arrival of ecologist Uncle Victor, on a one-man mission to rescue as much wildlife as possible from the melting of the polar ice caps. He takes the penguins away, to the great relief of their hosts…..But Uncle Victor has now turned his attention to the North Pole, and the parcel that arrives on the doorstep next year is MUCH larger..
American weights and measures feature briefly on one page of this book. However, these are easily translatable, and could perhaps be seen as an occasion for inquiry learning!
Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers
Reviewed by Cecily Fisher
After our two recent posts about Girls' Reading here and here, it's time to have a look at the boys.
There has been a lot of focus lately on boys and reading, for good reason. As Brian Kenney, Editor-in-Chief of School Library Journal put it in the September 2007 issue,
"there are many studies and decades of reading scores that document that the biggest gender gap for learning achievement is in literacy. And the problem [has] been demonstrated across the globe, with differences between the genders typically increasing with age."
The authors of the recent UK School Library Association Boys into Books list (see our blog entry here for details) note that:
"research from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has found that girls are much more likely than boys to read for enjoyment: 78% of girls, against only 65 % of boys. The same research also suggested that reading enjoyment is more important for children's educational success than their family's socioeconomic status" (Times Online, May 15 2007).
So clearly, its important to help more boys become recreational readers who read for enjoyment. Here a few ideas for some ways into doing this.
The Boys into Books list includes several pages of ideas about getting boys reading, as well as "around 170 titles guaranteed to get boys reading". This list be downloaded free.
The September 2007 School Library Journal editorial talks about the importance of seeing male role models reading. Wayne Mills, Auckland College of Education Lecturer, also endorses this. At school, have male teachers, the male principal, and male role models or community members regularly reading to students throughout the school, and being seen enjoying books and reading themselves.
Kenny also discusses recent research on the "secret reading life of boys", showing that boys ARE reading - "nonfiction, game manuals, comic books, and catalogs". Have a look at this hobbies survey on the Get Johnny Reading blog, which you could use as a basis for buying non-fiction books on topics that boys (and also girls) really want to find out about.
Australian Fran Knight, in an October 2007 Literature Base article called "Boys and books! They can't get enough of them" says that boys are asking for more adventure, mystery, science fiction, thriller and crime stories, historical fiction and graphic novels. She also mentions the Horrible Histories series, and sports series such as Boyz Rule and Extreme Adventures.
Many boys are very interested in ICT, and this can be used to build an interest in reading. See this post to find out about English Online's "Book Backchat" a great New Zealand online reading discussion group.
Readers, keep tuned to Create Readers over the next week for a list of books that boys are buying from bookshops, with their own pocket money!
The Storylines Online Charity Auction closes tonight at 11.30pm.
Take the time to glance at what's on offer. All proceeds go to the Storylines Trust
Followed tomorrow by the Live Auction at Old Government House - Cnr Princes St and Waterloo Quadrant, Auckland City
Military recollections from World War Two have had a major revival as those involved get older and wish to record their stories for their grandchildren.Military recollections from World War Two have had a major revival as those involved get older and wish to record their stories for their grandchildren. The Matthew Wrights of this world are doing stirling work in interviewing, collection and publishing the wartime experiences of New Zealand's vets. Within a very few years these stories will be unable to be told as the key figures will, in all probability, no longer be around.
Young people need to realise that the 84 year old in the comfortable corner chair on Christmas afternoon wasn't born old. They have their own life experience and own story to tell. Wright has collected a very varied range of veterans and so too are their experiences and stories. From the River Plate action against Admiral Graf Spee, through the Arctic convoys, the great Kiwi and Moa sinking of the Japanese submarine I1 to the experiences of carrier-based pilots, this book brings together a wide variety of conflict experiences. Teenagers must read of such experiences to understand that war isn't all glory and medals. "Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori" ISN"T the truth of the matter. Robert Harvey's recollection of being torpedoed in Leander is indicative of the tone of all interviewed:
"…by the time we got back to Auckland later on, quite a few [more bodies] had washed out of the ship…..There were body parts in the boiler room which caused a bit of a shimozzle when we got back to Auckland….[At Tulagi] there was a stench of fuel oil …. It was an unpleasant stench……I think the smell of bodies had mingled with this oil smell and….it was quiet unpleasant."
And the key, clear and obvious common element to them all? Understatement! The matter-of-fact, laconic manner of underplaying the whole experience is most remarkable.
Such material as Wright has collected here is invaluable not only as an historic record but also as a means of enlightening teenage readers to the concept of our "real" history. And the experiences of "old fogies" who put themselves on the line.
Matthew Wright has developed a considerable body of works on New Zealand's involvement in a variety of conflicts. In the same style as Torpedo! he has also edited Escape! Kiwi POWs on the Run in World War 11 (2006).
Escape stories were all the rage in the immediate post-war period with classics such as Colditz, The Wooden Horse and The Great Escape being among the most noticeable. In an area that is characterised by "Boys Own" writing it is refreshing to hear both personalised accounts AND the experiences specific to New Zealanders.
An excellent, personal read enlivening a "dry" subject. Recommended for year 10-13.
Published by Random House
Reviewed by David
Minna is a modern 14 year old schoolgirl with a group of friends that keep in contact with her 24/7 and say "Whatever" to everything. At the start of the story she is agonising on whether to have sex with her smarmy boyfriend while her older brother has become a "stoner". Mother and father have their own careers and family life is non existent. When mother discovers what Minna is up to and brother Noah's drug habit is beginning to change his life, things have got to change. Father gets the opportunity for the whole family to spend a year on an isolated island in the middle of Cook Strait as part of a reality TV series.
In spite of severe resistence from Minna and Noah, their parents go ahead with the plan. Once on the island the change of lifestyle is a shock to the whole family but secret family revelations turn the story into high drama. I was bored at the start of this book but I soon got into it and felt that it finished well once the secrets were out.
Review by Bob
At a recent Library Week event, Jo Morris, Head of English at Karemu High School shared with a keen group of librarians and parents some popular books for teens at her school. Among them were these "girly books" which are flying off the shelves. If you have teen girls in your life, including reluctant readers, or girls looking for something new to read, why not share some of these great reads with them? These books range in suitability from intermediate-aged children to older teens, so have a look at them first.
Great Girly Books
Ann Brashares - Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
Jane Green - Jemima J
Eva Ibbotrson - Journey to the River Sea
Elizabeth Cody Kimmel - Lily B
Sue Limb - Girl 15 - Charming but Insane
Maureen McCarthy - Rose by Any other Name
Hilary McKay - Saffy's Angel
Melina Marchetta - On the Jellicoe Road
Jaclyn Moriarty - Feeling Sorry for Celia
Louise Rennison - Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging
Jacqueline Wilson - Girls in Love
Also very popular with some teen girls are:
Waris Dirie - Desert Flower
Dave Pelzer - A Child called It
Jean P Sasson - Princess
Adeline Yen Mah - Chinese Cinderella
and Fantasy, eg
Georgia Byng - Molly Moon Series
Tamora Pierce - Song of the Lioness Quartet
For our previous blog entry on this topic, go here to find out about Readergirlz, an online book community celebrating gutsy girls in life & literature.
Breaking news- it has been confirmed that Maurice Gee's classic novel for children "Under the Mountain" is to be made into a movie - filming to start next year in Auckland.
Click here to read the full story in the New Zealand Herald
Presented by Christchurch City Libraries and The Canterbury Reading Association,
are discussed at what always turns out to be an informative and fun evening - a highlight of the Cantabrian Librarian's year!
Wednesday November 28, at South Christchurch Library, 66 Colombo Street, from 7 – 9 pm
Helen O’Carroll (Christchurch City Libraries; 2007 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards judge)
Jilaine Johnson (College of Education, University of Canterbury) and special guest, author/illustrator Gavin Bishop, will look at a selection of the year’s picture books.
Light refreshments and raffle (so be sure to bring your cash!), plus a display of some of the 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award nominations.
Christchurch City Libraries is hosting the Children's Librarians' Conference in March 2008.
Christchurch City Libraries is hosting the Children's Librarians' Conference in March 2008.
The programme will be of interest to schools and early childhood educators as well as children's librarians in public libraries
Although the website is still a work in progress many of the speakers are already listed. Have a peek.
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