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.
Gene counts in a variety of species
Graphic science books are a great way to introduce science topics to reluctant readers. They also provide a quick review guide at the end of a study or prior to exams. This title is one of a growing series of graphic non-fiction published by Capstone Press. The format is easy read but the science content is surprisingly detailed with a glossary and more notes at the back to extend the readers understanding. The main character, Max Axiom, explores and explains the topic, bringing in other characters to help illustrate facts.
Reader level will be affected by familiarity with the topic rather than age as the content includes a lot of subject specific vocabulary.
Other science subjects this series includes are earthquakes, scientific method, renewable energy, and photosynthesis.
You can see more Graphic non-fiction at http://www.capstonepub.com/aspx/pSearch.aspx
Flickr image by dullhunk
Some great books have come Off the Trolley in the last few weeks. Stunning picture books, gruelling young adult titles, fantasy blended with reality, funny fiction for younger readers, several gems which make you feel ( to paraphrase W H Auden) because you have read them you will never feel the same way again. Themes across the ‘problem’ spectrum, bullying, loss,violence,negativity,self harming,racial conflict make for challenging reading at all levels. Sally Murphy’s stunningly simple Toppling for younger readers bought tears when I read it aloud but Paul Cookson’s poetry anthologies and the transformation of the Pout Pout fish into a Kissy Kissy fish let us laugh in equal measure.
Relax! Enjoy these and make a note to order them early for sharing with your children next year.
The Nanny Goat’s Kid Tony Ross & Jeanne Willis
Andersen Press, London. 2010 ISBN 9781849390361
Desperate for a child, a loving nanny goat adopts a tiger cub and fiercely defends him when all the little ‘kids’ go missing. Will nature overcome nurture? A great read aloud that affirms families must stick together and look after each other despite their differences.
The Pout Pout Fish Deborah Diesen Pictures by Dan Hanna
Farrar Straus Giroux, NY. 2008 ISBN 9780374360962
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition, an engaging character and colourful marine illustrations full of detail and expression. This story about a miserable fish with the ‘dreary-wearies’ contains all the best ingredients for a successful read aloud. One action, a big smooch transforms him and suggests kind actions not criticism are far more positive.
Toppling Sally MurphyWalker Books, Australia. 2010 ISBN 9781921529429John is an ordinary boy with a happy and seemingly mundane life, dominoes, goldfish, school pranks and fun with his best friend Dom. Suddenly, Dom is taken to hospital critically ill and John’s safe world starts to teeter and topple. Friendship and feelings, love and loyalty are explored in simple, moving blank verse. Outstanding !
Hooey Higgins and the Shark Steve Voake
Walker Books,London 2010 ISBN 9781406322347A shark sighting is the start of a string of disastrous events that Hooey Higgins and his misfit gang make much worse. Knickers, a sea urchin, humiliation and explosions. Kids love to read about other kids making idiots of themselves and doing stupid things. Read it aloud. It’s funny and fast paced.
and more to come…………
Last weekend, several Fairfax newspapers and the Stuff website published an article drawn from in TeKuaka a journal from the University of Auckland Faculty of Education, about boys and reading. School librarians quickly looked on their systems to find out the gender of their top readers, and found, as they knew they would that boys are well represented in their top ten or twenty borrowers. There was a lot of anecdotal evidence shared about the boys who love reading.
We are really good about sharing important information amongst ourselves.
The article is about a master’s research student and her topic. The research was conducted with a sample of five Intermediate level boys. The issues raised by this article and our collective response are critical thinking, evidence based practice, and advocacy.
An article about boys and reading in the major Sunday papers gives the topic a high profile for a few days. It’s a great opportunity to gather up our own evidence, as many in schools did, and get leverage for our own advocacy agenda. A proactive report to a principal and board of trustees might start:
“ You may have seen the article about boys and reading in the paper. Now is a good time for me to share with you the figures from our school…”
Highlight the programmes and work going on in your school library supporting literacy. Use your evidence to show what is happening in your school and highlight how the library is contributing to literacy outcomes.
Be prepared to respond to any questions about the topic from teachers, principals, or board members, about the news article, about the wealth of other research about reading, and of course very importantly about what is happening in your library.
The Window opened and summer stepped in to launch Reading at the Beach, Kiwi style on November 30th, at National Library, Auckland. Pamela Anderson, a paddling pool, shandies and strawberries set the festive scene for a relaxed evening of book promotion and encouragement to read widely for personal and professional pleasure.
Considerable interest this year at all school levels has seen two hundred enrolled in the program and fifty teachers and librarians attending the event at the Auckland Centre. Miss Beach, Miss Bach, Miss Barbecue, Miss Bubbles and Miss Beach Ball shared their personal picks from recent additions to the collection. A Scavenger Hunt where participants were encouraged to cheat helped familiarise guests with the Centre and helpful staff. An online introduction to joining the Reading at the Beach community, guidelines for book reviews and responses and a sneak peek at the 'Create Readers‘ web pages wound up a relaxed evening.
End of year fatigue seemed to slough away as teachers enjoyed the hospitality, listened and laughed as Miss Beach Ball contorted herself to reach her books and left full of enthusiasm with their black bags full of books.
It’s not too late to join! Register at your closest Service Centre and sign up to the Online community http://schools.natlib.govt.nz/community
Roll on Reading at the Beach.
There are quite a number of wildlife field guides on the NZ market but this one is my favourite since it covers a comprehensive range of NZ wildlife in one compact volume. A broad introduction gives an overview of New Zealand’s geology, climate and habitats while additional information at the end outlines areas to visit, maps national parks, and some useful websites.
There are coloured photographs on every page, (one to accompany each entry) and detailed descriptions to aid identification including details of distribution and conservation status.
A great book to take with you on outdoor adventures, big on information but small enough to slip into your backpack. It can also be a useful quick reference at home or in the school library.
Samantha Kingston has everything - looks, popularity and the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last day on earth. But after death, Samantha wakes up the next morning and gets to live that day all over again , but this time, knowing that at the end of it, she will die.
The reader is drawn into her confusion, her frustrations, her realisations and her breakthroughs as she relives her death day, not once, but seven times.
Each day she realises the power she has to make changes, to shape her relationships and to affect others, both positively and negatively. And how does it end? You will have to read it yourself. A highly recommended and compassionate book which brings us insights into the reality of the present rather than the uncertainty of tomorrow.
Check out the book trailer video at
Flickr image by Alejandra Mavroski
This graphic novel version has a ‘friendly’ anime style of illustration that won’t spook or scare children. Because of this yr 6 – 8 readers will find this classic of American children’s literature an easy and enjoyable read.
And there’s a bonus. Towards the back of the book under Tales Of Oz is information about the various ways the story has been told over the decades from movies to cartoons.
Flickr image by twm1340
Fleance, the only son of Banquo, must make a choice. Since his father's murder ten years ago, he has hidden in the woods of Northern England, keeping his identity a secret from all, but the time has come for him to unmask his enemies and discover why he is plagued by his father's ghost.
Fleance must sacrifice his love for his beloved Rosie and journey back to Scotland if he is to find the answers and fulfil his father's dying wish. The choices he makes will change his life forever, while the secrets from his past threaten to bring down the throne of Scotland.
A great read.
Biff is not like other dogs, he doesn’t do what other dogs do like fetching sticks instead, Biff like his owner, (a little girl) loves to watch ballet on television and go to ballet classes.
One day the little girl goes with her Dad to see a ballet in a huge hall; suddenly the solo ballerina falls. Before anyone can say anything, Biff is dressed in the little girl’s tutu takes the centre stage and dances across the stage, “as light as a sugarpuff!”.
There’s some great synergy between Kemp’s words and Ogilvie’s illustrations and it creates a gentle humour that will resonate with little girls who love ballet and animals with equal passion.
Flickr image by momathon
From generous Ox and easy-going Pig to ambitious Rat and wiley Snake, the animals in this energetic picture book version of the traditional Chinese zodiac legend reflect the whole spectrum of human nature. Author, artist and book designer deserve congratulations for the way they have worked together (just like Goat, Monkey and Rooster in the legend!) to produce such a vibrant and engaging piece of work. Keep this one in mind for the next Chinese New Year – it reads aloud beautifully – and have a look at Sally Rippin’s blogspot: to find out how the artwork for the book came together.
Particularly recommended for junior and primary classes, but older students and their teachers will enjoy it too.
flickr image by Christopher Chan
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