Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Open Window's Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award Winner!

Every year our Kindergarten through Third Grade students enjoy voting in the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Awards. After reading all 20 nominees during library, students have the opportunity to vote for their favorite book. This requires careful deliberation as students weigh the merits of all the ones they like the best.

We have just finished counting up the ballots for our school and we have a winner:

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina by Kirby Larson

This book is a moving, true story of friendship, loyalty and kindness in the midst of a huge disaster. The website has more information about the remarkable animals who feature in this tale that touched all our hearts.

Keep an eye on the WCCPBA homepage to find out which book won at the state level!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Counting down until Anjali's visit!

This coming Wednesday, we will welcome acclaimed author Anjali Banerjee to Open Window School! Parents are welcome to attend the morning assembly in the gym from 9:30-10:15am. Anjali will also be in the library from 11:30am-12:00pm and from 2:30-3:00pm if you would like to meet her and have her sign your books.

University Book Store will bring copies of her books for kids and adults to school to purchase on the day of the event. Please contact me (library at ows dot org) if you have any questions about the day's activities!

In preparation for her visit, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students have been reading Looking for Bapu or Maya Running in the library or classroom. In addition, 4th and 5th graders are hearing How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head by Harish Johari and Vatsala Sperling during library classes. Learning more about Ganesh, Shiva, Parvati and other Hindu gods and goddesses is helping students have a deeper understanding of Anjali's works and they have been enthralled by the humor, drama and wisdom of this story.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

African Library Project

An inspirational article about a librarian's collection in aid of the African Library Project reminded me of a fascinating book by Margriet Ruurs. I had the pleasure of meeting Margriet at two school librarians' conferences this year, one in Charlotte, NC and one in Tacoma, WA, where she talked about her world travels and years of research that culminated in this delightful volume:

Throughout the world children love to read, but you may be surprised at how many creative and interesting ways they gain access to books! After learning about mobile libraries around the world, make sure to check out Margriet's wonderful book about unusual schools around the world:

Happy armchair travels!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Online research - advantages & pitfalls

One of the greatest advantages of being a student doing research today is, unfortunately, also one of the greatest hazards. Sitting in the comfort of your own home you can access unimaginable amounts of information that previously would have required manually searching through a variety of books in a variety of physical locations.

However, with this ease of access come the perils of copying and pasting. Suddenly the possibility of plagiarism, whether intentional or accidental, looms much larger.

Thanks to Mrs. Sachdeva, our Technology Specialist, for pointing me towards this Tech & Learning magazine blog post, "Copy. Paste. Done." It is an important read for both parents and educators.

As you help your student surf the internet looking for information for an assignment, observe what they are doing. Are they looking for information they can synthesize on their own to create a new whole? Or are they looking for a site that provides "the answers" ready made for them?

A friend of mine who is a university librarian has observed that even undergraduates come into the library hoping to find a book or database or website that will hand them "the answer" to their professor's assignment. The reality is that higher level thinking requires us to find the data and then select and interpret it ourselves. Students who learn this earlier in life will become more competent and responsible users of online information, as well as more critical and original thinkers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Picture books: my personal top 10

I was very happy to receive several emails in response to my recent post about the merits of picture books! A few people shared their own favorite titles after reading the School Library Journal articles about the top 100 picture books of all time. This inspired me to ponder my own favorites.

So, without more ado, here are my top ten favorite picture books (bearing in mind that a list compiled on another day might look rather different)! Feel free to add a comment or send me an email with your own picks!

1. Bye Bye Baby: A Sad Story with a Happy Ending by Janet Ahlberg
2. Cannonball Simp by John Burningham
3. The Church Mouse by Graham Oakley
4. The Green Ship by Quentin Blake
5. A Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy
6. The Shape Game by Anthony Browne
7. Shin’s Tricycle by Tatsuharu Kodama
8. Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson
9. A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley
10. Tadpole’s Promise by Tony Ross

Friday, March 12, 2010

Great review of Anjali Banerjee's next book!

Check out this glowing review on the Smithsonian blog of Seaglass Summer, Anjali Banerjee's next book!

When Anjali comes to campus on March 31st, she'll be talking to students about her writing process and the road to publication with her latest novel. Look for it in bookstores and libraries in May! You may also use the form we sent home to pre-order a copy. Anjali will personalize a book plate for you, and the book will be delivered when it comes out.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Library conferences, March 18-19

Have questions about what goes on in OWS/Vista library classes? Need advice about children's or teen literature? Want suggestions on how to encourage your child to read more? I will be available on a drop-in basis (or you may schedule with me in advance) between 8am-3:30pm on Thursday and Friday, March 18th and 19th.

I will be teaching EDEP classes in the library from 12:30-1:30pm on Thursday and from 2-3pm on Friday, but the rest of my days are open so if you have time before or after your parent conference, please feel free to stop by the library to check in. I look forward to meeting with you then!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Anjali Banerjee is coming to OWS!

I am pleased to announce that on Wednesday, March 31st, author Anjali Banerjee will be on campus! She will be holding an assembly and doing writing workshops with grades 3-5, as well as signing books in the library.

Parents are very welcome at the assembly, which will be held in the gym from 9:30-10:15am on the 31st. Please also feel free to drop by the library between 11:30am-12:00pm or 2:30-3:00pm if you would like to meet Anjali.

Families may pre-order copies of her books through University Book Store. Order forms will be going home with 3rd-5th graders this week. Please email me (library at ows dot org) if you need a copy. Order forms are due back at school by 3:30pm on Friday, March 19th, but you may also purchase separately and bring to school your own copy on the day of her visit.

Anjali has won critical acclaim for her books for elementary and middle school students (Maya Running, Looking for Bapu and Seaglass Summer, coming out this May) as well as for adults (Imaginary Men, Invisible Lives). She will be talking with students about her family's cultural roots in India and how they inspire her writing, as well as their emigration to Canada and later to the United States.

We are so fortunate to be able to host her at our school! Don't miss out on this special event!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The thrill & challenge of picture books!

Picture books are one of the most delightful and challenging book formats around. Authors and illustrators have a mere 32 pages and relatively few words in which to set up a situation, flesh out characters and resolve conflicts. Deceptively simple in appearance, they are in fact one of the hardest forms of literature to pull off.

In the best picture books, words and pictures combine to create a new whole; the words alone will not convey the entire story because the pictures extend and complement them. This requires a sophisticated level of reading and interpretation that many adults are not aware is required during the reading of what seem like "easy" books. In fact, in some of the most challenging picture books, the illustrations actually contradict the meaning conveyed in the text, resulting in humor and irony (e.g. see the delightful German title When I Grow Up, I Will Win the Nobel Peace Prize by Isabel Pin).

Sometimes parents are in a hurry to see their children move on from picture books to chapter books. However, there are picture books that even teenagers and adults can read and understand on a deep level (see Michael Rosen's Sad Book, a moving story of bereavement).
During storytimes we have been reading the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award nominees to kindergarten through 3rd grade in preparation for voting day. It has been interesting to see how the different grade levels interpret the messages conveyed in the books. Some of the nominees have been accessible to and enjoyable by all grade levels, whereas others are too complex for the youngest children to grasp easily (e.g. Leslie Helakoski's fabulous Woolbur, which many kindergartners believed was communicating a meaning that was the exact opposite of the author's intended message, but in which 3rd graders could distinguish all the nuances of motivation and feeling).
Want to learn more about picture books and explore some classics? See below!

  • Original Top 100 Picture Books
  • The Caldecott Medal
  • The Kate Greenaway Medal
  • Kirkus: Best Picture Books of 2015
  • Shirley Hughes's top 10 picture book characters
  • Monday, March 1, 2010

    It's time for the annual bookmark contest!

    In the past you may have noticed the colorful bookmarks with children's artwork coming home with your student from the school library. University Book Store runs an annual bookmark contest for students in grades K-8. Winners will be chosen in several grade divisions and these talented artists will have their work printed up as bookmarks. We were delighted last year when one of our talented third graders won!

    We will be handing out entry forms and information sheets in the school library starting on Monday, March 1st. Any student interested in entering may take one home (you can also pick up extras at the bookstore). The deadline is Friday, April 16th. Entries may be submitted in person at any UBS branch or mailed to:

    Kids Books
    University Book Store
    4326 University Way NE
    Seattle, WA 98105-1009

    Please do not send completed entries to school! We cannot take responsibility for them and do not want your child's precious artwork to get mislaid.