Wednesday, April 28, 2010

May 7-9: The OWS/Vista Academy Book Fair!

Our annual book fair at the downtown Bellevue branch of University Book Store will take place from Friday, May 7th to Sunday, May 9th during normal store hours (see below).

The school library gets 25% of the sales as store credit. Combined with our 20% educators’ discount, this adds up to a lot of books! Just show your OWS/Vista book fair voucher when you shop for books, gifts, art supplies, stationery and more. Vouchers will be sent home with students next week and will also be available in the farmhouse, library, main office and at the bookstore.

At 10:30am on Saturday, May 8th, Ms. Arends will lead the OWS recorders group in a concert at the store! And don’t miss the beautiful Van Gogh-inspired flowers created by our 2nd graders in Ms. Leggitt’s art class that will be on display for the duration of the book fair.

Thank you for helping to support your school library!

Questions? Contact Ms. Simeon at library at ows dot org

University Book Store has free underground parking and is conveniently located near Bellevue Square mall!

990 102nd Ave NE, Bellevue
425.462.4500 ~
Friday 9am–7pm, Saturday 10am–6pm, Sunday 12pm–5pm

Monday, April 26, 2010

May book report ideas for 5th grade

For their May book reports, 5th graders must read a book published before 1900 (though Ms. Russell is willing to make exceptions for a few published soon after the turn of the century).

To help you get started, I have listed a few suggestions below (the E. Nesbit and George MacDonald books are my personal favorites!) as well as a way you can search an online library catalog for additional titles.

Louisa May Alcott - Little Women (1868) & Little Men (1871)
Charles DickensA Christmas Carol (1843)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Sherlock Holmes books: A Study in Scarlet (1887), The Sign of Four (1890), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
George MacDonald - The Princess and the Goblin (1872)
E. Nesbit - Five Children and It (1902), The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904) & The Railway Children (1906)
Howard Pyle - The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883)
Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island (1883)

WorldCat is another source of reading suggestions. Anyone may set up a free account and save search results and lists. You can then use these results to find the book at your local public library or bookstore (or search for the full text online, since the copyright has expired for these older titles).

In WorldCat, click on the advanced search option. Next, type a space and then an asterisk ( *) for the keyword. Leave the title and author fields blank. Finally, limit the dates for your search (e.g. 1850-1899). Choose "juvenile" for the audience, select the type of content (i.e. "fiction"), format ("book") and language of choice.

Be warned: you will get thousands of results! However, most of the pre-1900 literature we are commonly aware of and consider classics today was written for adults and may be too challenging for students of this age. This search will help you find children's books from the appropriate time period.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Author Sundee Frazier Visits Our School!

Our Diversity Council invited local author Sundee Frazier to attend our Tuesday staff meeting this week to speak about the particular needs of children who come from a mixed heritage (racial, ethnic, cultural or religious), are transracially adopted and/or who are Third Culture Kids (“a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture” – definition from These categories cover a significant portion of our student body, which in turn is a reflection of our increasingly diverse and multicultural community.

Frazier, the child of an African American father and European American mother, has extensive experience writing and speaking about these issues. She shared advice, anecdotes and a reading list with our staff. She also facilitated discussions about best practices in the classroom, unexpected conversations and situations that can arise and how best to handle them, and concrete ways of making the classroom as safe and supportive as possible for every student.

If you’re not familiar with Frazier’s work, Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It is a delightful and engaging chapter book for upper elementary students that won critical acclaim and multiple awards. It is a wonderful story for children and parents to read together and discuss. While it deals specifically with the situation of a biracial child and his identity development, all children grapple with figuring out who they are for themselves making it a universal story in many regards.
If you would like to find more reading material like this, please check out previous posts on my blog about multicultural literature, or my multicultural books shelf on Goodreads!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Multicultural families

As a child growing up in a multicultural family (Greek-Japanese-American), I read voraciously but never once encountered a family in fiction who resembled my own in any way. Fortunately things have changed and today's students have access to more books that reflect the reality of many families today.

In kindergarten and first grade we have embarked on a unit of reading books about families where the parents come from different religious, cultural or ethnic backgrounds, or in which children are growing up in a culture that differs from that of their parents.

Students have responded enthusiastically to these books! The first book we read was about a girl growing up in an interfaith family celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas. In one class, five children indicated that they also had one Jewish and one Christian parent, and they were thrilled to see this aspect of their lives reflected in literature as well as to share their own holiday stories.

Below is a partial book list as well as a link to a website that lists a few more books. Happy reading!

Picture books:

I Love Saturdays y domingos by Alma Flor Ada
Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff
My Two Grannies by Floella Benjamin
Oscar's Half Birthday by Bob Graham
Two Mrs. Gibsons by Toyomi Igus
Romina’s Rangoli by Malathi Michelle Iyengar
Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
Yoshiko and the Foreigner by Mimi Otey Little
Light the Lights by Margaret Moorman
My Two Grandmothers by Effin Older
Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say
Tree of Cranes by Allen Say

Chapter books:
Bindi Babes by Narinder Dhami
Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It by Sundee Frazier
Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye
Half and Half by Lensey Namioka
Homesick by Jean Fritz
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
The Lionboy Trilogy by Zizou Corder
Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee
Lowji Discovers America by Candace Fleming
Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee
Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park

A great website with recommended reading:

Interracial Family Themes in Picture Books

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Love science? Intrigued by mysteries? Enjoy challenging yourself with quizzes and amazing your family and friends with obscure facts? Then the American Museum of Natural History has a wonderful website just for you called OLogy!

From Einstein to paleontology to genetics and everything in between, the videos, projects, photos, interviews and more will keep you informed and entertained.

Even better, many subject areas have reading lists! You can browse to find them or do a keyword search for "books" on the site and find them all at once!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April is National Poetry Month!

Does your family enjoy poetry? When I was growing up, my parents made space for each of us to post our favorite poems by the kitchen and bathroom sinks so we'd have something interesting to read and ponder while washing up. I've continued this tradition in my own family and it is a great delight! I particularly enjoy sharing poetry with my daughter and appreciating well-worn classics anew through her fresh eyes.

Whether you are already a huge fan of poetry or not, why not do something to mark
National Poetry Month? Go browse in the 811s section at the public library and see what jewels you find. Or check out the Columbia Granger’s World of Poetry database available through the public library and see how many poems you can find at your fingertips!

One very charming book about poetry appreciation for upper elementary and middle school students is Immersed in Verse: An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet's Life by Allan Wolf. Whether you find poetry mysterious and challenging or are a longtime lover of verse, you'll find something to engage and entertain you in this volume.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Our visit with Anjali

Yesterday's visit by Anjali Banerjee to our school was a great success! During our morning assembly she shared her top 10 writing tips as well as fascinating information about her childhood and family history.

Later, Anjali met separately with 3rd, 4th and 5th grades for writing workshops. Students viewed some of the interesting (and gross!) veterinary samples she acquired as part of her research for her upcoming book Seaglass Summer, then used them as inspiration for writing from the point of view of a particular animal (or part of an animal). We heard vignettes that ranged from the hilarious to the dramatic about tapeworms, ticks, cats - and even dogs' teeth!

Students also got to ask Anjali questions about her favorite authors (C.S. Lewis and Enid Blyton, among others), her inspiration for writing, her work habits as an author, and more. We are grateful to Anjali for taking time from her busy schedule to devote a whole day to our students!