We celebrated Banned Books Week last month, and once again I was impressed by the passion MCDS students have for reading. They are always shocked to hear that favorite books such as And Tango Makes Three or the Harry Potter series have been banned and are eager to defend them. We had some great discussions about censorship and organizations like the American Library Association that fight against it. This great blog post by an adult looking back on how Banned Books Week affected her as a teenager is a great encapsulation of why it is so important to celebrate this week in schools. For more information about Banned Books Week, head on over to their official website, google plus page, or YouTube page.
This year we invited 5th graders to share a book they like that has been banned or challenged. You can view the results below.
The votes are tallied for the third annual picture book character vote! We read our kindergarten through second grade classes books with Otis the tractor, Martha the talking dog, Osbert the penguin, Bear from A Visitor for Bear, and Anatole the happiest mouse in France. It was a close competition, but one character emerged victorious in the end...
Congratulatory high five!
Congratulations Osbert! It's the second time that a penguin was in the running and the second time that a penguin has won. They appear to be very popular with MCDS students!
Previous winners Tacky and Olive passing the crown on to Osbert and congratulating him.
Osbert was crowned during a ceremony in the dragon room and is eager to start his summer as reigning picture book character champion! As usual, for his fabulous prize he will be winning the chance to go on vacation with members of the MCDS community this summer. He is a seasoned traveler and enjoys going all over the globe. He has also told me that he would love to explore the Bay Area more if anyone is willing to take him to see the sights in the area. Whatever you are doing this summer, Osbert would love to join you!
Osbert plans his summer travels.
If you would like to participate, it's easy! Just print out a picture of Osbert and take your picture with him this summer. Then send the picture to firstname.lastname@example.org I will collect the images for a display of Osbert's travels in the dragon room. Forgot to print out Osbert before your trip? No problem! Download the png version of Osbert and easily add him to your vacation photos. If you're unsure how to do this, you can always e-mail me the Osbert-less photos and I can add some extra penguins to them for you.
Click below to download a version of Osbert to print out at home
Two Halves of Titan, 2009 NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Saturn has dozens of moons, but Titan stands out from the pack. It is Saturn's biggest moon and the second largest in our solar system (The biggest is Jupiter's Ganymede.) Not only is Titan bigger than our moon, it is bigger than the planet Mercury. Titan was first discovered by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens on March 25th, 1655. As the anniversary of this date approaches, it's a wonderful time to learn more about this mysterious and unique moon.
Huygens Probe and Titan by Craig Attebery
For years, Titan remained a mystery. It has a thick atmosphere of nitrogen, methane, and ethane that hid its surface from cameras for years. It is the only moon in our solar system that is known to have a planet-like atmosphere, and it may even resemble Earth's atmosphere in primordial times. In 1997 the Cassini launched with the Huygens probe. In 2005 the Huygens Probe landed on Titan, seeing the surface for the first time. Since then our knowledge of Titan has grown immensely. Data collected by Cassini sugest the presence of an underground ocean on Titan. Titan even appears to change according to seasons and time of day. It may also look younger than it really is because its craters are slowly being filled in.
Moons Small to Large, 2011 NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
If you would like to learn more about Titan, Saturn, or the Cassini-Huygens Mission NASA's website has the lastest, up-to-date information as well as gorgeous images and videos to browse. You can also watch the TED talk from 2007 by the leader of the Imaging Team on the Cassini mission below.
It's St. Patrick's Day this weekend, but do you know who St. Patrick was and how the traditions of the holiday started?
My favorite way to celebrate the holiday is to read Irish folktales. Brave Margaret is one of my favorites. It takes the damsel in distress theme so common in folktales and turns it on its head. Not content to wait at home, Margaret fights a monster to save her love. Another great way to celebrate the holiday is to listen to some Irish music like the traditional music below.
Ireland has a rich history, dating back to ancient times. This can be seen in the hauntingly preserved bog bodies that can be found in its peat bogs. Eve Bunting's new picture book, The Ballywhinney Girl, tells the story of a little girl and her grandfather who find a bog body in their own backyard.
Siobhan Dowd explores similar themes in Bog Child for a teenage audience. This book, set during The Troubles, tells the story of a boy who discovers a body in a peat bog and an archaeologist who comes to investigate it. It looks at Irish history from multiple perspectives to create an engaging story.
For those who want to learn more about bog bodies and other types of mummies, we have several nonfiction books on the subject. You can also find a lot of information online. National Geographic has an article on two bog bodies found in Ireland in 2003. Archaeology.org has many articles on bog bodies for those interested including one on the poetry to be found in them. It highlights the poems of Seamus Heaney, an Irish Nobel Laureate who has written poems on the subject including "The Tollund Man," "Bogland," and "The Grauballe Man."
March is women's history month and this weekend, March 10th, is Harriet Tubman's birthday. Harriet Tubman is perhaps best known as a conductor of the underground railroad, where she led over 300 enslaved people to freedom without losing a single person. She was also involved in the Civil War. She was a nurse, a cook, and a spy for the Union. Through her work as a spy, she became the first woman to lead a military expedition in American History. If you'd like to celebrate women's history month or this courageous woman's birthday, you can find more information in the resources below.
This nonfiction chapter book is full of fascinating information about Harriet Tubman's life, focusing on her time as a Union Spy. Well-researched and containing information and pictures from primary sources, this book will satisfy fans of history, biography, and spy adventures. Read the book to find out how slave songs were used to pass secret messages, how spy rings provided the Union with intelligence, and how various spying techniques worked from ciphers to drops. Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent by Thomas B. Allen
This biography covers Harriet's life from birth to death. The large text and black-and-white illustrations throughout make the format friendly for younger readers. Separate, topical pages throughout provide additional context to help better understand Harriet's life and the time she lived in. Who Was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough, illustrated by Nancy Harrison
This nonfiction picture book follows the lives of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth and the parallels and eventual intersection of their lives. A quilt motif is contained in the narrative which is echoed in the illustrations that show words and pictures as being stitched together. When Harriet Met Sojourner by Catherine Clinton, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
This atmospheric picture book describes Harriet's escape from slavery and her spiritual journey as she was called to work on the Underground Railroad. Kadir Nelson's gorgeous artwork sets the tone for each part of the story and immerses the reader in the setting. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
An Apple for Harriet Tubman tells a story from Harriet Tubman's great-niece about Harriet's love of apples and how they came to represent freedom for her. An Apple for Harriet Tubman by Glennette Tilley Turner, illustrated by Susan Keeter
This biography collection from the award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney describes the lives and courageous actions of women like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Rosa Parks and how they stood up in the face of oppression and prejudice to fight for equality and freedom. Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn
MCDS subscribes to several online databases. Ask or e-mail Tessa or Erica if you need the login information.
Chelsea House Biographies online has a detailed biography about Harriet Tubman (and many others) including a timeline, photographs, and articles on related topics such as quilt codes and slave spirituals.
You can access Discovery Streaming through ed1stop. It contains many videos and clips about Harriet Tubman, life in her era, and the underground railroad. You can search by grade level to find a whole video or a clip to show to a class or for students to view at home.
Portrait by H.B. Lindsley
Scholastic has a web hunt that will takes students to different websites to find out more information about Harriet Tubman.
We're busy working on our costumes and gearing up for Halloween here in the LRC, but what excites me most about this holidays isn't the costumes or the candy--it's the scary stories! If you'd like to celebrate with a ghastly ghost story, a wonderful witch tale, or a zany zombie antics stop by the LRC to grab a book from one of our displays.
You can also find a selection of our Halloween books over at our pinterest page.
If you'd like to do more than just read scary stories, consider taking part in the new Halloween tradition of All Hallow's Read. To celebrate just give out scary books this Halloween to delight and terrify your friends. Author Neil Gaiman explains the tradition in the video below:
Graphic by Colin Adams, for the Ada Initiative based off a watercolor portrait of Ada by Alfred Edward Chalon
Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Today we celebrate women in science and share their stories. The official website has more information and a roundup of stories shared by people all over the world.
I was wondering is an excellent resource from the National Academy of Sciences. It includes biographies of women scientists, activities, and a forum where you can ask scientists questions. Check out their page on Shirley Ann Jackson for a scrapbook, comic, and activity relating to the life of this amazing physicist. Shirley showed an early inclination towards science and as a child she studied bees and designed fast hot rods to race.
Geek Gurl Diaries is a series of video made by an ICT teacher in London. They include interviews with modern women in STEM, inspirational stories, and how-to's videos like how to build a computer. The first video even includes a bit of background information about Ada Lovelace!
Check out one of these biographies published in 2011 to celebrate women's history month.
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming This biography alternates between chapters describing Amelia's life and vignettes describing the desperate search for the famous aviator after she went missing while trying to circumnavigate the globe. Ample pictures, maps, and images of other primary source documents help immerse the reader in the action, bringing a decades old mystery to life.
Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by Raúl Colón This book follows the life of Alicia Alonso with beautiful watercolor illustrations and free verse poems. Alicia was born in Cuba, then went to New York to study ballet. She continued to dance there despite partial blindness and eventually returned to Cuba to open her own dance company. She still directs a dance school in Cuba today.
Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map by Sue Macy, illustrated by Matt Collins
This picture book tells the story of the first women's college basketball match. It's a bit of local history with the match being between Berkeley and Stanford. They had to play with special modified rules to make the game more lady-like and in front of an audience of all women. Despite these restrictions the game was anything but demure. For more information of the history of women's basketball visit http://wbhof.com/
Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin, Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth This picture book for older children tells the story of Irena Sendler, a woman who worked with the Polish resistance movement and smuggled hundreds of Jewish children into safety during World War II, keeping records of their true identities safely buried under an apple tree so she could reunite children with their families after the war. Beautiful oil paintings accompany this inspiring story of courage.
Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel: Bringing Matisse to America by Susan Fillion The Cone sisters became ardent fans and collectors of avant-garde artists before they became well-known. Working without professional advice and trusting their own instincts, they collected Cézanne, Gauguin, and Picasso and amassed one of the best collections of Matisse in the world. These two sisters traveled the world collecting works of art and making friends with the artists as well as helping to support them. This book traces their remarkable lives and the world of early twentieth century art.
Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg Queen of the Falls tells the story of Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. A 62 year old retired charm school teacher, she thought of going over the falls as a stunt to earn her fortune for her retirement. She drew up special plans for a barrel, oversaw its construction, hired a manager, and took the plunge. Allsburg's characteristic illustrations (Jumanji, The Polar Express) accompany this story that is no less fantastic than his usual stories because it is true.
Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala - Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist Adapted by Gina Capaldi & Q.L. Pearce, illustrations by Gina Capaldi Gertrude Simmons, known as Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird) wrote several autobiographical stories throughout her life. Capaldi & Pearce used this as the base of their story, adapting the language to make it easier for children to understand and adding in extra biographical details. Primary source documents are also worked into the illustrations by combining collage with acrylic paintings. Red Bird sings out as an accomplished musician, author, and activist for her people in the pages of this picture book biography.
Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, A Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History by Sue Stauffacher, Illustrated by Sarah McMenemy Tillie came to America with a needle and found a dream. Soon she was riding in bicycle races with a new outfit she made herself to accommodate riding. She beat records and made a sensation with poets writing odes to her and journalists begging for interviews. Many thought it was improper for women to race, and Tillie lost a lot of friends but she raced on, energizing those fighting for women's rights. This charming picture book tells her tale.
The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life With the Chimps by Jeanette Winter This picture book tells the story of Jane Goodall's life with simple prose and fun, colorful pictures in acrylic paint and pen. The story starts with an incident when Jane was a child and patiently watched a chicken for hours to see how they lay eggs, while everyone searched for her thinking she was lost. Passion and patience are described as she goes to work for Lois Leaky , makes new discoveries about chimpanzees, and ends with her current work advocating for chimpanzees and wildlife.
The Tuskegee Airmen have been in the news lately with the release of the movie Red Tails. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is a truly inspiring one that deserves to be shared. Not only did they combat the prejudices of the era by shooting down enemy planes, proving that African-Americans could fly in combat missions for the Army Air Corps, they also saved thousands of lives with their escort missions. They earned the nickname “Red Tailed Angels” because of their discipline and commitment to protect the planes they were escorting instead of peeling away to look for individual glory. If you’re looking for more information about these heroes or you’d like something appropriate for young children, try the library resources below.
Wind Flyers by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Loren Long. This colorful picture book tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen with beautiful illustrations and lyrical language. It’s a perfect choice for sharing the story of these heroes with young children.
The Tuskegee Airmen Story by Lynn M. Homan and Thomas Reilly Homan, illustrated by Rosalie M. Shepherd. This picture book contains more information on the history of Tuskegee program including the women who worked at the station and non-pilot members of the group such as mechanics.
Red-Tail Angels by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack. This non-fiction book contains chapters full of detailed information and pictures of the Tuskegee Airmen for older students interested in their story.
Flying Free: America’s First Black Aviators by Philip S. Hart. This book provides context with chapters for Bessie Coleman, William J. Powell, James Herman Banning, Hubert Fauntleroy Julian, and The Chicago Flyers in addition to the Tuskegee Airmen.
The site Awesome Stories also has a great article by Carole D. Bos on The Tuskegee Airmen that includes many links to primary source information and a description of the challenges the Tuskegee Airmen faced and their accomplishments. You can access it at http://www.awesomestories.com/flicks/red-tails
For more resources on African American history, look at the books on display this month throughout the LRC.
For this year's Banned Books week a virtual read-out of banned and challenged books is being held. Authors like Judy Blume, Sarah Dessen, Chris Crutcher, Laruen Myracle, and Paolo Bacigalupi are contributing videos in support of Banned Books Week. I've embedded the video of one of my favorite authors, Andrea Davis Pinkney below:
They are also putting out the call for everyone else to join in. The details for contributing are on their site. It's easy--just film a video of yourself reading from a banned or challenged book and keep it under two minutes. In fact, it's so easy Tessa and I made our own:
So lend your voice to Virtual Read-Out in support of Banned Books Week and make your own video today!