Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Library in Books

I know you've heard about books in libraries, but how about libraries in books? I'd like to briefly introduce you to four pictures books that feature libraries in them.

Wild About Books by Judy Sierra (illustrated by Marc Brown of Arthur fame) is a hilarious book in the rhyming style of Dr. Seuss, to whom it is dedicated for his 100th anniversary.  The animals in a zoo get hooked on reading when Molly McGrew inadvertently arrives there with her bookmobile.  My favorite line is about the llamas and their llunches. I also love the clever haiku written by the animals, as well as the Zoolitzer prize won by the hippo for writing her own book.

Also by Judy Sierra, Mind Your Manners B.B. Wolf tells the tale of the reformed Big Bad Wolf who has been invited to a tea for storybook characters at the local library. This dude has obviously taken a class in sensitivity training!

Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair by Patricia Polacco is delightfully wacky! Eli lives in a town that uses books only for things that don't require reading them (like propping doors open)!  Instead, they watch TV all day. Even the town library was bulldozed to make room for a massive TV tower.  But what happens when Eli's  ancient Aunt Chip starts to nurture the a love of literature in all of the children?  I have read many of Patricia Polacco's books before (like Thundercake, An Orange for Frankie, and The Butterfly) but hadn't known about this one until Linda Werner mentioned it at our last Books & Beyond literature seminar.

I checked out those three books from our public library -- of course! But there is one more, an old favorite, that I can't resist sharing with you, too. My Aunt Camille sent us The Rebellious Alphabet by Jorge Diaz many years ago. The author, in political exile from Chile, wrote it first as a play. The Little General, a diminutive and illiterate dictator, tries to control his subjects by banning books and all other reading material so the people can't learn about liberty and justice for all. He is foiled by a little old man named Plácido, who treasured reading and writing. Plácido trained his canaries to print books using letters strapped to their feet. Even prison doesn't stop their quest, which ends with poetic justice. In the end, Plácido's basement becomes the village library.  This is a powerful statement about freedom of the press, made accessible to children.

Check them out!  And if you know any other picture books featuring libraries, tell us about them in the comment box of this blog post!

I also want to let you know about a terrific resource for learning about libraries.  My friend and blogging partner Cheryl Bastian wrote Check These Out as a companion unit volume for her earlier book You HAVE to Read This One: Raising a Contagious ReaderCheck These Out is a multi-level unit study designed to teach elementary through middle school students (K-8) about libraries, books, authors, and illustrators. This unique study uses classic literature to teach foundational concepts and artistic techniques. Children can study the same material at various levels, discussing and learning from one another.   Topics include an introduction to literary genres, illustration techniques, elements of a story, lessons in library science, instructions for using the Dewey Decimal System and the Library of Congress, the publishing and binding process, careers in book publishing, study skills, and multiple field trip ideas.  Easy on parents, the study also features weekly planning calendars, daily lessons, library lists, and check lists.  The book is 139 pages, including 33 pages of reproducibles.  There are also Internet links available on her web site.   Check out this book (and Cheryl's other resources on math, kids' cooking, and planning high school) here: Books by Cheryl Bastian.

That's all for now, folks!

Virginia Knowles

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