What will your next book be?

We have such a great community of readers at Seatoun School that our combined reading knowledge is vast and our students love sharing their favourite books.






Here are some of our year 7/8 students from Room 2 keen to put some of their ideas in the recommendations jar.



This jar is full of recommendations from students and staff. For everyone taking a recommendation out of the jar there are always others willing to put another one in there, so the list is growing all the time.

Here are two happy customers! Whether students challenge each other to read whatever they draw out, or select a category that they know they love, or have to keep drawing out to find one they haven’t read, it is all positive stuff to provoke discussion and opinion about books, which we love.

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New audio books for the library


We are really excited to have made a start to our audio book library. These resources are particularly user friendly because they don’t require any kind of device to download the book onto. Each book is recorded into its own tiny MP3 player, and can be bookmarked like a paper book or Ebook. The controls are really easy to follow too.


The titles we have chosen to start with are those we have the paper copies of already – this means that students who are learning English as a second language can be reading and listening to the book at the same time. Audio books are also great for students who love reading and the benefits that come with that – escape, empathy, adventure, – but that can find reading frustrating due to learning differences such as dyslexia. These are the books we have chosen to start with and they are for readers from Year 4 up.

The Shapeshifter series by Ali Sparkes – Dax leads a fairly unsatisfactory life until an unexpected reaction to a tense situation leads to changes in his life in more ways than one. Skip forward less than a week and Dax finds himself boarding at a school for other young people with unique abilities and talents like him. This series is exciting and great for lovers of fantasy adventure.

 Noah’s Dad is sure that a casino boat is dumping its sewage in the beautiful Florida Keys, but after trying to take action he ends up behind bars. Noah is determined to prove that his Dad was right but it won’t be easy…





Unfortunately, Roy’s first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and-here’s the odd part-wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligators, a fake-fart champion, some burrowing owls, a renegade eco-avenger, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails.

 Cat lives at the Theatre Royal in 1790’s Covent Garden London. This has been her home since being left there as a baby and the theatre folk and rough and ready street gangs are her friends and family. A missing diamond, an escaped African slave, bare-knuckle boxing and high society friendships provide entertainment to this headstrong female lead. This is a refreshing read in an old setting.

This is James Bond, 12-13 years old at Eton School in England and already showing tendencies towards dangerous situations and espionage. The first two in the series, James has to keep his wits about him as he encounters murder, kidnap and arms dealing. Typical Bond for a younger audience.

All of our audio books can be searched up and reserved on our library catalogue under Quicklists “Audio Books”.

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Navigating the Fake News digital landscape

We have been talking about the new Colossal Squid exhibition soon to be opening at Te Papa. Take a look at the sensational photo captured in May

My story was verified with some links to Te Ara, Te Papa, some reference to recent events both locally and nationally, and a picture of a stamp due to be released. Here are some facts:

1. The photo was taken in 2012, not 2018

2. The photo is from White Rock in British Colombia, Canada

3. This was in fact a whale that beached, not a squid.

Here is the original:

Now see how the fake news creator has doctored the image to make it look very credibly like a Colossal Squid

This may have been recognised as fake news by news agencies in 2015 when this story first came out, but the photo and back up information given to students makes it very believable and highlights the problem we have of the sheer volume of information available to us and how to decipher fact from fiction.

Snopes is the website where I found these pictures and is an excellent place to verify international media claims. They try where possible to contact the main subject of claims to sort the fact from the fiction, and failing that use knowledgeable, qualified experts and organisations, plus authoritative journals. Nothing like this exists in New Zealand and it is up to us to decide how well we trust our media outlets to be providing good quality news.

This video highlights how mis-information circulates and becomes actual news very quickly:By sharing fake news, we become part of the circular news problem.

Fake news is used by football agents to create excitement and build value in their players. Look at these headlines about the possibility of Ronaldo returning to Manchester United during the transfer window this year. Ronaldo did not once sit down and have talks with United.

Ronaldo signed for Juventus for $174 million. His agent will have earned a good % of that figure.


All of these other 57 players were linked with United during this transfer period of one month. Only one of them actually signed for United, the others will have benefitted from the link and raised good prices for themselves and their agents.


Have a look at another example of fake news in action. Recently anti-1080 protestors used an image of a group of dead kiwis to show the effects of 1080 poison on native wildlife. It turns out that this photo was previously released by a conservation group who were highlighting the number of deaths of kiwi by dog attacks and cars. The Facebook post was quickly taken down, but not before it had been shared 1000 times.

Newshub article highlighting misuse of photograph.

Another side  to the story! Who do we trust?

Department of Conservation take on the dead kiwi story.

Breaking News!!!! Media bias can create news where there isn’t really any. This article talks through the damage that can be caused through breaking news not being entirely accurate.




 Wikipedia get some bad press when it comes to being a reliable source – but just look at the number of sources they cite for their entry on the Colossal Squid! Their strict Verifiability Policy gives them a strong basis for choosing whether to allow posts to be published.


Basic things to consider before you reach for that share button:

1. Avoid following events in real time – give the news outlets chance to verify their breaking news and check in every hour or so

2. Follow actual news reporters – they are on location and often post actual photos on instagram of events as they happen

3. Media bias – find several news sources to help seperate fact from opinion. Find one you trust.

4. Verify before spreading – don’t become the source of fake news! Look at the sources your news has quoted – how expert are they? Can they possibly be verified?

This poster from the National Literacy Trust in the UK gives good advice about how to spot fake news and choose whether to share.



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Year 3/4 Stone Art in the library

Inspired by a beautiful picture book, this term in their Monday afternoon enrichment sessions the year 3/4 students from rooms 10, 11, 12 and 15 have been looking at the artwork of Nizar Ali Badr, a Syrian artist who creates incredibly moving images using nothing but stones. Author Magriet Ruurs heard about his work and found him through Facebook and a determined search through Syria and convinced him to reproduce some of his images for her book Stepping Stones: A refugee family’s journey.

During the session we watch a couple of videos about the making of the book and see the artist himself in action. By clicking on an image you can watch the video on YouTube.

Finally this video shows a group of children’s entertainers who have travelled to refugee camps to bring some joy and laughter to the children there. This has been a good way to help us imagine what it must be like by seeing the faces of actual children just like us who are living in quite difficult conditions and who have been through desperate hardship leaving their homes and communities.

We used some stones collected from the the beach and topped up by the generous people at Ablaze Firewood. Students then created a brief Book Creator document to capture their art and describe the ideas behind them. Have a look at some of their creations inspired by what they had seen:



Posted in Non-Fiction, Picture Books | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Story Cure – new book for our parent library

Here is another great book we have found for our FOSS Parent Library. The Story Cure by Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin was recommended by a fellow librarian. Here is what a Goodreads reader had to say about it:

“Presenting recommendations grouped alphabetically by theme, it makes it really easy for parents/teachers/librarians to find exactly the right book(s) to propose to their children/teens according to their interests/questions/challenges they are facing in that moment of their lives. Of course, it’s not an all-encompassing compendium – it’s good starting point, though.”

This sums it up for me – it is not all encompassing – there are a great many fabulous books not on this list that we can recommend from our library, and what is right for one child going through something is not necessarily going to be a quick fix “read this and then you’ll understand” for another. However, it is a gorgeous book full of ideas of beautiful, funny and appropriate books for children and is wonderful to browse through. If we don’t have a title you like the look of from this book it can probably be found at the Wellington library or The Children’s Bookshop, and if you recommend it we can put it on our wish list too.

This book can be borrowed by coming to the library and registering as a parent borrower – a process which takes about 30 seconds.

To see all of the books in our parent library, go to the library catalogue at this link

Once here, click on Quicklists and then select FOSS Parent Resources.

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New Zealand Children’s Book Awards Winners announced

At a fancy ceremony at Te Papa last night the winners of the 2018 New Zealand Children’s Book Awards were announced, and I am very happy with the results!

The Margaret Mahy Book of the Year

This is an absolutely stunning visual history of New Zealand, full of information and beautiful illustrations. We have several copies of this book and will be enjoyed by students for reading for pleasure, by teachers for use in the classroom, and as a wonderful book to own and dip into whenever you feel like it. A worthy addition to every home I believe, excellent present for anybody. Can I say any more?



Best Picture Book

 A firm favourite with our youngest junior classes, I am Jellyfish tells the tale of this unassuming creature who simply lives in the ocean and keeps herself to herself, until a hungry swordfish forces her into the depths. Our children recognised the lovely flowing words that fit beautifully with the bright and engaging illustrations, with most scoring it 5/5, 10/5 and even 1,000,000/5. Granny McFlitter and her penguin pyjamas must have been a close second,  but I’m glad our junior favourite won the prize. Here’s our bar chart of results from their vote:

Best Junior Fiction

A plucky lead female character leads us through a tricky time in her life when she is desperate to become a Bee on her farm, a prestigious position where fruit trees are physically pollinated by children in lieu of the bees which have declined in numbers. A change in circumstance sees her working alongside her mother in the dreary and divided city, where an unlikely friendship keeps her on track. A look into the future of New Zealand without bees, this book has an ecological message but is actually mostly about grit and loyalty. A fantastic book for year 5-8.


Other award winners:

It has been a lot of fun reading the picture books with all of our junior classes and having interesting discussions about what makes one picture book better than another. I have handed some of the other finalists in the junior fiction category to year 5 and 6 students to read and shared the YA finalists around a great group of year 8 students who were willing to give them a go. All of the finalists and winners will be enjoyed in our library, in the classrooms and at home.


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Further parent resources in school library

With FOSS support we are continuing to add resources to our school library for parents to borrow. You may recognise these titles above from FOSS parenting presentations, the latest of which supports Term 3’s presentation on raising empathetic children. All of these titles can be borrowed for up to a month, or reserved by emailing   Wendy.bamber@seatoun.school.nz

A previous post here details the first group of our collection. Here are some more:

Steve Biddulph shows parents how to provide the firm, loving guidance that boys need. Updates include information on mitigating the dangerous effects of online pornography, male specific hearing problems, and teen driving on boys. Biddulph also discusses:
• The three stages of boyhood, and how to help them go smoothly.
• Testosterone! How it changes behaviour.
• The impact of competitive sports on boys, and how to ensure it stays positive.
• Questions to assist in finding boy-friendly schools

These are great resources for parents to read with their intermediate age children, particularly just before they leave to go to high school where pressure to make decisions both on an academic and social level can become quite overwhelming. Having the grit to go for it and take risks is something we all hope to achieve, however recognising that we show more grit in some situations than others is a great first step to improving this quality. These books offer simple exercises which you can pick and choose from.

In Glow Kids, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras examines how technology―more specifically, age-inappropriate screen tech, with all of its glowing ubiquity―has profoundly affected the brains of an entire generation. Kardaras will dive into the sociological, psychological, cultural, and economic factors involved in the global tech epidemic with one major goal: to explore the effect all of our wonderful shiny new technology is having on kids.

Rated 4/5 on Goodreads.com,  The Out-of-Sync Child broke new ground by identifying Sensory Processing Disorder, a common but frequently misdiagnosed problem in which the central nervous system misinterprets messages from the senses. This newly revised edition features additional information from recent research on vision and hearing deficits, motor skill problems, nutrition and picky eaters, ADHA, autism, and other related disorders.

For harassed parents struggling to understand why they end up screaming at their kids and tearing their hair out trying to make them understand that bad behaviour has inevitable consequences, this popular book might help your family make it through the crucial first decade or so and still enjoy each other’s company. Practical commonsense answers and real life examples, logical and realistic strategies, and innovative behaviour modification tools that work in the real world – all from a parent and family therapist who’s seen almost everything there is to see and offers some hard-won battlefield wisdom. A donation to the school library that is well worth a browse.


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