Books that celebrate how unique and special we all are

We have shared a couple of books with our junior classes over the last week which have promoted discussions about empathy, difference, kindness and how unique and amazing we all are.

We’re all Wonders by RJ Palacio is the picture book version of one of our favourites Wonder, and in this book for younger readers we find out from Auggie how he feels to be seen as so different to everybody when he is actually just an ordinary boy.

“I know I can’t change the way I look but maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see”.

Manukura the white kiwi by Joy Cowley is a brand new book we received this week in our free pack from the publishers Penguin. This tells the true story of a one of a kind white Kiwi born in the Pukaha sanctuary in the Wairarapa. You can find out about this by clicking here. Manukura is considered a taonga  (a blessing) by local iwi and her name means ‘of chiefly status’.

Here are a few books from our library which acknowledge difference. Can you think of any more?

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Power Reading at Book Night

There was certainly some power reading going on at Seatoun School last night when nearly 40 families squeezed into the library and read together for Book Night. Our great student helpers kept the milo flowing and overall our school group of readers was the biggest community group in New Zealand getting together to read.

If you click here you can go to the Book Night website and have a look at the map of New Zealand to see where people were joining in. You might need to zoom in on Wellington to find the individual photos of our school readers.

Some of our photos are here:

Thank you to all of the parents who took the time out of their evenings to support the fantastic reading culture we have at our school.

 

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Book Night Tuesday 23rd May – 15 minutes of reading for Everybody

On Tuesday night, children and adults all over New Zealand will be celebrating reading by registering their 15 minutes of book time with Book Night. People will take selfies and send them in and soon a map of New Zealand will light up with readers from every corner of our country. Every registration goes into a draw for book voucher prizes.

We will be joining in at Seatoun School – from 6.30 to 7.30pm, students can come along with their parents to the school library and either bring your own books to read or choose from our wonderful collection and read those. Once you are here you can register with the Book Night organisation. Bring your beanbags and cushions and we will provide Milo and biscuits. There will be a draw for spot prizes on the night. See you then!!

If you can’t come along you can still register your reading effort by going to this website on Tuesday night.

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Some recommended reads by great book reviewers

On our blog there are direct links to some book reviewers who spend a lot of time reading children’s books and telling us which ones are worth reading.

Look to the right of this post – you will see two that we subscribe to

Bob’s Books Blog and My Best Friends are Books

You can browse these blogs by clicking on a theme in the wordclouds and that will take you to a list of books that they have reviewed about a particular topic. I receive an email every time they review a book and they help me choose books to buy for our library. I have been sharing these books in the library this week, new books bought because they got such good reviews.

What not to do if you turn invisible by Ross Welford – Bob’s Books says it is one of the funniest and most interesting children’s novels he has read for some time and once you start you will not put it down:

The combination of an on-line purchase of a Chinese remedy and a sunbed cause Ethel to become invisible. She is however only invisible when naked. She panics of course and has various absurd situations that will crack you up.

Poor Ethel is dealing with bullies who find her acne a great source of humour, a new friend who everyone else dislikes (as did she until she got to know him) and a family mystery that makes her old old Great Gran call her Tiger Pussy! What?! A great book for around year 6-8.

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart – another excellent book for years 6-8. Jonathan Grisby has been sent to Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys – not the best place to go and stay for a while as you can imagine. The place is full of young offenders and we don’t know why Jonathan has been sent there until much later in the book, but he is certainly very ashamed of himself and feels he deserves his place there. The adults who run it are cruel and gruesome and I have to say I found the first few chapters to be a quite uncomfortable read. An odd event causes the boys to take control of the island and things go from bad to worse for Jonathan. Here’s what My Best Friends are Books says about it:

Scar Island is like Holes and Lord of the Flies rolled in to one. It is one of those books you just don’t want to put down. When you’re not reading it you’re wondering what will happen next. It’s an adventure story and a survival story with a dash of darkness.  It’s an immersive story too because you can feel and smell the damp, cold fortress, hear the click of the rats scurrying paws and feel the fear and dread of these boys who are trapped.

 

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These holidays I was mostly reading … John Green books

Quentin Jacobsen, known to his friends as Q, has loved Margot Spiegelman for just about his whole life. Margot is out of his league, so when in the middle of the night she taps on his window and asks him to be his partner in crime for some pretty risky revenge pranks he really just can’t say no. After an exhilarating night and Margot is nowhere to be found, Q finds some subtle clues to what may have happened to her and they seem to have been left just for him.

This funny and moving book will appeal to boys and girls in year 7 and 8.

An Abundance of Katherines was OK but Looking for Alaska was my favourite John Green book from the holidays, really funny and I think will appeal to boys particularly. I felt it was more suitable for high school though, year 9 or even 10.

Commonsense media is a website which reviews books and films and helps to give an idea about which age group they are suitable for. This is a really useful guide for teachers, librarians, parents and students because books are given a recommended age rating both by parents and children. It is often interesting that parents will rate a book as being for younger children than the children themselves do. Click on the link below and search for a book you are thinking of reading or buying for a child to get another opinion.

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The Thing about Jellyfish – great new book in the library

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When I read Wonder for the first time I couldn’t stop thinking about it for quite a long time afterwards and this book had the same effect on me. The Kids’ Lit Quiz man, who has read every children’s book ever written, talked about this as a Must Read so luckily I had already ordered this and it arrived the same day!

Suzy’s friend has died suddenly and because she no longer sees the point of small talk she decides not to talk at all, to anybody. We discover that she actually lost her best friend some time ago, to the challenges of fitting in at middle school, and Suzy’s account of this painful transition is heart breaking. Weaving through this and the counselling sessions that her parents have set up to help her start talking again is her science project in which she means to disprove that her friend just drowned and could more than likely have been stung by a jellyfish.

Like Wonder, which has not enjoyed any shelf time since we talked about it early in the term, I feel everyone should read this before they leave primary school and I will be sharing this book with the 5-8s in the library this week.

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There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom – a review by Sadie

Sadie read this book recently and recommends it highly. Here’s what she has to say about it:

If you are a fan of the wonder series and are looking for another book to read this is perfect. It is about a boy that has anger issues and is asked to have a personal trainer / helper for his anger . He does not want to go to her for assistance … After a couple of lessons he really likes going to her and his friend starts going as well !
By Sadie

We think this is another one of those must-read books for students in years 5-8. Tolerance and empathy are big values to learn and use at school and this book covers them in a very amusing way. Come and borrow it!

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Celebrating Very Hungry Caterpillar Day!

On the 20th March every year the children’s book community celebrates Very Hungry Caterpillar Day. We celebrate the start of spring (in the northern hemisphere) by telling this much loved story of the caterpillar who eats his way through an enormous amount of fruit and treats until he’s full. We can guess what happens next. Here’s some Room 9 children joining in with the story.

After we read this story with the Seatoun Kindergarten children we were joined by their buddies from Room 10 and they enjoyed some quiet buddy reading time.

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Here comes Frankie – talking about Synaesthesia

This is what our year 5/6s have been reading and talking about in the library this week. Here comes Frankie by Tim Hopgood is about a boy who lives in a very quiet and colourless world until the day he decides he will learn to play the trumpet. Although the sounds he makes aren’t great at first, he soon realises that the notes he plays produce the most vivid smells and fabulous colours. His parents can see and smell these effects too and soon his whole street is alive with colour and sound. This is a lovely book with wonderful illustrations.

Frankie has a condition called synaesthesia, basically a tangling of the wires in the brain causing some senses to interlink. A great website called Your Amazing Brain gives a good description – click on this link here.

A number of famous artists and musicians have synaesthesia, including the artist Vincent Van Gogh and the musician Billy Joel. Many musicians and artists see having this condition as an asset but unfortunately, when Vincent started having piano lessons and the teacher realised he was associating colours with certain notes, he took this as a sign of insanity and asked him to leave! Poor Vincent!

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The Fabulous Friend Machine – great story for older primary students

Popcorn the chicken is without doubt the friendliest and kindest animal on the farm, and when she discovers a Fabulous Friend Machine in the barn she is delighted to find that there are others out there just as friendly as she is – or are they? After ignoring her old friends to stay glued to her machine and keep up with her new friends, arranging to meet them seems to be the obvious next step….. will these new friends be quite as friendly as she thought?

We enjoyed reading this book with Year 7/8s and Year 5/6s and raised all kinds of questions like knowing who we are communicating with online, staying on devices into the night and looking out for our friends even if they ditch us for fancy new ones. A great fable delivering some messages that are well worth talking about.

 

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