Promoting children's literacy: having fun isn't hard, when you have your own library

*This post was written by Caitlin Cheung, a MT student from the Primary/Junior stream.

Oh I bet I fooled you with my deceiving title! Arthur was my favourite children’s show and book series growing up. If anyone would ever mention the library in my teens, I would instantly start singing the library card song.

But I am not here to tell you about our amazing OISE Library. (I really should have made a post on the library since I have spent most of my days in countless library rooms this past week. I may crack one day and write a post of how to productively write papers and assignments in the library. I think I have finally found a formula that works for me.

I am here to tell you about my personal library! Over the past few months, I have been to my fair share of conferences, workshops, book stores and classes. I have acquired some amazing books that I would love to share with you guys. As a teacher, there is nothing more exciting than bringing a really good book into the classroom and presenting a read aloud. (Yes, teachers are still doing the traditional read aloud! Where a teacher sits in front of the body of students, and reads the book out loud. I did it all the time with my grade 3’s)

They are amazing mental sets or concluding activities for lesson plans. These are just a few that I have in my personal library or some that I have read and seriously debated to buy…But then again, a girl has to eat, and as delicious and enticing as these books are…I can’t have them all..

1. Title: Every Day is Malala Day Author: Plan International

Malala is a huge role model to me. She is what inspired me to write my research paper on children’s rights. She is an advocate for so many children, especially girls! She is able to articulate her stance on children’s rights with passion and energy, while standing next to stiff UN officials. You go Malala!

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies

2. Title: If Kids Ran the World Author: Leo and Diane Dillon

Leo and Diane create a fictional world where kids ran the world, enforced various laws and created a society fit for everyone. Sadly, it is a made up world but its a great entry point to discuss how kids can actually make a change in their community, and then the world. Empowering children with the knowledge and attitude that they are able to make a difference, drives them to achieve greatness and develop empathy for others.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies, CTL7014H

Fundamentals of Teaching

3. Title: Baseball saved us Author: Ken Mochizuki

This book is about a Japanese boy imprisoned in a concentration camp. To make their lives more tolerable, the boy’s father creates 2 baseball teams and a baseball field. The boy discovers his love of the sport, while noticing the difference in attitudes of the inmates when they are joined together for a common goal.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies, CTL7001H Educational Professionalism, Ethics and Law

4. Title: Voices in the Park Author: Anthony Browne

I was first introduced to this book in my literacy class with Shelly Murphy. The plot line is simple.Its four different characters going to the park and viewing their experiences in four different ways. It is a great entry book for discussion on social justice issues like: capitalism, poverty, gender stereotypes and privilege. It is also a great book to discuss point of view and perspective taking in critical literacy.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies

5. Title: Fly away home Author: Eve Bunting

This book is about a boy and his father living in an airport because they are homeless and can’t afford living in the city. The boy and his father move around the airport so they don’t get caught by security. They sleep in various parts of the airport, exchange carts for money and use the washrooms to clean up. Ultimately this is a book of remaining hopeful and positive.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies

6. Title: Spork Author: Kyo Maclear

In a cluttered kitchen, the lonely Spork tries to find where he fits in. A touching tale about finding yourself, and realizing that sometimes its better to stand out than blend in.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7014H Fundamentals of Teaching

7. Title: Before After Author: Matthias Arégui

I adore picture books, or books with minimal words. This book has the “before” picture on the left and the “after” picture on the right. It is a great book to use when students need a sentence starter. An extension could be to create a story using the two images. (Ps. the book ruins the old fable, what comes first the chicken or the egg? Its the chicken guys!)

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies/Science, CTL7003H Math, CTL7014H Fundamentals of Teaching

8. Title: Ish Author: Peter Reynolds

I was first introduced to this book when I was in my second year of undergrad. My professor, Marni Binder, did a read aloud on the first day of my creative arts class. (And yes, read alouds can be done with adults too!) I love the premise of the book. Nobody is great at everything. Everyone is great-ish at certain things, and thats what makes us all unique. We need to celebrate that we can’t do everything, but we can-ish!

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies, CTL7014H Fundamentals of Teaching

9. Title: Beautiful Oops! Author: Barney Saltzberg

Another fabulous book I picked up after Marni Binder introduced it to us. I actually picked it up and grappled if I should give it to my nephew for his birthday. In the end I did give it to him…but it still haunts me. The book is a great to introduce when doing art. With art, there are no rules on how things are supposed to turn out. And this book celebrates that mistakes are actually the start to a masterpiece.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies/Science

10. Title: The book with no pictures Author: B.J Novak

Okay, let me take back what I said for number 7! I can’t go making these generalizations of what I like in books because then I come across a book and it stumps me!! I am dying to get this book. I think with the right attitude and right disposition, anyone can make this book come alive without pictures! You have to see this video of B.J Novak presenting his book in front of a crowd of kids. You will start cracking up!!

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7014H Fundamentals of Teaching, CTL7001H Educational Professionalism, Ethics and Law

So go forth and look into these books! I promise you, you will not be disappointed!