🏀Books for March Madness 🏀

Let’s face it, remote learning has been a drag for most of us. There are a lot of negatives. However, I am not here to discuss them. I am here to share a positive experience that has me and my students smiling.

Typically in library, I spend time teaching lessons about the Dewey Decimal System, how to find books in a library, fiction/non-fiction, digital citizenship, research skills and a whole range of other topics. Although those things are sometimes woven into our Zoom sessions, and are no doubt important, I have been spending a good deal of time on one of a librarian’s most important jobs – instilling the love of reading and listening to books. The best way to draw them in is by reading to them.

Some kids don’t spend any time reading outside of material that is required for their school work. Likewise, some kids have never had the opportunity to sit down with a parent to share the joy and intimacy of reading a story together. During our weekly Zoom meetings, I have been sharing my favorite books on timely topics with them and we couldn’t be happier.

This month is the beginning of “March Madness,” the enduring term for the men’s NCAA championship tournament. Regardless of whether you like basketball, I bet you can walk away from these two read alouds happy that you have taken just a moment to sit down, forget about the world around you and learn a little bit about the history of the game.

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Glass Invented Basketball (in 1891) is the story of how a determined teacher inadvertently invented one of the most popular games in America.

Girls are ballers, too. Read Wilma Rudolph’s story about how she battled Polio and eventually made her way to the Olympics, becoming the fastest woman on earth in 1936.

Check out these other fun links to keep your head in the game:

🏀 Stomp Makes Basketball Music with the Harlem Globetrotters

🏀 The Swish Machine: 70 Step Basketball Trickshot

🏀 MVP | Animated Short Film Inspired by Kobe Bryant

🏀 Dear Basketball | Academy Award Winning Tribute to Kobe Bryant

Read more

France: “Linnea in Monet’s Garden”

🇫🇷 I picked this book up because we were heading to France and I wanted to learn a little more about the culture before we got there.

Linnea is a character created by Swedish author, Christina Björk.

I recognized the book when I picked it up from the public library. Sometimes, I recognize books because they have been in one of the libraries that I have managed. But this time I recognized Linnea in Monet’s Garden because it was published in 1985, the peak of my elementary school days. I had no doubt read it as 12 year old many years ago.

So I read it again.

If you have ever re-read a book from your past (childhood, high school, college, a specific time in your life) you know that you may often glean something new or unexpected the second or third or fourth time through. With maturity, oftentimes you understand more, appreciate more, linger in the words or the themes just a little bit more. This was true for me while reading about Linnea.

In it’s most basic form, it is the story of a girl and her adventures with her neighbor, Mr. Bloom. To a child it may be nothing more than a story about the places that they visit. But for me, it was a delightful non-fiction account of the beginnings of Impressionism and the painter that created the genre.

Appropriate for ages 8 and up (simply because of the length and complexity of the material). This is a great book to get conversations started about art, artists, gardens and France.

Take a visit to Monet’s Garden.  Available at the Kitsap Regional Library.

Cuba: “All the Way to Havana”

Since we traveled quite extensively at the beginning of the summer, I decided that I would like to write some posts suggesting books that can help you go on a vacation “by the book,” (by reading a great story). I have seen the book All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle in a handful of the trade journals that I read in order to hear about the best books to hit the market. This book seemed to fit the category I was aiming for, so I thought I would give it a try. I have never really thought much about Cuba until a friend told me that she was going to visit this year for Spring Break. She told me about all of the extra steps that her family needed to take to travel there because of US/Cuba relations and rules set up by the American and Cuban governments. Upon completing her trip, she posted pictures of her travels and it became evident that some aspects of Cuban life were frozen in time. One of those things is cars. As the author explains in the author’s note, “due to a complex historical situation, many of the American cars on the island of Cuba are pre-1959.”That’s what this book is about: a family that travels into Havana in their 1954 Chevy Delray in order to celebrate and visit a newborn family member. Ms. Engle’s poem is beautifully illustrated by Mike Curato in this standard-sized picture book. This book can be adapted for a variety of age levels. Use it as a richly illustrated picture read-aloud for littles or the springboard for an in-depth discussion about politics, history and foreign relations. Available at the Kitsap Regional Library (as soon as I return it).

The Christmas Truce of 1914

Looking for a heartwarming Christmas story? Try this historical fiction picture book about Allied and German soldiers in the trenches of France during World War I taking time out from their fighting to join together in song – “Silent Night.”  A delightful book written from the point of view of a miserable British soldier’s letters home.  A lovely story to share to put our modern lives into perspective.  Text and gorgeous illustrations by John Hendrix.  Find it at the EPO library.

I loved this book so much  that I decided to share it with my intermediate classes before winter break.  I found some great videos to go with it if you want some more visuals to accompany the story.

For a background of World War I, “The Great War,” start with this clip from History.com: Bet You Didn’t Know: World War I

For a dramatic reenactment, I found that this Sainsbury’s (a UK grocery store chain) commercial tells a nice story and leaves out the gory bits: Sainsbury’s Official Christmas Advert 2014.  Sainsbury’s also has a “the story behind” video that helps to explain some of the finer points.