Banned Book: Sylvester and The Magic Pebble

 

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Sylvester and The Magic Pebble by William Steig is recommended for ages 5-8 years old. This book was on the banned list in 1977 for the portrayal of policeman being characterized as pigs despite pigs being portrayed as other people in the story. In this book, Sylvester finds a beautiful, shiny red magic pebble that turns his wish into an uncomfortable and lonely situation. This 32 page picture book  teaches children that the most important thing in life is family and that sometimes you have to be very careful what you wish or ask for because not everything is as good as it may seem. Sylvester learns first hand that having his quick thinking wish to turn into a rock not only saved his life but had a major consequence. This story is not recommended for children who are beginning readers to read alone due to it’s vocabulary. Big words like ceased and gratified are used in the text and will be hard for. There are very long paragraphs of text. Some pages have several paragraphs worth of text and other pages may have as little as one sentence. This could be tiring or difficult for young readers. However, if read by an adult it is more feasible. The illustrations are in painting/cartoon style with animals being depicted as people. Sylvester and The Magic Pebble is a story filled with magic, anticipation and joy and can be enjoyed by both adults and their children.

 Steig, W. 1969. Sylvester and the magic pebble. New York :Windmill Books,

#NationalPoetryMonth

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In observance of Poetry Month here is my poem consisting of YA titles to be released in 2017… Enjoy!

Poem Titled The Cursed Heir  by Morgan Rhodes

Before She Ignites by Jody Meadow

Defy The Stars by Claudia Gray

Once and For All  by Sarah Dessen

Empress of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

It Started With Goodbye  by Christina June

Our Dark Duet  by Victoria Schwab

Wicked Like A Wildfire  by Lana Popovic

Long May She Reign  by Rhiannon Thomas

Now you try!!!

 

Diversity in Collections

Guest Writer: Ann Korff

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Self-concept begins at an early age – infants notice skin color differences as early as six months and begin to ask questions about differences by age two (Derman-Sparks). This is part of the process of developing a self-concept. Self-esteem is the value and worth of that self-concept, and children’s literature that is diverse and culturally accurate supports and increases that value.

Gail Willett notes, “when children cannot identify with a book or see their lives celebrated through stories, it may have a negative impact on their self-image. The message they get is that their lives and their stories are not important” (Willett, p. 176). This imbalance of representation can be internalized at this very young age, so it is important to expose children early to accurate, authentic, and representative books.

“Accurate, authentic, and representative” relates not only to skin color, but also to realistic features, cultural portrayal, and historical context. Also important, is the representation of diversity within cultures. To be truly accurate, acknowledgement of variances in a culture are important and contribute to authenticity (Hughes-Hassell, Koehler, & Cox). Accuracy in illustrations is as valuable as it is in text. “…illustrators, including Pat Cummings, Jerry Pinkney, Allen Say, and James Ransome, present us with pictures that give cultural clues. With the talent of so many illustrators we are privileged to have a variety of pictures that portray diversity in many cultures” (Willett).

My blog partner, Kharissa, discussed diverse collections with two librarians at her field sites in Far Rockaway – a predominantly African American and Hispanic neighborhood. Both librarians have patrons who struggle finding books they can relate to, and expressed that books showcasing minorities on the cover better aids patrons in choosing a book to read. Covers that show a minority character send clear cues to patrons that the book could be relate-able, and potentially more inviting.

According to The Cooperative Children’s Book Center in 2016, 92 of 3,400 children’s books published had African-American writers or illustrators, and only 278 of the children’s books had significant African or African American content(CCBC). In this data, you will see a nearly stagnant trend toward an increase in diverse books for children. While diverse, authentic books of all kinds need to be available, displayed, read in story time, and strongly promoted in libraries, publishing culturally accurate and representative children’s books in the United States needs to increase to reflect the demographics of the country. Librarians can demand more from publishers using your library data to present at conferences, exhibits, via email, and on site visits.

“We want children to feel strong, resilient, capable, and confident; good literature may be able to provide this for children as they see themselves reflected in the mirror”  (Willett).


References

de la Iglesia, M. (n.d.) “Multicultural Literature for Children.” Internet Public Library: Pathfinders. Retrieved from http://www.ipl.org/div/pf/entry/48493

Derman-Sparks, Louise. (1994). Empowering Children to Create a Caring Culture in a World of Differences. Childhood Education, 70(2), 66-71. Retrieved from http://onesearch.cuny.edu/CUNY:everything:TN_ericEJ476411

Hughes-Hassell, S., Koehler, E., & Cox, E. (2011). Through Their Eyes: The Development of Self-Concept in Young African American Children through Board Books. Children & Libraries, 9(2), 36-41. Retrieved from http://onesearch.cuny.edu/CUNY:everything:TN_proquest884340764

Publishing Statistics on Children’s Books about People of Color and First/Native Nations and by People of Color and First/Native Nations Authors and Illustrators. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp

Willett, G. P. (1995). Strong, resilient, capable, and confident. Horn Book Magazine, 71(2), 175. Retrieved from http://onesearch.cuny.edu/CUNY:everything:TN_proquest199426300

 

Silbert and NCSS Awards

According to the American Library Association, “The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year. The award is named in honor of Robert F. Sibert, the long-time President of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. of Jacksonville, Illinois. ALSC administers the award.

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“I Face The Wind” by Vicki Cobb was 2004’s Silbert Honor Award winner. This picture book playfully explores the wind with children by posing questions, exploration through simple (can do at home) experiments and encouragement on using your senses to discover the wind.

The NCSS (National Council for Social Studies) Award “established the Carter G. Woodson Book Awards for the most distinguished books appropriate for young readers that depict ethnicity in the United States. First presented in 1974, this award is intended to ‘encourage the writing, publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social studies books for young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and race relations sensitively and accurately.”

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“The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton” by Don Tate, illustrated by Don Tate is a 2016 Elementary Winner for the NCSS Award. Don Tate takes his reader back into the days of slavery to discover what it is like to be a slave named George Moses Horton who is intrigued by words but doesn’t have the right (like white school children) to learn how to read.

I chose these books because both of them serve the same age group. Both stories can be read for children ages 4-8.  Cobb’s story has mix of simple text (for younger readers) and sentences with more complex words such as molecules and umbrellas (for older readers). The text in this book are also fun because they interact with what the action is. For example, when the child in the story explains how dust swirls in a circle the text is also swirling in a circle. That may also be difficult for very young children to follow but an older reader will understand not only how to read that swirling text but why that is important. Both stories are informational. Cobb’s story gives the reader information about the wind which is more related to the topic of science. Tate’s story informs the reader of a minority who faced a real-life dilemma at the time of the person’s life which is closely related with history or social studies. Tate’s picture book has bigger chunks of text. This particular book can open up discussion about slavery. Both stories have a sense of thrill when turning the pages because in Cobb’s case questions are being answered as the pages turn and in Tate’s case children are able to predict with almost every page what they think will happen next for the young poet.

References:

Cobb, V., & Gorton, J. (2003). I face the wind. New York: HarperCollins.

Tate, D. (2015). Poet: the remarkable story of George Moses Horton. Atlanta: Peachtree.

What’s The Deal Newbery?

Guest Writer: Jennifer Pappas

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Image Courtesy of Google

Newbery awards are given to authors based on their “distinguished contribution to American literature for children” . There is a 23 year gap between this year’s fantasy winner “The Girl Who Drank The Moon” (2017) and science fiction winner “The Giver” (1994). Jennifer and I believe a it has to do with the stigmas associated with the science fiction and fantasy genres and the ideologies of parents; especially when dealing with young readers. However, fantasy and science fiction has survived the times, and even flourished in the young adult market. With the return of Star Wars, Beauty and the Beast and the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, science fiction and fantasy are as popular as ever. The idea of having superpowers, fighting as a warrior to save Earth or wishing you lived in a world where beasts and creatures walked allows for escapism, but that doesn’t mean readers aren’t learning. Among children, it’s celebrated but Vardell (2014) explains how some adults discourage science fiction and fantasy books because they promote the idea of magic and may distort a reader’s sense of reality (p. 213).

Despite what the naysayers may argue, fantasy and science fiction books are extremely important. Like any other books, reading them helps improve literacy skills and vocabulary. These books also encourage imagination and, similar to graphic novels, which are also often criticized, they are excellent for reluctant readers. How many parents desperately searched through books until their children couldn’t put down Harry Potter or The Hunger Games? As Vardell (2014) explains, fantasy books tend to be considered “fluff” due to its content (p. 213). I wonder if the fact that fantasy books don’t tend to win Newbery awards is a mix of both. As a fantasy reader, I find that the stigma that these books are “fluff” is still around, and perhaps there’s a reluctance to award these books since they are often challenged. There could be a fear of raising even more controversy.

References:

http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberymedal

Vardell, S. (2014). Children’s literature in action: A librarian’s guide (Second ed.). Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

 

 

Kids Comic Revolution

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I’m a huge fan of the promotion of comics, graphic novels and manga as literature so I was so excited to see Kids Comic Revolution on the podcast list! Kids Comic Revolution or KCR is a great podcast for children who are interested in -you guessed it- comic books and graphic novels!!!! It’s extremely kid friendly. I love how children are the ones giving book talks on graphic novels they have read. In one particular podcast, Tyler was giving a review of “El Deafo”. He made connections and comparisons between other graphic novels that are similar to it such as “Smile”. The book talk was in a kid’s language which I think kids can appreciate, understand easily and relate to. The child giving the review also recommends the book to a specific age group and gives reason for the prospective readers and buyers by telling them what to expect. KCR also interviews various people who work on kid’s comics. In one episode they speak to Alexis Fajardo the creator of “Kid Beowolf” For anyone who is listening and maybe doesn’t know who Alexis Fajardo is, they give a little background on who the interviewer is so anyone listening can jump right in.

A down side of this podcast is at times it can be a bit slow in terms of explaining the content. Jerzy and Dave take a while to get to the point of what it is they are trying to say. Any child (or person for that matter) can lose focus on what the hosts are saying. I know I zoned out because I though “they need to get to the point already.” Another issue I had with this podcast was the long periods without an episode. The podcasts are not consistent which is detrimental. People and children can become interested in these podcasts but once you listen to the 10 of them on Itunes you have nothing left and have no idea when the next podcast is coming out because there is no specific schedule to follow. We need more comics like this but with a more specific schedule of podcasts to look forward to.

Off The Shelves Reflection

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Kang, Anna. That’s (Not) Mine. Illustrated by Christopher Weyant. Two Lions. 2015. 32 Pages. Tr. $9.98, 978-1-4778-2639-3

Reading That’s (Not) Mine was a very helpful experience for me as a person who loves to read to young students. This particular book was for ages 3-5 years old because of it’s simple pictures and simple and short sentences. I was nervous at first but as I began I felt more comfortable. It is funny how it’s easier for me to speak in front of children but not in front of adults. My whole purpose was to be engaging and to have fun. I love to read books to my students that are exciting, interactive and humorous. If I’m bored with a book I know my students are bored so I like to make reading an adventure. I believe that imagination is so important especially for young children so if I can get them into a story whether through changing my voice or incorporating them into the story I do it. One of feedback statements I received said that I should have spoke to the students about the word “Mine” because it can encourage them to latch onto it and say it. Which is absolutely true! At the end of the story what I could have done was ask them about the word “mine”. Is it a nice word to say while sharing? How would you feel if you wanted someone to share with you and they said “No… Mine”. The discussion would help them understand that it’s not very nice to say. Something I also could have done better would be to take advantage of the parts of the book that showed emotion so I could question the students about feelings and why the characters felt the way they looked in the story. I could have also provided a moment where the children predicted what was going to happen next. To get them more engaged actively thinking about what could happen. It was an overall great experience. I enjoyed it and I hope you all did too.