News From the Library–April 16, 2012

Continuing the Hunt for Good eBooks…..

This week fifth graders were lucky to hear a new eBook, Pablito and the Speckled Bear, written by former Cold Spring School parent, Melissa Marsted, and published by Lucky Penny Press.  I decided to tap into fifth grader’s “book reviewer” role–one they truly love–and have them write a book blub when we finished the book.  We first talked about the differences between reading a “regular” book and an eBook.  Students could see that there are pros and cons for each.  Then we discussed the pros and cons of having interactive features in eBooks.

 I chose to read Pablito, although there is the choice to have the book read aloud with music in the background.  Reading it myself gave me the chance to pause, encourage discussion, and keep the focus on the narrative.  The illustrations by Ben Ciccati have a beautiful woodcut-like style, and although some students had suggestions about an interactive feature here and there, they were delighted with the book just as it is.

In my experience so far, I have found that less is more when it comes to using an eBook in a classroom or library setting.  A good story and wonderful illustrations are the key.  Keeping the focus on the narrative line is much more effective in an eBook that has limited interactivity and it is especially important for that interactivity to be dormant during the reading of the text.  Just because something can be animated, or designed to make a noise, or can be manipulated is not enough.  And yet, if the interactivity is a part of the narrative, it can be spell-binding.  Two great examples of that are The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and The Artifacts.

We wish Melissa the best of luck in her new venture and hope we can be “reviewers” in the future!

Also in the Library this week…

Kindergarten–Almost all of us who are cat owners can relate to the story of a cat who just doesn’t want to come in at night. In Night Cat by Margaret Beames, Oliver the Cat refuses to come in after dark when his owner calls him.  What makes this book special are the innovative illustrations by Sue Hitchcock.  You feel as though you are out in the night garden with Oliver and all its possibly spooky elements! Kindergarteners used their visible thinking skills to hypothesize and predict which predicament Oliver would get into time after time.

First Grade–First graders heard Judy Sierra’s Wild About Books on the iPad.  Although the story is as charming as it is in the print book version, unfortunately the iPad version has gone overboard with the interactive features.  If they had been dormant during the reading of the text, I think this eBook would be fantastic.  As it is, students were completely distracted from the narrative by all the interactivity, even though it is innovative and fun.   This is a good example of the challenges of using eBook in a library story time setting.  When I asked students what the story was about after we finished, their answers were about how the lion roared and the fish jumped.  Reading an eBook like this alone with a child would probably be a different experience, but in a group setting, there was simply too much going on.

Second Grade–Second graders compared the elements of fiction and non-fiction by listening to Patrick McDonnell’s new picture book, Me Jane.  This simple story tells of a young Jane Goodall and how, holding her stuffed toy chimpanzee, she observed nature around her and dreamed of a life living in Africa and helping animals.  The illustrations are lovely, combining art with real objects, and second graders enjoyed using the visual thinking technique, see..think..wonder, as we turned each page.  This is a quiet book and a wonderful way to encourage slowing down and appreciating the natural world.

Third Grade–This week’s sequel to last week’s story was a rousing success!  Third graders can’t seem to get enough of Diane Stanley’s Saving Sweetness and Raising Sweetness.  We’ve had such fun using the visible think technique called “Writer’s Craft” and finding all the colorful similies and metaphors in these stories.  These books are a great way to introduce the concept of irony, too.  They are wonderful read alouds!  I look forward to using them every year.

Fourth Grade–Using their thinking skills to discuss how things are the same and different, fourth graders heard the lovely Cinderella variation, Lily and the Wooden Bowl by Alan Schroeder.  We even found some connections to Rumplestiltskin, too!!

Fifth Grade–see opening post

Sixth Grade–Sixth graders continued the Website Evaluation and Research Skills unit by learning how to use the Find Command in Firefox and Safari.  This week they had fun imagining they were researching the perfect dog for them.  Using the Animal Planet’s great website on dog breeds, they typed their keywords into the Find Command in order to get information about the dog of their choice.  Using this technique helps them find exact information because the keywords will be highlighted on the webpage.  When they finished the research, they wrote a paragraph about why they had chosen their particular dog.

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