Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The power of picture books

Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading a story to three year 1 groups. The book was "Selvakumar Knew Better" by Virginia Kroll and illustrated by Xiaojun Li. This is a true story about a family dog who saved a boy from being killed by the 2003 Boxing Day Tsunami in Southern India, and helping him reunite with his family.

The story is simple, the pictures are lovely, and the impact is huge.

These children were one year old when the Tsunami occurred, they did not even know there was such a thing. They were astounded that such a thing could happen, and probably went home and told their parents about tsunami's, and about a brave dog who saved a seven year old boy.

Last week I read them
"Dragon Parade" by Steven A Chin, illustrated by Mou-Sien Tseng. A story to fit in with the Chinese New Year Celebrations as it tells of the first Chinese New Year Celebration in San Francisco 1851 during the gold rush days. Through this story they learned that many Chinese men left their homes in search of
the Golden
Mountain, and even though they were not in China any more - they still
liked to do the things they did in China. We talked about this and what they bring from their "home ' country (we have a number of expatriates in HK and this school). They also learned some of the cultural aspects of Chinese New Year and why things were the way they were.

We also talked about Chinatown, and what this means and I asked the question - Does Hong Kong have a Chinatown? One little person said it didn't - and the reason? - "there were no Chinese people living here!" Hmmm, not sure what this means.

I really enjoy teaching about life through literature. It is such a stimulating and exciting way to learn about history and world events. The discussion that ensues is always interesting, especially from the little people and to
gain their perspective on events they had no knowledge of before you helped them discover it, is just fantastic.

One book that is definitely not for the very young as the impact is so great is "My Hiroshima" by Junko Morimoto. The true story of a girls life before the Hiroshima bomb, and then her life after. Although I am in tears after every reading, I really like this book for the emotions of empathy and sadness it evokes. Even teenagers feel it.

"My Dog" by John Heffernan is another of my favourites. A story set in war torn Bosnia,where a dog helps a young boy search for his family. Sad, but filled with hope, the reader learns much about what war can do to communities, families, and people just through the illustrations and the few words on a page.

Nothing else can compete on the same level as a well written story with excellent illustrations.

Do you have favourites?


AleRose said...

I have lots of favourites! I have started a picture book blog http://booksforalice.blogspot.com/

I have only just begun... but I hope that in my spare time (ha!) I will be able to share a lot.

I am really enjoying your blog.

Rose :)

Dianne said...

Thanks for your comments - will visit your blog now I know it exists! Picture books are certainly something I have an interest in.