Somewhat belatedly (it’s been half term! I’ve been ill! Typical), here are the books Class 3 managed to squeeze into the last week of the half term.
Having finished Oliver and the Seawigs, I didn’t want to start a new class novel before the break so I took the opportunity to sneak in some lovely picturebooks (and poetry…we always manage some poetry…).
First up was Big Bad Owl by Steve Smallman and Richard Watson. Scowl is a grumpy owl – no matter what his friends do to try to cheer him up, it fails. I have to say, I had some sympathy for Scowl. Class 3 enjoyed this funny story and we had a good chat about how different things make us grumpy! (any guesses what makes Mrs G grumpy, class 3?!)
Next, a lovely non-fiction picturebook, ‘Bee, Nature’s Tiny Miracle’ (by Britta Teckentrup and Patricia Hegarty), written in rhyming text with the most exquisite illustrations. A few children commented on similarities to The Hungry Caterpillar (similar style of illustration and pages with cut-outs). I read it as an introduction to pollination in a science lesson: it was a lovely introduction. It would also be a lovely book to use to inspire some art work (If only there were more hours in the day…).
I am aware that my class library is lacking in diversity (as are most bookshops) and have been on the lookout for books that challenge this. Amazing Grace (by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch) is a book I’ve had for a few years now and carries a powerful message: it doesn’t matter what you look like or what gender you are – you should be able to do what you want to do. Grace wants to be Peter Pan in the school play: one child tells her she can’t because Peter Pan wasn’t black; another because Peter Pan is a boy.
The children loved this story and were outraged to think that anyone would think that someone else wouldn’t be able to do something because of the colour of their skin or because they were the ‘wrong’ gender. This book enabled class 3 to have a lot of talk about what could be a sensitive issue; as a teacher, it’s the kind of discussion that can make you a bit nervous. I really shouldn’t worry: it was quite simple to them: it doesn’t matter what you look like, we should all be able to do what we want. “You can’t help how you’re born!” I have to say, I was quite proud of their attitude.
One of the boys brought in ‘Class Three All at Sea’ by Julia Jarman: I love it when children bring books in from home to share with us. This is a simple, funny tale about a class boat trip that goes wrong. Having been on a boat trip this term, it was extra funny (especially when the teacher was kissing a pirate! As if! Well, maybe Johnny Depp). Enjoyed by everyone.
‘Oi Frog!’ by Kes Gray and Jim Field is a brilliant picturebook with colourful and funny illustrations and a simple and effective use of rhyme. The children loved guessing what was coming next and it was a lively read. A success!
I was very disappointed when Rabbit and Bear by Julian Gough and Jim Field missed out during our last class novel vote, so I decided to sneak it in quickly anyway. It’s a chapter book but has a large font and lots of pictures so it didn’t take long to read the whole thing. This might be one of those books that’s actually funnier to a grown-up: the children were giggling but I was laughing more. Rabbit and bear’s relationship is just brilliant. Great for year 3.
Talking of great for Year 3, these two are perfect. We read ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers back in the Autumn term and the children loved it. It’s so simple but so utterly brilliant: basically the crayons are fed up with how they are treated and write letters to their owner, Duncan. Each crayon’s personality shines through the writing and it is very funny. The illustrations complement the story perfectly. It has been in the book corner ever since and is one that the children return to again and again.
I received the sequel, ‘The Day the Crayon’s Came Home’ for my birthday in the Easter holidays (I know some people might not be delighted to receive a children’s book at my age, but I was delighted! Praise be the amazon wish list). I showed the children and they have been nagging me to read it ever since. I have been teasing them with it for weeks… naughty me. I had seen an idea on Twitter from a teacher who had written letters in the same style and put them in his classroom (sorry – can’t remember who) and wanted to do similar.
Now I’m not saying my darling class don’t take care of things, but if I see another glue-stick or pen without its lid I might explode! So, on Thursday we reread ‘Quit’ – pairs of children read a letter each, trying to convey the crayon’s personalities. Then, to the children’s surprise, we found a letter from the glue-sticks, complaining about how the children leave their hats off, how they shrivel up and die from the inside, how poor Aunty Mabel got smeared all over blue table, etc. It was quite distressing. There was a little sympathy (but not enough for my liking!!).
On Friday each child chose an object in the classroom and wrote a letter moaning about their terrible existence, to put in a class book. The children were very inventive – examples below. My intention was twofold: to inspire some writing (they all loved this task) and to make them think about how they look after things in our classroom. The first one was achieved: the second…we’ll see.
As an end of term treat I read them, ‘The Day the Crayons Came Home’. They loved it. Equally funny and a MASSIVE thumbs up from Class 3.
Now, what shall we read next? We have 7 weeks left: so many books; so little time!