Tuesday, 3 January 2017

My 5 Star Reads from 2016: Children's Non-Fiction, YA and Professional Reading

This is the last of my blog posts about my best books of 2016.  On Sunday, I posted about my best children's fiction and graphic novels and yesterday I added my best picture books.

Children's Non-Fiction

Finding Winnie:  The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick (Caldecott Medal 2016)
This is the story about how the great-grandfather of the author came to buy the bear, Winnie, that would eventually provide the inspiration for A.A. Milne and his famous stories about Winnie-the-Pooh.  The fact that Winnie's journey to his eventual home at London Zoo took place during World War 1 makes it particularly interesting.  Here is a video about it.

Last year, the theme for our Book Week was "Spies and Detectives".  As a result, I read a lot of books about spies, and this was by far the best. It has lots of interesting information and useful tips.

This is a fantastic true story about a group of children who live near, and often work in, a rubbish dump.  When a man offers to teach music to the children there aren't enough instruments to go around.  The ingenious use of rubbish to build instruments has a big impact on the students and their families.  Here is a 60 minutes report about the orchestra.  It's a really inspiring watch.

Young Adult

I don't read a lot of YA but some of the books I read last year were amazing so I thought I'd share them too.

Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine
Sixteen-year-old Iris has a self-absorbed mother and has become a little obsessed with setting fires.  She is brought to see the dying father who she's never met in an attempt to claim his fortune for her greedy mother.  Three words to sum up this book - revenge is sweet!

The Good Braider by Terry Farish
This is the free verse story of Viola, who journeys from war-torn Sudan to Cairo and then Maine.  Her struggles with learning how to adapt to a new culture while respecting her old one, will resonate with immigrants and also provide an insight for others.  A powerful book.

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
This is another free verse story about an immigrant and the challenges she faces.  In this case, Kasienka and her mother are Polish and have moved to England to find the father/husband who has left them.  Kasienka encounters racism and bullying as she tries to deal with problems at school and at home.  This is a moving, beautifully written story.

Professional Reading

I found this book so interesting I did a blog post on it back in April.  I did finally get to see the film of the same name, if you get a chance I would recommend seeing it (as well as reading the book!)

I am not the only NZ librarian who has been inspired by this book, as evidenced by the fact that SLANZA (the School Library Association of New Zealand) has invited Rachel to be a keynote speaker at their conference in July.  The book inspires a lot of reflection on how librarians promote books and reading.  There is also a series of four videos of Rachel sharing her ideas, the first one is here.

This book was recommended by a keynote speaker at an educational conference I went to.  It is about the problems that can arise when we compare individuals to an "average" person.  I was blown away by how it managed to challenge the assumptions in some of my thinking.  Here is Todd's TED talk.

Building Communities of Engaged Readers: Reading for Pleasure by Teresa Cremin, Marilyn Mottram, Fiona M. Collins, Sacha Powell and Kimberly Safford
I read this book because I am lucky enough to be meeting with Teresa Cremin when I am on my scholarship trip in England in March.  The book is based on two studies by the UKLA (United Kingdom Literature Association) on teachers' knowledge of children's literature, and how they can improve it and build reading communities in their classrooms.  I think this information may offer a way in the door so that I can work with our teachers to enhance their students' engagement with reading.  This is something that I have been looking to develop after realising that I know very little about the ways our teachers model a love of reading in their classrooms.

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