New Diverse Books!

Last week we received a number of new books purchased by the Vancouver School Board for all school libraries. These books represent a diverse array of voices and perspectives, and are part of a district-wide effort to decolonize our library collections.

A small selection of from the district bulk buy – the rest are checked out!

This week in the library we’ve been reading one of our new books, Greetings Leroy by Itah Sadu.
Itah is an author and bookseller based out of Toronto, Ontario and shares stories from the Caribbean, Africa and Canada. This is a story about Roy writing a letter to his friend Leroy in Jamaica. Roy has recently moved from Jamaica to Canada and shares the story of his first day of school in Canada. He also shares his love of musician Bob Marley, and the pride he feels knowing that they both come from Jamaica.

After reading the story we learned about where Jamaica is, and listened to the song “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and discussed the way the music made us feel (calm, happy, sleepy, and like we wanted to sing along!)

Caldecott Predictions Results!

Last week classes from Kindergarten to Grade 5 chose their favourite book from January (gold medal), as well as two runners up (silver/honors medal). Lift by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat was the favourite, with We Are Water Protectors, Outside In and The Old Truck coming through with the most votes for honors.

It was great to hear the students’ reflections on which they liked and why, as well as the process of trying to pick a favourite when they liked so many. We also had some discussions around the process of voting and privacy of those decisions and how we could be influenced by others’ decisions.

This year the Caldecott was awarded to We Are Water Protectors, and one of the honor books was Outside In so our predictions did have some links to the actual outcome!

Week Four of Caldecott Predictions

We are wrapping up our Caldecott predictions this week by reading All Because You Matter, written by Tami Charles with illustrations by Bryan Collier.

Bryan Collier has won four Caldecott Honours for his previous books, including one for Trombone Shorty, which you can watch a read aloud for here.
The art in this book is inspired by Collier’s grandmother, who was a quilt maker. The images in the story are created through collage and petal shapes which give it a quilted appearance. The author was inspired to write this story from the racial justice movements we’ve seen in 2020 and saw this book as a starting point to have conversations about racism and equity.

I thought this was a great book to end our Caldecott unit with as we get closer to February and Black History Month.

Next week I will post about the results of Oppenheimer’s own voting for best illustrations, and we’ll see our how results compare to the official annoucement!

Week Three of Caldecott Predictions

This week we looked at two books that we don’t have yet in our collection at Oppenheimer, so I got them from the Vancouver Public Library.

Outside In has beautiful watercolour illustrations by Cindy Derby showing the magic of nature.

The illustrations by brothers Jerome and Jarrett Pumphrey in The Old Truck were created using over 250 stamps.

These two books show very different types of illustrations and both told such beautiful stories. I’ll be adding these two to the Oppenheimer library for sure!

Week Two of Caldecott Predictions

This week we have continued our discussions around what makes picture book illustrations engaging, unique and deserving of a medal!

The books we’ve been reading this week are You Matter written and illustrated by Christian Robinson:

Lift written by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat:

and Hike illustrated by Pete Oswald:

These are all books where the pictures tell the bulk of the story, and all of the story in Hike since there are no words at all!

In some classes we looked critically at the illustrations and rated them for how wide their appeal is and how talented we think the artist is and in some classes we picked our favourite so far and drew a picture inspired by the art.

I can’t wait to continue our exploration of more awesome books from 2020 next week!

Caldecott Predictions

The Caldecott Medal is an award given to the artist of “the most distinguished American picture book for children” (from the the award homepage) . It is given to one book each year, and has been awarded since 1938! There are also other books each year that are “honoured” by the Caldecott committee. The winner for 2021 will be announced at the end of January, and there are lots of predictions about what book might get it.

The Vancouver Public Library has a list of 34 books that are eligible to win this year that you can access here.

For the month of January I will be reading a selection of these predictions with classes and we will be thinking about our favourites and making guesses about which one we think might win.

This week we are reading We Are Water Protectors, written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade. The pictures in this book are absolutely beautiful with vibrant colours and lots of movement. Here is a video of the author reading the book:

Welcome Back!

Hello Oppenheimer friends! What a unique September this is for all of us. I have missed seeing everyone in our library and I’m excited to start seeing students back in the library. 

This fall things will look different in the library and things will work a little differently as well, but my plan is for everyone to still have access to all the awesome books we have and do lots of fantastic reading this year!

I read lots of great books over the summer and found even more great ones that I hope to add to our library.

Here is a new book I’ve been reading this week with a lot of classes – Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

While we read the book we talked about some of our favourite things about the summer (going to the beach, no school!, riding bikes, eating ice cream, playing with friends) and some of our favourite things about the autumn (crunching leaves on the ground, the cool relaxing weather, jumping in piles of leaves, spending time with our family).

We’ve gotten a bit of a bonus summer weather, so now is a great time to take advantage and so some of your favourite summer activities for the last time before we move fully into fall.

Sesame Street Town Hall on Racism

This weekend, CNN and Sesame Street are hosting a discussion that will talk to kids about racism, the recent nationwide protests, embracing diversity and being more empathetic and understanding. More information about the event can be found here.

It will air at 7am PST here in Vancouver, but will be available to watch afterwards online. There was another town hall discussion in April about the Covid 19 pandemic which can be watched here.

The Brown Bookstore organized an online rally on Thursday evening. A video of the rally is available to view on facebook and information about the event can be found here. The post also has lots of links to resources and book lists to support conversations around diversity with children.

I am an anti-racist teacher

We are in the middle of a historic time right now – all 50 US states and 18 countries across the world have seen protests in support of Black lives which makes this is largest civil rights movement in history. Some of you may be having conversations about what’s happening right now in your families, and the library can be a source of support for having those conversations.

A quote from Black activist Angela Davis which reads "In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist"

Angela Davis is an American political activist, philosopher, academic, and author.

The first step towards eliminating racism is acknowledging it exists, and we know it exists in Vancouver and in our schools. I want every student and caregiver in the Oppenheimer community to know that acts of racism in our community are unacceptable.

This year I have been working to add books to our collection at Oppenheimer that reflect the diversity of our students and the world around them. The priority for books in the library will continue to be books by and about members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) community.

Below are some lists of books for discussing issues of racism with children and that showcase voices of historically oppressed groups. For any families wanting  support or to talk more about around this issue, I am happy to chat. In the coming days I will be posting some of the resources we have in our library, and new ones added.

Book Lists and Links for Caregivers 

31 Children’s books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance

Middle Grade #ownvoices Books

Anti-Racism for Kids 101

Why Reading Diversely is Important

Talking about Race with Young Children