More than two weeks have passed since Literacy Week and it has again been a bit more quiet on the library blog - but not in the library itself. It has been as busy as ever as you can also see from our constantly growing author inquiry display. The library is packed every morning with students reading, exchanging books, doing origami or playing a boardgame with a friend. During the day classes visit to inquire about authors, to discover new books for pleasure reading and personal inquiries, to participate in book clubs and literature circles and to dig deep into personal wonderings during inquiry circles as part of their current unit of inquiry (Sharing the Planet). Below are a few snapshots. Enjoy!
PK1 students exploring the difference between fiction and nonfiction/informational books...
PK2 making a new literary friend and discovering what life can look like in South Africa through Niki Daly's Jamela books...
Kindergartners finding out more about author Matt Cooper and getting a chance to connect to their prior learning under Sharing the Planet when listening to and discussing The Last Gibbon...
G1 continuing their inquiry about Atinuke and enthusiastically learning and sharing their learning about plants during inquiry circles...
G2 students embarked on a new author inquiry - Ying Chang Compestine - and are intrigued by the stories they heard so far and have many questions and wonderings already...
G3 students continuing to inquire about Lenore Look - currently we are reading Ruby Lu Brave and True, making connections to what we learned about and from her during our Skype as well as what we already know about Alvin Ho...
G4 students continue finding out more about Phil Bildner, surprised to discover how clearly they can hear his voice in his stories...
G5 students reflected on their Skype with Rob Buyea, in particular what they learned about writing from him and what strategies they might like to try out in their own writing...
Stay tuned to find out more soon :)
As part of our multiage literacy activities during Literacy Week, our students had the opportunity to enjoy, explore and talk about the six books shortlisted for this year's Debbie Alvarez Picture Book Award. This award is part of the Golden Dragon Book Awards which were founded in 2014 by members of ALESS (Association of Librarians in English Speaking Schools in Hong Kong). The program aims at being "a fun and exciting way for internationally-minded young Hong Kong people, between the ages of 4 - 18, to become enthusiastic and discriminating readers" by casting a vote for a favorite book.
There are five different categories in which the awards are given:
Early Childhood (3-7)
Young Readers (8-11)
Older Readers (11-15)
Mature Readers (15-18)
Debbie Alvarez Picture Book Award (Open).
The picture book award which is open to all age groups, is named after a wonderful librarian who lived and worked in Hong Kong for three years and was the passionate force behind bringing the award program to life. Sadly, she passed away in 2015.
This year's shortlist for the Debbie Alvarez Picture Book Award consists of the following six titles:
Dreams of Freedom : in Words and Pictures published by Amnesty International (2015)
Something About a Bear by Jackie Morris (2014)
The Only Child by Guojing (2015)
What is a Child? by Beatrice Alegmagna (2016)
Willy's Stories by Anthony Browne (2015)
Finding Winnie : The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick (2015)
In their sessions after listening to the story read out loud, our students shared what they liked about each book supported by a rubric, allowing points to be given for the story/idea, the writing, and the illustrations. It was wonderful to see how much appreciation our young readers had for each of the books. It showed that they are able to enjoy a story as readers as well as from the perspective of a writer. After tallying up all points, a clear favorite emerged, while all of the books were praised in one way or another: Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick. The voting is open until the end of March and we look forward to finding out what other readers around Hong Kong thought of the different titles.
We have copies of all of these beautiful books in our library. Remember that our library is open to the HKA community each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon from 3-4pm. Stop by to enjoy one of these or any of the other wonderful books in our collection.
Last Friday, during our all Primary School assembly, we launched our annual read-a-thon, which will run from March 3 to March 31. The read-a-thon at HKA is a long-standing tradition to support an NGO working in the field of literacy while promoting community service and reading among our students. Just as last year, we will be supporting Bring Me a Book Hong Kong (BMABHK). While participation is entirely voluntary, we hope that many of our students will take part to make a difference in other children's lives who do not yet have access to such wonderful resources as we do here at Hong Kong Academy.
What is a read-a-thon?
A read-a-thon is an event during which readers read in order to raise money. Read-a-thons are a great way of encouraging students to read (more) for pleasure while supporting a good cause.
How does it work?
Students ask among family members and friends for sponsors, willing to sponsor reading time. Students record minutes read each day. At the end of the read-a-thon (March 31), they calculate their total reading time and collect the respective amounts promised by their sponsors. We kindly ask parents to issue a single cheque, payable to Hong Kong Academy, with the total amount and send it with the children to the Primary School Library. All students received a package for participation, which was also shared via email with parents last week. The package includes a sponsor's form and tracking sheets for reading time.
What does BMABHK do?
BMABHK is an NGO that was founded in 2006, envisioning "a Hong Kong in which every child is read to, strengthening family and community bonds and creating a love of learning". In order to achieve this, they set up bookcase and book bag libraries for local preschools, primary schools and community centers around Hong Kong, and train teachers and parents. So far, they have already installed over 360 (book bag and bookcase) libraries, serving approximately 128,000 children.
(Text and image source: http://www.bringmeabook.org.hk/ )
With last year's read-a-thon, we were able to support the installation of three new book case libraries for the following three schools (to read more about each ceremony, click on the embedded hyperlinks):
Sai Kung Central Lee Siu Yam Memorial School
Diamond Hill Baptist Church Bright Blossoms Kindergarten
Sai Kung Sung Tsun Catholic Primary School
Below are some photos from the respective ribbon-cutting ceremonies to which we took some of our students, so that they could see for themselves where the money went they raised while enjoying some reading time with children at the recipient school.
... and a grand finale it was, with a celebration of stories in world languages, of books and the characters that bring the stories to life, and a selection of amazing picture books as part of our multiage literacy activities.
Throughout the week, we had begun each morning in the library with stories read in other languages than English. Today, our students got to enjoy some more stories in Mandarin and Cantonese. The library was very busy too, because many students wanted to make sure they had the book from which their character was. So we got to see some beautiful outfits right away.
During our all Primary School assembly, every student got to present their book character on stage, some students being interviewed by our fantastic MCs, Ms Lawler and Mr Sam. I loved seeing how many of our students had brought the actual book along this year to make it a real celebration and advertisement for the stories.
Next on our program was the launching of the annual read-a-thon, which will run from March 3 - March 31. Packages with sponsor forms and tracking sheets for participation, which is voluntary, were sent home with our students today - parents received an email with the respective information yesterday. When I asked our students how many were planning to participate, so many hands shot up into the air - beautiful! Just like last year, we will support Bring Me A Book Hong Kong with the money we raise during the read-a-thon. As a local NGO, they promote and support family literacy throughout Hong Kong by setting up book case libraries and by training parents.
Then there was just one more celebration left for this year's literacy week, the celebration of a selection of picture books, short-listed for this year's Golden Dragon Book Award, the Debbie Alvarez Picture Book Award. In multiage teams (K-5), students got to listen to these beautiful stories, got to explore the illustrations, to then discuss what they noticed and appreciated. Helped by a rubric, students shared their comments about the story/theme, the writing and the illustrations. For each category and each story, they awarded points. We will tally up all these points to find out for which book we will vote in the Golden Dragon Book awards.
And this marks the end of our Literacy Week 2017... what a week it has been! We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped plan, supported and enthusiastically participated in our Literacy Week!
Just like every day this week, we started the day with story time in different languages in the library. Today's readers shared stories in Italian and Mandarin, which were all very much enjoyed.
Then our fourth graders came to the library to meet with author Phil Bildner. Just like when reading one of his picture books for the very first time (Marvelous Cornelius), it was an instant connection. There were smiles and happy waving, yes even some enthusiastic cheers. Everybody was hooked, listening attentively to what the author had to share about his life as a writer and his creative work.
Our fourth graders had many questions and got lots of answers - for example about what inspired him to become a writer, whether there was an author that had influenced him in particular, what his writing process looks like and what he finds challenging when writing, about the themes in his books and why he chooses to write about them, how long it takes to write a book and whether he prefers writing picture or chapter books. There was also a lot of talk about books written by other authors as Mr. Bildner asked each student after they had asked their question what they had read recently. Our students loved hearing that they had so many favorite books in common with the author: Because of Winn Dixie, The One and Only Ivan, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the I Survived series, the Percy Jackson series, Reina Telgemeier's graphic novels and many more. I could tell that our students would have loved to continue chatting when our time was up; that much fun they had!
Our next agenda item was the much anticipated Battle of the Books between a team of teachers and parents against all of our students. To make it a manageable task in a short period of time, we had selected just 6 books from the list of 20 for parents to prepare. And prepared they came, ready to challenge our students. It took our parent/teacher team a few minutes to get into the competition but from then on it was a close race. Hardly any questions were missed on either side. While the atmosphere was more competitive than usually during our practice meetings, it remained friendly with lots and lots of smiles all around - also because everybody had some yummy treats to nibble on. The final count put the students just one point ahead of the parents - and the parents are already asking for a rematch.
The third highlight of the day was our fifth graders' Skype with Rob Buyea, author of the much loved Mr. Terupt series. After listening to the first book in the series, Because of Mr. Terupt, as a class read-aloud, all of our students were looking forward to meeting the author - and so were we librarians and teachers. This was already our third Skype with Mr. Buyea, and from past Skypes, I knew that without any doubt, this would be another fantastic experience. I couldn't wait for this year's fifth graders to be blown away and inspired by him, hearing him talk about his writing - and the importance of reading.
Our students had many writing questions which Mr. Buyea answered with much detail - for example what he enjoys about writing, what his favorite writing environment and tools are, how he plans his stories, what tips he has for getting ideas, what skills you need to write a book, and whether he has a favorite writer and favorite books. He mentioned many authors he admires, such as Christopher Paul Curtis, Gordon Korman and Richard Peck, and recommended a number of books by other authors to our students as well: All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, Wolf Hollow (which some of our students who knew the book already greeted with loud cheers), and Masterminds. Especially excited everybody got, when he showed us an advanced reader copy of his newest book, The Perfect Score, which will be released in October, and told us a bit about the story which is again written from different perspectives. When spontaneous applause broke out, I knew that our fifth graders are as much looking forward to reading this book as I do!
There would be so much more to say about our wonderful authors but I will stop here for today and in the upcoming weeks let our students share more with you about what they learned, what they took away from meeting the authors - tips, ideas and surely, above all, inspiration.
A big THANK YOU to both Phil Bildner and Rob Buyea, for staying up late to Skype with us here in Hong Kong, for sharing their amazing stories with us and for inspiring us to become the best readers and writers we can possibly be!
The next highlight on today's agenda was grade 3's Skype with children's author Lenore Look. Our students were super excited when they saw her already up on the screen as they walked into the library. Many of our students remembered her wonderful visit to HKA just two years ago and were thrilled to see her again. They immediately began chatting with Ms. Look. They cheered loudly when she held up all the HKA souvenirs she had received during her visit and said how much she loves HKA!
Next she invited students to ask questions - which we had prepared during the week before, focusing on questions to which we could not easily find answers in the resource available to us. Our students were curious to find out from her what it is like being an author, what she would be if she wasn't an author, whether she ever works with other authors, whether reading and writing are her favorite thing, where she gets her ideas in general and in particular for the Alvin Ho books, how she researches for her books, how she manages to get so many emotions in her books, how to get those very first words of a story onto paper, and whether she has special author equipment and a favorite writing spot.
We all learned so much in the process. Here are just a few snippets:
Ms. Look advised our budding writers to learn how to express their emotions when writing and to be curious and interested about the world around them because ideas for stories are everywhere. She also taught our third graders a neat strategy to help them get started with a story - and I would love for you to ask a third grader to tell you more about it (a little clue for our students: remember when Ms. Look spoke about thinking of a story as a house, with the different rooms being different chapters...?).
The Skype was a big success which could not just be felt and observed through the buzz and happy chatter afterwards but also by the number of books written by Lenore Look checked out right away. Some of our readers picked up one of her books for the first time, others went back to a favorite (yes, of course, an Alvin Ho book ;)
A big THANK YOU to Ms. Look - thank you for staying up late to skype with us, for answering so many of our questions, for all the enthusiasm and inspiration you shared!
Today was the day our students always seem most excited about, the day they can come to school in their pajamas. They also know that there will be lots of additional reading/story time: before school in the library, on the 12h continuous reading chair, and of course during hot cocoa and cookie storytime in the afternoon. Below are some snapshots from today.
World Language Readers in the Library - We will have two readers each morning this week; so far the children were able to listen to a story in Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian and Tagalog.
The 12h Continuous Reading Chair - Once again Ms. Rachel had organised two reading chairs which were occupied throughout the day, starting at 7:30am and ending at 7:30pm, by readers from across the school community: students, teachers, parents, the principals, our Head of School, a board member, Chef Chris and many more.
Hot Cocoa and Cookies Storytime - We had a fantastic turn out this afternoon and evening when we kept the library open, having story times every 30min and serving hot cocoa and the yummiest cookies and mini-muffins prepared by Chef Chris and his team. It was wonderful seeing so many of you enjoying books with your children - and some of our parents even shared read-alouds with a bigger group of children. A big compliment goes to our students who did an amazing job advertising the event this year, reminding parents about the need to sign up so that we were fully prepared for the large number of people attending.
And before, during and after the school day, students, parents and staff had the opportunity to browse, order and buy from the wonderful selection of books displayed at our bookfair, brought to us by Kidnapped bookstore, Sai Kung. If you missed it today, you have another opportunity tomorrow to explore what they have to offer.
We had a wonderful first day of Literacy Week 2017, hosting several authors from outside and within our HKA community. In the morning, Sai Kung-based author Matthew (Matt) Cooper met with all of our EC students and G2, sharing some of his stories as well as answering some of our students’ questions.
First in line were our PK2 students. Their session began with the reading of Matt Cooper’s very first children’s book, Lost in Hong Kong, which tells the story of a dog, who in pursuit of a balloon crosses Hong Kong by different means of transportation. While being a good audience, our young readers and inquirers were keen on sharing their own knowledge about transportation. After the story, they were surprised to see some of the early ideas for the book and to learn that an author tries out many different ideas, writes many thousands of words, before the story is right. During the question and answer part of the session, our students were further surprised to hear about Matt Cooper’s favorite places to come up with ideas: under the shower, on the bus, while doing the dishes and on the toilet (this caused a lot of giggling among our students) – basically any place boring.
Next, Matt Cooper met our first graders, capturing their interest with his newest book, released just about a month ago, The Last Gibbon. It was pretty impressive hearing our first graders share their knowledge about habitats and habitat loss, making predictions about the story as well as sharing personal connections. As you can see in the pictures below, our first graders were totally hooked and had so many questions after hearing the story. From the author’s answers they learned amongst others, that the Hainan gibbon is an endangered species with only 26 animals left, the reason why he wrote the book to create awareness; that he tries to make his stories interesting by making the reader feel for the characters; that he works closely with his illustrator Stephanie Suen; that it is hard for him to say which of his books is his favorite; that finding a good title is difficult, that he has to try out many things, thinking about what is really important in the story and how to give a clear message; that he likes being a writer even though it can get frustrating at times since there are so many other things you need to take care of besides the writing (finding an illustrator, doing the layout for the pages, getting the book printed, proof-read, promoted, sold); and that he became an other simply deciding one day that that is what he wanted to do.
The third session of the morning was our biggest crowd with both PK1 classes and their buddies from G2. Our second graders did a great job modeling for our youngest students what it means to be a good audience and how to ask questions. After listening to Lost in Hong Kong, students played a little quiz – what is the fastest/safest means of transportation – before getting to ask some of their questions. Mr. Cooper shared with the audience that he likes being an author because he enjoys writing, meeting kids and working in his pajamas (our students loved that last part and shared all about our pajama day tomorrow). He also said that he does not deliberately write always about animals but living in Sai Kung and caring about endangered animals made him come up with the stories so far. With regard to his favorite book, he said that he likes the different books for different reasons: Lost in Hong Kong because it was his first book, Black Rain Day because he wrote it for his daughter, and The Last Gibbon because he cares for the plight of these animals.
Our kindergarteners had the last session before lunch. As they currently inquire about transportation, they had a particular interest in hearing the story Lost in Hong Kong and learning more about means of transportation around Hong Kong. They loved the transportation quiz, trying to guess what form of transportation is the fastest and the safest around Hong Kong (would you know?). As we did not have enough time left for more questions, Mr Cooper promised to answer them by email.
After lunch, we offered an author panel session to our grade 4-8 students in the secondary library. We had invited Matt Cooper, James Stevenson (author of The Medusa File, a novel for young adults), Khalid Saleem (author of the children’s picture book The Circle and the soon to be released young adult memoir Growing Up Green), and Anton Buntin (author, illustrator and artist, currently working on various projects), who had kindly agreed to share about their writing and publishing journey. Everybody enjoyed hearing about the different experiences, different backgrounds, what inspires each of the authors to write and how they go about the process; as well as the similarities as all stressed the importance of writing down ideas, to daydream and think up stories. A student question about favorite writing spots brought more interesting answers: Anton likes laying on his belly on the carpet, just like when reading comic books, and type on the computer; Khalid is inspired to write wherever there is some sunlight and fills yellow legal pads; James can write in any place as long as he is with his story; and Matt dresses up as a clown every morning – no, stop, that was a joke – he prefers quiet when sitting at his computer and also realized that movement helps him getting ideas. I especially loved hearing the many positive messages and words of encouragement for our student writers: to go for it, not to let anyone discourage you, to seek out supportive mentors and collaborators, to experience the joy of writing and storytelling. Their enthusiasm was contagious and I think it wasn’t just the students who felt inspired to go and jot down ideas and start planning for a book after the session.
A big THANK YOU to all of our authors!
Last Friday, our secondary school students officially launched this year's literacy week by dressing up as a favorite book character, wearing pajamas or other comfy reading clothes, having their picture taken and doing a variety of literature based activities during lunch time. In primary school, we are all set to join the celebrations this Monday:
The displays are up...
Students prepared lots of questions for the authors visiting in person and via Skype...
Students brainstormed ideas of book characters they might want to represent next Friday...
And everyone is excitedly talking about and making preparations to attend the various events of the week. Here are again the dates you might like to mark in your calendar:
- students can wear their pajamas to school
- continuous reading chair from 7:30am-7:30pm
- hot cocoa and cookies storytime from 3:15-7:30pm (RSVP through the form we shared via email)
- book fair (by Kidnapped Bookstore Sai Kung, 7:30am-4:00pm at the UG)
- book fair (by Kidnapped Bookstore Sai Kung, 7:30am-4:00pm at the UG)
- book character day, students can come to school dressed like a favorite book character.
We look forward to seeing you during Literacy Week!
During this past week, more classes tuned in to Literacy Week as they visited the library, looking for books that are either a mirror/a reflection of who they are or a window to the world - or at times even a bit of both. (In case you missed the first post about Literacy Week, click this link.)
It was wonderful witnessing with how much enthusiasm our students went about the task, how much thought was put into the selection. While I noticed some students' eyes already focussing on a particular book while I was explaining the task, others took their time exploring several books before deciding which one to pick to share with the rest of the class.
What surprised and impressed me was hearing the wide variety of reasons students stated for having made a particular choice. Here are just a few examples for mirrors: "I have a grandpa who looks just like this and does tai chi.", "I like drawing just like the boy in the story", "I like going to the library", "I like cooking", "I know what it feels like when you have to move; my family moved like the family in the book", "I speak Spanish like the girl in the story". And a few examples for windows to the world: "I am a boy and this is a story about a girl", "I have never lived in a place where there isn't enough water", "I have never played footy", "I have never been to Africa", "I don't have a brother or a sister".
If you would like to see all of the books students selected and all the pictures taken, stop by the library during Literacy Week. We will have a big display up, showing what a wonderful diverse collection our library has and how students see themselves in some of these books and get a glimpse of what life can be like for others in other books.
I encourage you to check the blog frequently over the next two weeks as I will be posting daily updates during Literacy Week, which is launched by our Secondary School students this Friday, February 24. Our Primary School students will join the celebrations on Monday, February 27. You might want to mark your calendars with the following important dates:
Monday, Feb 27 Author visit by Matt Cooper (an order form for his books will be shared via email)
Tuesday, Feb 28 Pajama Day, 12h Continuous Reading Chair, Hot Cocoa & Cookies Storytime 3-7:30pm
Tuesday, Feb 28 & Wednesday, March 1 Book Fair 7:30am-4pm
Friday, March 3 Book Character Day
Looking forward to seeing you during Literacy Week!
Ms. Tanja and Ms. Alison
A warm welcome from the Primary School Library!
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