Saturday, 24 September 2016

Read around the World

With view to the fact that our school is celebrating uniting nations week in October, this year we're trying to add a literary bent to the proceedings.

There are a number of steps to this, which are easy or complicated, depending on how "ready" your collection is.

A little while back, I created resource lists on Destiny, and a visual search button for "read around the world". Since I didn't have a lot of time I grouped them by continent, with a separate section for Singapore which is where we live.  It involved doing subject searches on our catalog for various countries on each continent and then grouping them together.  Actually this wasn't that easy. A book like "Inside out and Back again" - takes place in USA, about a Vietnamese immigrant - where do you put it and its ilk (of which we have many). What if an american author is writing about Africa? Generally I tended to put the books according to where they took place rather than the origin of the author. But I've allowed my students to decide how they want to categorise it when they add a comment to their shelfie (more later).

Before the summer break, I also ordered all the books suitable for primary school on the USBBY list for 2016 so they were ready for the school year. Again I didn't have anything specific in mind, except to diversify my collection.  As an aside - I must say I'm incredibly impressed with the selection in this list and I'm going to order from it again this year, and from the backlists of prior years. Books like "My Two Blankets" are just phenomenal and just so appropriate for a multi-lingual environment.


This term, I joined the UN committee and put my idea forward to do a "read around the world" as part of the activities so it would not just be a "costume, food and flags" affair. I also convinced the parade organisers that it may be a nice idea to parade by country grouped by continent (to tie in what was feasible in the library with my limited display space). 

Next I created a library guide and a padlet so the students could put up their pictures (we're an iPad school so that's one of the easiest ways).  

Then last week I started introducing the concept to my students in the library lesson.  I adjusted it according to the age. For some, I asked how were ways we could find out about people around the world. We got the usual, go there, live their, eat food, have a friend etc. Then I introduced travelling their through books (depending on the age I told them the library was a magic travel machine), then I read a book from South Africa, my home country (Niki Daly's "Where's Jamela"), and then we had a tour around the world past all the displays and they could pick up a "souvenir" book on the way of whatever they liked.

For other classes my colleague met them at the door and said she was a tour guide and would take them around the world and they could pick up books along the way. 

We then showed the library guide and explained how to get a picture onto padlet, and that they could then put a sticker on the map.

Some classes were more enthusiastic than others - generally the younger students were not very interested in books from other places, they wanted a book from the country they came from - fair enough. 

It was interesting to see where students put books when they made a comment - the aforementioned "inside out" was labeled "Vietnam" by a student, while "Amulet" got a Japanese label based on the author name and origin (although born in Japan, he has lived in the USA since he was 10). 

We've agreed that for the actual UN week each class well get a bundle of 20-30 books from various countries delivered to the classrooms to read during their DEAR time (they get 20 minutes a day).

Hopefully it will all work out! I'm also hoping our parents will want to get involved with their children.