NIGHT IN THE COUNTRY: By Cynthia Rylant


Author: Cynthia Rylant is an American author, she has written more than 100 children’s books, many of Rylant’s books are about her childhood in Appalachia.

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Book: NIGHT IN THE COUNTRY

Genre: Children’s literature

Story by Cynthia Rylant

Pictures by Mary Szilagyi

Aladdin Paperbacks

An imprint of Simon & Schuster

First Aladdin Paperbacks edition 1991

 

Book Review: Night in the Country, is a story on describing the countryside at night with emphasis on the sound of some common night creatures, animals and things in the tranquil of night; the pictures give the impression of being colour pencil art – comprising of many darker tones of colours and are of blurry styles, it is like a visual narrative with few lines of the short story printed on the pages of the book.

 

Academic Use: This narrative is especially appropriate for teaching auditory readiness/discrimination in the age group of 4 to 6 years; the teacher can narrate the story along with the aid of an audio player for sound recordings of some of the creatures and things mentioned in the story.

As per my perspective, this story is best suited in audio visual format than in a book format for teaching auditory discrimination in preschool children.

This book is a good reading material for children of 6 to 8 years – with mentions of auditory words for vocabulary development, for encouraging nature sensitivity; and also a good resource book of art-works for children who are inclined towards creative-work of painting


Amazon link: Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant


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The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher: By MOLLY BANG

Book Review

This book is a prime example to express how art can be used as a medium for education or for children’s healthy entertainment in an exceptional style.

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Book: The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

Genre: Children’s Book

Author: MOLLY BANG

Aladdin Paperbacks

An imprint of Simon & Schuster

First Aladdin Paperbacks edition May 1996

Book Review: The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher is a picture story book of 24 pages with two central characters – one is the Strawberry Snatcher who is drawn as having a blue coloured, thin body with long limbs wrapped in a clothing of bright green with base of red and wearing an awkward purple hat, the entire figure of the strawberry snatcher is uncanny still amusing; and the other is the Grey Lady with a big body and with grey hair, wearing a fully covered grey coat, this figure resembles a clever, gratified grandma.

This book is a set of painting art-works with loud colours, the pictures are in rapid sequence; a few drawings combine  to  express two or more sequence of the story at one instance, a few others is fascinating mix of similar colours where the observer of the story has to search to spot one of the characters in the picture – and this is done with matching the background colour of the picture with the colour of the clothing of one of the central characters.

 

Yes, the story is about the peculiar looking strawberry snatcher who follows the grey lady to snatch her basket full of strawberries — this is a witty story and an intellectual  piece of art which makes it more appropriate for children of 7 years and above to appreciate – more so for visual learners or for children who have an aptitude  for creative skill like painting.

 

Academic Use: This book can be  valuable  as a conversation piece for children of 8 to 10 years; two children  can give voice-over to the two characters, the dialogues between the characters will vary according to the individuality of the children yet the conversation has to inflexibly be within the picture description of the story, this activity can also mark the growth of children’s intellectual and language ability.

 

Author: Molly Garrett Bang is an American illustrator. For her illustration of children’s books she has been a runner-up for the American Caldecott Medal three times and for the British Greenaway Medal once.


Amazon link: The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang


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No Talking – By Andrew Clements

Book Review

Author: Andrew Clements has written more than fifty books for children, including the award-winning, multimillion-copy bestseller Frindle.

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Book – No Talking

Genre – Children’s Literature

Author – Andrew Clements

Atheneum Books for Young Readers

An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

First paperback edition June 2009

Book Review: Dave Packer had to prepare a report on the history of India to give a presentation for five minutes or less for his social studies class, just some basic facts on anything related to India, he found the most interesting section on India was about how it became independent and thought the most interesting person in the story of India’s independence was Mahatma Gandhi – in one of the books, he read this about Gandhi:

For many years, one day each week Gandhi did not speak at all. Gandhi believed this was a way to bring order to his mind.

Dave wondered what that meant, “to bring order to his mind”, could something as simple as not talking change the way your mind worked? … this belief seemed to have been good for Gandhi; would not talking make him smarter?  So Dave decided to give this philosophy a try, to effort to keep his mouth shut all day on Monday, but giving this report in his social studies class on Monday would ruin his experiment … How would he cope with his experiment of “No Talking” for a day? How could this philosophy help Dave of fifth grade?

The story develops to discover the influence of Dave’s experiment – first as a personal goal of Dave which later transpires as a contest for two days between the students of the fifth grade as Boys vs. Girls, with a set of rules to follow; how the teachers deal with the peculiar situation on the first day of the contest, how the teachers involve themselves in this contest on the second day to appreciate the concept’s novel approach in the teaching and learning process.

 

As per my grasp of the story, the source of this story is founded on research discoveries of the concept – “No Talking”, executed in a school; the scheme of the narrative is purposely kept entertaining so as to captivate the curious mind of a child – which expresses about the author’s commendable story telling ability with a challenging storyline to narrate specifically to children. The concept and the clever narration  of the story is more appropriate  for children of 10 years and above to comprehend and appreciate, and at a leisurely pace a child probably  will take less than a week’s time to finish reading this book. The theme of the story is essentially based in a school background thus incudes a lot of names of students and teachers which could bring a trace of confusion in a young mind while reading.

 

 “No Talking” as an activity in school is a practical concept with many constructive benefits towards a child’s holistic development, as revealed in the book – this activity can be carried out in schools for 1 day, for at least 2 times in an academic year, for children above 10 years; for teachers this book caters as an useful resource book for planning this activity.


Amazon link: No Talking by Andrew Clements


See You in the Cosmos – By JACK CHENG

Book Review

As a reader of this book, it seems to me that this book is a humble tribute to an eminent astronomer Dr. Carl Edward Sagan by the author Jack Cheng.

Dr. Carl Edward Sagan (1934 – 1996) was an American astronomer:

“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” – Carl Sagan

He tried to make science popular. He thought about what life from other planets would be like. He said that people should look for life on other planets. He is world famous for his popular science books and the television series Cosmos, which he co-wrote and presented.

Sagan was associated with the U.S. space program from its inception. From the 1950s onward, he worked as an advisor to NASA, where one of his duties included briefing the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon. Sagan contributed to many of the robotic spacecraft missions that explored the Solar System, arranging experiments on many of the expeditions.

Sagan assembled the first physical message that was sent into space: a gold-anodized plaque, attached to the space probe Pioneer 10, launched in 1972. Pioneer 11, also carrying another copy of the plaque, was launched the following year.

He continued to refine his designs; the most elaborate message he helped to develop and assemble was the Voyager Golden Record that was sent out with the Voyager space probes in 1977.

Sagan often challenged the decisions to fund the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station at the expense of further robotic missions. (Source: Wikipedia)  Dr. Caral Sagan’s Scientific Achivements

 

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See You in the Cosmos:-

Author – JACK CHENG

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2017

Published in Great Britain by Puffin Books 2017

Book Review: Alex Petroski is a eleven-year old boy, though he thinks himself to be thirteen-years-old  in responsibility age because he can cook and take care of his dog, whom he has named  after his hero, Dr. Carl Sagan; he plans to launch his rocket—Voyager 3 at the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival in the desert near Albuquerque, New Mexico, to carry his iPod into space – his Golden iPod with his sound recordings to connect with other life forms out in the universe, and thus this exceptional idea of his initiates his adventure …

So his golden iPod is like a personal diary – with him narrating to record the happenings of the day, his venture to the rocket festival which advances into meeting nice strangers, his trip to Las Vegas and so on … with many other exciting revelations.

 

The simplicity of the language makes the novel a fortunate book for the children between the age-group of 8 to 11 years; the content is very informative and contemporary, though the exceptional presentation of the story does require a little explanation by an adult and at a leisurely pace a child may take a month’s time to finish reading this book.

The pace of this novel is slow for adult readers; considering that this book is particularly meant for young readers and written from a view point of a young child, however the unique presentation of the concept – by which I mean the novel is written like a narration on an audio player is highly commendable, makes it an admirable read for teenagers and adults too.


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Amazon link – See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

How to Be Cool in the Third Grade: By BETSY DUFFEY

Book Review

Amazon link: How to Be Cool in the Third Grade – By BETSY DUFFEY

“Babies can’t talk like you and me,” she continued. “They can’t say ‘I’m hungry,’ or ‘I’m wet’, or ‘I’m tired.’ But they sure can let you know when they want something.”

How simple it seemed, Robbie thought, looking down at Tobey:

Waaa! And you got whatever you want. He wished it was that simple when you grew up.

Waaa! New jeans would appear.

Waaa! People would stop calling you names.

Waaa! Your mother would stop kissing you at the bus stop. (p. 47)

 — An excerpt from the book, ‘How to Be Cool in the Third Grade’- By BETSY DUFFEY

 

How to Be Cool in the Third Grade: Published in 1993

A story about a timid boy named ‘Robert Hayes York’; who dislikes his baby name Robbie, hates his school clothes which his parents chooses for him to wear—tan and stiff shorts, white socks and shirt with collars, despises his mom’s kisses at the bus stop—to cause a spot of the bright red lipstick on his cheek —  at the start of the academic year into the third grade Robbie writes down  a set of necessary rules which, according to him, will help him become cool—and how a bully boy ‘Bo’ at school changes Robbie’s attitude for better, as well as Robbie’s niceness changes Bo’s rudeness towards him …

The title of the book admiringly suggest that this book is specifically meant for third graders i.e. children of 7 to 8 years; however this nice, humorous, short, fiction story is a suitable read for children between the age-group of 8 to 10 years too; at a leisurely pace a child may take a week’s time to finish reading this book.

Author: Betsy Duffey is the author of numerous books for young readers; her books have been Junior Library Guild selections, Crown Award nominees, and have been Parent’s Choice and Children’s Choice selections. Her books have been translated into Japanese, Korean, Dutch and Danish, and included in numerous book clubs.

Illustrated by Janet Wilson


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Learn the potter’s craft (…to develop positive self-concept in children)

Self-concept or self-image is knowledge about self. Developing positive self-concept in a child can be compared to a potter’s craft. A potter uses clay; the soft pliable mud is transformed into a viable object with the skill of his hands and the mechanism of a wheel.

Self-concept or self-image is knowledge about self. Developing positive self-concept in a child can be compared to a potter’s craft. A potter uses clay; the soft pliable mud is transformed into a viable object with the skill of his hands and the mechanism of a wheel.

Self-concept is mainly a product of parents’ role in a child’s life. Here the potter are the parents, the clay is the child. The skill of hands signifies parents’ attitude and responses towards a child. And the mechanism of the wheel refers to the surrounding, a child is raised in – all these factors contribute towards developing self-concept in a child.

Alike a potter, who kneads the clay to work on its consistency; a mother influences her fetus’s well-being by taking care of her physical, mental and emotional health during pregnancy.

It requires the tactful knack of the potter’s hands to gradually shape up the pliable clay into a worthwhile object. To build positive self-concept in a child – a thoughtful approach should be adopted towards childcare:-

  • At birth, taking care of your baby’s needs is of prime importance. The calmness and warmth of the mother’s body while breast feeding…the gentleness of her hands while changing the clothing advances for a secure emotional bond between the baby and the mother.

Talk to your little one in a soft and a bubbly tone. Sing songs in a soothing pitch or play soft music.  Hang colourful toys on top of the cradle. Pay attention to their cries and respond by talking and caring for their wants.

At about two months, your baby will respond by smiling so smile back at them – this reflective positive response will stimulate their sense of self-worth.

  • Your baby will slowly progress to crawl, to sit and to walk and will simultaneously explore their immediate environment by touch and taste. Contribute in their expedition by offering them colourful and movable toys to manipulate. Carry your little-one around and talk about the different objects in the house.  Initiate taking along your baby for social events or family get-together and visit a nearby park as often as possible, this will increase your child’s awareness on the immediate surroundings.

Your child begins to understand verbal communication so avoid using harsh language or criticism because usage of offensive language influences the feeling of shame. Their curiosity and mobility will help them to imitate your words and actions. They will shut doors or open them, open or close lids of containers and will also pull down things which are within their reach. Big plastic blocks to build towers, being in small water pool with floating toys, big light-weight plastic balls to throw and pick are plays that your child will thoroughly enjoy.

  • As two year old, your child’s exploration will grow with some use of language to their aid.  Providing a safe environment for their adventurous pursuits is a must. They verbally express their preferences towards food, play and people. As parent we should portray a flexible attitude towards their demands. If a child insists on eating chocolates during lunch time, gently reason them by maintaining that they should eat the lunch first to eat the chocolate. Children of this age will express curiosity to handle some of the household products because of its colourful packaging; give box wrappers of these products and keep the product out of their reach.

Just when your child begins his journey as a two year old, gradual process of toilet training should begin. This advances his sense of autonomy with a forward leap towards forming a positive self-concept.

  • Three to four years of age, is a period for rapid development in gross motor and language skills. An environment to explore their physical capability should be provided e.g. climbing the jungle gym, cycling etc. They should also play with children of the same age group. As their language skills soars up high, your child should be encouraged to express their interpretations regarding the day to day happenings in school and at home.  Stories should be narrated; especially stories related with moral values and socially accepted behaviours.

This age marks the onset of fine motor skills.  Some activities to develop fine motor muscles are threading beads, colouring and paper crumbling.

Permit your child to do small tasks related to self-care, for instance… selecting clothes for oneself, clothing oneself, taking care of toys and books. They should also be given easy household tasks to carry out; this initiates the spirit of usefulness.

At this age, self-concept slowly shapes to take a concrete form. The mechanism of the wheel i.e. the outside influence also begins to set in, the performance at school marks this – they might express it by saying, ‘Teacher gave me two stars … for writing neatly’ or ‘Teacher scolded me… for not writing’ or may complain to you that one of his classmates pinched him.  As parents, we should motivate our kids with praise and by hugs.

  • At the age of 5 to 6 years, children become effective communicators and will express their feelings and thoughts without any inhibition. Encourage your child by asking their opinions on matters concerning them, if the child answers in affirmative or not, tie-in the question by asking the reason for the same. This enables a child to realise that his views are important and also encourages them to voice-out inner conflicts.

They will participate in group games wherein they will learn to wait for their turn, cooperate in play and obey the rules of a game.  It is during group games, children begin to recognise their acceptance among friends. Some children find it difficult to adjust in group games and this defiance may reflect when all of a sudden they become attention-seekers.  Help your child by playing indoor board game e.g. Snakes and Ladders, Ludo etc. which will help them understand that while playing games with friends, they have to follow a set of rules in order to enjoy a game.

Children’s cognitive ability will mark a big boost. To encourage, parents can provide age-appropriate books to read and to observe. They will also be well-aware of their emotional needs and will also be sensitive towards the needs of others. They will recognize that they are a part of a society and will label themselves and others as ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ in terms of moral conduct.

Early years of life are the formative years in development of self-concept. While employing these ideas try not to compare children, to show dominance or to curb free thinking.

When the clay is moulded into a pot – using a stiff wire the potter pulls it  separate from the wheel and later bakes it, for it become a worthwhile object. Similarly, children who are moulded to have a positive self-concept develop in society as individuals portraying a strong sense of self- respect and they instil the same sense in others.

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