Do you ever wonder what it's like to be a librarian? With all the books surrounding them, do they have their favourite books and authors or what books would they recommend.
Who better to ask than a librarian? We recently caught up with Swiss International Scientific School Dubai's Librarian, Hormah Chinbuah, and talked about all things 'books'. Here's a look at the world of books in the eyes of a bibliophile.
1. When did you pick up your first book?
I picked up my first book at home as a wee little one. I loved listening to the oral stories my grandmother told and from there moved on to one of my favourite storytellers of all time, Maurice Sendak. My go to book was “ Alligators All Around: An Alphabet book ”
2. What were your favourite books growing up?
I was quite a voracious reader and had loads of favourites growing up. The Bobbsey Twins, Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Ramona and Beezus, and The Hardy Boys were on my list of favourites. As you can tell, I cannot resist a mystery!
3. What books do you recommend to children these days? (could break it down age group wise if possible)
For the little ones (Pre-K to KG), I like to recommend books that are interactive, or fun with rhyming or repetitive texts to help students with phonological awareness and vocabulary. I also like giving students alphabet and or concept books at this stage.
Books such as: Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Chicka, Chicka 123, Giraffes Can’t Dance, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus, all the Knuffle Bunny books, Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do you See, We Are Going On A Bear Hunt, Chicka, Chicka ABC and Where The Wild Things Are and a few of the books I like to recommend. For non-fiction books about animals and fairy tales go over very well for this group.
For lower primary grades, I encourage them to look at books with stories that they can relate to, identify with or have experienced in their own lives. These books although entertaining help students with vocabulary building, recount, developing narrative skills, and a love of reading.
Books such as: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, Tale of Despereaux, Gregor the Overlander, Ramona the Pest, Clementine, Junie B. Jones and The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Amelia Bedilia, Magic Treehouse, Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs, Stuart Little, and Pippi Longstocking. For non-fiction, books about arts and crafts, fun facts (believe it or not), animals, space, horrible history series and discoveries work very well.
Upper primary grades and middle school students love to read realistic fiction with a dose of fantasy, mystery, and adventure sprinkled in. These stories benefit children in many ways including expanding their vocabulary, critical and analytical thought and their development as wonderful writers, to name a few.
Students enjoy selected favourites which include but are not limited to book such as: El Deafo, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Holes, A Bridge to Terabitha, Out of My Mind, Coraline, Black Beauty, Ann of Green Gables, Harry Potter series, Kathryn Erskine’s Mockingbird, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Peter Nimble, Tuck Everlasting, One and Only Ivan, When You Reach Me, Hatchet, Silverwing, Julie of the Wolves, and Wonder. For non-fiction books, books about ghosts, discoveries, ancient civilisations, natural disasters, fun facts, experiments, and how to do it yourself titles work well.
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4. Do you think Kindles and e-books can completely replace books some day?
Thoughts..There is something about holding onto a real book that a Kindle or an e-book cannot replicate. The touch of paper, the smell of a book and the experience of a worn out, dog-eared book is something special that people will always want. I once wrote a paper in Uni titled “You cannot cuddle with your Kindle,” so I am a bit biased when it comes to this issue. However, having said that, I strongly believe that both digital readers and books will always have a place in the world, and as of now I cannot see one replacing the other, but being used in different ways to accommodate needs during certain situations/times, circumstances, and in various contexts.
5. Current favourite book/author or both
My favourite book is "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day,” by Judith Viorst. This book is a great read-aloud which resonates with children and adults alike and is very interactive. Ever had a day when absolutely nothing went right?? Well, little Alexander experiences his first mishap in the morning when he wakes and up the day goes from bad to worse. With a day like that, little Alexander wants to run away or hop on the first plane to Australia. The students end up chanting “"It was a TERRIBLE!! HORRIBLE!! NO!! GOOD!! VERY!! BAD!! DAY" along with me during my readings and my colleagues and I have an inside joke of moving to Australia during challenging days. The children also get fascinated with the fact that the book is about the author’s real-life son Alexander. My current favourite author is Mo Willems writer of the Knuffle Bunny series and Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus. According to School library Journal, his books are a seamless and superbly satisfying presentation of text and art, and I totally agree!
6. How do you encourage children to pick up books?
I encourage children to pick up books by reading interactive and exciting picture books to them. I also enjoy reading a chapter or pages that build suspense and or highlight the most fascinating or thrilling parts of a book to students. I use book talks, book trailers, displays, author visits, the book’s synopsis or the background of the author and or the main character to encourage children to pick up books. I also utilise different activities like sticking notes on books with soundbites, book musical chairs, book speed dating and prezi presentations to encourage students’ interest in books. Another way I encourage children to pick up books is by asking children to talk about the books they are returning in the beginning of the class. This encourages their peers to pick up the book themselves as they hear the enthusiasm and sheer joy coming from their friends about a certain title. However, my all time favourite way to encourage a child to pick up a book is by getting to know the child. Knowing your students very well helps you to put the right book in the right hand at the right time.
7. Books or movies? Favourite book to movie adaptation and why?
Books! Books are detailed and give us all the nuances and depth of a story that movies can’t. Though I adore movies, they mainly give us the broad strokes of a story. Having said that, as a result of J.K. Rowling’s involvement, the Harry Potter book to movie adaptations are one of the best I have ever seen. Lastly – What are the benefits of reading – (personality building, knowledge etc.)
The benefits of reading are immeasurable and limitless. Reading fills one’s head with bits of information, which can be used for coursework as well as in the real world. Reading helps in building and developing stronger analytical and critical thinking skills. For example, reading mysteries and solving the problem before the book ends is putting one’s critical and analytical skills to work, thus improving skills which can be used in other subjects or fields across the board. In addition, reading expands one’s vocabulary, improves one’s writing, memory, focus and concentration, and is a foundation on which all knowledge is built. Reading helps stimulate one’s imagination and extends itself to making one more creative and thus helps students in thinking outside the box. Reading can also be recreational and relaxing, producing immense peace and tranquility when needed. It has lifelong benefits, which helps one’s success in every field imaginable, and being a lifelong learner is what we in the Library want to instil in our SISD students for the long haul.
SEE ALSO: Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai