Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life With Charles and Emma

Charles and Emma:  The Darwins' Leap of Faith

Charles and Emma Darwin are the focus of this week's curriculum tie-in.
Three cheers for the Young Adult title Charles and Emma : the Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman. The Darwins are an example of how opposites attract. He was neat and organized. She was disorganized and messy.
Because he was developing a theory about evolution, he was harboring many doubts about religion. She was a religious woman who worried whether her husband would be with her in the afterlife. Nevertheless they had a happy marriage and she  supported his work.

Deborah Heiligman photo
 This book was a labor of love for the author, Deborah Heiligman. Listen to her talk about this in her acceptance speech for the YALSA 2010 Printz Awards.
She and her husband also discuss religion  and science. Like Emma Darwin, she too found the right partner in life.
 The librarian in me absolutely needs to share how she did her research.
And if you prefer audiobooks, Charles and Emma is now available in this format.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The pioneer spirit

The 10th anniversary of  9/11 has reminded me of the pioneer spirit of this country. This week's curriculum tie-in is Heading West: Life With the Pioneers, 21 Activities by Pat McCarthy.

This wonderful book has so much to offer. It provides an historical overview of how pioneers settled the country, beginning with the Appalachian Mountains and continuing to the Pacific Ocean. Join Pat as she journeys with the settlers in their covered wagons and the hard work they encountered during the trip: the cooking, the hunting. Learn about the native Americans they met.
Then when they arrived they had to build themselves shelters. A dugout would be constructed by digging into a hill or creek bank until there was enough space for one room. Next they contructed a front wall using blocks of sod.
Laura Ingalls Wilder's family lived in a dugout for a time. She wrote about that in On the Banks of Plum Creek.  

Pioneers were the original do-it-yourselfers. Pat includes a number of activities for you to try. Try making maple snow candy, like Laura Ingalls Wilder did.
Try churning your own butter. Back then toys were handmade. Would you want to make a doll out of a clothespin?  Some little girls did.

If reading Pat's book makes you and your family hanker to visit pioneer sites, this  article from The New York Times  will give you information about visiting places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived. 

If you can't  visit,  read  Laura Ingalls Wilder Country, a  photographic  book of  Laura's homes.

If you want Pat to visit your school to give a program about the West visit her at her web site.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Wonders of Electricity

Electricity is something we take for granted until we loose it. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, many people along the East Coast still have not had their power restored. If you have well water you don't have water either because you need electricity to pump water from your well. I hope power is restored to everyone very soon.

This week's curriculum tie-in is an ode to electricity.Wired by Anastasia Suen takes  middle grade readers on a journey of how electricity gets to their homes.
Anastasia Suen

Anastasia has an activity and games for students to try. For more information visit her at her web site.