Thursday, December 29, 2011

RTL: If You Lived Here: Houses of the World

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
Book Title: If You Lived Here: Houses of the World
Author: Giles Laroche
Islamically Appropriate?: Yes
Genre: Fiction
Book Format: Picture Book
Age Group: 6 and up
Book Review: From "Step into unique homes from around the world and discover the many fascinating ways in which people live and have lived.

If you lived in the mountains of southern Spain, your bedroom might be carved out of a mountain. If you lived in a village in South Africa, the outside of your house might tell the story of your family. And if you lived in a floating green house in the Netherlands, you could rotate your house to watch both the sunrise and sunset.

With intricate bas-relief collages, Giles Laroche uncovers the reason why each home was constructed the way in which it was, then lets us imagine what it would be like to live in homes so different from our own.

Showing the tremendous variety of dwellings worldwide—log cabins, houses on stilts, cave dwellings, boathouses, and yurts—this book addresses why each house is build the way that it is. Reasons—such as blending into the landscape, confusing invaders, being able to travel with one's home, using whatever materials are at hand—are as varied as the homes themselves."

You may wish to build upon this book to include homes from Muslim countries as well.

Until the next read insha'Allaah....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Storytime: Help Me!

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

After the break from school, you may wish to consider this picture book for storytime

Help Me! by Paul Geraghty is a very nice realistic fiction story about what we may consider to be unusual acts of kindness in the animal kingdom: a crocodile (or was it an alligator?) saving a baby turtle (instead of eating it), a hippopotamus helping to save an impala from a pack of wild dogs, etc. The story's impact comes from the fact that, according to the author, these stories are based on true tales of animal kindness.

A teacher/parent may see this book as a way to support a unit on empathy and kindness. During or after the reading, teachers/parents can ask questions such as:

1). What do you think the elephant is going to do? (during reading)
2). What do you think is going to happen to the baby turtle? (during reading)

The previous two questions help students build their predicting skills. Once they have given their ideas, note them on chart paper or on the board and then turn the page and tell the class "let's read to find out what will happen insha'Allaah". Turn and read the page to see if students predictions were correct.

You can also ask:

3). What reason do you think the pack of wild dogs did not attack the hippopotamus? (after reading)
4). How do you think the hippopotamus putting his mouth around the impala helps it to heal and get better insha'Allaah? (after reading)

These type of questions help students strengthen their ability to form hypothesis. If you choose to, you can lead the class on a research journey to help them discover what a hippopotamus putting its mouth around the impala does for the impala. Or you can do a bit of research (with your class) about other known incidents of elephants helping other creatures. You can also (most important) help students draw parallels to what they read to any examples in the Quraan or Sunnah (if possible). For example, the elephant does not smash the turtle but instead turns it over so that it can move again freely and not get crushed. Ask students, do you know of any story in the Quraan or from the many ahadith where a small creature was about to be crushed by a larger one (Sulaiman and the ants) or a larger creature helped a smaller one? (the man or woman helps the thirsty dog by taking off his/her shoe and getting water from a well for it).

This book can support a classroom unit study on kindness and how Allaah is the Most Kind and how He loves that we show kindness toward others and help others (including animals). You can ask students to brainstorm some of the ways that Allaah is Kind to His Creation and led them to the understanding that we can never count the many, many ways that Allaah is Kind to us and how we must be thankful for His Kindness. You can also bring examples of the Prophet -sallallaahu alayhi wa salam- and the many examples of his kindness toward people and animals. To conclude, you can ask students to talk about ways they can be kind and help them (if needed) form concrete examples that are within their ability to do insha'Allaah. You can then help them come up with ways to implement their ideas insha'Allaah (i.e. helping father wash the car, helping younger sibling with homework, etc.).

What ways might you use this book in your home/classroom when teaching about kindness?

Monday, December 26, 2011

RTL: Can You See What I See? : Treasure Ship

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Book TitleCan You See What I See?: Treasure Ship: Picture Puzzles to Search and Solve
Author: Walter Wick
Islamically Appropriate?: Yes
Genre: Fiction
Book Format: Picture Book
Age Group: K-3
Book Review: From Booklist: In the latest entry in Wick’s Can You See What I See? series, the dramatic subject is shipwrecks: what is buried under the sea, what washes up onto coastal shores. The rhyming, find-and-seek games will entice kids to look for the minute details in each packed spread. The search is not always easy, which will stretch out the enjoyment as kids pore over each page. Even the cover hides some surprises, like a hidden pirate skull and a cannonball. Another winning installment in the popular series. Grades K-3.

There are other books in this series, some of which are not Islaamically appropriate but I would like to check out others that (from their title and cover) seem to suggest that they may be Islaamically appropriate insha'Allaah.

Until the next read insha'Allaah....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

RTL: Counting Chickens

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Book Title: Counting Chickens
Author: Flensted
Islamically Appropriate?: Yes
Genre: Non-Fiction
Book Format: Picture Book
Age Group: 4-6
Book Review: The mobiles in this book are charming and the author shows how counting can be easily done using the simple designs in each mobile. Each page asks children to find and count certain objects that are found in each mobile presented. There is also a challenge question that encourages the child to think a bit harder *smile*.

There is one page that seems to be related to Halloween so this page should be skipped.
The mobiles in this book may give teachers/parents fun ideas for mobiles they can make with/for their children and how they can use them in math related activities...waallaahu a'lam.

Until the next read insha'Allaah....