Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reading to the students: Tonight on the Titanic review

A couple months ago, I started visiting the elementary classrooms during non-library time to read to the students.  Since I'm only at the school in my role as librarian one day a week, most of this is voluntary.  But, it's important to read to kids, and I hope to get them interested in other books they might not otherwise read.  I started off with something everyone could love, James Herriot's Treasury for Children, and moved on to reading books that complement the teachers' lesson plans.  Sometimes, it's a bit of a losing battle, like when teaching Kindergartners about transportation and attempting to give the "princesses" positive female role models by reading a book about Amelia Earhart - they were quite nonplussed - but other times, I find winners.

In December, I reviewed the first in the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne.  I'm currently revisiting the series in honor of the tragedy that struck in the North Atlantic Ocean 100 years ago today.  Last week I read it to the Kindergartners and third graders; I'll read it to most of the other classes in the next few days.
Checkouts: 3
Series checkouts (30 books owned): 125
Source: Local library sale

Synopsis: One rainy night, Jack and Annie visit the tree house and find a little bewitched terrier.  To break the spell, they need four gifts.  The first is from a ship lost at sea.  This brings them to the R.M.S. Titanic on the night it sank.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is a great series.  It's a great mix of adventure and history.  And the kids love the books.  To paraphrase the Kix cereal commercials, "Kid tested, librarian approved."

In reading this story to the students, I was impressed by their knowledge of the Titanic disaster.  Kindergartners knew that most of a glacier is below water.  A third grader knew that other ships nearby had ignored the Titanic's distress flares because the ship often had parties with fireworks.  I'm looking forward to what the other classes will already know.

There's a funny coincidence between this book and pop culture.  One of our protagonists here is named Jack - just like the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1990s movie about the famous disaster by James Cameron.  It's hard to keep from laughing when you're half-expecting little Annie to tell her big brother, "I'll never let you go, Jack!"

I had a glacier from the local ice cream stand on April 14, in honor of the Titanic.


  1. I really kind of wish they'd had these books when I was a kid (or if they were around back then, I wish I'd known about them). They sound like something I would have enjoyed.

    1. This one was published in 1999, when we were in high school. ^^ I totally agree, these would have been great for us if they'd been around when we were young.