April 2nd each year marks the birthday of Hans Christian Anderson in 1805 and the celebration of International Children’s Book Day.
Since reading is an integral part of any ESL program, you can easily tie the celebration into activities you might already be doing in class. Here are some ideas you can use to celebrate the world of children’s literature available to your classroom.
How to Celebrate International Children's Book Day in Your Classroom
Ask your students to share a traditional story from their home cultures. Start by giving them some examples of traditional stories from your native country. You may want to offer a tall tale or a legend as an example to spark your students’ creativity. Then provide a few minutes for students to gather their thoughts and list the events of the story in note form before sharing it with the class. If you have books of international stories available or have internet access in your classroom, these can also help your students come up with their ideas. Then have each person share his story with a small group of students in the class. After listening to all the stories, each group should choose one to perform for the class in skit form. Your students will enjoy hearing about other cultures and seeing their classmates’ skillful portrayals of the stories in front of the class. You may also want to make available to your students books of traditional stories from around the world. Many collections of national fairy tales are available for free download from reading apps. If your students are younger, try reading some stories from The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales by Dawn Casey and Anne Wilson, which retells traditional stories from around the world. It also includes activities that tie into the traditional tales.
For teachers of adult ESL students, your class may not be most appreciative of read along picture books, but that does not mean they are useless in your classroom. Start by showing your students a book from the Child’s Day series, such as "In an Indian Village" by Prodeepta Das, or another picture book that shares the life in the day in another country. Then challenge your students to make a similar book that would show a child what a day in his or her home culture might be like. Encourage your students to think from the perspective of a child and what a child’s life might look like. Your students can write their stories and then use person pictures or images they find online to illustrate their stories. If you have talented artists in your class, encourage them to draw their own illustrations. Then offer to share the books with a group of younger students, either in your school or at a nearby daycare. Have your students read their books to the children and answer any questions those children might have about their cultures. In so doing, you promote cultural understanding in today’s younger generation and help encourage the young audience to have a global perspective. After your class reads their books to the children, lead a discussion back in your own classroom about the experience. What did your students enjoy? What did they find difficult? How did the kids respond to their books?
Encourage your students to get involved in Papertigers blog’s attempt to go around the world in 100 bookshelves. Ask your students to bring in a picture of their bookshelf, and then post each of the pictures on a bulletin board designated for the purpose. You may want to title the bulletin board “Around the World in 100 Bookshelves” and explain the reference to the classic Jules Vern book. When you post the pictures, do not identify the owner of each shelf. Instead, ask each of your students to look at the pictures and try to match up each of his classmates to the correct picture. They should use clues like the languages in which the books are written as well as the subjects which the books cover. Before revealing the correct match ups, assign one of the pictures to each person in your class. Make sure no one gets his or her own picture. Then ask that person to write about the owner of the shelf by drawing conclusions from what books are there. After your students have finished writing, you may want to have each person read what he or she has written and then reveal the actual owner of the bookshelf. Give the owner a chance to respond to what was said, and remind your entire class to keep a sense of humor throughout the activity. If you like, send the pictures to papertigers.org to be a part of their bookshelf project and to be posted online.
Children’s books are one of the keys to getting kids interested in reading.
To celebrate the day, encourage your students to read every day and explore what the world of children’s literature has to offer.
Do you have any great ideas for celebrating International Children’s Book Day? What will you do April 2nd? Share it below.