Books to borrow: Great books, great teachers are essential

Great books, great teachers help children grow

January 19, 2013

One of the most influential forces in a child’s life is his teacher. Teachers have one of the hardest jobs. Teachers do much more than teach subjects to children; they help students stretch their minds, challenge them to reach further, settle disputes, assist those who need extra help and provide greater challenges for those who are ready to aim higher. That’s a lot of hats for one person to wear.

Being a teacher is one of the most admirable professions, loaded with awesome opportunities and grave responsibilities. When you see a child excited about something he has learned at school, recognize that it is the teacher who has reached that young mind and helped it grow.

Good books can serve a similar function by providing information in an exciting way that makes learning fun, and that’s what you’ll find in today’s reviewed books – books that teach. For more book recommendations, ask your child’s teacher or visit this column’s companion website,

Books to borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries:

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (Houghton Mifflin, 178 pages)

Read aloud: age 8 to 9 and older

Read yourself: age 11 to 12 and older

The girl and her people had lived on their island for as long as any of them could remember. One day they are visited by Aleuts, who claim they have come to hunt sea otters, but the Aleuts are dishonest and a battle ensues, leaving many of the girl’s people dead. With the departure of the Aleuts, the girl’s people decide they must find another place to live.

Departing on a white man’s ship, the girl sees that her little brother has been left behind. Jumping overboard, she swims to the island while the boat sails away. Not long thereafter, her brother is killed by a pack of wild dogs, and she is left alone. With difficulty, she learns to protect herself from the dogs and to find food and shelter, but her greatest challenge is to learn how to live without the fellowship of other people. To ease her loneliness, the girl befriends several animals, and they become her companions.

The girl’s trials, joys, fears and suffering are just some of what O’Dell offers readers in this outstanding novel based on facts about the real girl, known in history as “The Lost Woman of San Nicholas,” who lived alone on that island from 1835 to 1853.

Librarian’s choice

Library: Marianna Community Public Library, 247 Jefferson Ave.

Library director: Cindy Bailey

Choices this week: “Helen Keller: Rebellious Spirit” by Laurie Lawlor; “Baby Sea Turtle” by Aubrey Lang; “Arctic Tale” by Linda Woolverton

Books to buy

The following books are available at bookstores:

The Greatest Liar on Earth: A True Story by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frané Lessac (Candlewick, 2012, 32 pages, $16.99 hardcover)

Read aloud: age 7 and older

Read yourself: age 8 to 9

In the late 1800s, Louis de Rougemont had a plan to achieve great fame and fortune. After much studying, he wrote “The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont,” which was published in an illustrated series chronicling his wild adventures that astounded everyone, including professional scientists. His fame and fortune grew with each astonishing story and lecture, and people couldn’t get enough of his tales of sea monsters, fish raining from the sky, cannibals, turtle riding and much more.

But soon people began to be skeptical of whether any of his stories were true, and the critics grew in vast numbers. Eventually, Louis de Rougemont’s reputation was shattered, was called the greatest liar on Earth and vanished into the streets of London, never to be heard from again. Were his stories true or was he really the greatest liar on Earth? Coupled with inviting illustrations, this thought-provoking selection is first rate.

I Spy Under the Sea, written and illustrated by Edward Gibbs (Templar, 2012, 32 pages, $14.99 hardcover)

Read aloud: age 2 and older

Read yourself: age 6 to 7

What can you spy with your little eye? Peek through the spy hole on each double-page spread to reveal life under the sea while also learning numbers from 7 down to 1. From clown fish to sea horses, crabs, dolphins and more, this engaging, charming book packs in a lot of fun and learning for young readers.

Kendal Rautzhan can be reached at



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