Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Happy St George's Day!!!

St George's Day is a very special day here in Catalonia. He is the patron saint of Catalonia, although he goes by the name of Sant Jordi rather than Saint George here! It's a beautiful day that focuses on the retelling of the tale of how St George slayed the fearsome dragon just as it was on the verge of munching up a princess, thus saving her and returning her home to her grateful parents. The legend tells that a rose bush grew where the dragon's blood was spilled, and Jordi picked a red rose to hand to the princess. St George's Day has been celebrated in Catalonia as the day of lovers since the fifteenth century, and it is now traditional for men and boys to give a red rose to female loved ones on this day.

23rd April is also the day of the book here. Instated at the beginning of the 20th century to coincide with the deaths of Cervantes and Shakespeare, and to promote books published in Catalan, it is celebrated as part of St George's Day (La Diada de Sant Jordi), and women and girls give a book to their male loved ones.

The streets are lined with stalls selling roses and books, and crowds gather to stroll around, buy flowers and books for their loved ones, and generally enjoy the festival atmosphere, even though it isn't actually a bank holiday. Schools make a big effort to retell the legend and to celebrate books and reading, and children make different crafts around the knight, dragon, rose theme.

My big bug had to choose a book from home to take in for a book swap with the other children in his class. Hard to do, cos it's a permanent swap. He was keen to choose one of his little brother's books for the event but we eventually came up with one of his own! Tomorrow, each of the little ones is paired up with an older child from higher up the school who will help them choose a new book from those their classmates have brought in. Afterwards, older and younger child will sit down and read the "new" book together. I think it's such a lovely way to enjoy books together, and a great way for an older child to read for a purpose: to help a little one to access a book they don't know. Gorgeous!

I like to mark festivities with a little gift for my bugs' teachers at school/ nursery, just to thank them for the work they do, and also as a good excuse to do a craft with the boys! So tomorrow they'll be taking them some homemade roses to school with them:

Sorry, it's a rubbish photo, but I'm too tired to take any more now :-( Do you get the idea? I'm really into peg crafts at the moment, and wanted to make a paper rose of some description to stick onto the painted peg (tissue paper? shiny paper?), but then M bug came up with the hand print idea, so we went with that. Here are the stages:

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Dinosaur Fun with Reference Books!

A friend asked me yesterday how you know if you're encouraging your child in a hobby that the child really wants to do, or if you are just pushing them towards an activity that you want them to want to do. Difficult question! And I'm not about to provide you with a wise answer, either, cos I haven't got one! But I did find myself asking myself the same question last night after I'd put my little book bugs to bed. You see, I love dinosaurs ( see this post, too), and recently my bugs are getting into them as well. Am I forcing them to by giving them cool books about them and wanting to play dinosaurs at any available moment? Or am I just offering them something interesting that they can take or leave? Who knows?! But I'm definitely going to make the most of it while it lasts!

I'm going to talk about two books today, both of them reference books, not stories. This is one of them:

Larousse Enciclopedia Increïble: Dinosaures, 2010

Our copy's in Catalan, and I've found it in Spanish too, but it doesn't appear to be published in English :-(  But I do want to tell you why we like it and what we get out of it anyway, then you can see for yourselves what you can find in whatever language you need! And if you can use it in either Spanish or Catalan, I thoroughly recommend it!