Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Diane Swanson

Last night we had our first Children's Literature Roundtable meeting for the 06-07 season. Check out the link for info about Canadian Children's Literature Roundtables for any who don't know about them. Our speaker was Diane Swanson. She was so fabulous. Her talk was entitled Toenails and Tunnels That Get Kids Reading and I can't tell you how engaging she was.

Her volunteers were asked to act the part of flatworms all in the name of science and I can say that the teacher and the libarian who were quasi volunteers did a superb job! Later, Swanson had a writer from the audience take on the role of a sibling with a bone to pick and four boxes of chocolate and a few rubber insects, Swanson demonstrated how statistics can be manipulated. Swanson is in fact, a master at getting kids (and adults) to think critically about bogus science. But Swanson's real joy is in getting young people to share her sense of wonder in the world around us. For example, she a student helicopter her arms as pretend wings as fast as she could before Swanson explained that she wasn't coming close to keeping up with a hummingbird whose wings beat 40 times per second, so fast, that they could, in fact, even fly upside down for several seconds. It's no wonder they need to eat 60 times a day! Swanson explained how to hush a room full of people with a mere penny (not with magic, but with science) and how to create the atmosphere of a tunnel with nothing but chopsticks, kids, and a blindfold. And, she made toenail clippings seem like the most interesting thing on the planet.

With 66 books and over 400 magazine articles to her credit, it's no wonder Swanson is a sought after speaker. The real reason though has to lie in her passion for science. It shines through bright and clear, and both kids and adults can't help but be inspired. So, run, don't walk to a bookstore near you to buy one of her engaging books, some of which include: A Crash of Rinos,A Party of Jays, Nibbling on Einstein’s Brain, Burp! and The Wonder in Water. And for you teachers out there, consider having her do an author visit. You won't regret it, and neither will your kids. I guarantee it. Her newest title is pure fabulous. Buy it, you'll love.

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