Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak I

Loved, loved, loved this story.

I laughed and cried all throughout the book.

Set in suburbs of Sydney and surrounds, we meet the Dunbar boys and their many tragedies and pets.

It’s a story of family, of brothers, of mothers and of fathers. It’s a story full of memories. A story of love, laughter, tears and hardship.

It’s a story of endings and new beginnings.

And bridges.

Loved it. Read it.

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We are all equal by P.Crumble and Jonathon Bentley

We are all equal.

Let’s shout it out loud.

We share hope and dreams, we’re equal and proud.

A book to make your heart sing, a book to teach others, a book to realise how similar we all are and a book to read again and again.

We are all equal by P.Crumble and Jonathon Bentley is a simple yet rich book in the message it sends to anyone who reads it – we are all equal.

The story and the pictures match perfectly as they show the differences that we have in looks but the similarities we have in feelings, the differences we have in how we do things but the similarities we have in emotions.

We are all equal by P.Crumble and Jonathon Bentley is a great book to share with young children as it can start a great conversation as to why we are all equal. It will put aside any prejudices children may have from learnt behaviour and it will open up a space to ask questions about the world and the people within.

We are all equal by P.Crumble and Jonathon Bentley is a must read for any home or classroom and there are so many things you can do with the book.

What can you do?

  • Draw your own picture of why you think we are all equal at school , home or in the community.

  • Explore times when people do not think they are equal – this could open up into a project for older students. They can examine an event which showed how people have shown hatred or mistrust for another group of people. Examine why this happened and if there was a resolution.

  • Explore why animals have been used in this picture book instead of people.

  • Go deeper into each page and explore what – in human terms – does each double page spread mean to us? Try and find links in your own lives and recreate pages for your home or classroom.
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When the whales walked by Dougal Dixon and Hannah Bailey

When the whales walked by Dougal Dixon and Hannah Bailey is an excellent book for both young and older readers.

Learn about the evolution of not only whales but many other animals that walk this planet.

A great book for budding scientists, environmentalists and explorers of the world!

So what else can you do with this book?

We have created our own puppet show with some pictures we cut out from the exhibition at the Australian Museum.

We have also created a timeline on our kitchen wall which shows different animals who were present in the different eras leading up to ours.

We have wondered what might evolve next….can you think of what might be evolving right now?

Wundersmith: The calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

I’ve just finished reading Wundersmith: The calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend.

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This is the second book in the Nevermoor you won’t be able to put down.

Morrigan is still living in Nevermoor and is finally part of a society filled with many other people who have gifts – just none like hers. Read along as Morrigan navigates school, tries to make new friends and of course encounters adventure and danger along the way!

The characters, especially Morrigan are so real, so alive and in so many ways relatable to everything that you are unsure of or proud of in your own life.

I loved this book – can’t rate it highly enough.

Buy it for someone who needs some extra magic and another wonderful book in their collection! Ages 10 and up!

Yours troolie, Alice Toolie by Kate and Jol Temple

We’ve had a lot of laughs whilst reading ‘Yours troolie, Alice Toolie ’ by @katejoltemple

You don’t need to have met either character before to enjoy the conversation between two classmates who have been made to write letters to each other because of a huge fight they had.

Letter writing between two enemies could not get any better!

The format of this story is fun – the font, the doodles on each letter entry and the honesty of how kids really see the world.

Letter writing may even make a comeback….you never know.

A great book to read and an even better book to use in the classroom to instigate some fun letter writing!

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What can you do with this book?

  • Write some letters between classmates or friends. You can use the post and integrate learning about the Australian postal system or just post the letters in a made up box in the classroom.
  • Investigate the best way to capture and store a ghost. Compare this to the method Alice and Jimmy used. Which way is better?
  • Learn about where and why emoji’s were invented. Create some that you think may be needed in the future.
  • What is eco glitter? Create a list of all the things you love using that are not so eco-friendly. Are their alternative products out there that will not harm the environment?
  • Do you think another letter writing book could come out of this one? Write down some future ideas for Alice and Jimmy if there was to be a second book (it may not be letter writing – could it be something else?)

Where do odd socks go? By Yvonne and illustrated by Sunshine

Did you know that around 84 million socks go missing in the UK every month? 

Did you also know that there are around 65 million people who are refugees or asylum seekers in the world?

‘Where do odd socks go?’ covers both these topics and more and is one to share with anyone who lives in the world.

This colourful picture book covers the pertinent issue of minority groups in our society through the use of odd socks. It is not only a fun way to view this huge issue of people who are often forgotten, but also an empowering way to show children that they can make a difference to these people’s lives. 

On the first double page spread you will meet the main characters of the story – the Outrank team (members of this team are out to rescue the odd socks) and then the odd socks (socks who feel lonely, left out, different, worried or bullied).

It’s important to spend some time here looking at the different socks and wondering why they feel the way they do – and relating this to people in our society. 

You’ll then meet Tilly and Tolin,  twins with special powers, who are out to rescue the odd socks with the help of the Outrank team.

Children will travel through the book with the characters in order to find the different socks and see that team work is a marvellous tool.

You’ll also journey to Egypt and learn a fascinating fact (that the oldest pair of stockings were found in a circa 500AD tomb uncovered by archaeologists) and see that despite everyone’s differences, we are all important members of society. 

Not only is this picture book fun to read, it is also a book you can draw many different discussions from. You will enlighten children about the important differences between us all, the importance of team work and most importantly the importance of looking out for each other.

The illustrations are fantastic – we loved looking at the different characters and their interesting antics.  The layout of this story make the book fun and both of these combined allow this story to be engaging and easier to grasp the different socks and their needs.  

Where do odd socks go? By Yvonne and illustrated by Sunshine is a much needed story and one to share with as many children as you can! 

Teacher notes to come soon – watch this space! 

Who dresses God? Written by Teena Raffa-Mulligan and Illustrated by Veronica Rooke

Children have so many thoughtful questions that not only do they want answered but encourage us, as the adults, to think about the responses. 

Who dresses God? Written by Teena Raffa-Mulligan and Illustrated by Veronica Rooke is a softly written story that explores a child’s wonderment and awe of the concept of God.

With genuine interest the child wants to know who looks after God, where does he live, how does he see or even hear? 

And the parent’s response is genuine. 

Through rhyme, the concept of God is explained. His beauty, love and kindness are everywhere and in everything. God is linked to everything the child knows and wonders about and perhaps by the end of the book the concept of who God is makes a lot more sense. 

Talking about who God is can be difficult not only to explain, but to understand.  This book – Who dresses God? Written by Teena Raffa-Mulligan and Illustrated by Veronica Rooke  – is a perfect way for any perplexed adult to explain God to their child. 

Rhyming words curl through the pages, flowing beautifully to explain how God is special – just like us.  The illustrations help the younger reader to see the story and add that extra detail to why God has created the world we love and care for. 

I highly recommend this delightful picture book for any family wanting to explain who God is, what makes our world so special and what makes us, as people special members of the world that has been made for us. 

Make sure you take part in the rest of this wonderful Blog Tour and check out my facebook pages for extra discussions about books and environmental stewardship!

Growing globally and socially conscious children: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sociallyconsciouschildren/about/

Educate Empower: https://www.facebook.com/educateempower11/

War is over by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield.

Dear Jan, I am a boy like you. I am not at war with you. You are, not at war with me. Your friend, Jan. 

It’s 1918 in England and the war is raging. John is a young boy who lives with his mother – who works in the biggest ammunition factory in the world, and wonders about his father who he can’t remember all that well, who is away fighting in the trenches in France.

John knows in his heart that war is wrong but nearly all the adults around him tell him that he must engage in the fighting by disliking anything about the enemy.

They tell him that this war could go on forever.

He writes to the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury asking for them to tell him when it will be over.

No answer.

The concept of forever is enormous for anyone let alone a young child. In 1918 ‘forever’ would have felt never ending as communication was so much slower and children were very sheltered from what they could and could not hear.

Jan cares for his mother who doesn’t know why she is at war. He wonders why no one stands up and cares about the foreverness of the situation.

He becomes friends with a man who everyone else thinks is crazy – but all Uncle Gordon wants to do is to help people to realise that not every German person is evil.

He meets a young German boy in the forest and tells him that he is not at war with him.

Jan is strong and determined yet shows the weaknesses of any young child. He shows that if we can see the world through eyes of understanding that perhaps these wars could never happen again – if we just see each other as equal.

The simple black and white illustrations allow younger readers to understand more about the concepts of war, love, loss and government in this book. The illustrations also show both the stark reality of war – the loneliness and desolation – and the peacefulness of the world when war is over.

War is over by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield is a book for children over the age of ten to read as the concept of war, although told in story form is still heavy and saddening. We need children to be aware of what happened but we also need to be able to discuss the different viewpoints.

This book would also be an excellent book to read aloud in the classroom. It would ignite many conversations and debates and possible plans for the future.

War is over by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield.

Buy here today:

War is Over

Lesson ideas here: https://www.hachetteschools.co.uk/blog/2018/11/04/the-big-topic-wwi-and-wwii/

Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush written by Robyn Osborn and illustrated by John Phillips

Way off the beaten track, somewhere between Bandywallop and Bullamakanka, lived Bruno Bright, a big, boisterous, blue dog, and his best buddy Bob, a barefoot bushie. 

Pull up a bucket, boil up your billy and bunch up your buddies because Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush written by Robyn Osborn and illustrated by John Phillips is a book to share with any Australian bushwacker.

Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush is a story with a lovely message and a fun read full of words that start with ‘B’, Australian lingo and places.

Children will love the use of B on each page, and although some of the words will need explaining, it is a great way to introduce the outback vernacular!

Bruno and his mate Bob are from the bush. They loved the great outdoors and the simplicity of life. This all changes when Bob wins a large amount of money at the races and they decide that country life isn’t for them.

Together they travel Australia, (this is a double page spread that we loved! We really enjoyed looking at where they went and then looking up what these places look like in the ‘real world.’ )

But when they come back home they think that they can buy a better life – in a fancy house in the city.  As many stories tell us, life with money isn’t always a good life, and this is what Bruno and Bob realise after nearly losing each other.

Buy Now from Fishpond.

Bruno: The Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush

Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush is a fun book with a great message. It’s a great book for teachers to reinforce Alliteration and to explore different words used in the English language.

The cartoon-style illustrations add to the fun and simplicity of the message behind the story. The illustrations also help the reader to understand the  new words used on each page – mostly starting with ‘B’

A fun book that makes you wonder about all the little towns that are beyond the cities of Australia and who lived in them. Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush also shows readers that friends and happiness are much more important than money – a great message for children these days when they see so much importance placed on this.

Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush written by Robyn Osborn and illustrated by John Phillips – check it out here https://robynosborne.com/books/bruno-the-boisterous-blue-dog-from-the-bush-picture-book/

and also on the other blogs who are part of this tour!

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Lenny’s book of everything by Karen Foxlee

You don’t become someone perfect just because your brother is dying. You stay the person you are and all your good and bad bits are magnified.

It’s not often that you come across a book that you cannot put down, or one that you constantly think about.

Lenny’s book of everything by Karen Foxlee is one of those books.

It’s also one of those books that will make you laugh and cry in one paragraph. And one that you will need to keep the handkerchiefs close by…..

This story is written with magic interwoven into the world of the main character – Lenny and her little brother Davey.

Lenny is a young girl who is an ordinary big and bossy sister who loves (yet at times) loathes her little brother. She loves the idea of adventure yet loves the safety of home. Her brother Davey is such a sweet and loveable character who comes out with the best lines in the story – “Holy Batman!” making sure that you break into a smile even at the most difficult moments.

The other characters make this story rich and colourful – firstly their mother Cynthia Spink, hard working and worn out, Mrs Gaspar the dream weaving Hungarian lady who looks after the children while their mother works, mean Mr King, the fruit shop owner, mysterious Mr King and of course Great Aunt Em.

A host of other characters and events play important roles in the story of Lenny, highlighting her love of the encyclopaedias that arrive on their doorstep alphabetically, the dreams she and her brother have of escaping to Great Bear Lake and of course the harsh reality that they have to deal with – Davey having Gigantism.

The story is always so joyful yet there is  the ever presenting unknowing of if Davey will ever stop growing.

This is a story to be read by children over the age of ten but I loved this book and I highly recommend any adult who loves a good book (along with a few hankies).

The rabbit, the dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne

Do you have a child who does not like to sleep?

Have you ever wondered what your evening would look like if the dark never came?

I know we’ve all wished it, especially on those wonderful summer days.

The rabbit, the dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne is a cute story about a little rabbit who does not like going to bed and wishes that the evening never – ever came.

But little does he realises that without night time, many living things suffer.

The rabbit, the dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne will  teach children about the need for night and day, and the animals and plants that need it.

The illustrations are vibrant and the pop out towards the end will amaze young readers.

The rabbit, the dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne is a perfect story for those children who do not like bed time as after this book they will come to appreciate just how important it is!

Teacher tips

 – Science: A great resources for Early Stage One and Stage one when looking at day and night.

 – Literacy: A great resource to use for creative writing – what could you place in a biscuit tin?

 – Life cycles and animal habits – why do they need day and night? Which animals would not survive without one or the other? Which animals have had to adapt to city living because we have too many lights? (Sustainability, STEM, Science, Geography)

Another book about bears by Laura and Philip Bunting

Sick of books about bears?

Is your library shelf piling up with bears eating honey? Bears going on walks or bears getting cranky?

Then you’ll love this book!

Teachers who are looking into traditional or fractures fairytales will love this book as a great springboard to encourage creativity and problem solving when it comes to bears.

Can you imagine if the three bears weren’t in the Goldilocks story? Would Goldilocks still eat porridge? Would the setting still be in the woods? Would there still be bears and beds and a scary ending?

Children will love listening to the fourth wall being broken (another great lesson springboard) and wonder why bears are often chosen as a lead role.

So what did we do in our classroom with Kindergarten?

Children chose to either draw a story without bears ( goldilocks and the three lemurs) or draw things bears do in stories that they don’t normally do (another great lesson about anthropomorphism!!!)

You’ll love this book – story and illustrations!

Buy here now – click image of book

Another Book About Bears

Australian Birds by Matt Chun

This is the perfect book to accompany next years Aussie Backyard Bird count and the perfect book to keep the love and interest in birds up!

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Australian Birds by Matt Chun is a stunning book with so much information to interest the youngest of readers.

Each double page spread is about a different bird of Australia. The sketches by Matt Chun are life like and the written information gives the reader information about how the bird lives, where it lives and what it can do.

This book would be a perfect book for any household who loves amateur bird watching and it would fit in nicely within the school science, geography, numeracy and sustainability curriculum. Visual art teachers could also use these sketches as inspiration.

We love this book – it’s on high rotation at the moment in our house!

Numeracy

– Count birds in the school playground or back yard and create a chart

Geography

– Plot on a map where each of these birds are from and where they move around between seasons.

Science

– Look at the lifecycle of Australian native birds and how they may differ from other birds around the world.

Sustainability

– Are these birds in good numbers or are some of them threatened or endangered. Explore why some birds thrive and some suffer because of humans.

When you’re going to the moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To

Have you ever believed that you could go anywhere you wanted?

Do anything you dreamt of?

Or could be anything you wished?

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When you’re going to the moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To is a beautiful story about believing in yourself and the accompanying illustrations are magical.

A young girl wants to go to the moon. She decides to take only the essentials in her small green bag and of course her pet iguana – but what else might she need to get there?

Determined to climb higher than she ever has before she takes no risks, making sure she packs a map to help her get home.

When you’re going to the moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To is a story to read to young children to help them to see the importance of believing in their dreams, admiring their achievements and soaking in the wonder of new activities.

A book to share, a book to read and a book to enjoy.

Australia Remembers: ANZAC Day Remembrance Day and War memorials by Allison Paterson.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

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Australia Remembers by Allison Paterson is a book written for children of all ages.  

Using visual literacy, young children can be engaged whilst the detailed descriptions of war time events will engage older children who will gain an understanding of why we remember the past on these days.

Set out in a magazine like format, children can grab information through real photographs, did you know boxes, maps and quotes. They can utilise the clearly set out chapters and glossary to find out what they need to know and engage in some fun activities such as making their own Anzac biscuits, poppies and war memorials.

Any topic such as war events often interests many children but there is not a lot of information about the war Australians were involved in that have been written for primary school aged children.

Australian remembers is able to engage all children through the easy to manage layout, short snippets of information and photos from the past.  This book would be a wonderful resource to have in the classroom for ANZAC Day and Remembrance day – not only for those students who want to know more but also for those who need to see – through images – what these events are all about.

In the Australian primary school curriculum these special days are highlighted throughout so having a resource like this will help teachers and children to have a greater understanding as many schools do hold a ceremony, but not often devote lesson time to it.

 

Why should I read this book in the primary school classroom?

With this book, students can read from pages and study the images through literacy sessions, participate in art creations mentioned in the back pages and use maps in geography lessons to gain a better sense of where these events happened in the world. It would also assist those older students who have difficulty reading more in depth books about the world wars of the past.

Australian Remembers by Allison Patterson is a great resource for parents and teachers to share with children of all ages. This book shows that these stories will always play an important part in our society and that by reading them, talking about people who stand in these pictures and remembering the amazing feats done, their legacy will never be forgotten.

Join in with the Book tour – check out the links below!

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Black Cockatoo by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

You have his mark Mia, between your shoulder blades. The dirrarn (black cockatoo) is your totem. Your jarriny (conception totem) totem

I adored this book so much so that I read it twice.

Mia, a young indigenous girl lives on the coast of Western Australia in a remote town surrounded by bush land, water holes and hot red dirt.

She lives with her family, which includes her grandparents, but feels lost between the culture and traditions of her past and the present world she lives in.

But Mia feels the past so much more than her brother does. She feels the pain of the he injured animals and smells danger and freedom on the wind.

The story revolves around Mia rescuing a black cockatoo who has been injured by her thoughtless brother.

We learn about the beauty of persistence, following your beliefs and believing in the power of positive actions.

We also learn the importance of listening to the past, embracing culture and tradition yet looking towards the future.

Black Cockatoo will not only entertain readers from ages 9-13, it will also teach them about owning their beliefs and standing up for what they know is best.

Black Cockatoo would be a great book if o study as a class group as the Jaru language is scattered throughout the story-in context-so readers can learn how to speak this indigenous language from The Kimberley.

As Australians we need to eEmbrace more of our indigenous languages and teach not only those with indigenous heritage but also those who don’t.

Black cockatoo by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler is a beautiful story and I hope that it can be shared with many more children!

Beware the deep dark forest by Sue Whiting and Annie White.

It wasn’t a carnivorous plant.

It wasn’t a venomous snake.

It wasn’t a bristly wolf or a deep ravine.

It was worse. Much, much worse. 

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If you love an adventure and a bit of alliteration then you will love Beware the deep dark forest by Sue Whiting and Annie White.

Rosie is off to find her dog Tinky who has run off into a forest full of scary things. With only bravery in her backpack, Rosie is determined to find it – despite warnings from her Grandmother and Father.

Teacher’s will not only love reading this story to their class because it is a wonderful story, they will also love it because of the literacy devices!

There is alliteration

There are so many great adjectives of varying degrees

And there is a great plot to engage with.

The illustrations are a great way to explore visual literacy  – look at the colours, Rosie’s expressions and the use of different types of font.

We have loved reading Beware the deep dark forest by Sue Whiting and Annie White and thinking of many new ways we could describe the snakes, plants and wolf!

Check it out now:

Buy from fishpond right here…..
Beware the Deep Dark Forest

Clever Crow – Wak Liya-Djambatj by Nina Lawrence and Bronwyn Bancroft

 

 

When a hungry crow can’t find any food, he has to be clever.

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Clever Crow – Wak Liya-Djambatj. Written by Nina Lawrence and illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft is a traditional Australian indigenous story about crows and how clever they are. But what makes this book even better than just being a story, is it is a story told in two languages – English and the Djambarrpuynu, a Yolnu language from the north east of Arnhem Land.

 

As you turn each page you can read the story in either English or Djambarrpuynu and ponder on the patterned images that fall across the pages.

 

For those who cannot speak Djambarrpuynu an orthographic guide has been placed at the back alongside a glossary.

 

Clever Crow teaches the reader about persistence and patience. It shows us that even if we don’t achieve something that we want so much, with time we may just gain it.

 

Children are introduced to difference Australian animals,  traditional indigenous cooking activities and the patterns of indigenous art.

 

The colours of the illustrations jump off each page, lighting up the story from the bright sands of the beach to the darker shades of the bush. The patterns and lines within each block are something to look at in detail to understand the texture of the trees or the contours of the land.

 

Clever Crow is a book that all children across Australia should be reading and it would be wonderful to see more books like this written so we can share the Indigenous languages of Australia and keep them alive for many more generations to come.

What can you do with this book?

Explore the artwork and the patterns within each illustration. Compare the illustrations to that of images from Arnhem land – can you see the patterns in the landscapes?

Find another indigenous story from this part of Australia.

Find an indigenous story from where you live in Australia.

Think about how you have been a clever crow in one aspect of your life OR how you can be.

 

The lost magician by Piers Torday

If you can imagine it, it must exist. Somewhere.

Four children sent to live with someone they don’t know very well. Four children who have experienced the terror of war in London. Four children who differ in so many ways yet come together to save the world from an evil they least expected.

The lost magician by Piers Torday is an exciting and suspenseful novel which will remind you of stories from Narnia and Wonderland.

We meet the children , Evie, Larry, Simon and Patricia at the end of World War Two. They have survived the horrors of war and their parents need to find a new place to live – so they are sent to live with Professor Diana Kelly in the countryside.

As we read on, we learn that the professor is doing some very important research about a missing man and his extensive library. No one knows where he has gone or where his library vanished to.

This man, named Nicholas Crowne, had read and collected every book ever written and just like a librarian, he was the key to unlocking all of the stories and sharing them with the world.

But now with him missing, the future of the world is unknown, and it is up to the children to find a way to seek him out and understand what he knows before those who choose ignorance take the world he has so lovingly grown.

The Lost Magician by Piers Today will sweep you away into a new and amazing world. As you meet the four children you will understand how important libraries are – not only to ignite imagination but to also spark investigations, develop self awareness and inspire thoughts that you never thought possible.

A wonderful underlying message in this story is the importance of the library and the librarian. Without either of these, the world of stories – told and untold – may cease to exist.

So perhaps support your local library by borrowing a book or petition your local school to make sure students have regular library visits in their own school library. The world of the never reads is one which I am sure you will never want to see exist.

We are together by Britta Teckentrup

We’re off to climb mountains, all the way to the top…Our friends keep us going – they won’t let us stop. 

We are together by Britta Tenckentrup is a celebration of love and friendship.  Through colourful illustrations and fun peek a boo holes, children of all ages will see the power of friends as the story travels along.

This book is a wonderful story to share with children as it highlights many things about self love and love of others.

It starts with the importance of our own self – our special gifts, dreams and hopes but it then shows that with one other and perhaps more than one other – we can achieve so much more.

Friends help us to see the bright side of life, they help us believe more in our selves and follow those dreams.

Young children will love the new person that appears on every page and the people shaped holes that are made with each page turn.

If ever we’re lonely, we’ll just say out loud: Let’s all stand together, one big happy crowd! 

We are together by Britta Tenckentrup is a book to share with all young children, one to pour over the illustrations together and discuss about how we feel about ourselves and the people who surround us.

Self belief and positive peer groups are such an influential catalysts in the development of our young children. Talking openly with children about their gifts and how working with others who respect us is important – and through We are together by Britta Tenckentrup, this discussion can be brought up so much easier.

So what else can you do with this book?

Personal Development 

Link this book with any Personal Development units of work in the classroom – talk about the gifts each child has. Discuss the important people in their lives who support them and make them feel respected and listened to.

Explore the people we are friends with – how their strengths and their weaknesses help us to become better people.

Visual Art

Look at the technique Britta has used to introduce new characters on each page.

Literacy

Explore the use of rhyme throughout the story and create a new stanza that could be added somewhere in the book to add more information about the importance of self belief and friendship.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: I know exactly what you are by Julia Kregnow and Carmen Saldana.

Has the well known rhyme – Twinkle twinkle little star ever made you think – what really are stars?

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: I know exactly what you are by Julia Kregnow and Carmen Saldana teaches children, through rhyme what stars are using scientific words and facts.

This isn’t a picture book for younger children as the vocabulary is quite scientific (unless you have a child who is very interested in learning about this) but rather for older children as a springboard into more research and discussion.

You’ll hear about cosmic Rorschach tests, atmospheric turbulence, neutron stars and the Milky Way.

You’ll learn about the importance of our own bright star – the sun and the Milky Way galaxy which contains a quarter trillion of stars.

The best thing is it is all done through rhyme and beautifully drawn illustrations. Even if some of the words go over young children’s heads you can talk about the illustrations and the facts in a more simpler way.

There are more in depth facts about the new concepts in the final pages of the book and are all written for children to be able to understand.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: I know exactly what you are by Julia Kregnow and Carmen Saldana is a great book to add to a scientific learning environment as it opens up big facts to the younger reader and will help inspire them to delve deeper into the more complex ideas mentioned in the rhyme.

So what else can you do with this book?

Research your own area of stars or space and create your own Twinkle Twinkle Little Star poem.

List all the different facts about stars and then research one of these areas further.

Choose another nursery rhyme to re create with facts about that particular area – can you give more facts about sheep in baa baa black sheep? Spider facts in Incey Wincey spider.

Inventors who changed the world by Heidi Poelman and Kyle Kershner.

Have you ever had an idea that you just couldn’t get rid of?

Have you ever tried to make something work and it just wouldn’t?

Take a hold of this board book – for readers young and old – and find out more about these inventors who not only changed the world but surprised themselves with the amount of persistence required to finally come up with the invention they did!

We meet Cai Lun from AD 105 who invented paper, Johannes Gutenberg from 1439 who invented a printing press so more books could be read by more people.

Leonardo DaVinci the great artist, Thomas Edison the man who created electricity, Louis Pasteur and his world changing vaccinations, Marie Curie and her persistence to explore a strange blue rock which ended up being one way to fight off cancer and the Wright brothers who created the first aeroplane.

Each person has a story of persistence, courage and self belief.

They all wanted to find an answer and with lots of hard work they did.

This book is perfect for younger readers who do have gifts but don’t quite have the resilience to persist with something when it gets hard.

By looking at people who haven’t achieved fame or fortune immediately (a big problem with social media in this modern age) we can show children that simply trying a new method when the old method doesn’t work can make a huge difference in achieving our goals!

You can talk about the illustrations with really young readers, read the words and have discussions with junior readers and use as a springboard into more in depth research for older readers.

We have loved reading this book – the illustrations really added a lot more fun to these individuals lives for the board book readers in our house. It’s always wonderful to learn more about inspiring people who have made a real difference in the world!

The heart of a whale by Anna Pignataro

Heart of a Whale is a beautiful picture book to be read out loud whilst spending time pouring over the illustrations that make you feel just like you are in the ocean alongside the whale and the other creatures he meets along the way.

Whale is all alone, he sings his song so everyone can hear. Some feel calm when they hear his song, others cheer up whilst some drift off to sleep.

But Whale is lonely and longs for the company of another whale, he sighs but as he sighs the ocean listens to his wish and carries it away into the ears and hearts of some other whales – who soon find him and fill his empty heart.

The heart of a whale by Anna Pignataro can promote discussion about loneliness, the importance of family and friendship and how we support each other at all times.

It promotes the gifts that we all have and how by sharing our gifts we can help others in our community. But it also shows us that without close relationships sometimes those gifts and talents may not feel good at all.

Whale has a beautiful song but with an empty heart he just can’t hear it – it’s the power of others that can help us to see just how amazing we are!

Teaching notes

Life cycles and animals – Science

What do you know about whales? Are there different types of whales?

If we didn’t have whales what might the ocean look like?

Whales often swim around in herds – what does this mean?

What sounds do whales make? Listen to some different whale calls  – do different whale species make different sounds?

Personal awareness

If you had to walk around every day all by yourself – how would you feel?

When do you feel lonely?

How did the whales in each story change how they looked when they weren’t lonely anymore?

What are your special gifts? How do others help you with these?

 

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The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Mary Cummings and Cheri Hughes

Johnny is not in that photo but we know he is with us.

Johnny our forever kid.

That’s what we call him now. 

The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Mary Cummings and Cheri Hughes is a powerful picture book that explores how children feel when they lose a sibling.

We meet a family who love celebrating birthdays – birthdays filled with favourite people, favourite dinners and favourite snacks!

But this year the celebration is different because their big brother Johnny isn’t around anymore.

We don’t know why Johnny has gone but we do know that now he is a forever kid – forever in the hearts and the minds of the family.

This book is a celebration of Johnny’s life – a celebration of what he loved to do and how good he made them feel. It does not dwell on the sadness felt by the family – though we can sense this – but rather them trying to enjoy the happy memories.

The illustrations on each page ooze emotion and allow the young reader to see how the family is feeling throughout each stage of mourning. Through this they can see that mourning a loved one is ok – it’s an important thing to do and it’s something we can do with others who shared that person as well.

The forever kid would be a great book to share with anyone who has lost someone, especially young children. I think that it brings a sense of empowerment to the young reader as it shows that it is ok to miss someone and memories are a treasure we should always celebrate.

Now see what others think about this book by following some other great book blogs!

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