Can reading children’s stories help us change the world?

Each week every child at our school has the opportunity to visit the school library whether it be during their class borrowing time or one lunch time when the library is open.

The books inside the library give each and every child the opportunity to visit a new world, walk alongside a new character or think completely differently to they ever have before.

So can these stories help us change the world? Of course they can!

Every book you read to your child, or they read to themselves helps them to look outside their own world.

Every time we laugh at a story we see how humour can help change the world for the better.

Every time we cry in a story we realise how precious our own lives are and how we can help others to be just as lucky.

Every time we look up something because we wondered about it after reading a story, we learn what is going on in our world.

Stories can help us change the world so encourage your child to keep on reading, read widely and read for a change.

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Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush. A school day smile by Zanni Louise.

Tiggy has a big imagination. She sometimes has BIG feelings too. But everything is A-Okay, because Tiggy has a very special secret….

Zanni Louise has created the beautifully told story of Tiggy. A young girl who is starting her first ever day at school – and of course like most children is worried about making new friends, learning new things and being brave in an unfamiliar place.

BUY HERE:

A Pet Called Nibbles (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

A School Day Smile (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush  – A school day smile, is part of a new series for younger readers. Parents can read this story out loud or encourage new readers to have a go themselves. This is a wonderful story for beginning readers and one which can foster a love of reading.

Accompanied with delightful black and white illustrations by Gillian Flint, (with magical colour splashed in at the right moments) The reader meets Tiggy and her friends as they learn how to cope in a difficult situation – the first day of school!

Tiggy has her magic paintbrush with her all the time, and it can always help her out whenever she needs it. But sometimes having a magic paintbrush stops Tiggy from being herself  and Tiggy needs to be brave enough to realise when it is time for her to rely on the goodness inside herself rather than the paintbrush.

Tiggy shows the characteristics many new Kindergarten children will show when they are in a new situation but she also shows resilience and self belief.

Children will love this idea of a magic paintbrush and it will possibly give them that little boost in the back of their mind when they feel nervous, worried or sad.

Tiggy and the magic paintbrush is a new favourite at our house and we can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

Check out my interview with Zanni Louise coming soon to this blog.!

What else can you do with this book?

Here are some questions you can ask children after they have read the book –

  • Why are the illustrations in black and white (except for the paintbrush)?
  • Have you ever felt like Tiggy?
  • How did you behave when you were in a new situation?
  • Do you have a magic paintbrush to help you when you are nervous, worried or sad?
  • If you had a magic paintbrush, how would it help you?
  • Could the magic paintbrush cause trouble?
  • How might Tiggy feel if she loses it?
  • Do you think Tiggy always needs her paintbrush? Think about what she realise when she looked in the mirror.

Find your treasure #2

This year the theme for book week is Find your treasure, so each week in our library we will be taking part in a small activity where the theme will be promoted.

I have some much loved covers from my Who gives a crap toilet paper and instead of putting them straight into the bin they are being converted into book covers (see below)

Each book that has been covered has three clues on the front. The idea behind this is for children to see what sort of books could be ones that they treasure.

We have books about adventure, women’s rights, battles and laughter. Not only will children get to guess which books are hidden behind the paper, they will also discover these covered books hidden on our shelves throughout the year.

Finding treasure is exciting and I hope that by covering some much loved books other children will also discover that exploring in the library can be fun!

Find your treasure #1

This year’s CBCA book week theme is Find your treasure. In our library the students will be participating in a variety of competitions with great book prizes!

Perhaps you would like to participate in some of these at your school?

Visit my Tpt store and for a term one special of $3.99 you can download and use these ideas too!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Find-your-Treasure-CBCA-Book-theme-2018-3653620

There are two competitions each term for all terms of the year – Finding your treasure doesn’t end in book week!

Just some of the ideas…..

Term 1, Competition 2.

Choose a book that you have read recently and using your mathematical skills, be creative and explain e.g.

The cost of keeping a dragon as a pet,

The tuition fees of a magic school,

The money you would give to one of the characters and why,

Draw a map to scale,

Create graphs about the characters in the story. Choose at least 3 aspects of the book to use your mathematical skills.

Term 3, Competition One.

Find some facts about a treasure that has never been found but many stories have been told about it.

Present these facts in an engaging way for display in the library.

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas

Know someone starting school this year? Or starting a new school?

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas might be one to share with them before they start on their way.

This story was written in 2008, has won many awards and has had many teacher notes and activities written about it, so I won’t add to it all but I really just wanted to highlight how great this story is for young children.

This book shows the young reader how important it is to be true to ourselves and that true friends will see who we really are and will love us for who we are – not what we have.

We can teach our youngsters about popularity and how it is fleeting (despite the messages the media throw at us). Peter Carnavas shows children through this store the importance of  knowing who we are and how by knowing, we will find those who will support us through good and bad times.

We have loved reading Jessica’s box and it is one we will continue to visit in times to celebrate friendship or times when we need to re assess the difficult journey friendship can take.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Play a major role in your child’s education so you are aware of how they are feeling. Talk to them about school, read with them after school and be involved when you can.

– Talk about things you are good at and ask your child what they think they are good at. Tell each other what you are both good at. Do this as often as you can.

– For older readers – find times in the media when people have become popular because of one thing but then faded because that thing was gone or no longer popular?

– How is social media like Jessica’s box? How can we become popular on Facebook or instagram? Does this popularity really count?

How will you play a role in order to help your child thrive?

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

If you had one wish what would it be?

Esme Silver lost her mother 7 years ago and has just witnessed her father remarry a women she doesn’t like at all. She is not only upset at her father for remarrying but also upset that he wants to move on when she can’t. Her mother went missing 7 years ago for no apparent reason and it is this unknowing that draws Esme to a small cottage she has been told to avoid for the last 7 years after her father and his new wife depart on their honeymoon.

Not only does Esme discover more about her mother, she also discovered another world – and this world has many more links to her mother than she would like to think.

When Esme steps into this other world, she makes many true and good friends in the city of Esperance who help her to find out what has happened to her mother. She shows determination, clever thinking and a strong will as she journeys through a city which constantly surprises her with it’s twists and turns around every corner.

Esme’s wish is a marvellous story and a definite page turner. It is full of magic and wonder,imagination and marvel, creativity and friendship. Not only does Esme travel Esperance to find her mother, she travels through it to also save the city from certain destruction.

Esme’s wish by Elizabeth Foster is a book for readers aged 11 and up and perhaps one that may have a sequel….who knows? Perhaps I will have to ask Elizabeth Foster herself…..

So what else can you do with this book?

– Draw a map of Esperance and surrounding islands after you have read the book

– Make a list of the different gifts people can have. How do people have gifts in our world? Are they as revered as they are in this story? Are all gifts equal in this world and our own?

– What is a pearl made out of? Why are they precious? Can you find any stories throughout history related to pearls?

– As you read list the metaphors and similes and other types of figurative language. This book is rich in this type of language and a great way to study how you can add more to your writing.

There are so many more wonderful activities to do with this book – it’s a great book to share or read as a group!

One small step

Worried that your vegetable patch isn’t growing too well and perhaps isn’t making a difference to the world?

Or perhaps when you only walk once a week instead of driving you wonder if it is really worth it?

And how about the times when you are given a plastic bag because you forgot your reusable bags and you really need to carry something home in it?

All the small steps add up to big steps and every small step will inspire someone else to make a difference. Check out these books and the characters who made a small step to inspire others. ?

Leaf by Stephen Michael King       

Amelia Ellicott’s Garden

The Last tree in the City

The Seagull 

Ada’s Violin

A bag and a bird

What small steps are you going to take today so you can make a difference in some one else’s life

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The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

I heard somewhere once that a sign of a good book is one that can make you cry, make you laugh, warm your soul and make you question the world you live in – this book has done just that.

I’m not the best wordsmith around and I do not think I can’t express how much this book resonated with me.

The History of Bees, told by Maja Lunde is a story told through the eyes of three parents in three different time periods.

Tao lives in 2098, China, George in 2007, USA and William in 1851, England. Each of these characters have children of their own and each of these parents are trying to create the best world that they can for their children – the way they think they should be.

Listening to a recent podcast on parenting, this book made so many links. Research shows that as parents we all have set ideals on how our children should act in the world and we believe that by acting a certain way or saying certain things that we are going to shape our children the way we see best.  But as you read on in this story you can see that despite every parent’s effort to make their children a certain way – each child chooses their own path and explores the world they want to.

BUT – don’t despair, the children are influenced by the good actions of their parents, just in a different way they expected.

The children in this story are strong, smart and determined. The encompass free thinking, risk taking and problem solving. They show how much love parents have for their children despite the path they take.

The History of bees explores Bees through story. You will learn about one of the first beehives that was created to carefully extract honey without disturbing the bees, a farmer who experiences Colony Collapse Disorder on all of his hives and a mother who lives in futuristic China where people are the pollinators of flowers as all the bees have died.

I cried as I finished the last few chapters. I cried with happiness, sadness and concern. If the world means anything to you and if you have children – this book will mean so much more.

We need bees and one of the key messages in this book is how important it is for us to keep bees in a more sustainable way, stop the mass production of honey or crops and learn to live in more harmony with the world.

Maja Lunde has written many wonderful books but this is one you must read today.

What else can you do with this book?

Buy local honey (we love this honey!!)

Look at Save the bees website and support what they are trying to do in Australia.

Check out my other posts on bees! :

Being a bee

How to bee

The Book of bees

Bee and Me 

The Battle of Bug World by Karen Tyrell 

Five of my favourite picture books I read in 2017.

Five of the best

Children's books tag

Warning! I’ve been tagged. It can be contagious.

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Norah Colvin tagged me and asked me to join in. I don’t normally do this but I’m making an exception. How could I not – it’s about children’s books.

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I’m required to nominate my top five children’s books, then nominate another five people to join in!

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Rules:

  1. Thank whoever’s nominated you and share their blog link.
  2. Let us know your top 5 children’s books
  3. Nominate 5 people to do the same
  4. Let your nominees know you nominated them

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I’m not sure I can decide on my Top 5 – but here are 5 wonderful picture books that speak to me and children about how we can make this world a better place.

  1. Feather by Phil Cummings
  2. The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton
  3. Out of the Blue by Alison Jay
  4. Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo
  5. The Thank you dish by Trace Balla

Oh dear — Can I also mention Second Sky by Patrick Guest and Desert Lake by  Pamela Freeman and Zoom by Sha’an D’anthes???

 

I think I might have to post again about some junior fiction and Young adult fiction too…

There have been so many wonderful books in 2017 but the above have really stood out.

 

Now to nominate another 5 people —–

Romi Sharp from Just write for kids

Bookie Boo boxes – BookieBoo

De from Booksandbabycinos

Beth from EarthandStarskids

Shaye Wardrop

 

Maybe you don’t write about children’s books but would like to share your favourites anyway. Please consider this invitation inclusion. If you would like to join in, please do.

Alternatively, if you are one of the people I nominate, and you’d rather not join in, or have already been nominated, it’s okay to decline.

 

Ruby Lane by R.J.Simon

A fast paced adventure story that you won’t want to put down – Ruby Lane by R J Simon is a brand new quirky tale for young readers.

Ruby, our main adventurer is a wonderfully creative thinker – who just can’t stop thinking! She has a wild imagination and would much rather be up through the night  creating things instead of sleeping!

Luckily it is school holidays and Ruby is off to her Grandma’s for a week of excitement. She hops on the ferry but due to her late night antics she nods off until the ferry pulls into the wharf near her Grandma’s home. Ruby begins her walk but soon discovers a cat that talks like a pirate and talking lemons – certainly not the usual things she finds on the way to grandmas!  The pirate cat convinces her to help him return a very special book to the great Poet Gerry and she agrees.

From here the reader is taken on a very magical, fun, weird and crazy adventure all over the island. She meets many intriguing creatures along the way as she helps Pirate Cat on his quest.

Ruby Lane is a very fast paced book and although Ruby is at first portrayed as someone who can’t slow down, she is a very clear thinker who is not only brave but kind.

You’ll love the quirkiness of Pirate Cat – but be warned he does talk in pirate lingo throughout the whole novel so for those of you who don’t think you can handle more than one ‘me hearty’ you might struggle a bit.

Only someone with a vivid imagination and fun filled ideas could create a book like this. R.J.Simon has used so many different ideas to bring this story, the magical land and it’s characters to life.

I had lots of fun reading this story and was endlessly surprised by what happened next!

So what else can you do with this story?

  1. Read it out loud – see if any children can relate to Ruby – her creative thinking and endless imagination. Recall a time when you had a wonderful idea that wouldn’t let you sleep!
  2. Learn how to speak like a pirate. Wednesday 19th September is International talk like a pirate day!
  3. Draw a map of the island. What do you think it looks like?
  4. Ruby meets so many amazing characters in this story. Do they have anything in common with each other? Do they all have anything in common with Ruby?

There are many more activities you can do with this book so head over to R J Simon’s website and have a look around: http://www.booksbyrjsimon.com

Our school library

Our  library is a place to mingle with different types of books and pick up new books that you may never have thought you liked.


Our library has a Non-Fiction section focus each week – a chance for children to learn about new topics and the books available. 

Our  library is a place to sit still and listen to books being read out loud.

Our library is a place to share book reviews, try out books and ‘shop’ for free.

Our  library is a place to be creative, learn about how a library works and see how author’s think.

Our library is a place where all children can access books at their level and their interest.

Our  library is a portal to different worlds, different times and different people who might just resonate with you and inspire you to take yourself on a different path in life.

Our library books can be accessed online from any student login or accessed any day of the week at school.

 

What do you like about your school library?

Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise

Have you ever felt like no one really understands you?

Have you ever wondered what life might be like if you just set off and found someone who did? 


Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise is a wonderful tale about friendship, being yourself and acceptance.

I really love this book. I have read it to classes during library time and to my own children many many times.

There is so much to gather from this story, as mentioned above, but overall it is just a really lovely story.

Archie is a bear (but he is really a boy) who goes wondering out into the forest with his homemade honey sandwiches. He meets a friendly boy (who is really a bear) and together they nibble on honey sandwiches and teach each other different things.

As the night grows dark they try to keep each other warm but end up returning to Archie’s house where they sleep warmly by the fire under a warm quilt.

The friendship between the bear and the boy is enviable, they take care of each other, are gentle to each other despite both knowing that they are clearly not what they say they are and they love hanging out together.

Friendship, acceptance and kindness are traits that we want to encourage in our children and this book really shows this in a subtle way.

We need to learn to accept people for who they are, accept people for what they believe in and accept them into our lives even if they are different.

David Mackintosh’s illustrations are bold and simple. They show enough of the story but don’t overload the page. The use of watercolors in the background help the reader to focus more on the main characters and the actions they are taking.

Not only does this book have a calming effect as we watch the friendship blossom, it also shows us how simple life and friendship can be.

Archie and the Bear is a beautiful read, definitely one for your bookshelf!

The second sky by Patrick Guest and Jonathon Bentley

Great things happen when we reach for the sky


Gilbert is a newly hatched penguin and we meet him as he cracks open his egg and looks up towards the sky. He sees flying storm petrels, shearwaters and wandering albatrosses.

He wants to fly too.

Not knowing his own limitations Gilbert sets off on a mission to fly into the sky with the sea birds. He wants to reach the stars, bath in the moonlight and glide through the clouds.

He moves his little wings but they don’t flap as gracefully, he climbs a mountain to soar down below and he grew his feathers as fast as he could but they just weren’t working!

Gilbert shows persistence throughout his failures and never shows that he wants to give up.

And that’s when Gilbert discovers the amazing underwater world that so many of us forget about. He sees the stars, he sees mountain tops and he sees forests. And down deep, down under the water – he finds that he can fly.

Gilbert the penguin is a strong, persistent, creative and determined character – traits that we need to encourage in our children. We need to show them that they can do anything and when they can’t, perhaps they need to look at the world in a different way.

The illustrations by Jonathon Bentley reflect the cold of  Antartica and the stillness of the wintry sky. The story and illustrations portray a very calming atmosphere despite the actions of little Gilbert.

We meet different sea birds and see the varying landscape of sea and sky – a beautiful adventure for any reader to embark upon.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – List the different traits Gilbert has and compare them to yourself. How do you show strength and determination like Gilbert?

– List the different verbs used to describe Gilbert;s movements and then the verbs used to describe how the birds moved.

– Look at the various shades of blue throughout the story – how many can you find and do they have different names?

– What is under the water apart from animals? Examine plants and the geography of oceans. There are mountains, valleys, volcanoes and forests!

– Find out more about penguins and where they live.

– Explore the life cycle of a penguin

– Are any penguins endangered and why?

– Find out more about the various sea birds that live in Antartica. Are they migratory birds or do they live here all year long?

And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

Or like my page – educateempower on facebook. 

Interview with Suzanne Barton, author of Meeka

This month I am interviewing Suzanne Barton, the author of the new picture book: Meeka.
 
Meeka is Suzanne’s first picture book and has been self published.
 
Meeka is a delightful story for young children about not only a father-daughter relationship but also about the care we can give to natures’ smaller creatures. Throughout this story we also feel the care of the market stall owner community when little Meeka cannot be found
 
Thank you Suzanne for answering these questions for my audience and I.
 
1. How did you come up with the idea of Meeka?
Meeka’s story first came to life through a conversation between my mother and I. We were enjoying a delicious Moroccan meal and giggling as we imagined the adventures of a cheeky little bird who got stuck in a tagine. Not long after, I wrote up the story to enter into a writing competition and, to my surprise, the manuscript won its category. After that, I’d always hoped to see the story published.
2. How long have you been writing for and when did you feel that children’s writing was where you wanted to be?
I come from a family full of writers, English teachers and Scrabble enthusiasts – so I’ve been a bookworm and a wordsmith for as long as I can remember. My career and studies have led me to write everything from advertising copy to film scripts, but I really love children’s stories. Some years ago I took a course in children’s writing and loved learning about all the different styles and techniques. Since then, the stories have kept flowing.
3. How did you work with Anil Tortop? Did you exchange ideas or just let Anil explore the story and interpret it herself.
Working with Anil was a wonderful collaboration. I had some ideas about how I saw Meeka coming together, and so did she. From her very first sketches and storyboards, it was clear that Anil knew just how to bring Meeka to life. I always loved receiving her drawings as we were working on the book. Her characters have so much personality and movement. Even now I keep noticing tiny details that make me smile.
Check out the book trailer for Meeka!
4. You ran a successful pozible campaign – how did you ensure its success and how did you cope with the wait?
I am so grateful for the lovely people who supported Meeka on Pozible, helping me print the book beautifully. To prepare, I went to a crowd funding workshop for authors and thought carefully about the rewards I could offer supporters, and what fun things I could share on social media during the project. These included a book trailer, time-lapse videos of the illustrations and Photoshopped ‘selfies’ of Meeka with supporters, which were really fun to make. Sometimes I felt nervous that the project wouldn’t reach its goal, but I tried to stay positive and we got there with a few days to spare.
5. Can you give any advice to budding picture book authors who would love to see their book published?
Never give up. If you have stories in your heart, then keep working hard at your craft and seek support in the wonderful writers’ groups that can be found in many communities, and of course at your fingertips online. I also find critique groups especially handy. The chance to regularly receive constructive criticism from a supportive network of like-minded writers, and also to review other people’s work, really helps keep the creative ideas flowing.
 
 

6. Where to next? Can you expect another picture book some time or are there other areas of creative writing you are going to explore?

 

I have several more picture books up my sleeve and hope to see them brought to life in the coming years. I’m also working on a story for older readers, and continuing to create cabaret productions inspired by 1940s radio drama with my musical ensemble, Neo Radio.
Sounds exciting Suzanne! I can’t wait to see what else you can bring to life. Thank you for the time you have given to answer these questions.
Now followers – do you have any questions?

BUY YOUR COPY HERE: https://www.bluebellbooks.org/shop/

Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers

“No, you cannot have a pet lizard -” Lizzy’s mum said, “And before you ask, no snakes either. No reptiles of any sort.”

 

Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers is a wonderful new fantasy  novel for younger readers – and they won’t want to put it down!


I know that as a young child I always wanted a different pet -a dog, a rabbit, a fish or a bird – I never wanted a lizard, and still wouldn’t want one crawling about in the house But Lizzy does, and she is determined to get a pet of her own.

Lizzy lives on a farm which is going through drought. The grass is brown, the dams are dry and their is the ever present threat of bush fire.

Lizzy is a strong, caring and clever young girl and perhaps by luck or perhaps by magic she stumbles upon a round shaped egg in the field outside their house. Her brother Joey discovers Lizzy and her secretive behaviour and does what many siblings would do – threaten to tell their parents if she doesn’t let him on the secret.

Despite Lizzy’s efforts to keep her egg (and then pet dragon) a secret, her brother finds out and Lizzy has to put up with doing all of his chores – that is until she discovers the magic her dragon holds and possibly the real reason the dragon egg happened to land in the drought stricken land.

Full of magic and mystery, Lizzy’s Dragon is an story you cannot put down. Younger readers will love this story as Lizzy is a character many children will identify with – she is thoughtful, she fights with her brother, she cares for her family and she wants the best for the place she lives in.

Dragons are magical beasts which excite and engage many readers and the beauty of this dragon is that it comes across as one of the best possible pets you could have.

Lizzy’s dragon is a wonderful read – one to read out loud or for better readers –  to read alone. The pictures within the novel give the readers some more insight into what Lizzy and her dragon look like and ignite more of that wonderful imagination.

Magic, mystery and mettle, Lizzy’s dragon is a book to inspire the best in all of us.

So what else can you do with this story?

 – Design your own dragon. What egg would it hatch from? where would you keep it and what would it’s special gift be?

– Are there any areas close to you or in your country that are experiencing drought? What do these places have to do during times of drought?

– Have you ever helped out in your community? Find out how you could help in some way at a community event.

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Want to become a global guardian?

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Join now and receive 10% off with my unique code: GGPVanessa


Buy Biome products now and keep your home and the world sustainable and eco friendly

 

The lengths some bears go to

Bollo had had enough.

Every book he read was boring.

His friends told him to try picture books.

BORING!

His little boy told him to try books based on facts

BORING!

His grandma suggested he try audio books

OH HIS EARS!

But that was until he was accidentally locked in the library.

The lights went out, the door clicked shut and the place went quiet.

Bollo looked around but there was no one in sight, no one that is until the books started watching him.

One by one he noticed aliens googling their eyes at him, monsters waving their furry hands and a Mopoke hooting at him.

He crept closer to each book and noticed the shimmer on some covers, the sparkle on the pages and the magic smell.

He hesitantly moved his hand over shelves of picture books, rows of audio books and reams of graphic novels.

He heard stories rumble from within books on low shelves, fact reciting from books on high shelves and constant mumbling from magazines on the back shelf.

With a dash of colour here and there, Bollo found books that were beyond boring. He found books that would transport him to another time, books that would teach him things he never knew possible and books that would give him ideas on how he could change the world.

And so when the lights came back on and a friendly hand picked him up, Bollo thought  that  just perhaps, books were not so boring.

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Why read graphic novels?

Last month I was lucky enough to review a copy of Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin.

After I read it I remembered how wonderful comics are and how accessible they make reading and big issues for reluctant readers.


So why should you encourage your young reader to borrow graphic novels from the library?

  1. Graphic novels are full of text and the text is just always about reading left to right. The reader needs to look at the page to work out where to read next – it could be vertical columns, horizontal or even a one page spread.
  2. Graphic novels can cover big issues in a more meaningful and easier to understand way that stories that just have text.
  3. Graphic novels are fast paced and great for children who don’t want to sit down for a long time. They are often action packed and full of movement.
  4. Graphic novels vary just as much as novels so don’t just try one – there are many more genre’s of graphic novels coming out and many more for girls too.

Draw a story

This month, The Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs has suggested that we focus on drawing a story.


The idea behind drawing a story is to show how much the illustrations can change how we see the story. The illustrations can give us the viewpoint of someone or something in the story or just allow us to be observers.

Illustrations can help us to feel stronger emotions or to understand what the author really means.

Illustrations play a vital role in picture books and allow us to stop and think about what we have just read, search the page for more meaning and look at how different illustrators portray ideas.

There are more great graphic novels coming out – picture book and comic style.  And these types of books are a great place to start looking at how illustrations can tell a story all on thier own.

There are some wonderful ideas on the website and also an event but how can you use these ideas if you don’t have access to the books at home or at your school?

  • Last week my son (3) and I sat down. He drew three pictures then put them in order and told me a story as he looked back on what he had drawn. He learnt how to sequence the story, how to start a story and how to finish it – He even managed a complication in between! It was fun, it was easy and he learnt a lot – learning doesn’t always have to be formalised when it comes to books!
  • Explore Graphic novels that I have reviewed: Illegal, The arrival
  • Find an image and make up your own story. Try Bronwyn Bancroft’s art

Flying books

I am sure you, just like me have donated books to charity.


It makes you feel good that someone else is going to enjoy a book or  at least the book isn’t going to end up in the bin.

But have you ever donated a really terrible book? An old book? Perhaps an outdated book?

On a recent trip to Vanuatu we were lucky enough to stay with a local for three nights/four days on the northern tip of Efate. On one of those days we visited a school with a suitcase full of books to donate to the library.

Most of these books were in great condition and were aimed at young children but the lady who took us to the school told us that they do often receive books that are falling apart, too hard to read or too outdated.

Many people might think they are doing to right thing by donating a book but really they are just creating more rubbish in a place that doesn’t need any extra waste or material that will just be burnt.

Next time you hear about a book drive or decide to donate some books consider if it will be read or if it will just be disposed of by someone else instead of yourself.

Consider the people who will be receiving the books – many of those in developing countries who are in need of books do not have very good English skills so the easier the book and there pictures the better.

Don’t send your junk or your old books. Send your best books – these people deserve to read the quality that we all read too.

Snap review: Within these walls by Robyn Bavati

Whatever is coming, we’ll face it together, as a family.

As long as we’re together, we’ll be okay.


I’ve read a few books about the Holocaust – both fiction and non-fiction and I’ve visited the Holocaust museum in Sydney.

But this book written by Robyn Bavati opened up so many more terrible emotions as we see the unfolding events through the eyes of a young girl named Miri.

Bavati has created this work of fiction based on many different stories she gathered from interviews with survivors – so even though the final book and it’s characters are fictional, the stories are not, and these stories are heartbreaking.

Robyn Bavati is an excellent storyteller on an issue that is so emotional. There are moments of joy, kindness and strength but overall you will be left wondering how this ever happened and perhaps how this still happens today.

A book for children 11 and older but one to debrief on after and perhaps look further into the Holocaust and why it all happened.

 

Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop

Some dads cook sausages.

Some dads cook pasta.

My dad cooks spicy, dicey stew.

And then our adventure with the delightful Meeka begins.


Meeka the sweet blue bird, hangs around with a father and daughter who cook at the market.

Meeka not only loves helping cook the heavily scented tagines through his magical song but he also loves making friends and tasting the delights from the other market stalls.

But we soon learn that perhaps all of these treats are not so good for a little birdy body…..

—-

Meeka is a delightfully told story by Suzanne Barton about not only a father-daughter relationship but also about the care we can give to natures’ smaller creatures. Throughout this story we also feel the care of the market stall owner community when little Meeka cannot be found.

Community love is something that perhaps many of us do not experience in our inner city life or perhaps even rural isolation but within this story it just shows that by taking part in small community activities such as the markets, we can make friends and feel a sense of belonging just through simple activities such as cooking, eating and chatting.

The father and daughter show love through cooking and cleaning together, talking to other stall owners, customers and singing with Meeka.

Anil Tortop’s illustrations are done in pastel colours full of love. We can feel the happiness oozing from the pages, we can sense the love the father and daughter have for each other and the care they have for Meeka. The illustrations really bring this story to life and show not only the immediate characters but all of the extra people who make their lives complete.

Meeka is a self published book by Bluebell books and was crowdfunded by around 100 people. Without the support of these people I may have never been able to share this lovely story which just goes to show that as budding authors, writers should never give up on a story that they feel will make a difference to our world.


Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop is a heart warming read and one to share. The qualities of care, kindness, helping others and joy are all the traits we want to see in our children and through this story we can show our children how important they are.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Are there any market places near you? Plan a family outing to a farmer’s markets.

– What do you love to cook? Choose a favourite recipe and cook this with someone you love. Explore the senses that light up as you cook – smells, tastes, sounds, sights and touch.

– Take a walk into your backyard or local park and see the different birds that live nearby. Can you watch what they eat? How might humans be effecting the birds diets?

Take part in the national bird watch count.

– Explore how to make Tagines, crusty bread, donuts and toffee!

– Suzanne Barton uses rhyme to describe the father’s cooking, toffee and nectar. Can you create your own rhymes to describe your favourite food?

 

And check out Bluebell books to buy your own copy!

 

 

The value of reading

I recently read an article that highlighted the value of reading. 


New research has shown that not only does reading impact on all learning areas it also impacts our cognitive abilities, social and cultural functioning. Reading ignites imagination, allows us to explore ourselves through other characters and sharpens our skills of critiquing.

With so many things to read these days we need to bring ourselves back to books. Back to reading material that has been honestly published , edited and proofread. Parent’s need to read with their children and continue to encourage them to pick up books that they will enjoy.

With many fake news items and celebrity news swamping our screens the humble book is the best place to lean back on. Reading doesn’t need to be relaxing as such – it can cause sadness, a rush of adrenaline or an inspiration of ideas. But overall, reading helps you to understand beyond your own life existence.

Danny Blue’s Really Excellent Dream by Max Landrak

How would you feel if you lived in a world where everything was the same?

Would you accept? Would you rebel?

Perhaps take a read of this story and see where both those paths might take you.


Danny Blue lives in a world where everything is blue –  bowls, spoons, chair and table. And at first Danny is pretty happy about this blue world. It is all he knows, he is happy and so is everyone else it seems.

That is until one day Danny has a Really Excellent Dream (R.E.D.) which he just can’t shake.

Danny takes it upon himself to follow his dream despite many people around him telling him otherwise . He uses the ideas from his dream and through perseverance he discovers what else is out there. Danny Blue shows determination and by following his dream he begins to make a difference in his blue world.

Danny Blue is a strong character who shows self doubt at first but then displays the ability to see that his idea can work and that it will benefit those around him.  He also shows that even when those around you don’t support you, you need to give things a go – because you just never know!

Max Landrax has cleverly illustrated this picture book. Children love the pictures and in this story the illustrations add more depth to Danny and his different activities. Danny is portrayed beautifully as a tiny boy living in an adult world but with a big dream – and each illustration entices the reader to love Danny and his project even more.

Danny Blue’s R.E.D., shows how society can really take hold of the individual and how the individual can just go on accepting what the status quo is.

Children will feel empowered after reading this story as Danny Blue is a young boy and despite being told his ideas were not possible by the adults in his world, he was still able to make a change.

As parents we have a lot of influence on the young people in our lives and we need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to think for themselves.

How can you add more to this book?

 – Before you turn the last page ask children to predict what Danny Blue’s next dream will be about.

– What do you think Yellow would stand for?

– Research some famous inventors who have changed history despite being told they couldn’t make a difference.

– Research some famous people in history or perhaps even today who have done something that others thought they couldn’t. Look at people who have made changes that have helped society to become a better place.

– Design a world where everything is the same. Work out what would have to change in your world if you were to be similar to everyone else.

– Discuss – If we all lived in a world where we all agreed would we need elections? Would this be a good or bad thing for us all?

– Have you ever had a really excellent dream? Discuss dreams and try to keep a journal for a week to see what you dream about.

 

 

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup

We live under the same sky….

We feel the same love….

We play the same games…..

 

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup is a picture book for young readers that shows us the beautiful connection that we all have no matter where we live, what we look like, who we love, what we do or how we play.

Delicate illustrations add a soft and gentle touch to the words that quieten young minds and allow them to reflect on the different walks of life around the world.

We have read a few of Teckentrup’s books and this one is definitely another favourite.

Each page follows on from the next with a peek-a-boo type window so that similar ideas can carry on for two pages. Children will love looking through the window and perhaps guessing what will be said on the next page.

Under the same sky is a subtle way to talk to young readers about the world and the many people within. It is a way to teach children about discrimination in its many forms. It is a way to teach children acceptance of others and understanding that ultimately everyone who lives just wants to love, wants to play, wants to sing – just wants to enjoy life, be kind to others and seek out joy.

Britta Teckentrup is a beautiful writer and her illustrations add great points for discussion.

A great picture book read for younger children but also a great one to get older children thinking.

So what else can you do?

  •  Explore how children live around the world. How do children the same age as your children play? What do they sing? How do they learn?
  •  Look up at the sky and talk about what you can see. What can others see? As a group talk about how we all see different things in the world we live in.
  •  Create a book just like this one using the same sentence starter to bring across a message.
  •  Do you treat people like you would want them to be treated? Does your government treat people like they all live under the same sky and have the same hopes?
  • Explore the rhyme used in the story and how it helps to portray the message of equality. Create your own rhyming sentences that have the same starter.