There is hope

The news of bombings fills me with dread of what those people must have felt, what those families who have lost must be feeling and even what the parents and friends of the bomber must be going through.

It fills me with fear about the world that my children are growing up in and concern about how they might feel if they one day hear about or experience these things.

There is hope.

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As parents and teachers we can prepare our children for the world by displaying how to be more empathetic towards others through our actions. Think about how you talk about other people, news events and the world. 

As parents and teachers we can allow our children to experience what life might be like for other people so that they can be more empathetic. We can do this through conversations and picture books.

If we help our children to understand how the world is different then perhaps we have a brighter future where everyone gets along as best as they can, treats everyone with respect and helps anyone in need. 

Try these books that link to refugees.

LOTS. The diversity of life on Earth by Nicola Davies.

LOTS. The diversity of life on Earth by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton is a creative, eye catching non -fiction picture book that conveys the message of the amazing diversity of life we have on our planet Earth.

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Nicola Davies invites us to look everywhere and when we do we will find so many different types of life.  Through magical storytelling the reader finds out small facts about different creatures, how they live, how many species there are and where they hide. Emily Sutton illustrates with care, bringing the natural world into focus and helping us to se the intricate details of each animal, plant and insect.

LOTS is a great book to ignite your child’s interest in animals and perhaps a future in animal and habitat conservation.

LOTS is a gentle way to teach children about the importance of all life forms and how we all play a role in caring for them.

An informative and entertaining book, LOTS is one for the science lesson, literacy lesson and just the quiet book before bed.

So what can you do with this book? 

Before you read – write down three things you know about life on earth.

After you read – write down two facts you learnt. Write down two things you would like to know more about. Write down two ways you are going to help make sure no more animals become extinct.

Animal conservation

  •  read about an animal in this book who has become extinct. Work out why they became extinct and actions that may have saved them.
  • List and group all of the different animals in this story. How many groups of animals are there?
  • Look at the page on food/life cycles – can you investigate other animals and how they link in with each other for food and life?
  • Donate money to an organisation or do some volunteer work that would help restore habitats for animals.

Use this book as a springboard to help your child to be aware that everything they do makes an impact. Every piece of rubbish, every flick of a light switch and every trip in the car impacts another.

How can you make a difference as a family? 

 

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Families and reading

On the 15th May it is the UN’s international day of families. Families play a vital role in the education of their children. Families are the first educators of their children and it is within the family group where the love of literacy can blossom.

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Reading is a gateway to imagination, being literate and developing empathy. If you can take the time to read as a family then these skills are being embedded into your child and also reinforced within yourself. Reading as a family gives you time to be close together and to discuss things that aren’t happening in your daily lives (imagine talking about dragons, talking trees and magical stones!)  

Show your children that reading is a pleasurable activity, show them how important searching a  library for the perfect book is. There are no bad authors or books, you just need to take the time to find the books that suit you or perhaps open your mind to new ideas.

As a family take the time to visit your local library, the school library or even the online library catalogue. Borrow some loved books and books that will stretch your mind. Read together or read apart and then discuss what you have read. Reading is the key.

As Albert Einstein once said: “If you want your child to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairytales”

Mrs White and the Red Desert by Josie Boyle.

Mrs White and the Red Desert by Josie Boyle, illustrated by Maggie Prewett is a fascinating story about life in the desert for three children and the trouble with the red dust that blows in and over everything in it’s path!


This group of desert children invite their school teacher, Mrs White, home for dinner to show her why they always bring in grubby homework. BUT – little do they know what mother nature has in store for them all!

They live in a higgledy-piggledy house with a higgledy -piggledy garden but they play outside, tell stories in the sand, have vivid imaginations and love learning.

Maggie Prewett’s illustrations highlight the spareness of the desert and dominance of the red sand after a sand storm! It reminded me of the many times I have spent in the desert and the fact that even months after returning home, I still found that red dust in pockets of clothes and gaps in the car seals!

I loved reading this story to my children and to classes at my school during library lessons as I was able to tell them about the desert and the amazing landscape we have in Australia. We were able to discuss how theses people live near waterways and if they don’t – water needs to be trucked in – a very foreign concept to city based children.

When we read books to children we open their minds to how other children live and therefore increase empathy and awareness of the world around them.

So what can you do with this story at home or in the classroom?

  • Look at a map of Australia and see where remote communities live. How do these people live in these areas?
  • How do children go to school when they live remotely? Explore School of the Air and Central schools. Compare how you go to school to how they do. Look at this school in Broken Hill 
  • How did the children in this story pass on stories and learn? Have you ever told a story without writing it down? Try and tell a story or two using only spoken word and perhaps a drawing or two as you talk.
  • How did they use their imagination when they heard unusual sounds? Close your eyes and listen to the outside world – imagine what those different sounds could be.
  • Explore personification throughout this story. How does making the objects alive add to the story? Create your own personification sentences.

Looking further:

 

 

Rhino in the house: The true story of Saving Samira by Daniel Kirk

One of the things I love about picture books is that they can bring real life stories to young readers all around the world through pictures and simple words.

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Rhino in the House by Daniel Kirk is an empowering story about a women named Anna Merz and her lifelong dedication to saving endangered animals in Africa. Anna had always been involved in wildlife conservation and it was when she retired and moved to Kenya that her journey into saving Rhinoceroses began.

The relationship between a baby rhino named Samia and Anna is at the heart of this conservation story. We learn how their relationship develops over time and how her story has inspired many to pursue careers and action in the area of wildlife conservation.

Children will adore this book as the images are colourful and the story is sweet and entertaining. There is little mention of the dangers from poachers which is lovely and allows the children to enjoy this story without fear. We did discuss who poachers are at the start of the story but were then able to focus more on the wonderful work Anna did in her sanctuary.

Rhino in the House is one of those picture books which stays with you long after it has been read and with historical facts at the end of the story it allows the adult reader learn more about Anna and her rhinos.

So what can you do?

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Why do we need to take care of all animals in our world?
  • Which animals are endangered in your country? Why are they endangered and can this be changed?
  • Why are books like this important? How do picture books give all readers this important message? How do they make us read and learn when compared to wordy articles?
  • How is nature fragile?
  • How can animals be protected when humans don’t want to change? Investigate an endangered animal that is effected by human action – write a letter or create a campaign that will change minds and attitudes.

LITERACY

Compare and contrast other books that use a true story and place it in picture book form. With these books: Phasmid, One small Island, The Hairy Nosed Wombats

– Identify the true story in each book.

– Identify the human actions involved – positive and negative.

– Identify the impacts on the world if this animal/s was to become extinct.

– Compare and contrast the 4 picture books and decide which one makes more of an impact on you.

– What does sustainability mean in regards to these stories?

– Teach another group of students about your story or of another animal that is endangered.  Think of an interesting way that grabs their attention so they listen and learn.

Links to Rhinos

http://rhinos.org/books/

https://www.savetherhino.org/rhino_info/species_of_rhino

https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/rhino

http://www.bagheera.com/inthewild/van_anim_rhino.htm

 

 

Curriculum outcomes
OI.3 – Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems.
OI.6 The sustainability of ecological, social and economic systems is achieved through informed individual and community action that values local and global equity and fairness across generations into the future.

May – focus on sustainability and storytelling

During the month of May my intention is to help parents and teachers build awareness of how we can act more sustainability and how education in this area can be part of their daily routine.

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The world we live in now needs more people to start reflecting on how we are living and how that living is effecting the way others live now and how are future generations are going to be able to live.

Through picture books, small activities and short discussions we can all start to raise awareness in ourselves and our children.

Have you ever read a book about our underground farmers?

Do your children know why earthworms exist and how what we spray on our backyards can drastically effect their health? Try reading Yucky Worms to inspire your own backyard warrior!

Have you ever stopped to look at the detail of a tree?

Many children do have a short attention span but ask them to touch the tree and give you an adjective about how it feels, looks and smells like. You will be amazed! Inspire yourself and your child to appreciate trees and perhaps plant some extra in your own yard or during a community event such as Plant a Tree day.

Try reading Last Tree in the city also – an inspiring read about the power of determination to make a difference.

How about inspiring your child to be more sustainable in order to save an endangered species?

Many adults and children are oblivious to the animals that we effect by the chemicals we pour down the drain, water we waste, plastic waste we throw out and land clearing for housing, farms and business. Try reading a story that inspires someone to tread a little more carefully. The Hairy Nosed Wombats Find a New Home is a very inspiring story as is Phasmid!

Join me in May on instagram and Facebook as I learn how I can make my life more sustainable so someone else in the world has a better chance and so that my children live in a better world.

 

The tomorrow book by Jackie French and Sue Degennaro.

Written on a solar-powered computer and printed on recyclable paper The tomorrow book by Jackie French and Sue Degennaro is a story filled with hope for tomorrow.

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Many environmental books are filled with doom and gloom – as the media tells us that is where we are headed. BUT with imagination, creative thinking, problem solving and open minds, tomorrow can be a wonderful day where we harness the sun’s energy, we repair things instead of throwing them away, we each have our own veggie patch and wind power is just another form of easy to use energy.

Jackie French is a marvellous story teller and through this book she ignites ownership of the world in children and a belief that they can all make a difference to the world they live in.

Many of us are too caught up in what we are used to doing and find change so difficult but as we can see through this story that sometimes it is only the simplest of changes that makes a difference to our human world, the animals and natural habitats within in.

Sue Degennaro’s illustrations are an energetic mixture of pastel and collage (using recycled materials of course!) and add so much more to the story being told. Degennaro’s illustrations really highlight the fact that tomorrow isn’t just about humans.

So what can you do?

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Redesign your day: How would you get to work or school if you made one change? What would your meals look like?
  • How can Easter be packaged better? Reflect on the waste over Easter and how you can make a change for next year. Re design an Easter egg package so it is better for tomorrow.
  • Check out my long list of sustainability books. 
  • Check out this great program on Self-sufficiency in the suburbs!  Tell Laura I sent you.

Visual Literacy

  • How to the illustrations add more depth to the story?
  • Does the use of recycled paper change how you see the story? Why aren’t more books printed this way?
  • How does collage add a different dimension to this story – can it be used in all stories?

 

Reading books to children is a great place to start igniting ideas to make changes in the world we live in. Start conversations and take responsibility together to make a difference in the world we live in.

 

More from Harper Collins: http://static.harpercollins.com/harperimages/ommoverride/The_Tomorrow_Book_TN.pdf