2018 Environment Award for Children’s Literature shortlist

Wow, another great list of books has recently been announced as part of the shortlist for the environment award from the Wilderness Society.

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So many of these I have blogged about and I will have to search for the last couple to make sure I let you know about them too.

 

Here are the links to my blogs for these wonderful book – I hope you can find the time to read them soon!

Fiction:
Ella Diaries #11 Going Green by Meredith Costain and Danielle McDonald
Pippa’s Island 1: The Beach Shack Cafe by Belinda Murrell
Wombat Warriors by Samantha Wheeler

Non-fiction:
A Is For Australian Animals by Frané Lessac
Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground by Samantha Grover and Camille Heisler
Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver
Coral Sea Dreaming: The Picture Book by Kim Michelle Toft

Picture fiction:
Can You Find Me? by Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington
Tilly’s Reef Adventure by Rhonda N Garward
Fluke by Lesley Gibbes and Michelle Dawson
Florette by Anna Walker

I would love to be a part of the judging of this one day….

 

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Waves by Donna Rawlins, Heather Potter and Mark Jackson

Children have travelled on the waves of migration to the shores of Australia for tens of thousands of years. This book tells some of their stories.

15 children. 15 stories. 15 different periods in the last 50000 years.

Waves by Donna Rawlins, Heather Potter and Mark Jackson explores the different reasons people have travelled to Australia, the vessels they travelled on and the worries and fears they experienced as they dealt with the unfaithful ocean.

We meet Anak, one of the first visitors to Australia on board simple rafts, Finola, a convict all alone to to unfortunate circumstances, Harry sent off without his parents to start fresh to the land of blue skies and wide open spaces and Hau,a refugee who has to battle with pirates, lack of food and no fuel to cross the seas.

Each child in this book has a story to tell and many of them are heart wrenching. Themes of loss, struggle, courage and bravery swim throughout these tales and show us just how tough moving to a new country can be – especially on the ocean.

Waves can be used in so many waves at home and in the classroom as it looks at the history of Australia from a different angle, explores the idea of migration and delves into why different people have decided to move from their home country and then live in Australia.

Each story can be read individually and discussed at length. Maps can be used, historical dates and background information can be pursued.

What else can you do?

Explore the individual stories by using the teacher notes available here: http://classroom.walkerbooks.com.au/waves/WavesTeacherNotes.PDF

Also

  • Choose two stories to compare and contrast. Explore the reasons for coming to Australia, the journey to Australia, how the children felt about the journey and their family background.
  • Map where each of these children came from.
  • Explore the current Australian population to find out where out backgrounds lie and how these people came to live in Australia..
  • Explore the charter for the rights of a child as created by the UN. Could of many of these things happened if the charter was in place earlier on? How can these events still happen with the UN charter in place?

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish by Ben Long and David Cornish

Do you know a child who just can’t sit still in the classroom? Or would rather move about instead of sitting down? Or perhaps you have an interest in creatures with eight legs or even those who blob around the ocean?

Well this book is just for you!

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish by Ben Long and David Cornish is a fun filled rhyming picture book that tells the story of young Jasper, an eight legged student who is having trouble learning how to count.

Learning how to count without doing the act of counting can make things tricky so young Jasper decides to juggle his numbers instead – but this proves to be just as tricky!

Instead of giving up, Jasper learns to take his time and slowly build up his juggling skills. Starting with one willing jellyfish before he moves onto two then three then all 12.

Colourful pictures and easy to read rhyme make this story quite a lot of fun but also provide many different talking points.

After we read this book we researched about different octopi, different types of jellyfish and of course tried to juggle ourselves.

We were also able to explore rhyme and the different types of ways words can rhyme in sentences to tell a story.

Jasper juggles jellyfish is a great story for young children who are learning how to count as it shows that persistence, practice and hands on learning are all key to understanding the great big world of numbers out there! It might also inspire parents and teachers to ensure that whenever learning takes place we make sure it is fun, hands on and linked to the real world!

So what else can you do with this book?

Numeracy

  • Explore different ways of counting to 12.
  • Explore different patterns in counting
  • Explore how many legs were in that counting pattern!

Literacy

  • Look at the different rhyming words used in this story and try to create your own sentence or two.

Science

  • What are the different types of jellyfish that reside in oceans or surrounding waterways near you?
  • Learn more about octopi and their intelligence.
  • How can you juggle? is there a science behind juggling different types of objects?
  • Can jellyfish always be this helpful? Look in the news for times jellyfish haven’t been too helpful.

International Mud Day

Today is International Mud Day.

Is this your worst nightmare or a wonderful idea of fun?

International Mud day began in 2009 at a World Forum when Gillian McAuliffe from Australia and Bishnu Bhatta from Nepal got together to talk about ways to encourage feelings of community and appreciation for the world around us. They discussed the challenges children face when playing together in the mud. On the plane returning from the Forum, McAuliffe contemplated the obstacles that stand between many children and their ability to enjoy the simple, natural act of playing in mud. Challenges such as cultural preferences for cleanliness, lack of access to “disposable” clothing that can be dirtied and proper cleaning supplies, or dry, sandy geography not conducive to muddy conditions. So this is where Mud day grew from the idea that we should all be able to get down and dirty and have fun in mud, no matter where we live in the world.

SO —

The one thing you need to do on International Mud Day is: GET DIRTY!

It doesn’t have to be mud; it could be also be dirt or sand but just one way we can get down and play with the simpler things in life.

So what can you do on this day of mud?

 – Find some mud and stomp in it!

– Find some sand and build castles in it!

– Use your imagination and build something with your hands out of natural material.

Read some books about mud

Read some books about nature play such as:

Cicada by Shaun Tan

Another brilliant book by Shaun Tan – Cicada is a book with subtext for both older children and adults but with illustrations that young children will enjoy too.

Cicada is a story about a cicada who works in a dreary office building, performing the same task day in, day out with no recognition or appreciation of the effort he puts in.

Cicada is treated poorly, ignored by colleagues and constantly calls out ‘Tok, Tok, Tok”, which could represent the noise of a keyboard, the clicking of a clock, the noise cicadas make or perhaps even the monotone thoughts of the office workers. Whatever you take it to mean, it shows the bland existence of humans and this cicada.

But all this changes on Cicada’s last day of work, where instead of having a farewell party or a thank you handshake he simply packs up his desk and ascends the stairs.

The stairs to say farewell to this greyscale existence.

The stairs to something much more wonderful, so much so that the cicada wonders why the humans haven’t worked it out yet.

I won’t spoil it here – you’ll have to read it yourself!

So what else can you do with this book at home and at school?

Younger readers.

Younger readers may not see the subtext of this book but other issues can be explored such as:

– Explore the life cycle of a cicada and the time the spent underground compared to the time above.

– Think about what you would do if you had to live in a world without colour, creativity or fun. How would you feel?

– What does ‘Tok, Tok, Tok” mean to you? What sound would you make if you worked in a world like this?

Why do the humans think he is worse than them? Why do they ignore him or make him go to the toilet out of the building (this can be linked to some women’s prejudice issues of the past).

Why do you think the cicada never left his job?

– What is the importance of getting out into the world around us and exploring more than just making money?

– Why do we need nature? Why do we need to explore?

– Is money really that important? (Big idea – take time to discuss this)

And here are some more in depth ideas if you wish to study this book for older readers:

Notes from Hachette, click here.  

Join my facebook group – growing globally and socially conscious children to swap ideas to help young children tackle the big issues!

Girl on Wire by Lucy Estela and Elise Hurst

A girl stands before a wire, anxious about walking across the tightrope that is so far above the ground.

The wind whips her cheeks and the thunder clouds growl – but she knows she needs to walk it.

Courage, confidence and self belief are strong themes throughout this picture book – but they all come with something else – support from those around you.

We can all have confidence, courage and belief in ourselves but none of this will continue to reign if others around us do not support us.

The young girl in this story is experiencing something that many young children will go through at any time of their life – anxiety, self doubt and loss of confidence. The wire represents the hard times, times when we have to try something new or events that make us uncomfortable. But, with the support of those we love, out toes can curl around the wire a little bit tighter, we can stand a little bit taller and we can walk a little bit more confidently.

Girl on a Wire is a simple yet inspiring story.

Accompanied by the painted illustrations of Elise Hurst, with colours that represent the girls thoughts, we can not only read how the girl is feeling, we can also see how she is feeling.

Girl on a Wire is a an excellent story to start conversations about self confidence and the power of believing in yourself . It is also a story to encourage the awareness that we can allow those who you trust to help support you too – we don’t need to do it all alone.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Explore with your child people who they trust to help them when they need support.

– Explore times we they have asked for support – did it help?

– Explore times when they didn’t ask for support – what happened, could you still do this big task? Could support have helped you?

ACTIVITY: Draw a wire between two buildings and at one end write something that you really want to be able to do. Along the wire write down the people who need to be there to support you and the things you need to do in order to achieve this goal.

– What do you think the feathers represent? What is a symbol for you to help you get through the tough times?

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Let them explore

It is in every person’s nature to be an explorer. And to be a real explorer you need to visit unknown places with an open mind and an open heart.

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Exploring doesn’t necessarily mean jumping on a plane and going to another country. Exploring can simply mean jumping into someone else’s shoes for a moment or two and finding out what the world looks like from another perspective.

 

Your library is a doorway to exploring.

 

In our library we can find so many different characters, places and times that will allow us to explore who we are and who other people can be.

 

Your child might be exploring what life was like over 100 years ago or perhaps what life on earth would be like if we all became zombies. Perhaps they are jumping into the shoes of a holocaust survivor or a future astronaut.

 

When your child brings home a book from the library ask them what it is about, find out how their perspective might be changing because of this book and what other books they could jump into to open up their world just a little bit more.

 

Books from 2017 that encourage you to be kinder the people of the world

There were so many lovely books that I came across this year that encourage young readers not only to think about those around them in their own community but also those who live on the other side of the world.

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Being a part of a community is so important and knowing how to look out for others in our community is something that we all need to do.

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Being kind to others whether they be our next door neighbours, residents in our suburb or children we hear about in the news is something we should all encourage our children to think about. It should be something we as adults should think about too.

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Once we think about others we can reflect on our own actions and perhaps make more sensible choices in what we buy, what we do and what we say. Every little thing we do will impact someone in someway and taking a leaf out of one of these books might just change an action you are going to take today.

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Feather by Phil Cummings

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

Say Yes: A story of friendship and hope

Children in our world: Refugees and Migrants

Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo

I’m Australian too by Mem Fox

The Ones that Disappeared by Zana Fraillon

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A science storybook about forces: Bird builds a nest by Martin Jenkins and Illustrated by Richard Jones

Are you finding the concept of pushing and pulling a little tricky to teach or understand?

This science storybook about forces is a wonderful way to look at simple forces and how they occur in the real world.

The concept of forces is explored through the lovely ‘Bird’ who uses pushing and pulling in many different ways throughout her day. She pulls a worm out of the ground for breakfast, pushes twigs around for her nest and uses strength to push, pull and carry things to and from her nest.

Richard Jones’ illustrations are delightful and reflect the changing light of the birds day.

The story is told in a matter – of -fact way but children will love seeing the bird build her nest, explore the woods and lay her own eggs. And becuase this story is so easy to understand, the concept of pushing and pulling will be too.

A science storybook about forces: Bird builds a nest by Martin Jenkins and Illustrated by Richard Jones is an excellent book to have in any early science classroom as it makes science real and will help you to get outside and start to look at all the different forces coming into play in our world every moment of the day!

There are some simple activities in the final pages of this book alongside an index and bibliography which will help to continue the conversation about forces after the story has been read.

Can you do anything else with this book?

Visual arts

  • Explore how the artist has drawn movement. Explore different ways to show something is moving.
  • Explore the different colour of the sky throughout the day and how you can replicate that in your draawings.

Literacy

  • Explore the verbs used in this story and which ones relate to forces.

Science

  • Go outside and find other things that use this force.

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Bird Builds a Nest: A Science Storybook about Forces (Science Storybooks)

AND THINK ABOUT HOW THE RUBBISH YOU LEAVE BEHIND IMPACTS THE NATURAL WORLD – BUY FROM BIOME TO MAKE LESS OF AN IMPACT!

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The perfect Leaf by Andrew Plant

But the leaves were so beautiful they had to be shown, they had to be shared.

 

Have you ever wondered at the colours of the autumn leaves? HAve you ever looked so closely to see the different colours of each individual leaf?

 

The Perfect Leaf by Andrew Plant will help you to see the wonder that is nature.

 

Each leaf that falls to the ground during autumn is so different – whether it be in colour, shapes or texture. Whether is is damaged, unmarked or broken – each leaf tells a different story.

 

In The Perfect Leaf, two girls meet and play. They search for the most perfect leaf of gold, red and crimson. They dive deep, throw leaves into the air and swim around in search of the most perfect leaf there could ever be.

 

But soon they discover that nothing is perfect and that everything can be beautiful – we just have to look at it in the right way.

 

The Perfect Leaf explores not only the beauty of nature but also friendship and love. It explores the idea that nothing in this world is perfect and everything has flaws – but these flaws don’t have to be a negative thing, they can be something that makes an object or a person even better.

 

The Perfect Leaf is a lovely book to share as the seasons change and we start to crunch through the leaves on the ground. It is one that will help you to discuss why we shouldn’t strive for perfection but instead strive for what makes us truly happy.

 

So what else can you do with this book?

 

SCIENCE

  • Explore the changes in leaves over the seasons.
  • Explore different shapes of leaves around your home and learning areas.
  • Get outside during those cold winter months and find beauty despite the lack of colour and warmth. See what grows in winter and ponder why.
  • Explore symmetry through leaves

 

LITERACY

  • Explore the adjectives used throughout the book to describe leaves. Write your own description of a leaf.  

 

THINKING

  • What is perfection?
  • Can something be perfect?

Teacher notes: http://fordstreetpublishing.com/ford/images/stories/teachers_notes/The-Perfect-Leaf-Teachers-Notes.pdf

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Zobi and the Zoox: A story of coral Bleaching by Ailsa Wild, Aviva Reed, Briony Barr and Gregory Crocetti

This is a story about coral bleaching, told by the tiniest creatures on the reef. 

Have you ever read a picture book where the setting is on a coral polyp? This was a first for me, and perhaps you too, but it is an excellent way to grab the readers attention to realise just how much can go on in the smallest of places.

As we start to read we meet a polyp called Darian. Darian lives in the Great Barrier Reef and devastatingly for Darian, the ocean isn’t cooling down.

Through detailed illustrations and carefully worded story, we learn about the bacteria called Zobi (and her family) that live inside the polyps gut and the important role they play in looking after Darian when the oceans get far too hot.

We meet many other organisms who make up the polyp and see the distressing time they are having as they have to cope with oceans that are too warm.

We see team work, creative thinking and problem solving as they work hard together to save their own little world from destruction.

Zobi and the Zoox is not only a story it is also a science book. Adults and children will learn so much about coral as they read this story and every illustration adds even more information.

Once the story has finished, there is a section called ‘The science behind the story’. In this section extra information and diagrams are provided for those who wish to learn about the facts touched on in the story in more detail. Illustrations, labelled diagrams, photographs and scientific information cover the last 16 pages and help to explain any information that needs to be looked at in more detail.

Zobi and the Zoox is an excellent book to use to teach children (and their adults) just how important the coral reef is to ocean health. It is also important to make people aware that everything, even if it is so tiny that we cannot see it with the naked eye, plays a super important role in the world we live in.

So what else can you do with this book?

Sustainability

  • How has this booked changed the way you think about the world you live in? What is one thing you can do differently to stop global warming?
  • If coral bleaching continues to happen, how will the tourism ad for Queensland change? Look at the latest advertisement and see how this would be modified – what would be taken away or added? Create a new one.

Science

  • How is a coral polyp like a city?
  • What parts of a coral polyp are like our bodies?

Teacher notes from CSRIO

Cloud conductor by Kellie Byrnes

Frankie loves sitting by her window and looking at the clouds. She loves to listen to the melodies they create, compose tunes and conduct ideas.

But being able to see the shapes the clouds make in the sky is a gift she loves to share with others.

As we progress through the story we start to see that Frankie is unwell and needs to spend many days in hospital.  But with her imagination, these days become much more amazing than they really are. Frankie sees a courageous cowgirl, children playing at the beach and a young girl riding a bicycle – all symbols of hope that one day she won’t need to be inside getting better, but outside amongst the joy of life.

The cloud conductor not only allows readers to see what life can be like for children who are in hospital for long lengths of time but also the importance of imagination and how imagination can brighten the darkest of dark days.

Positive thinking and hope shine through in this story and the important gifts we can give to others when they are feeling down – hope, joyful thoughts and imagination.

You will love reading this story to all young children and it might inspire some time to lie out in the sun and stare up at those clouds!

So what else can you do with this book?

Link to how you can help

  • Learn about children’s hospitals that exist near you. Is there anyway you can help brighten the lives of the children who have to spend a lot of time in here?
  • The picture book – The Silver Sea – was written in conjunction with children who were staying at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Imagination

  • What can you see in the clouds? Lie down for at least 5 minutes and talk about all of the different things you can see.
  • What can you hear when you see clouds?
  • Imagine the different types of music clouds would play – draw the different types of clouds and describe the types of music you hear when you see them.
  • Find some music that makes you think of breezy days, stormy days and still days.

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cloudconductor

If Sharks disappeared: Why sharks are important for our whole planet by Lily Williams

What would happen if sharks disappeared completely?

Do we really need them? Can we live without them?

All these questions will be answered in this cleverly written and illustrated book by Lily Williams – If Sharks disappeared: Why sharks are important for our whole planet.

A healthy ocean is home to many different creatures and if we get rid of any one of these creatures the ocean will be unbalanced and possibly have devastating effects on other animals, sea life and then life out of the ocean.

This book spells this devastation out in an easy to digest way for young children. They will not feel worried, fearful of the future or helpless – they will feel informed and powerful.

Lily Williams tells us the facts and tells us what will happen if we don’t do anything about overfishing, shark nets and ocean pollution but she doesn’t leave us hanging – she also tells us what we can do if we want to ensure the world stays balanced and healthy.

Excellent facts and suggestions to stop shark numbers falling are outlined in the final pages and are a great place to have further discussions with children.

The end pages of the book show the different types of sharks that inhabit our oceans – a great place to see the diversity of these scary looking creatures!

So perhaps if you are a little afraid of sharks, love swimming in the ocean and eat fish on a regular basis – this is a book for you and your family as after reading this you will hopefully look at the humble shark just with a little more empathy.

So what else can you do at home?

LIVE SUSTAINABLY

– Eat little fish. Many fish are caught in large nets so therefore sharks, dolphins and whales are also caught up in the mess. If you need to eat fish choose types that are sustainably and ethically sourced.

– Go down to your local beach and look out for any pollution that might effect the animals that live in the ocean. Pick it up and work out what you can do with it.

SCIENCE – LIFE CYCLES

– Draw up a food chain and work out who eats who in the ocean and what might happen if one of these creatures disappeared.

– Where do sharks live? Which sharks live near you? Work out how they live, what they eat and how long they live for.

Are any scientists researching sharks?   

See what this scientist is doing! 

GEOGRAPHY

– Where in the world do different sharks live? Is there anywhere where sharks cannot live?

LITERACY

– Choose another animals and work out what would happen if they disappeared. Write a text similar to this one or in story form to teach others about the problems that would arise.

– Look in the media for articles about sharks. Are they positive or negative? Collate and see how the media is making us think about sharks.

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 If Sharks Disappeared

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Don’t Cross the line by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho

A very clever story told through pictures and limited words – Don’t Cross the line by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho is an excellent addition to any classroom studying government and society.

There is a guard who follows the rules – the rules that does not allow anyone to go on the right hand side of the page.

All the characters that he meets want to go to the other side of the page but meet with his strict orders not to go against him….until a ball gets kicked over the line and the crowd no longer want to be told what to do.

Will people power overcome fear and dictatorship or will they continue to live in fear?

Can we see the different sides to the story to really understand where the different characters are coming from and how they feel about the other side of the page?

You will enjoy reading this book again and again, looking at the different characters that live on the pages and seeing how they react to the different situations presented to them as the story progresses.

It is a great book to accompanying any unit of work about government and society and will really help you to reflect on how you see the rules you live under.

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Don't Cross the Line!

So what else can you do with this book?

Read through story

  • What is power?
  • How is power shared in a democracy? How is power shared in other forms of government? Explore different types of government that exist or have existed.
  • How does power change?
  • What is a dictatorship?
  • Can people power overthrow a dictator?

Literacy

  • Rewrite this story using either first or third person – explore the difference between telling this story from two different perspectives
  • Could you add more speech bubbles to this story?
  • Could you take away the speech bubbles and write a story instead? How does this change the idea and tone of the story?

Follow on with books that link in with government – we are going to look at Once by Morris Gleitzman so watch this space!

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 Don't Cross the Line!

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Sorry day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler

Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away

Sorry Day is a very important picture book  to share this Sorry day – or any future Sorry days.

Released on May 1st, Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is a powerful story that highlights both the impact on the families who lost loved ones when they were taken away and the impact Kevin Rudd and the Australian community had when they formally said sorry in 2008.

The scene is set as we meet young Maggie who is excitedly waiting at the Sorry Day speech but amongst the excitement she loses her mother and frantically searches for her amongst the sea of legs and people.

But as we watch Maggie we also see the loss the Indigenous people experienced during the period of The Stolen Generation, we experience through word and illustration how it would have felt to be ripped apart from your family with no warning.

Dub Leffler’s illustrations are amazing and give so much more emotion to this meaningful story. We hear the story and we see the people.

We hear their cries and we feel the emotion as we watch their faces.

We read the history and we see how this has effected the current landscape.

Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is picture book you will not forget.

I’m sure children will have many questions about this topic once this story has been read as the links between a child getting lost in a crowd and the story of children being taken away really pulls at the heartstrings and stirs so much emotion.

Delve deep into this topic with your young readers, explore the past and think about how we can make the future a better place.

What else can you talk about?

  • Explore the quote: Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away.
  • How did the story impact your emotions?
  • Why did the author jump between the past and the present?
  • How has the illustrator shown the difference between the past and the present?

Sorry Day

  • When is Sorry Day and how long have we commemorated this day?
  • Explore the impacts of The Stolen Generation.
  • Why was there a Stolen Generation?
  • What can we do now to ensure inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous people lessen?
  • How can you share the story of Sorry Day with others?

Creative Arts

  • List any songs that you know of that explore this theme.
  • List any artwork that you know of that explores this theme.

There are some excellent teacher notes here: https://flickingonthebook.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/3fe4b-sorrydayteachers27notes.pdf

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The coral Kingdom by Laura Knowles and Jennie Webber

The time is now, the chance is brief!

Stand up and save the coral reef!

Amazing pictures lie deep within this great Australian Geographic picture book, alongside a rhyming story that will teach young readers all about the coral reef and the creatures that live there.

As you journey below the water line you will see how the coral reef is created, how animals interact with it and how human behaviour is causing damage.

The bleaching of the coral reef is touched upon – not dwelled upon – which is important for young readers. Instead, easy tips and suggestions are offered within the story and at the end with a page full of suggestions.

The illustrations are spellbinding and add so much to the short story – giving you the parent or teacher to talk about that creature and how they live in the water with the reef.

Teaching children about the coral reef is a really important issue right now due to the damage that has been done. This book is a great way to start to teach your children about the small things that they can do to make a difference in the future of the planet (and hopefully their small steps will be followed by their parents bigger steps!)

The coral Kingdom by Laura Knowles and Jennie Webber is an excellent book for children of all ages, and one which links in nicely with science, geography and sustainability.

So what else can you do with this book

SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

  • Visit the end pages of this and choose an animal you would like to research further.
  • Seek out the suggestions at the end of the story as to how you can save the GBR.
  • Find newspaper articles about the GBR and what is happening to it. Seek out both positive and negative stories.
  • Sign or create a petition about the GBR urging the government to stop coal mining and dredging of the land and sea near the reef.

LITERACY

  • Link up all the rhyming words used. Find more words that rhyme with these words and try to create a few lines that you could add to this story about the coral reef.

NUMERACY

  • How much of the GBR has been bleached?
  • How many different types of animals live in the GBR?
  • If the GBR was destroyed how many less tourists might come to Australia?

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 The Coral Kingdom

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The littlest things give the loveliest hugs by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost

Hugs from someone you love or someone who cares for you are just one of those things that can make your day seem so much brighter.

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And that’s why we loved reading The Littlest things give the loveliest hugs by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost.

You’ll sail through this book and meet different parents who just love their little ones and the snuggly hugs that they give.

The rhyming and repetition will entrance young readers as will the brightly coloured illustrations.

We loved discussing how the different animals did hug each other with their different sized limbs and bodies. We also wondered how they lived and the different body covering they each had.

The littlest things give the loveliest hugs is a fun book for young readers and a great way to explore the role of parent and child in the animal kingdom!

So what else can you do with this book?

  • Explore how these different animals live.
  • Explore how long babies in each animal group stay with their parents.
  • Look at rhyme and the different words that rhyme with hugs.
  • The end pages are lots of fun to look at – explore the differences between the front and the back.

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 The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs

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Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng

Have you ever made something  from scratch?

And then been able to give that object to someone else?

Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng is a wonderful story about friendship, sharing, kindness and the beauty of being able to make things yourself.

Ash is a shy little bird and she doesn’t have many friends until she starts to use her wonderful gift – her ability to create clothing and objects from a beautiful piece of red material.

Ash creates many things including a shirt, arm chair cover, a dress and a scarf! She spreads her ability and love all over the neighbourhood and brings joy to so many through the simple act of kindness.

Ash could have kept the red material all to herself and made so many wonderful things from it but she chose to share and make other animals lives happier.

Ash dresses her friends is a wonderful story about how we can be kind to others, how we can share our gifts to make others happy and how we can make things on our own.

Many of us resort to the shops to buy things for friends – perhaps this book will inspire you to make something of your own next time a friend needs a present, a pick me up or just a reminder of how important they are in your life.

The illustrations really highlight the friendships being developed, the happiness each gift brings and the vibrancy of the material Ash uses in each creation.

I loved the red material Ash used and hopefully one day I might just find something made out of it!

So what else can you do at home?

SELF ESTEEM

  • Explore the gifts your child has. Talk to them about what they can do to make others happy and to show them how special they both are.
  • Look at how Ash felt shy and sad and explore times your child has felt like this.
  • How do friends make us feel good?

SUSTAINABILITY

  •  Ash made things herself out of one piece of material. Where do your clothes come from and who made them? Can you make the effort to buy more clothes from locally and ethically made sources?
  • Explore the Fashion revolution to see how you can be more aware of how your clothes were made, what they are made of and where they go once you have finished with them.

ART

  • Explore the techniques used by Fu (contrast between red and black/grey) and how this impacted the story. Create your own artwork using two contrasting colours.
  • Create your own print like the red material.

COMMUNITY

  • How can you play a bigger role in your community? Explore different groups or community days and how you can be a part of them so you know more people around you.

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Ash Dresses Her Friends

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The silver sea by Alison Lester and Jane Godwin

Let’s go down to the silver sea, come on, I’ll hold your hand.

A magical adventure written by Alison Lester, Jane Godwin and the children at The Royal Children’s Hospital , The Silver Sea, is an exploration of life under the sea, it’s magic and wonder.

Two small children slip out of their house and take to the sea – looking after each other as they explore a world they have never seen before. They splash with dolphins, swim with turtles and ride upon a whale. They explore the ocean with wonderment and awe and with their joint courage they explore the deep dark depths to find luminous monsters and the reedy home of sea dragons.

The two return back to land with new knowledge of the hidden world below and perhaps with a new outlook on life now that they know the many secrets hidden underneath.

Each page is filled with an abundance of colour through the collage of illustrations drawn by the children of TRCH.

We spent quite a bit of time looking how different animals had been drawn and coloured in and wondered who may have created them.

We also pondered about the names written on the end pages and talked about if these children were well enough to leave hospital yet.

This collaboration must have brought a lot of joy to the children who were stuck in hospital and it is wonderful to see projects like this taking place.

The Silver Sea by Alison Lester and Jane Godwin is a colourful story that you’ll love to read and all the profits will go towards helping the children at RCH to have more fun while their getting better in hospital.

What else can you do with this story?

VISUAL ART

– Explore the different art techniques used in this story: stencilling, water colour, wax crayon resist

– As a class write a story and create a collage to match in with the theme of each page. Remembering that the individual differences add more to the story.

LITERACY

– This is a sweet adventure story. Create a story about a place you would love to explore. Who would you take with you and what would you do?

– Rhyme. Rhyming books are difficult to create. Can you create a rhyming story about an adventure you would like to go on?

– Write a description of your favourite ocean animal. It may be one in the story or one they haven’t included.

SCIENCE

– Explore the different life cycles of sea animals.

– Learn about the life cycles of animals that live in the darkest parts of the ocean.

SUSTAINABLITY

– How can we make sure our oceans stay as beautiful as this one in The Silver Sea? Write down 5 things you can do in your life to help the ocean stay this way.

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 The Silver Sea

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Finn’s Feather by Rachel Noble and illustrated by Zoey Abbott

Finn discovers an amazing white feather right on his doorstep. Could it be from his brother Hamish who is now an angel? 

After the tragic accident of her young son Rachel Noble wrote to help cope with her loss and through this she felt inspired to write a picture book that would help others, especially children who are going through this process of dealing with grief. Finn’s feather is a beautiful and sad yet empowering picture book.

Every body deals with traumatic events differently and this book is one which will inspire hope into both adults and children who have had to deal with death and grief.

Young children deal with death very differently to how adults do and this book looks at grief through the eyes of the older brother who finds a feather on his doorstep and believes it has been sent by his brother Hamish who is now an angel.

Young Finn doesn’t dwell on the sadness of the feather but rather the joy this beautiful white feather can bring. He takes it to school and alongside a friend they climb trees, make a castle, play hide and seek and of course tickle each other.

The feather is a beautiful metaphor for the loss of his brother and shows that when we have lost someone we always hope that they are nearby somehow.

But although Finn feels joy with his feather he also wishes his brother was still with him.

As the day wears on the feather becomes dirty and stuck up in a tree but with some help he is able to get it back down and after this his  friends tell him to “Hold it tight”  – such a beautiful line to come from friends who are observing someone who is dealing with grief.

We can hold onto our memories of loss or trauma but we also need to see the joy in life.

The note written by Finn on the final page leaves a heart-wrenching yet positive feeling and shows the importance of talking about how we feel, supporting each other and allowing ourselves to feel how we do about events like these.

Finn’s feather did make me cry but it also made me realise how important it is to talk and connect through those hard times, let ourselves cry, let ourselves be sad but also to let ourselves continue to see joy in life.

Finn’s feather is a story to share with anyone who has or has not lost someone in their life. It is a celebration of life and a celebration of memories. It reminds us that just because someone isn’t here on Earth with us anymore, it doesn’t mean your relationship with them is over.

If you have a child who is dealing with grief I highly recommend buying or borrowing this book. 

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 Finn's Feather

Our birds: Nilimurrungu Wayin Malanynha by Siena Stubbs

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
― Marc Riboud

Siena Stubbs was given a camera three years ago, and now at the age of 15, she has been able to publish some of her favourite photos of birds that live in Arnhem land.

Each photo is accompanied by information about the bird in words by Siena. These words tell us some simple facts about the bird and how she took the photo  –  which make this book so enjoyable for children to read.

Readers will also learn why she has chosen this bird to be in the book and where she often sees that bird.

Not only are we learning about the birds of Arnhem Land, we are also learning about the land, the sea and the sounds each bird makes.

Buy now through fishpond: Our Birds: Nilimurrungu Wayin Malanynha

Our birds allows the reader to learn the language of the Yolnu people and understand how each bird was given its name.

We loved looking at the different types of photographs taken at different times of the day and in different locations. And every child that read this book was intrigued by the Indigenous language names for each bird.

This book is a great book to read but it is also a great book to use as a springboard for other activities.

What can you do with this book?

Geography

  • Look at the map of Australia and learn where Arnhem land is. Discover what life is like up there for children.

Culture

  • Explore the different moiety groups, language groups and cultures in Indigenous Australia.

Science

  • Learn more about some of the birds in this book.
  • Which birds only live in Arnhem land? Which ones travel to other countries or places in Australia?

Visual Arts

  • Look at the different ways the photographs of the birds have been taken. Critique the different techniques and then explore your own photography skills on some local birds.

Literacy

  • Explore the way the information has been written in this book. It is written in first person. How does this make the reader feel? Could you write this information from a third person perspective? Could you research and find more information to make this a different type of non-fiction book?

The Flying Optometrist by Joanne Anderton

Have you ever wondered how someone who needs glasses in the outback gets them with no local optometrist around? 

Wonder no more as you meet one of the many optometrists in Australia who regularly fly to remote areas such as Wanarring and Tiboburra to give eye check ups to people who need them most. 

The Flying optometrist by Joanne Anderton and illustrated by Karen Erasmus is one of those picture books that intrigues you straight away. We meet Stephanie, a young girl who has broken the glasses she needs to wear everyday – but as we can see from the dusty illustrations, she lives in a very small and remote town and cannot get them fixed straight away like many people who live in more urban areas can.

And that is where we meet the Flying Optometrist!

The size of his plane is something to worry about as he navigates storms but with great flying skills he makes it – just a day late – and is ready to help those in need.

This picture book really teaches those who aren’t aware of flying medical practitioners just how important they are to these small towns. Without people who are willing to spend time flying around, these Australians wouldn’t get the help they need.

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Karen Erasmus’ illustrations give the feel of the dry and desolate outback, the small population of the town and the importance of a town centre.  Joanne’s words paint the story of those unsung heroes who use their skills as often as they can to help those in need.

This picture book is based on fact and there is some excellent information at the end of the story where you can discuss with children about how the Royal Flying Doctor Service started, what they do, who this book is based on and the Brien Holden Vision Institute.

I really enjoy books that are based on real-life stories or information as it is a great way to learn.

This information at the back is a great way to end the story – and when you read it again (which you will) you and your children and students will be able to ask so many more questions and wonder so much more.

Check out this interview with Joanne Anderton and her Father, Philip Anderton.

Teacher notes can be found here

And some more teaching ideas:

Exploring people and problem solving. 

  • Find out more about Philip Anderton or another flying optometrist.
  • Explore where medical professionals needs to fly to in Australia.
  • What is the Brien Holden vision institute and where do they fly to?
  • If we didn’t have medical professionals willing to fly planes, what would happen to people of the outback? Or what changes would we need to make?
  • If medical professionals can’t get to a town what else could they do?

Creative thinking

  • Explore some other books which are written as picture books but are based on a true story.
  • Can you write your own short story or picture book based on a true story?
  • Create a way in which people who live in these remote areas can get better help in the future.

What’s at the end of this piece of rope? by Tania Cox and Jedda Robaard.

What’s at the end of this piece of rope? 

Do you leave it? Pull it? Or ask some friends to help you investigate? 

All this is explored through a simple and fun text written by Tania Cox and Illustrated by Jedda Robaard.

With a repeated refrain : What’s at the end of this piece of rope? , a small girl enlists the help of many friends to help her to work out where this tightly held rope is anchored to.

Working together is a key concept in this story and with engaging and fun illustrations, young children will see how important and fun team work can be.

The young reader will love chanting the refrain and also wondering which animal friend will help next. You can ask questions to your young reader as you skip along through the pages helping them to develop their inquiry based thinking.

Enjoy reading this book aloud or encourage your early reader to read to you. Not only is this book a great early reader it is also a great book to spend time perusing through the images of the animals who fill up this book with warmth.

Buy Now – click here: What’s at the End of this Piece of Rope?

What else can you do with this book?

  • Question – what else can be at the end of a piece of rope?
  • Question – should we always pull ropes by ourselves?
  • Question -Why do we need other people to help us sometimes?
  • Which animals are in this story, write down their names and the countries that they come from.
  • Look at the sounds they make as they pull the rope. Can you think of some other sounds that you might make when something is heavy?
  • Why are there not many words in this picture book? Explore the importance of pictures.
  • Please and thank you are used quite a bit in this story – why are these words important?

I can change the world

What can we do?

Worry we aren’t doing enough when all we do is perhaps compost or perhaps you buy your food in bulk?

Do you cook from scratch? Say no to plastic bags?

Or perhaps the best thing you are doing now is educating your children through books and discussions?

 

How can we make the world a better place to live in?

From so many different sources the message is very clear.

Every small sustainable difference we make, every small change we make, every small thing we show others – all makes a difference.

What are you doing to make a difference? How are you showing this?

How are you educating children? Would love to hear what you are doing or what you would like some help doing!

You can buy this great poster at The Global Guardian Project and try my discount for a further 10% off!

GGPVanessa