Books with current issues, literacy, picture books, Teacher tips and resources

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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Book review, Indigenous authors, Parent tips, picture books, Teacher tips and resources

Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh

Alfred had fought in the Great war, but his bravery was not part of the nation’s remembering. He was one of the forgotten soldiers.

A powerful picture book for children aged 7+, Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh highlights the lack of recognition given to Australian Indigenous servicemen who returned from WWI.

Alfred lived where he liked to live, outside, under the stars, beneath gum trees or by the fire. He lived free and happy as a gardener and labourer, far from home. When he signed up for war not only did he experience the horror of war but also the horror of returning home without recognition for what he did to save Australia.

Many men and women returned from war, scarred from the awful experience they had and many did not receive the support they should have – but to be forgotten would have added more insult to the injuries he sustained.

Indigenous Australians have had many injustices done to them since 1788

Rachel Bin Salleh has written a beautiful story and it really pulls at the heart strings. Children will have so many questions to ask and this is a wonderful thing. We talked about war and we talked about indigenous Australians. We talked about many things I didn’t think younger children would want to listen to, but they did because they saw an injustice in the world.

Samantha Fry’s illustrations add more emotion to each page of the story, giving more meaning to who Alfred was and what he did for Australia.

Creating stories that are told through picture like this are so important and we need to make more of them so that the mistakes of history are not created again and again.

What else can you do?

  •  Talk about war – be honest without too many details. Talk about wars that have been and wars that are still raging. Explore why they start and how they finish.
  • Talk about indigenous people of Australia, what happened to them and why. Look at the indigenous language map of Australia to see where different tribes lived and where some still live today.
  • Why were the indigenous people forgotten about?
  • Look at the different colours used on each page and how those colours make you feel.

BUY HERE – click on book below.

Alfred's War

Book review, Books with current issues, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

A-Z of Australian animals by Jennifer Cossins.

Did you know there is an Australian animal that starts with X? 

And that many of the animals that inhabit Australia are endemic to it?

Or perhaps you didn’t realise that the only egg laying mammals in the world live amongst our shrub?

Well wonder no more! Make yourself comfortable and journey through the amazing alphabet of Australian animals.

On this alphabetical journey you will learn about an animal that represents each letter of the alphabet through illustration, facts and figures. Children will delight in Jennifer Cossins vibrant illustrations which resemble the real animal in focus.

We have read all of Jennifer’s books and have adored them all. Not only are the illustrations amazing, the facts that she provides are perfect for little minds. Tapping into the interesting facts and basic information, children will want to learn more about an animal that resonates with them long after you have finished reading.

The Orange Bellied Parrot was a favourite of ours and once we found out it was endangered we made a poster just to share with others the importance of looking after the natural world and helping those who are trying to save them.

We also loved the Sugar glider and my children were quite jealous of the fact that it had the name sugar in it’s name and it got to eat sweet things every day!

A-Z of Australian animals is a delightful book to read, use as a reference guide and admire the illustrations of. One for every library at home, school or in the community.

So what can you do at home?

  •  Explore one or more of the animals in this book. Find out which ones live close to you or a place you have visited.
  • Use a map of Australia to see where each of these animals live.
  • Write your own list of Australian animals A-Z and see what else you can come up with!
  • Read some more of Jennifer Cossins books and explore her illustration techniques throughout the different books.

The baby animal Book

A-Z of endangered animals

101 collective nouns

Teachers – There are some great teacher notes here

Continue reading “A-Z of Australian animals by Jennifer Cossins.”

Book review, nature play, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Unplugged by Steve Antony

But one day there was a power cut…

Can you imagine? A life without your computer? phone or tablet?

What would you do if you had to go outside, talk to people around you or explore the unknown outside the safety of your device?

Steve Antony has answered these questions in his creative picture book – Unplugged.

Blip, a little robot loves her computer and all of the different things she can do on it. She can play games, learn new things, sing, draw and go on adventures – what more could she want?

She thinks she has it all until the power is cut and it is only then that she realises how much more is outside and how much more colour it brings to our lives.

Blip loves being outside and with real friends  and even though she loves her computer she realises just how great outdoor play is and the need to do it more often.

Simply told through words and pictures, children can see the similarities and differences between computer games and the outside world. But they can also see how much better playing outside is. Most children I have read this to have agreed that outside is so much better but they still like their computers – which is fine but as adults we really need to get motivated and take our children outside, explore with them, play with them and teach them just how much more is out there.

Computers are great but they can breed jealousy (when viewing those perfect pictures) time wasting, inappropriate content, narrow view of the world, time wasting and loss of imagination and creativity.

Perhaps it is time to see what you and your children are doing when you are plugged and unplugged. Perhaps it is time to become just like Blip and see how great it is to be unplugged!

So what else can you do with this book?

LITERACY

  •  Write a letter to yourself persuading you to get unplugged more often.
  •  Write a letter to your parents, encouraging them to get unplugged
  • When Blip plays all day long there are no words between the friends. What do you think they might be saying to each other?
  • If you were to spend a whole week with your family without screens what would you do? Where would you go? Write some ideas down to share.

NUMERACY

  • Work out how much time you spend in front of a screen and work out a way you can spend less time in front of it.
  • How often do you move? Investigate your daily movement and how taking time off the screen can help your movement and health.

INQUIRY

  •  How are you like Blip? Create an advertisement to show a person, before and after being unplugged. You can choose a perspective to take this from – health and wellness or computing company.  Look at how advertisements can persuade us to do things that aren’t great for our health and see how you can create your own.
Book review, Books with current issues, literacy, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

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?

Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, literacy, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

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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Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, refugees, Teacher tips and resources

How to inspire yourself to change

At the end of the year we reflect on how we have gone this year and how we can change for the better.

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We think about the great things we achieved for ourselves and for others and the not so great things.

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It is a great time of year to inspire our children to reflect on the wonderful things they have done throughout the year too.

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However, many of you reading this blog live in the western world where life is easier than most. We don’t live in war, many of you will have enough money to eat healthy food, have safe accomodation and access to education.

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And for children the concept of how lucky they are is difficult to realise when they have never seen what life is like on the other side.

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I have come across some wonderful books this year that will show your children what life is like elsewhere and hopefully inspire them to make small changes in their lives to help those less fortunate.

This could be

 – Buy local products so children are not exploited. 

 – Buy organic or spray free products so families who live near farms are not harmed.

 – Invest in small businesses rather than large multi national companies.

 – Create less waste by making your own food, buying less toys and sharing products.

 – Send money to organisations who directly help those in need – not spend it all on advertising! 

And of course, read these books:

Feathers by Phil Cummings

The Thank you dish by Trace Balla

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood.

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup 

Can you add any more books to this list?

Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, plastic free July, Teacher tips and resources, water

How can you be kinder to the planet?

There are so many ways that we act in this present world that is thoughtless about the future we are leaving the next generations, and I feel that at this time of year it is the worst.

I love Christmas, I love the food, the gathering of friends and family and I love the decorations – but I hate the waste.

Christmas can be done cheaply – which is wonderful for so many families but what about those children who made those cheap gifts for you in China? What about the families that live down stream from the factories where those toys were made that will be lost or thrown out in a couple of weeks? Did you ever think about that?

Bah humbug you say – yes, I know but we can act sustainably at this time of year too.

We can decorate our tree using decorations that will last twenty years: Try Biome for some great deals today – Free shipping for over $50!

We can buy gifts that will last the latest fad and more than one child. AND we can move away from the need to give our children lots of toys. We need to stay strong against the big companies – our kids will be happy with less – they don’t need more.

Christmas is a time for giving – let’s give back to the planet that has given us life and think about everyone else who lives on it, not just the ones who can consume and throw away.

These books are great places to start your journey on being kinder to the planet too:

The secret of black Rock by Joe Todd-stanton

Papa Sky by Jane Jolly

Coral Sea Dreaming by Kim Michelle Toft

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

One Thousand Trees by Kyle

A-Z of endangered animals

Rhino in the house

Rock pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver

Book review, Books with current issues, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Brave and strong, All day long. By Elizabeth Cummings

 

Today I’m taking part in the Just write for Kids Books on Tour and I’m happy to introduce Elizabeth Cummings and her latest picture book from her Verityville series, Brave and Strong All Day Long, as a part of her Books On Tour promotion.

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Summer is coming and it’s time to hit the beach don’t you think?

Many people love going to the beach to relax and it’s even better when the weather is warm enough to swim.

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Thankfully, in Australia, many of our beaches are patrolled by lifegaurds who are there to watch over us as we swim underneath the waves, ride the waves or try to run away from them!

Brave and strong all day long by Elizabeth Cummings is a short and simple picture book with a big message – the importance of lifeguards.

Lifeguards need to be confident, strong and brave all day long, they need to be able to help those in need, teach people how to swim safely in the surf and most importantly ensure that everyone returns back to their towels at the end of their swim!

This book, brought to life with Johanna Roberts’ vibrant and informative illustrations, tells us the story about Fiona, a young girl who became a lifeguard. She loves surfing and has enough confidence to be able to help those in need. Not only can Fiona help swimmers caught in rips she can also help fishermen and surfers!

Young children will enjoy reading this story and learning about what lifeguards do. The images reflect what a lifeguards uniform looks like so readers will know who to look out for if they need help at the beach.  There is also a great drawing of a rip – a great way to start a conversation about this ever present danger in the water and perhaps the chance for further research so your children know what one of these looks like.

Brave and strong, all day long has been self published along with many other wonderful creations by Elizabeth and Johanna. Raising awareness of the important role lifeguards play in society is something we all need to do so we do not take these wonderful volunteers for granted.

Check out her website and consider some of her other great titles as well! https://elizabethmarycummings.com/book-store/

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“For more information on blog tours at Books On Tour please visit www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour.” Thanks so much. Please let me know if there’s anything else you need.

So what else can you do after you have read this book?

  • ENGAGE: Visit the beach and watch what the lifeguards do – perhaps even talk to one and see what they have been up to!
  • INVESTIGATE: Why the flags are placed up and how they help us.
  • INVESTIGATE: Learn more about rips here: https://beachsafe.org.au/surf-safety/ripcurrents
  • ASK: Why do lifeguards wear long sleeve tops and hats. Investigate sun safety and why we need to cover up.
  • THINK: What sort of sun cream do you use? Why are there so many types out there and are they all the same?
  • RESEARCH: Where and when did surfing originate? Why do lifeguards use boards to rescue people?

 

SIGN UP TO MY EMAILS FOR MONTHLY RECAP ON BOOKS AND AUTHORS I’VE MET ALONG THE WAY

 

animals, Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, gifted education, literacy, nature play, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, plastic free July, Teacher tips and resources

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.