Teacher notes written by Vanessa

Have a look at the notes I have produced recently and ask me how I can help develop teacher notes for your novel or picture book.

‘The teachers’ notes Vanessa prepared for me were well thought out, comprehensive and completed in a timely manner. They captured the essence of Esme’s Wish very well and would make a valuable addition to any teacher’s tool kit.’ Elizabeth Foster, Esme’s wish. 

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

http://elizabethfoster.com.au

The Amulet of Athlone by Ruth Devine 

http://ruthdevinewriter.com/books/

Where do odd socks go by Yvonne and illustrated by Sunshine. 

https://www.tillyandtolin.com

Hayden’s Bedtime by Wendy Haynes and illustrated by Brett Curzon

https://www.inprintpublishing.com.au

In the shadow of an elephant by Georgie Donaghey and illustrated by Sandra Severgnini

In the Shadow of an Elephant

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Take a step inside

Have you ever wondered – why we still need books and why we still need a library?  


Perhaps you might think that the internet has everything we need so why use up the extra space and paper? 

Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs has recently been discussing the importance of libraries and the vital role they play in our children’s lives. Not only do they foster a positive reading culture but they allow children to see beyond their interest.

The internet can be a very closed space and we can search and be shown only what we want to see. When a child enters the library they do gravitate towards what they like but they can also be easily shown books by the librarian, parents or teacher that might be a little bit different and might just stretch their world a little further.  Libraries promote a sense of community and hopefully encourage people to take care of the books that they need to share with others.

Perhaps next time rather than buying a book or downloading one, step into your library and see what else is on offer!

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. 

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.

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.

Python by Christopher Cheng and Mark Jackson

It’s morning in the bush.
Python stirs and slithers out from her shelter.
She warms her head and smells the air
with her forked tongue.
Python is a beautiful snake,
but also dangerous
– and she is looking for a meal

Python by Christopher Cheng and Mark Jackson is a captivating picture book that takes you along for a ride as snake looks for her next meal.

Illustrator Mark Jackson brings the danger of the snake to life through his descriptive illustrations of snake sneaking up on her next meal, camouflaging amongst rocks and basking in the warm sun with her brood.

Christopher Cheng not only writes an enchanting story of the snake and her meal seeking adventure, he also adds in some great facts along the way that even the youngest reader can engage with.

Python teaches the reader about Pythons, their habitat and behaviour. Many of us are petrified of snakes and perhaps would rather throw a rock at it than let it run away. When we read stories like this to our children we are building their awareness of creatures like snakes, who are dangerous, and allowing them to know more about them to realise that the snakes are probably a lot more scared of us!

Did you know that pythons might only eat once every four weeks? And that they can unhinge their jaws?

The world of pythons is dangerous yet intriguing and this CBCA shortlisted picture book is a book for all to enjoy.

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We all need picture books

Just recently I have heard some parent’s discussing reading and how they really want their child to start reading longer fiction books and no more picture books.

Junior fiction books are wonderful as are fiction but there is always room for a picture book!

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Why do we need picture books even as older readers?

  1. Picture books allow us to see what someone else is thinking through art.
  2. Picture books can teach us about big issues in a short amount of time.
  3. Picture books allow us to have a deep and meaningful discussion in a short amount of reading time.
  4. Your child will become a better reader through picture books. It is short and achievable and there are pictures to support learning new words.
  5. Picture books are fun – and we want reading to be fun always!
  6. Picture books develop your child’s language skills.
  7. Picture books are great for those with shorter attention spans.
  8. The skills of visual literacy are developed through reading picture books.
  9. We can read lots of picture books in half an hour!
  10. It is always wonderful to have a huge picture book stack on the bedside table – it inspires your child to dream, imagine and create!

Library borrowing time

How often do you and your child visit the library?

When you are there – how long do you spend looking for a book?

booksAs I have spoken about in previous posts – borrowing from the library is important. In many ways it is more important than buying your own copy of a book as you become part of a community. As part of this library community you need to care for the book so others can read it and you need to return it on time so others can read it.

However a really important aspect of the library is learning how to borrow a book. When we visit a library there should be at least thirty minutes set aside to read through books, flick through the pages and look over the covers.

Rushing over the library borrowing process is not enjoyable and doesn’t teach the value of borrowing books.

We want our children to love reading and we want them to find books that they want to read – and make them go back for more. We want them to see what is popular, we want them to talk to the librarian and we want them to see something new.

My four suggestions when we go to the library

  •  Encourage your child or class to take their time borrowing.
  •  Take time to try out a new type of book each time you borrow.
  •  Borrow fiction and non fiction
  •  Read part of the book in the library to generate excitement.

The library is a wonderful resource and something we all need to utilise to it’s full potential.

 

Books can open your mind

Have you ever thought about how a book has changed your perspective on things? Has meeting a character in a story made you think twice about how you think about someone you know or see in the news? Have you ever read a book which tested your belief system?


Reading books opens our minds to new and exciting things. As parents and teachers, even though it is wonderful when we see our children enjoying a particular genre or author style, we should encourage our children to seek out different types of books to read when borrowing from the library.  

How can you do this? Talk to your child about what they are borrowing and reading and ask them what they think of the book and the characters within. Go to the local library together after school or on the weekend and instead of going to the same type of book or author –  suggest something just slightly different.

When we seek out different books we can open magical lands that we may have never stumbled across. We can see how others, whom we might not always relate to persevere to achieve their dreams…or perhaps the opposite. Seeking out books that make us think stretches our mind and help us to realise what else is outside of our own little bubble – something we should encourage in all of our children