Monster party by The children from Rawa with Alison Lester and Jane Godwin

Monsters come out of the ground tonight. Jeepers creepers, they give us a fright!

In 2017 Alison Lester and Jane Godwin visited Rawa Community school and took part in a project with children from the school that would help them to not only create their own book but build skills in art marking and creative writing.

Rawa Community school is located on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert at Punmu in the Pilbara region of Western Australia – a place where your imagination can run wild!

Monster Party is a fun tale about a band of monsters who decide to come and visit the children at school one day after dancing the night away and keeping everyone up! The monsters can do so many different things on the shores of Dora Lake such as hop, slobber, steal and growl.

Written in rhyme and drawing on the imagination of young children – especially at night time, we learn about the crazy things monsters like to do when we are not looking.

Imagination is a beautiful gift to have but sometimes those dark spaces and lack of noise out in the middle of the desert can make the imagination run a lot wilder that you would hope it does!

The children who helped to write this story have learnt to harness that imagination and turn it into a fun story about life in one of the most remote communities in Australia.

Young children will delight in the crazy, funny and intriguing monsters that pop out on each page and possibly wonder what sort of other monsters are out there dancing the night away?

Monster party is a wonderful picture book for younger readers and there is a lot of learning and fun that can be had with it!

What else can you do?

Explore the different verbs used throughout the book and think of some more things monsters can do.

Learn more about how each of the monsters were created and the printing technique. Try to replicate this technique and create your own monster!

Use a map and find out where Rawa Community school is. Find out more about life there and indigenous stories that come from the desert area.

Write your own story about a monster party somewhere near your school.

Explore the use of rhyme in this story and create your own story in rhyme.

Choose a monster in the book and write a short description of it.

Advertisements

I remember by Joanne Crawford and Kerry Anne Jordinson

Do you have a memory from many years ago that is as strong as it was the day you did that activity? 

Can you remember the smells, how you felt, what you saw or ate? 

Written by Joanne Crawford and illustrated by Kerry Anne Jordinson, I remember is a beautifully told story that highlights memories and how those that fill us with joy linger within our minds, even when our day to day memory is fading.

We meet our storyteller, an older women, briefly and are quickly transported back in time to a holiday she had as a child.

She tells us in detail her family trip to the Murchison River – the journey in the car, the setting up of the campsite and cooking of damper within hot coals.

Jordinson’s illustrations bring these memories to life so much so that we can feel the heat, smell the gum leaves and hear the night animals.

The gentleness of this story shows the reader just how important happy memories are to an ageing person and how much joy they can bring. It also shows just how important storytelling is – the sharing and listening to of stories brings people and places back to life and sheds light on how we can move forward.

About 4 years ago I visited the end of the Murchison River – near Kalbarri but only spent a day there…it was amazing and I can only imagine the beauty of spending a week or two there would bring. The red rock, the blue river and the green growth – a spectacular place.

I remember by Joanne Crawford moved me, its a book for young and old, one to be shared and perhaps one that will inspire some storytelling around your kitchen table.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Tell stories as often as you can, make them up or retell about a time once had.

– Go camping or spend some time outdoors – entice your senses!

– Find out where the Murchison River is and where you could camp.

– Why is storytelling such an important aspect of Australian Indigenous culture?

– What are memories? Do we need them and if we don’t have them how does this effect us?

– What would life be like if we didn’t have any memories?

The lengths some bears go to

Bollo had had enough.

Every book he read was boring.

His friends told him to try picture books.

BORING!

His little boy told him to try books based on facts

BORING!

His grandma suggested he try audio books

OH HIS EARS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

img_8407

 

Tell me a story Rory by Jeanne Willis and Holly Clifton Brown

We love our teddy bears and have spent many hours over the years searching for bears that have hidden themselves in trees, under lounges and inside cars. But as the children grow older they are starting to need them less and less and it’s good it doesn’t bother them but it does make me sad that they are growing up.

Tell me a story Rory by Jeanne Willis and Holly Clifton Brown is a simple yet powerful story about the love between those beloved cuddly toys and children.

Rory the lion used to listen to his little girl tell a story every night but now she has moved to a new bed and doesn’t come and see him anymore.
Rory misses her and instead of lamenting his loss he starts to create his own stories.
His stories lead his little girl back and together they adventure far and wide through magical night time stories.

Tell me a story Rory highlights the importance of storytelling and the relationships we can build through spoken word.

So what can you do at home? 

Tell stories! Tell a story every night when your child goes to bed. It is not only fun but it ignites imagination. See my post on storytelling.

Don’t discourage soft toys, they are a reassurance for young children and they will eventually let go of them.

Tell stories to your child. We have so much fun every night telling stories! Perhaps a good picture book will come out of it one day!!

Snap review: Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables by Tim Harris

Mr Bambuckle is every student’s idea of a dream teacher and perhaps some teacher’s wish they could be more like Mr Bambuckle!


I loved the way Tim Harris presented each short story and through each short story we were able to meet the different students in 12B.

I particulary loved the story of the washing machine as I know that in my childhood I was once afraid of the noise the washing machine made.

Tim Harris has a great ability to make children laugh, connect with the characters and perhaps learn a lesson or two as they read.

This book is also a great way to show students the many different ways stories can be presented.

A great book to read out loud to your class – and perhaps inspire some great storytelling amongst a group!

Dear picture book section

Dear Picture book section,

It was really lovely seeing you the other day. You were full of some new releases, some hidden gems and of course some old favourites.

img_4702

Whenever I come across your smiling face I am able to stop, relax and take stock of what has been happening in the real world. I can slip into a world of imagination and learn lessons that help me to get by in my every day life.

Your magical stories give me new ideas and your haunting tales caution me about the dark side of life. The new lands you introduce me to help me to see my world from another perspective and different characters help me to see myself and my friends in a different light.

So many of your tales involve animals that can talk and I always wonder why that is. Do we relate better to big issues when a normally speechless creature can suddenly speak words of wisdom?

Picture book section, I don’t know why we have to go weeks without seeing each other so I am starting my own picture book section in a corner of my house. Every time I borrow some pieces of you from the library I am going to store you in my bookcase, not in my bag. I am going to read a story every day and share these new ideas with those around me.

Picture book section, without you I would be in a land of screens, simple stories and cats that just sit and purr in a basket.

Dear Picture book section, thank you for being you.

See you soon,

 

Vanessa

 

 

Storytelling and learning how to read.

The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.” – Dalai Lama

What is storytelling?

Storytelling is the act of telling a story – any story. It can be through spoken word, through written word, through art and through acting.

How does storytelling help us and your child with reading?

It expands our vocabulary

By telling stories your child listens to new words being pronounced. Your child hears words in new and known contexts.

When your child tells a story they are practising using new vocabulary.

Instead of asking them to write another boring sentence using a spelling word or sight word – ask them to tell a story instead! These words will come into the story very easily

It is interactive

When we tell stories we are engaging in eye contact with the storyteller and the listeners. We are using body language and facial expressions to engage others or show our interest. We can see how others feel about the story and change where the story is heading if we see our original ending not working for the current audience.

Storytelling promotes visualisation, inferencing and problem solving. It helps us to think on our feet and engage each audience we tell the story to in a different way.

It tells us a story

We all love stories and storytelling through close friends and family can tell tales of the past – rather than just relying on photos and videos. Most cultures passed on advice through storytelling and many still do – telling stories make those rules much easier to follow!

It uses our imagination – both the storyteller and the listener. 

Children love being told stories. Some evenings make up a story together before going to bed rather than always only reading books. Borrow ideas from books you have read and make up your own! Your imagination can go wild being the listener or the storyteller and you can have so much fun doing both!

 “The power of storytelling is exactly thisto bridge the gaps where everything else has crumbled.” – Paulo Coelho

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:

 

 

Loving all types of literacy

Linking literacy to books is a passion of mine (as you may have guessed) but so is learning to read.

img_4702

The early years of any child’s life and then formal education are vital for building a love of literacy. If we miss those years children struggle through many areas of their lives as reading is such a big part of it!

Here are some simple ways you can start to build phonemic awareness in a fun way which involves books. No worksheets. No writing. No repetition. Just books and conversations!

  • When you look at the front cover read it out loud. Read the authors name, illustrators name and perhaps even the blurb. Ask your child if they can think of another name that starts with the same sound as the authors first name. Start with the initial letter but if you child can do it, blend the first two letters and find names with that sound.

 

  • As you read look for pictures that might look like letters – this can be lots of fun and can be done as you drive in the car or go for a play outside!
  • If your child is a keen writer – write down their favourite words or sounds from the book. Stick these words on the wall and they can copy them or even make them out of blocks or shapes when the time suits them.

 

  • Make up your own story together – write it down if you like and illustrate.

 

  • Don’t just focus on home readers – make sure your children are reading books they choose for pleasure.

 

  • You don’t always need to read books – try comics or magazines, non-fiction and audio books! . Exposure to different forms of literacy opens their mind and encourages passion from an early age.

 

  • Let me know your thoughts!