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Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

Megan Daley

UQP, 2019

244pp., pbk., RRP $A27.95

9780702262579

In the early days of European settlement in this country, establishing schools became a priority particularly for those with a religious bent because they believed it was imperative that the emerging generation of children be able to read and understand The Bible and thus not follow their parents’ errant ways. That was a school’s key purpose. Decades and generations on and while society has changed, and schools themselves are almost unrecognisable from those early institutions, the expectation that a child primarily attends so they can learn to read has not. 

Right from preschool children are tested on their literacy development and judged according to it, underlining the importance that is still placed on being able to read and write. Five year olds head off on their first day of ‘big school’ fully expecting to be able to read by the time they come home and are often disappointed that they cannot. However, research and experience has shown that schools alone cannot be the child’s primary teachers in this critical endeavour. It is a partnership between home and school and those who make the best readers are those whose roots in reading extend back to birth. Indeed, author Mem Fox has stated that the illiteracy problem in this country could be solved if children just heard 1000 stories before they come to school (which can be achieved in three years with a favourite, a familiar and a first-read as the regular bedtime routine) and the concept of the ‘million word gap’ is not new.

So this book from Megan Daley, a respected, qualified teacher librarian (we must have qualifications in both teaching and librarianship), which explores how parents can help to raise readers is a valuable contribution to the lives of new parents, particularly in these days of the screen being a dominant feature in children’s lives.  For those who can read it is hard to remember not being able to do so; for those who can’t read or don’t like to it is tricky to overcome the personal prejudices that already exist, so to have a “manual” that helps explain some of the best practices and what underlies them is eye-opening.  

While there have been a number of books on this sort of topic in the past, many have been written bu either authors of children’s books or university lecturers, This one is by a practising teacher librarian who is in touch with what is happening both in and out of school as Megan has two daughters.  She examines the place of the school library in the child’s reading journey while at the same time encouraging parents to attend book launches; getting involved in Book week while setting up a book-themed bedroom; explaining the most popular genres of young readers while offering tips to host book parties and be “best book-givers”. Interspersed with the user-friendly text are comments from some of Australia’s favourite children’s authors as well as suggestions for books to support the young reader as they grow their literacy skills.

For the teacher and the teacher librarian, this is a refreshing read with lots of tried-and-true and new ideas and perspectives in amongst the host of academic and professional reading we have to do; to parents it’s a simple explanation of the what, why and how of raising a reader so both child and parent fulfil their expectations..

One to encourage staff to read and to include and promote in your parent library.

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Juno Jones Word Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Kate Gordon

Sandy Flett

Yellow Brick Books, 2019

92pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780994557094

A disaster is on the horizon! Muttonbird Bay School might be closing. 

Juno Jones loves her school, but the Men in Suits want to close it down! With three schools in the area, including a posh school and a public one near the sewerage system (known as the poo school) , and not enough children, one of the schools has to go. And, according to their principal,  there’s only only one thing Juno and her classmates can do to stop it… show they are smarter and dedicated and so they need to READ! Which is perfectly fine for people like Perfect Paloma, Smelly Bella and Genius George, but Juno Jones is a kid who doesn’t like reading. She prefers being a secret ninja, telling jokes and drawing so she strikes a deal with her teacher to write a book rather than reading one. She needs to become a Word Ninja.

And the result is this new addition to the series scene for newly independent readers for those who like something different with a quirky, feisty female lead in a setting they can relate to, but with a balance of male and female characters that means its appeal is not limited to girls. Each character has talents and skills that contribute to the development of the story, setting the series up for a whole range of new adventures.

 

 

 

52 Mondays

52 Mondays

52 Mondays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

52 Mondays

Anna Ciddor

Allen & Unwin, 2019

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760523480

Melbourne in the hot summer of February 1964 , in the hot car on the way to Nana and Zayda’s and Anna clutches the library book she can’t wait to read. It’s called Hitty: the life and adventures of a wooden doll and it not only inspired young Anna to own her own antique doll, a dream that lasts 52 Mondays, but also inspired the older Anna, the author, to tell the tale of the joys and disappointments of her real-life childhood search for the doll.

Based on her own life and following the success of The Family with Two Front Doors  which tells the story of  her own family, the Rabinovitches who “dance, laugh and cook their way through an extraordinary life in 1920s Poland”, the author takes the readeron a journey through the life and times of children growing up in 1960s Melbourne.  No computers, no Internet or social media, in many homes, not even a television set – just the day-to-day adventures of children who had to seek and make their own fun.  For those like me it is a trip down memory lane to the days of warm school milk, Mr Whippy, and desks in rows in schools, while for more modern young readers it is an insight into the lives of their grandparents -something very different to that which they know.

Whichever, it is a very readable story about a little girl with a dream, parents who understand and support it, the  highs and lows of following it, and the determination and resilience  required to achieve it. 

 

 

The Greatest Book in the World

The Greatest Book in the World

The Greatest Book in the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Book in the World

Matt Porter

Dave Atze

Ford Street, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804157

Rudolf Wordsmith is determined to write the greatest book in the world.  But he believes that such books are always written in rhyme so he speaks directly to readers inviting them to help them complete the rhyming couplet.  Of course, he sets up the words (and Atze sets up the illustrations drawing Rudolf in humiliating predicaments,)  so that readers finish them with a rude word, and admonishing them when they do so.

While Rudolf always supplies a socially acceptable alternative, this will appeal to that particular brand of humour that all boys seem to pass through as they emerge as independent readers, and is a LOL book that will have them gathered around and enjoying that collaborative reading experience that is also essential to their reading development.

One to encourage boys to keep reading beyond the home readers…

 

The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2018

168pp., hbk., RRP $A45.00

9780008294342

In 2004, Oliver Jeffers set out to do a painting of someone trying to do something impossible – a boy catching a star with a butterfly net – and that idea evolved not only into the  book How to Catch a Star but into a series of four stories including Lost and Found, The Way Back Home and Up and Down. 

Now collected into one collection, this book also offers a unique look behind the scenes at the development of each book. As well as a letter from Jeffers himself explaining how the series grew (and may still do so, although that is unlikely), it contains more than 100 distinctive sketches, notes and ideas that he has chosen from his archives that show  the thoughts, events and incidents that shaped the stories.

Apart from its inherent beauty, this book has much to offer about how stories grow in the minds of their creators, giving it an appeal and a use far beyond the target audience of the original stories themselves.  

101 Weird Words (and Three Fakes)

101 Weird Words (and Three Fakes)

101 Weird Words (and Three Fakes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

101 Weird Words (and Three Fakes)

David Astle 

Allen & Unwin, 2018

144pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

9781760633660

Young readers who love playing with words and learning new ones to baffle their parents can journey from ambidextrous to zugzwang in this new book of words from “full-time nerd word” David Astle. He is the devious crossword-setter in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age but children will also know him as the “dictionary man” on the TV show Letters and Numbers.

In this pop-in-your-pocket volume, he has collected lots of new words that children will delight in getting their tongues around and using in their conversations and stories.  And just to add some extra zing, he has included three fake words as well!  Each word, real or fake has a roll-off-the-tongue appeal and is presented with its meaning, pronunciation, history, fun facts and examples of use in a way that is engaging and demands to be read to the end. 

Extending children’s vocabulary is one of the primary goals of reading and writing, and as well as being a great Christmas present for the family word nerd, it would also be an ideal gift for the teacher who likes to challenge students with a word of the week.  There’s always room for a thumbs-up or more tangible reward for the student who uses the word correctly in a conversation or a story. It’s fun books like these that make me wish I was back in schools again!

 

Midnight at the Library

Midnight at the Library

Midnight at the Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midnight at the Library

Ursula Dubosarsky

Ron Brooks

NLA Publishing, 2018

36pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279316

A long time ago a boy looked out of a window and wondered about the world. And as he thought and wondered, his head filled with words and they came out of his head, down his arm, into his hand and into his fingers and onto the page… Over time and place that little book was opened and loved, given and taken, closed and lost, found and forgotten as it journeyed until it is now waiting to be discovered in a library.

In this beautifully written and stunningly illustrated story by the familiar team of Dubosarsky and Brooks, young readers are introduced to the concept of a book and its critical place in society as the purveyor of stories that tell us about who and what has gone before, the roots of who we are as a nation and indeed, as people.  And just as this little book lives on in the library to tell its seekers its stories, young readers can imagine what story they could write today to be discovered and revered years and generations hence. 

As well as telling the story of the book, Dubosarsky and Brooks also celebrate the importance of libraries as the safe havens of the written word, a concept also explored on the final pages as some of the books, as magical as that in the story,  that are available to be explored at the National Library of Australia are highlighted.

Apart from just being a wonderful read, the potential to use this book across the curriculum is almost endless as students consider the role of the written word, the history of its communication, the changes in format, the types of books and stories on offer and the need for a common set of symbols, syntax and semantics to make our message understood regardless of the language we speak.

Formal teachers’ notes are available but for me, this has so much more potential than just satisfying some AC outcomes. It’s all wrapped up in the universal wonder of story.

 

 

 

 

It’s a Story, Rory!

It's a Story, Rory!

It’s a Story, Rory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a Story, Rory!

Frances Watts

David Legge

HarperCollins, 2018 

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780733335938

 

Hey, Milly, why are we on this blank page?’

‘It won’t be blank for long. We’re going to be in a STORY, Rory!’

Rory the fox is puzzled because he has never been in a story before and he’s not even sure how one works. Luckily his friend Milly the chook knows a  little bit more and with the  helpful voice of the narrator explaining how stories work, they have an adventure that will  entertain as much as it educates.

This is a brilliant companion to the fabulous Parsley Rabbit’s Book About Books, the CBCA Eve Pownall Book of the Year in 2008. In that, Parsley Rabbit explained all the parts of a book to young readers, and in this new one, Watts and Legge have teamed up again to talk young readers through the structure of a story.  Explaining the role and purpose of the narrator, the characters, the plot, and the setting; discussing the need for description (which can be achieved with words or pictures or both combined); creating an event which engages the reader and to which the characters should react; building anticipation; introducing the concept of genre to determine how the story will proceed; and drawing the story to a conclusion which satisfies both the characters and the reader are all done as Rory’s and Millie’s adventure unfolds on the pages. 

Illustrator Legge has said, “The line between writer and illustrator was well and truly blurred to the point where I’m not sure where some of the ideas for both words and pictures came from,” and this is very evident as the link between the text and pictures and the narrator’s explanation and the characters’ adventure is seamless. Whereas Parsley Rabbit focused on the child as a consumer of stories making it easier for them to navigate their way around a physical book, this one concentrates on the child as the creator of stories, helping them move from the blank page to something that has all the essential elements that engage a reader. For those who want to read the story behind this story, Frances and David discuss it here

As both a teacher and a teacher librarian, I can envisage having this book as the basis for my entire writing program for a class for a year, satisfying nearly every outcome of the English strand of the Australian Curriculum.  Imagine giving every child a blank page and inviting them to either draw an original character or describe one (depending on their preference for words or pictures) and then passing that page on to either have words or a picture added.  That’s the start of a collaboration that could go on and on as the characters become real as the other elements are explored. Further teaching notes are available

If there is one book that you are going to add to your teaching toolbox this year, this should be it.  Ask for it in your Christmas stocking!

 

 

 

 

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

Alastair Chisholm

Jez Tuya

Walker Books, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781406365139

When it’s time for Jamie’s bedtime story, his Dad begins to tell an age-old fairy tale about a prince in a faraway land full of dragons, wolves and princesses in distress. But inquisitive Jamie can’t help but add to his dad’s story, and the prince is soon joined by an evil-eyed witch who turns people to jelly, a broccoli-wielding ninja frog and a jewel-thief, lock picking princess. It may not be the story Dad set out to tell, but together, he and Jamie create something much more energetic and hilarious than they could have alone.

Familiar to nearly every parent who has set out to tell their little one a bedtime story only to find that their child has very definite ideas on what the story should be about and what should happen, this is a lovely story that incorporates all the familiar characters of traditional fairy tales but with a modern twist. Young listeners will enjoy Jamie’s interruptions as they relate to him and learn that stories can be whatever you want them to be.  It just takes some imagination.

Splat the Fake Fact

Splat the Fake Fact!

Splat the Fake Fact

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Splat the Fake Fact

Adam Frost

Gemma Correll

Bloomsbury, 2018

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408889503

When it comes to free reading choices, young boys, particularly, tend to go for the non fiction titles about sharks, dinosaurs, motor vehicles and the Guinness Book of Records. They are fascinated by the world of the weird and wonderful that they can pore over and learn so much from in discussions with their friends as they examine the pictures even if they can’t read the text yet. They are laying their foundations of the basic concepts of information literacy but their interest is driven by the illustration rather than a need for specific information.

Splat the Fake Fact takes this interest up a notch, encouraging the reader to actually think about what they are being told, discover the correct answer through some research and then do something about it.  On every page there are incredible, hilarious, unlikely facts that are completely true… and one fact that isn’t!  The reader is invited to find the imposter fact and reveal it before it goes out into the world – and then take some action like scribbling on them, lasering them, drawing silly hats or crossing them out.While that might not be the recommended action for a community library book, nevertheless the combination of humour and cartoon presentation will engage young readers into understanding that not everything they read is true; that there is real “fake news” and the need to verify what they see and hear through some basic research.

While this would make an ideal read for that young person moving on to independent reading and research, it could also have a place in information literacy levels with each page being a jump start for an aspect of the information literacy process.  Starting with “What do we already know?” and “What more do we need to know?” and “Where could we find that information?” students can be led on that journey of lifelong learning, developing those core concepts in a way that connects to the interests of the age group.  

While many teachers like to use websites like Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus to have students to learn to test what they are reading and evaluate the validity of it, Splat the Fake Fact is a  few steps before this with its accessible language, funky illustrations, and graphic layout.  Each fake fact is identified, often in another crazy puzzle that requires more learning to decipher, but more complete explanations are given at the end of the book.  

Some students might even like to use the puzzles as models to create their own fake facts, setting up a weekly challenge for library users to investigate, learning to use the library’s resources as they do.

What looks like a book that might be used as a child’s Christmas stocking stuffer, might just be the best investment you make in your library collection this year!!!