Ford Street, 2019
32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99
Decades of research have shown that children respond to the rhythm, rhyme and repetition of their native language as the first steps in learning to talk and later to read. The words can be utter nonsense or hold little meaning as the poems of Spike Milligan and traditional nursery rhymes have proven by their endurance because it is the cadence and expression that captures the ear.
Thus, poems are important in children’s early literacy development and so a new book with a range of poems that capture both the ear and the imagination is a delightful addition to this genre. from the mysterious yumbie to the elusive moonfish to the pet flea who eats 100 meals a day (“it’s my blood but that’s okay) to the angry old lady of 93 who is on Facebook and learning karate, Laing spans the spectrum of the topics in his imagination, providing a rhythmic experience that has broad appeal and reinforces why our language should be predominantly spoken aloud.
Featuring eye-catching and fresh art by some of Australia’s best known illustrators including Shaun Tan, Leigh Hobbs, Judy Watson, Marjory Gardner, Mitch Vane and Anna Pignataro, there is something in here for everyone, young and not-so-young that will create or renew the fascination with language and how we can manipulate it.
If your students are tired of the sterilised, contrived texts that they are supposed to engage them and engender a love of reading, share these poems with them and watch the joy return.