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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.

Moonfish

Moonfish

Moonfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moonfish

Harry Laing

Ford Street, 2019 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781925804256

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. 

Wilam

Wilam

Wilam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilam – A Birrarung Story

Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly

Lisa Kennedy

Black Dog Books, 2019

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

9781925381764

As ngua rises, Bunjil soars over mountain ash, flying higher and higher as the wind warms. Below, Birrarung begins its long winding path down to palem warreen. Wilam – home.

In this stunning new picture book, Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly joins award-winning picture book duo Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy to tell the Indigenous and geographical story of Melbourne’s beautiful Yarra river, from its source to its mouth; from its pre-history to the present day. Using many of the words of the Woiwurrung language for places and things, the reader is taken on a journey that not only embraces this much-maligned river but also draws the reader into the journey as they use Lisa Kennedy’s beautiful artworks to interpret the text. This makes for a remarkable sensory experience as you are engrossed in the beauty and diversity of the river.

2019 has been declared by the UN to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages and this is the perfect addition to a collection celebrating this.  Not only does it embed the language of the people whose lands were focused around Birrarung into a context that makes sense to all readers, it also exemplifies the connection between text and illustrations as readers must use the one to understand the other. 

A must-have.

 

Baz & Benz

Baz & Benz

Baz & Benz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baz & Benz

Heidi McKinnon

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760523688

‘Benz, are we friends?’
‘Yes, Baz, we are best friends’
‘For how long?’
‘For ever and ever.’

Baz and Benz are two little owls, and Baz is trying to discover how far he can push the boundaries of the friendship as he suggests all kinds of things he could do that might fracture the friendship.  But even when Benz gets annoyed, the friendship remains strong because Benz is very wise. 

From the creator of I Just Ate My Friend,  McKinnon once again explores the concept of friendship and what it takes to be a good friend.  As with her previous book, the illustrations are set against a plain night sky background, ensuring the young reader pays attention to the focal point and much of the emotion of both Baz and Benz comes through the facial expressions and body language. The story is carried in dialogue colour-coded to each character enabling very young readers to start developing early concepts about print. 

Perfect for preschoolers just learning about having friends and being one, as they reflect on their behaviour and its impact on those around them, as well as how other’s behaviour impacts on them. 

All Right Already!

All Right Already!

All Right Already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Right Already!

Jory John

Benji Davies

HarperCollins, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780008330033

Bear and Duck are neighbours – but two more different would be hard to find.  Bear is huge, slow and somewhat grouchy; Duck small, energetic and always looking for fun. Told in dialogue with each character having their own font that cleverly echoes their nature, each story focuses on a conflict between the two as Bear wants one thing – usually a quiet life – while Duck wants the opposite. And it is the same in this latest addition to this series for very young readers…

It has snowed overnight and Duck wants to make the most of the fun it offers while Bear wants to stay in his cosy warm house. Even after Duck coaxes him out he is a reluctant participant in the games and when he starts to sneeze, Duck bundles him back inside (where he wanted to be all the time) and assumes the role of nurse.  But Bear is not particularly grateful and when Duck begins to sneeze too and heads for her home, it remains to be seen whether Bear will step up and nurse her.

Apart from being a charming story that young readers will enjoy, there is much it offers for the development of early reading behaviours for them as well.  Firstly, being a series, it is an opportunity for the adult to ask the child what they remember and know about the characters already so their thoughts are already set to the contrasting characteristics of each.  When Duck goes to Bear’s house, full of excitement and anticipation, what sort of reception is she likely to get?  There is also the opportunity to explore the concept of dialogue as the whole story is told in conversation with Duck’s voice in a different, lighter font to that of Bear’s. It offers lots of things to chat about such as why it snows and why most Australian children won’t wake to a snowy morning; how we need to protect ourselves from catching a cold and how we can keep from spreading the one we have, and also the things we can do to make a friendship solid and sustainable.  While bedtime stories should always be about the bond and the connections between reader and listener, there are subtle ways that these concepts about print can be shared so that the young one engages even further with the story and becomes even more determined to become an independent reader.

 

 

A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Parade of Elephants

Kevin Henkes

Greenwillow, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780062668271

Here they come ….one, two, three, four, five.  A parade of elephants who like to march and march and march.  Round and round they go, up, down, under, over, in and out – they march all day.  Until bedtime when they lift their trunks and trumpet and scatter stars across the sky.

From the butterflies and sun on the front endpage to the moon and stars on the back, this is a charming story that will help little ones learn to count and understand positional words.  They will enjoy being elephants and finding their own places to march though, up, under, in and out and over. Perfect for our youngest readers who will be able to match the words and pictures learning valuable concepts about how print works, this is a charming bedtime story as well as an early maths book! Promote it to your early childhood teachers and parent body who are looking for something delightful but different.

 

BumbleBunnies: The Pond

BumbleBunnies: The Pond

BumbleBunnies: The Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BumbleBunnies: The Pond

Graeme Base

HarperCollins, 2018

24pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781460753941

Early one morning Wuffle the puppy, Lou the kitten and Billington the duck are playing with Wuffle’s new ball when they accidentally send it into the pond.  Billington goes after the ball and Wuffle jumps in too, but Wuffle can’t swim.  Is he going to drown? It looks like this will be a story with an unhappy ending when suddenly, out of the blue sky comes an amazing sight…

This is the first in a new series by the amazing Graeme Base, written for our earliest readers.  (The second, The Sock, is due later this month, with two more later in the year.) In it he uses simple text and his exquisite detailed artwork to bring everyday incidents to life in story, with the added twist of three superhero bunnies who use their intelligence and unique skills to get the heroes out of potentially dangerous situations.

Apart from being entertaining stories in themselves, the nature of series means that even little ones can learn about each character and carry what they know of them over to the next book.  They will delight in helping the BumbleBunnies choose what is needed for each situation, giving them a sense of power over the words, that most stories don’t have and suggesting the ways that the BumbleBunnies can each use their skills to rescue the situation.

While this is quite a departure from his works for older children, nevertheless, Base’s attention to detail in the illustrations makes them so rich that they demand to be read over and over again with something new to discover each time.

 

DK Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation

DK Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation

DK Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DK Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation

DK, 2019 

128pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143794998

Being the daughter of journalists who were sticklers for correct grammar, the structure of our language was drummed into me from an early age and I have to say that all these years on, I’m still what is commonly called a “grammar Nazi.” In fact, just this morning I corrected this image on a friend’s Facebook feed stating that it should read, “What would you do if you knew you COULD not fail?”

And with the return of the “back to basics” of the English strand of the Australian curriculum where even our youngest students are expected to know what “rime and onset” are, the syntax of our language can be overwhelming.  Thus, having a ready reference text that helps young children understand the common parts of speech like nouns, verbs and adjectives and supports their growing knowledge of more obscure things like prepositional phrases, fronted adverbials and reported speech will be a welcome addition to any young student’s collection, (and perhaps, even their teacher’s.)  

While text speech and spelling seems to have overtaken much of our everyday writing, being able to put words on paper that carry a message over time still remains part of that which makes us human and so grammar and punctuation both have a vital place in our learning if we want to be understood by others. 

But although the more formal aspects of writing might seem daunting to those moving on from writing random thoughts and having an adult interpret and transcribe them for them, students are reassured that they know much of what they are going to learn already because every time they speak they use grammar – the purpose of this book is just to show them the different kinds of words and how they fit together.  There’s a clear explanation of how to use the three parts of the book – parts of speech, sentences and clauses, and punctuation – as well as a demonstration of what grammar and punctuation are and how they are critical to both speech and writing. 

We are all familiar with memes like this…

so teaching young children from the get-go the difference is essential if they are to realise those big dreams.

This book is one of six in the 2019 DK Australia First Reference series, which also includes First Children’s DictionaryFirst Science EncyclopediaFirst Maths GlossaryFirst Encyclopedia and First How Things Works Encyclopedia, and is going to be a valuable addition to Miss 7’s writing toolkit as she enters the new phase of her formal education. 

 

DK First Reference Dictionary

DK First Reference Dictionary

DK First Reference Dictionary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DK First Reference Dictionary

DK, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143794981

I love this time of the year – the madness that is Christmas is over, the new school year is becoming real and it’s time to reflect on just where Miss 7 and Miss 12 are at with their learning, and how much they have accomplished in the past 12 months.

This year, Miss 12 begins the whole new adventure of high school while Miss 7 moves into Year 3, already an independent reader and wanting to start writing her own stories.  She has a big imagination and big dreams just like May Gibbs so this new Australian dictionary from DK is going to be the perfect addition to her desk.  As part of the generation that believes having a broad vocabulary and using and spelling it correctly is critical for engaging the audience and getting the message across, I believe dictionaries are an essential part of the writer’s toolkit and this one is perfect for the budding storyteller.

With more than 4,000 words and definitions, and featuring a full alphabet on every page to make finding words easy, colourful photographs that bring words to life, and helpful information on word families, spelling and writing, this essential dictionary for Australian children is the perfect reference book, both for home and at school. Each entry provides the part of speech and the word’s plural while the definition is in everyday English so that it is accessible to the user.  It acknowledges that the user has moved on from junior picture dictionaries so there is not a picture for every entry, allowing space for exploring the words that children of this age use. 

This book is one of six in the 2019 DK Australia First Reference series, which also includes Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation, First Maths GlossaryFirst Science Encyclopedia and First How Things Work Encyclopedia., all of which will be important additions to Miss 7’s bookshelf this year as well as being extremely useful in any library collection as they could be the central focus of teaching this age group the value of reference tools and how to identify the cues and clues to use them.   Alphabetical order is an essential skill that reaches well beyond understanding how a dictionary works, but the dictionary is the ideal place to master it. 

Let’s Go Strolling

Let’s Go Strolling

Let’s Go Strolling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go Strolling

Katrina Germein

Danny Snell

Little Book Press, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780648115687

Taking a toddler for a walk in a stroller on a sunny day is one of life’s more pleasant and relaxing experiences, especially if it’s a welcome break in a hectic daily routine.  Enjoying the activity, taking notice of nature and the amazing things that can be seen as you stroll rather than rush, sitting in the park, meeting friends with their toddlers – it all goes to making an enjoyable experience for parent and child. 

So this lovely book for preschoolers that focuses on this simple activity and brings it to life is a delight to share, as our soon-to-be readers not only relate to the events but are also encouraged to think more about what they see on their daily walk.  Perhaps it is an opportunity for parent and child to take a lead from Germein’s text and Snell’s illustrations and create their own book about their daily walk.  A few pages that have the repetitive text of “On our walk we saw…” and a photo or drawing will not only become a family favourite but also help the child understand the power they have over words – saying them, writing them and reading them.

This book has been produced under the umbrella of Raising Literacy Australia, and with such experienced authors and illustrators on board, it certainly helps meet the mission and aims of that charity. It’s familiar setting and activity, its simple rhythmic language accompanied by illustrations that enable the young reader to predict the text, and the potential for follow-up are all part of those essential elements that lay the foundations for mastery of print.