Bluey is a six-year-old blue heeler pup who loves to play. Along with her friends and family, Bluey enjoys exploring the world and using her imagination to turn everyday life into an amazing adventure. Based on the Australian children’s television program that is so popular on ABC Kids , the adventures continue in print format enabling our youngest readers to extend their fun while appreciating the joy of stories. They can also get creative with the activities from the ABC.
Young readers are now expecting their heroes to be in multimedia format, giving them a more holistic experience, so adding print to the collection so familiar and favourite characters are seamlessly interwoven is a critical part of their literacy development.
Each of the books in this series for our youngest readers focuses on a location and introduces iconic items that would be discovered in such a place. Even if the location is unfamiliar to the young reader, they provide a valuable aid in building vocabulary and creating context for when the child encounters other stories set in that location. Unfamiliar items have both a name and a context, predictions can be made based on that knowledge and reading progresses. Having been introduced to the various items, the child is then challenged to find them all again in the final pages.
While board books may appear simple to the competent reader, we should never underestimate their value in constructing and consolidating those vital concepts about print that are the foundations of successful independent reading and this series could be an integral part of that development.
When Peppa wins a colouring competition, nobody can believe the prize is a trip to the Great Barrier Reef! Peppa and her family head to Australia to explore the wonders of the reef with Kylie Kangaroo and marine biologist Mummy Kangaroo. There are so many incredible creatures to find in their underwater adventure.
With its usual mix of entertainment and education, this is another brilliantly coloured addition to the Peppa Pig series that is so appealing to our youngest readers. Years ago I was somewhat sceptical about these sorts of books that were clearly spin-offs from movies and television but after seeing the joy of a little boy who suddenly discovered The Wiggles among the titles on the shelves of Kmart and demanding that his mother buy it for him (if she didn’t, I would have) I realised their power and importance in discovering the joy of reading.
To discover favourite and familiar characters in books not only sets up expectations and anticipation but also encourages the child to bring what they already know to the text, to test what they expect and what happens against that prior knowledge and understand that books can be better because you can enjoy them at your own pace, flick back and forth and return to them time and again is a critical step in the learning journey.
Creators and publishers have also realised this and the quality of the stories has increased exponentially so it’s worth capitalising on the appeal and giving our little ones a headstart. Being a successful reader is as much about having a positive attitude as it is about the skills involved.
When a brother and sister go trick-or-treating, they compete to see who find the most bizarre and brilliant things. As they try to count all the hair-raising creatures, including ghosts, skeletons, dancing monsters, and spooky bats, everything escalates until …
With Halloween on the horizon, this is a fun book for littlies that will help them join in the fun with a rhyming story that will also consolidate their counting skills. Even if they are too little to trick-and-treat themselves, they could keep a tally of the skeletons, witches and other costumes who come to their door and work out which was the most popular. And then they too, can participate in the ending.
Fourteen words. If books were priced based on the number of words the story had, then you would probably ask for your money back with this one, but those 14 words document a life-changing episode in one family – a family that could be any one of a number of those whose children we teach and will teach as conflict continues to circle the world. Just fourteen words to tell such a story that are more powerful than if there were 10 or 100 times that many.
War displaces the family and their pet duck and so they must escape on a boat into the unknown. At first there is the CHAOS of the conflict; then there is the WILD ocean as a storm tosses the boat and overturns it;but BEAUTY awaits as they finally sight land ahead and at last they are SAFE.
But words alone are not enough and it is the remarkable and powerful watercolour illustrations that meld with those 14 words to tell an all-too familiar story of despair, hope, courage, resilience and joy. In fact, more mature readers might be able to empathise with the family and retell the story using an emotion for each page, perhaps sparking greater understanding and compassion for their peers who have lived the nightmare. But while those illustrations have strong words to convey, they have soft lines and gentle colours so the humanity and reality of the people is maintained and the reader is not turned off by page after page of darkness.. Again, older students could compare the illustrations and mood of this book with those of the 2019 CBCA Honours Book The Mediterranean.
Accompanying notes tell us that both author and illustrator were driven by the need to tell what is becoming a common story so that there is greater understanding and compassion amongst those whose lives are less traumatic and through that, build stronger, more cohesive communities so that life is better, enriched and enhanced for everyone. Edmonds deliberately chose a Middle Eastern family as her centrepiece because of the richness of the culture so that the reader can appreciate the depth and meaning of what is being left behind – the dilemma of leaving all that is known and loved for the uncertainty of the unknown and the heartache and danger that either choice will bring.
Beyond the storyline itself, this is a book that so clearly demonstrates the critical, integral relationship between text and illustration, that a picture really is “worth a thousand words” , and often the picture book format is the most powerful way to tell a story.
Australia has some unique wildlife in a variety of habitats and Carle takes our very youngest readers on a journey through these with his iconic illustrations to discover some of them. Using a lift-the-flap format, littlies will delight in discovering who lives where, identifying familiar creatures and meeting new ones. But where is the Very Hungry Caterpillar?
With its rich colours, interactivity and familiar theme, this is the perfect gift for the young reader just learning about the fun and excitement of books.
‘Boo!’ said the baby to the penguin in the yacht . . .
Babies love to play peek-a-boo and these ones have a lovely time playing with their toys. But…
What happens next?
Turn the page and see…
Ready, steady, count-
One, two three!
This is a delightful book for the very young who are learning the fun that can be had in picture books. The constant repetition of the word BOO will encourage them to join in as it is shared with them, and they will just ROFL at the ending. Maybe not one for bedtime because it encourages raucous rollicking fun, but nevertheless, one for building up that unique relationship between reader, child, stories and books!
For 20 years Usborne have been supporting the literacy development of the very young with their series of touchy-feely books , That’s Not My… in which familiar, and not-so, objects are explored through a series of cutouts filled with textural surfaces, with the final page offering confirmation that this is indeed the object.
That’s Not My Koala is the latest in the collection, celebrating this milestone birthday. Shiny noses, fuzzy tummies and rough tongues are designed to help develop sensory and language awareness, by engaging the youngest reader in the reading experience and encouraging them to predict and retell the sequences for themselves. Being about an Australian animal they are probably familiar with is an added bonus.
The perfect counterpoint to handing the toddler a screen device to keep them amused, and help them discover the joy of books. Let them catch the reading bug early!
“When it’s too dark to see, a koala sleeps in a tree.”
Sleeping until tomorrow, a wombat snores in its burrow.”
But where does a giraffe go to bed?
We all need to sleep but not everything curls up in a soft, warm bed like we do, so this story-in-rhyme with its repetitive question explores the sleeping habits of some of the creatures familiar to its preschool audience,
Set against a night sky palette, the illustrations are as perfect as the text to make a lullaby for bedtime, one that the young child will be able to recite within a couple of reads as they snuggle down and close the curtains on their day. And for those who are reluctant to settle they will begin to understand that everything needs to sleep, even the giraffe.
Lulu is happy to live in her hutch in the backyard but one night when she spots a hole in the fence, she is tempted through to explore the world further. Unfortunately a hungry fox is on the prowl and his nose smells Lulu and the chase is on. Can she escape?
Metzenthen has used the minimum of words to tell this tale because with the exquisite illustrations in a style that might be unfamiliar to younger readers, no more than what are there are needed. This is perfect for encouraging the reader to look carefully, tell their version of the story and predict the outcome. All are essential elements of the early reader’s arsenal in making sense of print and stories and demonstrate their level of comprehension.
A delightful story that offers something new to explore each time it is read, especially if the astute adult asks “what if…?”. Metzenthen says he dreams of writing the perfect story – this is getting close to it.