If there is one word that children of today know as well as their name it is “virus”. So much of their lives have been affected by this tiny, invisible thing that has had such huge impact. But what is a virus? Using the successful Lift-the-Flap Q&A format of others in this series, readers can investigate just what a virus is, discovering that there are many more than just COVID 19! They also learn the importance of the rules like social distancing, washing their hands and other personal hygiene issues, important because if they understand the why about the what they are more likely to comply. it also alleviates some of the fear that their imaginations can conjure up.
In the past we have been teaching our littlies about why they need to eat well, sleep long and play hard to have a healthy body and preventing illness has been a peripheral, but things have changed and this is an important addition to the collection so they can better understand this thing that is going to shadow their lives for a long time to come.
There is nothing that Couch Potato likes more that slouching on the couch. In fact it spends all its free time in the exact spot on its comfy cosy couch, and really, there is no reason to move. With a range of gadgets – even one that fetches its snacks – and a wall of shimmering screens in front of it, it can control its entire life all the time with a few taps and a couple of clicks.
Life is perfect until… there is a power outage! Suddenly everything goes dark and Couch Potato is forced to open the curtains to let some light in where it sees the outdoors for the first time in a long time and it is tempted outside…
This is a new addition to Jory John’s collection of modern cautionary tales for young readers joining The Good Egg , The Bad Seed. and The Cool Bean. Encouraging those who prefer to live their lives vicariously through the screen to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and being actively involved with friends, it opens up investigations into a healthy lifestyle and the need for balance. A timely reminder given the events of the past year.
This is an intriguing little book – just 12 pages of lift-the-flap questions and answers – that could have the most profound effect on the reader. Answering questions about why humans and animals need to poo, what happens to it once it is expelled and the information that can be learned from it, it addresses a topic that young children are fascinated by from a young age.
But as important as the information is, it is the no-nonsense, matter-of-fact way it explores a normal. critical bodily function that has the potential to change attitudes. If we can show our children from the earliest age that this is not a topic for sniggers or embarrassment, but something that is an indicator of good health (or otherwise) then we are doing them an enormous service. For a few generations now, bodily functions have tended to be something not discussed, something to be kept private and definitely not done or shared in public and so, when doctors and other medical staff need to know, there is at least embarrassment, at worst a cover-up with all its consequences. Yet, as we have seen in the last year, it is the evidence of the COVID virus in effluent that has been one of the most powerful triggers for precautions to be taken.
So to have a book explicitly written for young readers, that looks at this subject in the factual way it does that demonstrates that the body getting rid of its waste is essentially no different from fuelling it in the first place is a great start to taking away the inhibition.
Sometimes books teach us so much more than their focus topic and this is one of those.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and most of them don’t wear capes – that’s the lesson we can learn from this pandemic that has rocked the nation, indeed the world. In fact, in some countries people have stood outside at a certain time and applauded the local heroes, particularly the health care workers . However, while the children have joined in, many have been left bewildered about the changes in their lives. Children like Arty who doesn’t understand why he can’t listen in on Mum’s conversations any more; or why his dad is working at home and often grumpy; or having to be at the end of the skipping rope from Granny and not being allowed to play in the playground.
Why are there all these changes? Why can’t the world go back to the way it was?
When his dad finally explains that that can’t happen until people like Arty’s mum find a way to beat the virus, Arty realises he can do things that will help to beat it too. That he is not powerless and that he can be a hero fighting this invisible, supersonic virus by doing ordinary, everyday things like washing his hands properly and often; not touching things like supermarket trolleys and his face; coughing into his elbow and putting his tissues in the bin; and helping at home by getting dressed when he is told and waiting for his dad to finish his video calls before interrupting. He can even draw beautiful pictures and post them to Granny. And one day, if he and everyone else is a hero, things will change back to the way they were.
Our kids are remarkably resilient and if they understand why they have to do certain things they will adapt and adopt quickly, but sometime we adults forget the explanation. This is a remarkable book that takes the time to talk to the children and show them how they too, can be heroes just by doing what they have been asked. That while restrictions may be tiresome and boring, every little bit helps and together, we can defeat this insidious enemy.
Share the story, and make a wall display in a cape-shape that details the things that our kids can do to be heroes and then let them look for their friends being heroes so they can add their name to the display. Reinforce the everyday hero concept so they feel empowered and powerful. That’s the way to win.
Not so long ago, when boys got to about six or seven, they started hearing the familiar mantra of “big boys don’t cry”, encouraging them to “be tough” and suppress their emotions. While such a philosophy is still acceptable in many parts of society, for the most part it has been phased out but there are still many other less explicit messages that we pass on to our boys which have the same effect. Our words and our actions and reactions to particular circumstances all combine to pass on a subliminal message that somehow it’s not OK for boys to be in touch with and express their emotions. To do so is “girly” and sadly, that is somehow is showing weakness.
This book has been written to demonstrate to boys, particularly, that it is OK, in fact beneficial, to know and understand and express their emotions. Starting with a collage of some of those ways we parents make statements that suggest that to cry when you’re hurt is not tough and followed by another that has all sorts of similar subliminal media messages, it is clear that it is no wonder our boys can be confused. The pages that follow offer insights into a range of feelings, positive and negative, situations in which they might arise and words to describe them so when they occur they can be shared. There is a strong message that experiencing a variety of feelings over the day is completely natural – in fact it is what makes us human. It demonstrates that we won’t all have the same response to the same situation and that at any one time, there can be all sorts of emotions happening within a group of people.
It acknowledges that sometimes our feelings can make us uncomfortable and offers strategies to deal with these and there are also notes to enlighten parents about helping their children acknowledge, own and deal with their emotions in a healthy way rather than just suppressing them.
Even though this book has particular application at this time when life is not normal and adults are struggling with their mental health in an unprecedented way, it has application far beyond that as we pay more attention to the mental health of our students and address them. It could form the basis for a term’s work exploring much more deeply than the more traditional “I feel happy when…; I feel sad when…” offering students insight that could be the foundation for lifelong learning that takes us all to a calmer, more empathetic place.
While we teach our younger students about eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep, the emphasis on maintaining physical health seems to drop off after those early years and while there is a growing awareness on encouraging positive mental health, our bodies don’t get much attention in literature for some time until puberty approaches.
This book is a part of a series from Usborne targeting those middle years readers from about 8 years, encouraging them to stay aware of and be committed to the issues they encountered at an earlier age. Using information in accessible chunks accompanied by lots of black and white images, the book tackles aspects of good health such as diet, sleep, exercise,and mental health providing more in-depth information that respects the reader’s growing maturity, understanding and search for knowledge. As usual there are also the Quicklinks which offer more to explore.
Young people with questions that they might be reticent to ask for whatever reason will appreciate this book as well as those who are keen to maximise their well-being as they grow and develop.
Lewis Snow has the worst case of nits in world history. Everyone wants him to shave his head. But Lewis thinks of his nits as pets. He’s determined to keep his hair and his nits, whatever it takes.
Ned lives on Lewis’s head. He’s the first-ever jumping nit. His dad wants Ned to help nits take over the world. But Ned likes it on Lewis’s head. Ned’s vegan and hates the taste of human blood.
In the tradition of a number of other authors who have captured the imagination of boys of a certain age who like stories that are about bodily functions that are not normally the subject of polite, adult conversation, Bancks and McKenzie have developed a cast of characters and crafted tales that fit the criteria perfectly. Who hasn’t started feeling itchy and anxious the minute a case of nits is confirmed in a classroom? Starting with his explanation that nits are just the unhatched form of head lice, Bancks will capture the interest and imagination of that cohort who delight in seeing others squirm and will not only have them reading from beginning to end and demanding more, but also starting a cult following of the series among their peers.
We know Bancks is a gifted author with unputdownable stories like Detention, Two Wolves and The Fall to his credit so for all its wacky premise, there will be a quality story at the heart of this book and when combined with the talent of McKenzie that this will be a hit series with its intended audience. The bonus is that there are two books in one in this release so readers will not have to wait for the next episode.
Even our youngest readers are familiar with the term “first responders” now and while there hasn’t been a national campaign here to stand at our driveways and applaud them in tribute, perhaps, in this most trying year, it wouldn’t be amiss to do so. But in this hilarious book from the team that brought us You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Diggerand You Can’t Take an Elephant on a Bus,young people can learn about those who do help us in an emergency and how they can be contacted.
There are often news reports of young children having saved a life because they knew to dial 000 and so this is the perfect non-confrontational way to introduce and teach this information. As well as that, it could also be extended to learn how to avoid getting into tricky situations such as causing fires and staying out of floodwaters. Even though it’s primary purpose is to entertain by putting animals in ludicrous situations, nevertheless in the hands of a skilled teacher or parent, there is much more that can be gained from sharing this book.
A must-have for anyone with health and safety on the curriculum.
Often, as adults rushing to be where we aren’t yet, we miss the little things on the way, but no so kids. They see and they notice because they are so much more in the moment so when the little boy sees the homeless man begging on the footpath he does not hurry on like the adults who are either not seeing or choosing not to. Instead he stops and is rewarded with a chat and a beautiful yellow bird drawn in chalk on the path. And that chat leads to his mum seeing Pete and others in the community who had not seen him before…
But one day Pete gets sick and disappears. No one has seen him and all the little boy wants is a sign that he is OK….
This is a charming story, at times confronting, that really resonated with me because earlier this year a little person at a school that I have been associated with was just like the boy in the story. She saw, she thought and she acted, initiating a schoolwide fundraiser that raised enough money to purchase some sleepwear for those who were about to endure the coldest of winters on the streets of the national capital.
Homelessness is a significant issue in this country and sadly our students are likely to know someone not much older than them who will not sleep in their own bed tonight. While its causes and solutions are as diverse as each individual, nevertheless stories like this (dedicated to the author’s great-great grandmother who was homeless) can start to build social awareness in the same way we are actively promoting environmental awareness. While the issue itself is hard and spiky, this is a gentle story of caring, unselfishness and hope accompanied by equally engaging illustrations that might encourage all of us to look and really see, not to avert our eyes if we don’t like the scenery and have the courage of both the little boy and my little girl to act.
There is something scary in the statistic that 70% of primary school children have a concern about their body image, and when this is coupled with the greatest desire of post-restriction Australia is for beauty salons and gyms to re-open, it is easy to see why and that without intervention, this obsession with how we look is not going to change. From long before the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe to waif-like Twiggy to the more-rounded Kardashians, our obsession with how our bodies look rather than how they perform has dominated so many lives, and this is as true for our males as it is for females. How many young lads see themselves in the image of a Hemsworth?
In 2016 Taryn Brumfitt wrote and directed a documentary Embrace which encouraged us to love who we are as we are, but that doco received a MA15+ classification and so did not reach down to the roots of where the obsession starts.
So now she is addressing this with the establishment of a number of initiatives that speak directly to our children including another documentary , a song and, based on that song, this book. Based on the mantra that “your body is not an ornament:it is the vehicle to your dreams!”. children of every size, shape, colour and ability are engaged in all sorts of activities showing the extraordinary things our bodies can do proving that nobody has a body that is the same as anyone else’s and that it is capable of so much more than conforming to some arbitrary stereotyped look.
This book has an important role in the conversations and investigations we have with our youngest students and not just in the health and mindfulness programs we offer. Because we are all individuals it opens up the world of science and maths as we investigate why and how that is, delving into genetics and measurement and a host of other areas that give a deep understanding to the message of the book, including the language we use to describe others. ‘Smart’, ‘clever’, ‘athletic’ are so much better than the pejorative terms of ‘pretty’, ‘handsome’ and ‘strong’. For if, from an early age, we can grasp that we, as individuals, are a combination of the unique circumstances of both our nature and nurture, then our understanding of and appreciation for who we are is a big step towards valuing the inside regardless of the outside in both ourselves and others.
It is sad that there is still a need for this sort of book in 2020, just as there was in 1920 and 1960, but if you make and use just one purchase this year, this could be the one that changes lives for the better.