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It’s OK to Cry

It's OK to Cry

It’s OK to Cry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s OK to Cry

Molly Potter

Sarah Jennings

Featherstone, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A21.99

9781472942425

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.

Grumbelina

Grumbelina

Grumbelina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grumbelina

Esther Krogdahl

Aleksandra Szmidt

Moa, 2020

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

9781869714291

On the day she turned three and a half, sweet, compliant Hazel turned into Grumbelina , a grumpy child, so disgruntled yet small, with a list of complaints that could cover a wall”. Despite being a cranky cross-patch her parents were very patient with her and were sure that she would be better in the morning after a good night’s sleep.  But Hazel/Grumbelina has other ideas…

There are certain ages and stages in a child’s life where they turn from mild to monster and the experts say it’s because of their brains going through rapid periods of change.  But whatever the reason, parents will all relate to Hazel/Grumbelina and her mood swings as they share this rhyming tale with their little ones which takes a humorous look at tantrums and lets everyone relax for a little while.  While tantrums and loud voices might be pictured as spiky and sharp-edged, the soft lines and palette of the illustrations takes the edge off Hazel’s behaviour offering a sense of peace and understanding rather than confrontation and exasperation.  

One to recommend to parents who need a new way through this time. 

No! Never!

No! Never!

No! Never!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No! Never!

Libby Hathorn

Lisa Hathorn-Jarman

Mel Pearce

Lothian Children’s, 2020

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

9780734418906

There was a child,
The sweetest ever,
Until she learned these words:
‘NO! NEVER!’

No matter what activity her parents suggest, including those that have always been her favourites, Georgie’s response is No! Never!  It becomes very frustrating for her parents who are at their wits’ end until they try a little reverse psychology.

Written in clever rhyme that bounces the story along, and illustrated in a way that emphasises the discord in the household because of Georgie’s attitude, this is a book that will resonate with preschoolers who are testing the boundaries and parents who are trying to manage that. While parents might like to use the strategy with their own children, or just remind their children  of what happened to Georgie when their children try a similar tactic. 

A fun, modern cautionary tale that will have broad appeal.

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isla’s Family Tree

Katrina McKelvey

Prue Pittock

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820379

Isla’s family is about to grow and she is not happy.  “This family is full”, she declares.

So her mother sits her down and explains how families are like trees -they have a trunk that is formed by the grandparents, branches formed by their children and then the leaves are the children of those children like Isla and her cousins.  Isla begins to understand but when she learns that her mum is to have two babies, then there is no room for any more leaves on her branch and the family is definitely full.

The prospect of a new baby entering an already tight-knit family is very common and can be very confronting to a child who is used to being the only one so this approach to explaining the upcoming event is one that will appeal to many parents. Promoting it with your parent community would be a great way to promote the school library’s relationship with that community. 

However it would also have a valuable place in the early childhood classroom as children investigate their families and their structure.  Not all of Isla’s family have the traditional formation of mother, father and children so there is  scope for each child to make their own tree and show and share that families can have all sorts of shapes, just as trees and their leaves do, perhaps bringing comfort to those who might see themselves as being different. 

Investigating their own origins is always a surefire winner with young children because it deeply connects to their own lives and there are as many branches to explore as there are in the family tree. The concepts of birthdays, naming, physical appearance and genetics, development and maturation, vocabulary building… the list is almost endless with lots of other stories that can be shared as well.  There are teachers’ notes available.

It also helps children understand that their trepidation when faced with the same sort of news and change is normal, that sometimes we have to change a little ourselves so we can adapt to that change but that’s what people do and it can help us grow too. 

Another example of how what appears to be a simple picture book for young readers can open up a world of possibilities. 

7 Steps to Get Your Child Reading

7 Steps to Get Your Child Reading

7 Steps to Get Your Child Reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Steps to Get Your Child Reading

Louise Park

Nené May Pierce

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760524678

As the new school year approaches there is great excitement for new students as well as their parents as one of the biggest milestones in their lives approaches.  And for the little ones, no matter what else is promised, it is the prospect of learning to read that is predominant.  So much so, that for many there is great disappointment because they don’t achieve that goal on the first day!  

After almost 50 years of teaching our youngest readers to master that mysterious code of squiggles on the page, I know that it is imperative to have them able to begin their journey in both the classroom and the library from that very first day. But there is much that can be done at home in preparation for that more formal instruction and this book from author and education consultant Louise Park outlines a series of steps that parents can implement long before the classroom doors open.  

While there are many books written by many people who have experience in the literacy field from all of its diverse angles, this one focuses on the children of the tech generation where there is so much competition from screens.  It combines the traditional thinking while embracing technology so that the two are not mutually exclusive.  The seven steps are 

Step 1: Talking their way to literacy
Step 2: Reading their way to literacy
Step 3: Linking writing and reading
Step 4: Taming the tech and making it count
Step 5: Harnessing the power of book ownership
Step 6: Embracing two reading philosophies
Step 7: Finding just-right books for any age
Difficulty learning to read, write and spell

Each is set out in an appealing format with language that parents will readily understand – it’s not full of the eduspeak that so many teachers favour – yet treats them as intelligent human beings. It clearly explains what the brain is doing when we read and that there is no one-size-fits-all magic bullet simple because every child’s experiences and circumstances are different.

That 50 years of working with little ones and their parents has also taught me that when it comes to reports and interviews, it is the child’s literacy development that parents are most interested in because they know that that is the key that unlocks all the other doors.  But I also know that reading begins long before a child comes to school, that success is a partnership between parent and professional  and so providing books like this either informally or formally as part of a parent participation program can help them enormously.  As the professionals we have the responsibility to do whatever it takes to ensure the children in our care explore and explode their potential so helping their parents help them is an essential foundation. 

Beginning the night she was born!

Beginning the night she was born!

 

Story Time Stars: Favourite Characters from Australian Picture Books

Story Time Stars

Story Time Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story Time Stars: Favourite Characters from Australian Picture Books

Stephanie Owen Reeder

National Library of Australia, 2019

148pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279408

Years ago, when Jackie French was asked by one of my students about how she created her characters, she told the class that the most important thing was to create someone that the reader cared enough about to want to know what happens to them. For without that emotional investment in the character, they won’t bother turning the pages till the end of the story.

So what is it that makes a character in a story so memorable that often as adults, we remember our childhood favourites, even to the point that we pass on those stories to our own children? Why they resonate with us is as individual as the characters themselves, but in this fabulous book, Dr Reeder has collected together some of the most well-known characters from Australian children’s literature, characters that have resonated with so many that we instantly know who they are and are transported back to those childhood memories with love and affection and a warm feeling of well-being. 

Whether it’s Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Mulga Bill, Grug, Koala Lou, Leonie, the Paw, or even the more recent Mr Huff, each is gathered here in chronological order to tell their stories, share their debuts, successes and encores so that we can not only get to know our favourites a little better, but also discover new ones waiting to be friends too. And perhaps consider who we might add to the collection.

Coinciding with the launch of the new NLA exhibition, Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature  presented in conjunction with  the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature, this is another addition to the preservation of the creation and history of children’s literature in Australia and complements the  books, manuscripts, illustrations and ephemera from the NLA’s extensive collections alongside significant loans of the exhibition, which is free and open until February 9, 2020. A must-see and a must-buy for anyone with a love of Australia’s favourite storytime characters.  Most definitely Australia: Story Country.

 

You Made Me a Dad

You Made Me a Dad

You Made Me a Dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Made Me a Dad

Laurenne Sala

Mike Malbrough

Harper Collins US, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

 9780062396945

From the time a man first discovers his partner is pregnant, the bond between father and child begins to grow and this relationship is celebrated in this charming book.  From the time of the first baby bump through to camping out beneath the stars, the father shares his joy and his wonder and his gratitude at being able to guide and share the life of his little one, the big occasions and the not-so.

Perfect for a dad to give to his child on a special occasion, this is a companion to You Made Me A Mother  and turns the tables on the usual format of the story being told by the child about the dad.

Goodnight, Little Tough Guy

Goodnight, Little Tough Guy

Goodnight, Little Tough Guy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodnight, Little Tough Guy

Michael Wagner 

Tom Jellett

ABC Books, 2019

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

9780733339356

Bedtime, and the little tough guy is resisting sleep.  But his dad settles him with this lyrical,  alliterative lullaby of how all the tough guys in the world – the astronauts, the firies, the wrestlers, all the superheroes – are settling down because they need to have a refreshing full night’s rest so they can superhero again the next day. 

A book for both boys and girls –  Wagner has used clever alliteration to give this book a rhythm that is perfect for sending the littlest tough guy off to zzzzland, and Jellett’s illustrations cleverly take the reader on a trip through a child’s busy day while still relating it to the world of the everyday superheroes.  While parents might try to tell their little superhero why they need to go to bed and to sleep, this just encapsulates the reasons perfectly so there is no need for verbal justification. Maybe the concept would also work with getting them to eat their veges!

 

 

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.

Ruby’s Worry

Ruby's Worry

Ruby’s Worry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby’s Worry

Tom Percival

Bloomsbury, 2018 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408892152

Ruby is very happy being Ruby, happy to be by herself and content in her own company. But one day she discovers she has a companion, one that is invisible to all but her.  It is a worry.  And the more she thinks about it, the bigger it grows, the more persistent and pervasive it is.  No matter where she goes or what she does, it is there with her until she gets to be worrying so much about the worry that there is no room in her brain or life for anything else.

Then, in the park one day, she spies a young boy looking as sad and forlorn as she is.  Taking her courage in her hands she speaks to him, and together they discover something quite miraculous.

Anxiety in children is at an all-time high these days as they try to meet all the expectations put on them – academic, sporty, physical, creative – and as they try to please all those they hold in high esteem- parents, family, friends, teachers… It is no wonder that so many of them are like Ruby, carrying around worries that threaten to swallow them whole if they haven’t done so already. So this book which brings to life the old adage of “a problem shared is a problem halved” is a critical part of any mindfulness program or anything that deals with children’s mental health.  Children take on board all sorts of things that adults don’t realise, bits of overheard conversations or things that they see start to play on their mind, growing bigger with imagination and become all-consuming because not only do they not have the ability to detach themselves from the here and now, but they also don’t have the strategies to deal with them.  Living in the bubble that is often the way of children’s lives these days, they believe that they are the only ones with the problem and that only they can solve it. Despite their apparent connections to others, they actually feel very isolated. 

Therefore to have an easily accessible picture book that starts the conversation is so important. Because Percival does not identify Ruby’s particular worry, the story has universal application- it could be the story of any child in our care. By using the story as the starter for a discussion that demonstrates the importance of reaching out to family and friends for support and that this is as important for children as it is for adults, we are offering them a beginning strategy that can be built on as they mature.  

An important addition to your mindfulness collection.