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.
Asiya loves going to Nanu’s house because it is filled with all sorts of treasures, but the very best one is the katha chest. For inside it are the katha quilts that Nanu made from the old saris that Maa and her sisters didn’t wear anymore, quilts that hold the family’s history in their patterns and stitches and stories. Asiya likes nothing more than to crawl inside the chest and listen to the stories of her family that the quilts whisper to her. Stories of her family members that unfold in four panels on subsequent pages showing not only the richness of pattern, texture and colour of the saris but also the family itself; stories which wrap themselves around Asiya as warmly as the quilt.
A peek inside…
While this is a story rooted deeply in the Bangladeshi family of the author, for generations women, particularly, have made quilts from discarded clothing, quilts which tell the story of its wearer or an event. Every traditional patchwork block has a story behind its creation and some, when put together in a particular way, carried secret messages such as those of the Underground Railroad. Thus, this story with its stories within offers riches beyond that of the beautiful fabric of the saris – the reader is invited to trace each family member’s story from the panels to understand the connections between that and the sari that Nanu has used for the katha.
It is also one of those picture books that can span the ages and stages because what the reader takes from it will depend on their level of maturity. Young children may just consider their family tree and who is part of it beyond those they see daily; while much older readers may like to think of a family member they know well enough to construct their story in four panels and even design a fabric swathe that would epitomise that story. Those with a deeper interest might like to investigate the role of patchwork and quilting in communities as a way of passing on the culture between generations and across borders and understand that it is universal.
Being a quilter, I found this story really resonated with me (inspiring me to dig out the bag of my son’s music t-shirts that he asked me to make into a quilt for his children years ago) but as can be seen, it is so much more than a tale about putting pretty fabric together. This is one for every collection and curriculum that has a focus on children discovering their family history.
The most important part of the human body is the brain but it is only in the last little while that technology has enabled scientists to examine it more closely and start to understand its complexities and connections and figure out how it works. Indeed, about 20 years ago there were huge shifts in the way we teach as new pedagogies emerged from this new understanding and “brain-based learning” was the buzzword of the times.
But for all that we, as teachers, were learning about the principles of learning, and the magic trees of the mind, books which clearly explained how the brain functions which were accessible by young learners have been few and far between. So this new publication which is essentially a conversation between a wise owl and a curious little girl fills a void.
A peek inside…
Using speech bubbles, the owl takes the girl on a journey through her brain clearly explaining its parts, its functions, how we learn and how to keep it active and healthy offering a clear and concise explanation that is perfectly pitched for its target audience. From the senses to sleep, memories to making decisions, it provides an introduction to this fascinating topic and then this is supported by the selected online sites in the Quicklinks that accompany these sorts of Usborne publications.
An essential part of any investigation into how we learn by teachers and how our bodies work by students. At the very least, it will help both groups understand why each of us is unique. and views the world that little bit differently.
Bots and Bods : How Robots and Humans Work, from the Inside Out
CSIRO Publishing, 2021
96pp., pbk., RRP $A27.99
This is a fascinating book which explores the similarities and differences between humans and robots, particularly how the basic features of the human body, such as movement, the senses and thinking, are copied in bots.
As more and more of our lives are assisted by what were once the stuff of futuristic cartoon series like The Jetsons, performing everything from mundane chores to intricate surgery, this is an intriguing insight into just how one is translated into the other.
A peek inside…
With its appealing layout and straightforward text, this is one that will appeal to anyone with a deeper interest in this technology (and thus is going straight to Miss Year 9) while there are extensive teachers’ notes focusing on science and digital technologies for those in tears 4-8.
Publications from CSIRO are always original, fascinating and worthwhile and this is no exception.
Night time. Time to snuggle down under the covers, think briefly about tomorrow and drift off to the land of sweet dreams.
But night is not a time of peace and quiet for all. There is much that happens. Weather changes, animals hunt and there are many many workers who ensure that the wheels of modern life keep turning, and on the other side of the world children are going about their daytime life.
With its highly detailed imagery, which are fully explored in the excellent teachers’ notes, this book introduces the young reader to another world which exists side by side with their own.
A peek inside…
This world of the night-time worker will either acknowledge what they already know because they have a family member who works then (and thus they see their own lives in print), or expose them to a whole new concept helping them to understand how the world works and appreciate those who make it so. Either way, it opens up a realm of possibilities to explore from children sharing their own experiences to investigating what causes night and darkness. Starting with a focus on things that are close to the child, it gradually encompasses a broader perspective to show that there is always much life and activity happening somewhere, and even though they might be asleep another child will be sitting in class. Perfect for this year’s CBCA Book Week theme.
This is an original concept that will capture the imagination with its intriguing cover -why is there a bed floating over the town? – and the calm, undramatic text will soothe and comfort.
No matter what he does, Tom is noisy. There is not an activity that he does that is not accompanied by boisterous, enthusiastic sound effects. “When I’m playing, noise just spills out of me. “
But one day at the park when he sees two girls playing on the swings and not making any noise at all, he is puzzled. When he asks them whether they enjoyed the swings because they did not make a sound, they tell him that they enjoy the feel of the movement, the sensation of the cold air on their faces and although Tom also enjoys that, he is still confused.
Although he learns that there are lots of ways to express your feelings, loudly and quietly, and it is different for each person, for him loud wins.
This is the third in this series that focuses on young children, enabling them to understand their feelings and responses and be a pre-emptive strike towards positive mental health. Our youngest readers will enjoy its exuberance and will see themselves either as Tom or one of the quieter characters. Most importantly, they will begin to understand that being different is OK and being yourself is paramount.
Hello and welcome to our corroboree. Hello and welcome to our gathering. Father Sky, Mother Earth, together here with me. Different colours, different people, together in harmony.
Welcome to Country has now become the norm before any formal gatherings in Australia and in this stunning book by Gregg Dreise, a companion to My Culture and Me, the reader is taken through this traditional welcome in the traditional Gamilaraay language of the Kamilaroi people.
Paying tribute to those who have gone before, their stewardship of the land they live on, the generosity of that land and thanking them for those who are here now and yet to come, the words are interpreted in traditional dance moves that have been passed down through generations.
If we want our students to respect these sorts of traditions, rather than pay lip service to them, then the more they understand the meaning and movements associated with them , the better. To enable this, the initial words of welcome and their actions have been included so all children can join in. The illustrations that depict ancestors sit alongside and intertwine with illustrations of how the modern day Kamilaroi people celebrate and thank Father Sky and Mother Earth demonstrating that this is a ceremony that embraces everyone and all can participate. Despite there being 250 Indigenous Countries within Australia, each with its own language and cultures, each shares a respect for Mother Earth, each other and sharing resources, so this book could inspire a new way of sharing that Welcome to Country.
Students in a Canberra school were challenged to examine the meaning of their local Welcome to Country text and to develop one that had meaning for them which would be used at the start of each day. This is the result from the Year 3 class in the Bungle Bungles unit. With students from preschool to Year 6 all undertaking this task at the beginning of the year, the principal reports there is not only greater understanding but greater harmony and respect for the environment across the school.
Even though they can be destructive, ornery and bite the unwary really hard, wombats still rank high among children’s favourite Australian animals. So this new addition to the Nature Storybook series, released today, will be a welcome addition to the collection.
Given the bushfires of last summer and now the floods of this autumn, the plight of Australia’s native creatures has never been so precarious or prominent as young readers begin to understand the impact of these natural disasters on habitat and food supplies. Therefore, this story about the life of a wombat, looking at the interesting way these animals build their homes, look after their family and protect themselves from predators is very timely. From the day breaking as she snuggles down in her burrow where the tree roots mesh to marking her territory as she is a solitary creature, to having to defend herself and her little jellybean-like baby against the dingo, Cheng has crafted the most compelling story, accompanied not only by stunning illustrations from Duthie but also lots of wombat facts as imagination and information sit comfortably side by side in this narrative non fiction format that makes so much available to our young readers.
Chris Cheng is at his best when he meshes his meticulous research with his way with words and this sits very well along Python, his other contribution to this series and his many others stories for children, my personal, long-term, yet-to-be-beaten favourite being One Child.
A must-have for any collection that meets the needs of any children with a liking for or an interest in these unique creatures.
And if you would like to get your students started on writing faction, beginning with a wombat focus, then From Fact to Faction(e:update 011, 2012) written by me is available to Primary English Teachers’ Association Australia members.
Early one morning a little boy wakes up with a particular thing on his mind for breakfast, and so he sets off in search of it. What follows is his quest as he travels around all the familiar objects and animals found on a farm until at last he has success.
If anyone knows what is needed to create a story that will engage the hearts and minds of our youngest readers and ensure they fall in love with the written word, then it is Mem Fox. Here, she has taken a very ordinary, everyday concept combined it with a very familiar character and using just the right amount of carefully chosen text she has crafted a story that will most definitely become a favourite. The illustrations are perfect, not only helping to make the text predictable so the reader feels empowered but the little chook following the boy adds humour as well as the clue to his search. As the little chap visits the truck and the tractor and the sheep and the ponies, he doesn’t see he is being followed and little ones will be shouting, “Look behind you!” much like they do the villain in the pantomime, while at the same time I hear the music to this version of Rosie’s Walk! Two for the price of one! Chooks in books – always a winning combo.
As well, it opens up the opportunity to investigate where our food comes from and how it gets to our plates. Lots of learning all round.
As our nation prepares to honour those who have served this country in both war and peace on ANZAC Day 2021, once again we will see and hold commemorations that while confronting in their origins are comforting in their familiarity. Regardless of which town or city we are in, there will be many aspects of the services that are familiar because they have been traditionally associated with ANZAC Day (and other remembrance days) for over a century.
In this new book, a companion to Australia Remembers the author has worked closely with the Department of Defence and History and Heritage units of the Navy, Army & RAAF to deliver answers to questions I have often been asked as a teacher on our major days of commemoration, Beginning with answering the question “Why do we have customs and traditions?, chapters address items such as mottos, codes, music, parades and drills, flags, banners and pennants, badges and awards, ranks, uniforms, animals and mascots and many other elements that go together to make up these special days. It is more than just pomp and pageantry – there is a story behind each story!
With hundreds of photos, easily accessible language and all the supports needed to navigate the text easily, this is a fascinating look behind the scenes enabling students to have a better understanding of not just the overall ceremony but why things are done the way they are. Having been a teacher librarian for over 20 years, the author knows just what is needed to make a text student-friendly.
Remembering those who have served has a prominent and rightful place in the ceremonial life of our schools, as was demonstrated in 2020 when thousands stood at dawn in their driveways because COVID-19 prevented them from participating in the traditional assemblies (itself the beginning of a new tradition) and this new volume in this series is another significant contribution to the library collection so that the memories and the understanding continue.
It will joined by Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly in September, which tells the story of Kamilaroi man Len Waters, who, during World War II became Australia’s first known Aboriginal fighter pilot.