Category Archives: Children

Posts about children’s literature

Our Six Favourite Graphic Novels

Graphic Novels are long-form stories told mainly through drawings. They are now recognised as an important medium for storytelling, both for fiction and non-fiction, for adults as well as for children. Parents and educators are also discovering their benefits in encouraging reading and developing literacy. You can find graphic novels in a huge range of art styles and subject matter – and the diversity is growing daily! Dive into this format through these recent bestsellers:

Smile by Raina Telgemeier
It all starts here – reading Raina Telgemeier is practically a rite of passage for tweens and early teens. Whether it’s her own stories, or her adaptation of the iconic Babysitter Club series, readers just can’t get enough of her observant and empathic stories of the drama and tensions of growing up. Smile is her memoir, starting in her Sixth Grade, when she had a string of dental procedures – including braces – after a painful accident. Add in fickle friends, first crushes, and finding her own identity, and you get a heartfelt rite-of-passage story reminiscent of Judy Blume.

The Sad Ghost Club by by Lize Meddings
The Sad Ghost Club is centred around mental health, and is a great conversation-starter with tweens, while still providing a rich, reflective experience for teens and adults. It is about SG (Sad Ghost), who struggles with anxiety about school and feelings of loneliness. SG agonises over whether to go to a party, feeling nervous about not fitting in. After an awkward start to the party, SG meets Socks, and together they form the Sad Ghost Club, a secret society for the anxious and alone, a club for people who think they don’t belong. The Sad Ghost Club is a sweet, quietly optimistic story with a fresh and on-point analogy for depression, and presenting totally relatable situations.

Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman
Alice Oseman is both an accomplished novelist and artist – their popular Heartstopper series focuses on Nick and Charlie, characters from their first novel Solitaire. This adorable LGBT+ webcomic is now available in book form! Heartstopper volume 1 sees the beginning of Nick and Charlie’s blossoming romance, from their meeting in their newly-organised “vertical classroom”, to their first kiss. Heartstopper is upbeat, but does not shy away from depicting the difficulties of being queer teens, and is lauded for being relatable and a realistic portrayal of contemporary teenage life.

Future Girl by Asphyxia
The first thing you will notice about Future Girl is that it is a beautiful object – textured cover, heavy paper, packed with colourful art. This art/prose hybrid is not strictly a graphic novel, but deserves attention for its striking format and subject matter. Future Girl is set in a dystopian, near-future Melbourne whose heroine, Piper, is based on the author’s own experience. Piper is a deaf girl who relies on hearing aids and speech for communication. When an environmental catastrophe strikes, she defies the authorities by learning to grow her own food – through which she is introduced to sign language, and a Deaf community who does not view its differences as deficits. Future Girl is an an enthralling and heartfelt coming-of-age story from Deaf artist/writer/activist Asphyxia.

They Call Us Enemy by George Takei and Justin Eisinger
The graphic novel format has been used as an eloquent tool for exploring, and inviting understanding of, social causes. They Call Us Enemy is one such award-winning example – it describes how a young George Takei – now beloved Star Trek actor and activist – and his family were incarcerated in a World War 2 camp for Japanese Americans. Their personal experiences fighting for safety and survival are juxtaposed upon descriptions of the social-political controversy surrounding this unjust practice. They Call Us Enemy is an emotional story that will resonate across many age groups, and offers powerful reflections upon the current issues of hate speech, institutional racism and racial profiling.

The Mental Load: a Feminist Comic by Emma
Not everyone can coin a powerful term that sparks a global discussion – French comic artist Emma did just that, when she drew an essay about women’s “Mental Load”, the invisible labour and unpaid organising that we do for others, an issue that disproportionately impacts women.  This piece now headlines this collection of graphic essays on everyday feminist issues – sexism in the workplace, objectification, motherhood, women’s health. The topics and examples are instantly recognisable. Follow up with its recently-released companion volume, The Emotional Load.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner – here are our top gift ideas for new mothers

Mother’s Day is next weekend here in Australia and we have been scouring the internet for goodies to wrap and gift mum. For many, next Sunday will mark their first Mother’s Day so we thought we’d offer some suggestions to give the sleep deprived, I’m-still-getting-used-to-this, did-I-mention-I-was-tired new mum. 

Sit back and get ready to click because these books offer kind advice, laughs and much needed insights and are way better than any soap or candle though may come in second to catching up on sleep. 

Letters on Motherhood by Giovanna Fletcher

From the author of the number 1 bestseller Happy Mum, Happy Baby, and the chart-topping podcast of the same name, comes a beautiful collection of heartfelt letters written to her three young sons, her husband and the family and friends who have inspired and supported her to become the mother she is today. In this beautiful book Giovanna shares touching personal tales of her own family life whilst also reflecting on deeper universal truths of parenting, from coping with mum guilt and finding a work / life balance to positive body image and a parent’s hopes for their child’s future.

#IMomSoHard by Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley

Has it been months since you’ve read a book with actual adult words that had nothing to do with farm animals or superheroes or going potty? Well then, it’s time to take a break. Pour yourself some wine. Put on your comfy pants. All good? Ok, welcome to the party.

Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley, the creators of #IMOMSOHARD, know that you probably didn’t get to shower today and that the last thing you need is more advice on how to be a better parent. Instead, they invite you to join their laugh-out-loud, best friend banter on the eighty bajillion ways moms give their all every day. Come for the laughs, stay for the kinship with two friends who are just getting it right, getting it wrong, and leaning on each other for a laugh at the end of the day. They don’t care if your house is a mess and they won’t judge you if you pee a little when you sneeze. So kick back, relax, and enjoy. You deserve it.

Mama Rising: Discovering the New You Through Motherhood by Amy Taylor-
Kabbaz

Are you struggling to figure out who you are now that you’re a mama? Do you feel like you’re coming last in your own life? Do you feel guilty for not loving every moment of this motherhood gig? As someone who used to put themselves last, doing everything she thought was ‘right’ for her children and family, but not really listening to what her body and her spirit was begging for, Amy understands first-hand the overwhelm and complex range of emotions that mothers face. Amy’s background as a journalist set her on the path to uncover all that she could about the latest research on matrescence, the transition a woman undergoes when she becomes a mother. She now shares what she’s learned in the hope that it will help you navigate this stage of your life. Mama Rising includes interviews with experts, case studies and Amy’s own tried-and-tested advice on how to reconnect with the woman you are underneath all that washing, cleaning and caring. Full of useful and empowering insights that will help you change the way you feel about motherhood, and yourself, so you and your whole family can flourish.

Grace Mothers: Letters to Our Children by Georgie Abay, Julie Adams, Claire
Brayford

This beautiful coffee table book is both an intimate insight into the joys and tribulations of motherhood and a celebration of mothers and their children everywhere. Some 60 eminent women, from Australia and around the world, have written heartfelt letters to their children. Inspiring, occasionally surprising, often funny and frequently poignant, they capture the essence of what motherhood means for each writer. Brought to you by Georgie Abay, former Australian Vogue deputy editor and founder of go-to website for style-conscious mothers and renowned fashion and portrait photographer Julie Adams, The Grace Tales, Grace Mothers features such luminaries as Australian actress Teresa Palmer, British journalist Pandora Sykes, Australian designer Collette Dinnigan, US journalist, author and advocate Gretchen Carlson, and UK financier and campaigner Dame Helena Morrissey. With a foreword by Australia’s former Governor-General, Dame Quentin Bryce, and gorgeously evocative photographs throughout, Grace Mothers is a book to cherish forever.

The Little Book of Mum Hacks by Kate Murnane

Packed with over 150 life-changing tips, tricks and hacks, this little book will help make your home happier and your life easier. Whether you’re a mum-to-be or have children already, this practical guide contains everything you need to know about savvy parenting (and will wish someone had told you sooner!). From tips on cleaning and tidying to cooking and playing, plus with a section dedicated to those first few months taking care of a newborn, these small everyday changes will help keep you sane and your children happy, calm and healthy. Illustrated with cute line drawings throughout and a beautiful gold foiled hardcover, this is a lovely gift for all mums.

The Motherhood: Australian Women Share What They Wish They’d Known
About Life With A Newborn
by Jamila Rizvi

‘Welcome to The Motherhood, my dear.’ After her son was born, Jamila Rizvi felt isolated, exhausted and confused. While desperately in love with her new baby, the world she’d known had disappeared overnight and so had her sense of self. Jamila’s salvation came in the form of a letter. A dear friend, Clare Bowditch – who had been there herself – wrote to tell Jamila she would get through this. Her comforting words reassured Jamila that she was seen, that she was supported and that she was not alone. Now Jamila wants to pay it forward to the next generation of new mothers. The Motherhood is a collection of letters from some of Australia’s favourite women, sharing what they wish they’d known about life with a newborn. Coming from writers with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, no two stories are alike, but all are generous, compassionate and deeply honest. As the old adage goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and it also takes a village to properly support a new mother. Here is your village. These sisters (with babes) in arms are here to share the joy, the fear, the love, the laughter, the tears and the frustration, and to hold your hand in the dark. Together, they will give you the strength and courage to find your feet as a new mum.

Enjoy!

Every kid needs a champion

Rita Pierson heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” This inspiring ted talk is a rousing call to educators to connect to students.


Top Activity Books for Children

Like many parents, I am always looking for fresh ideas for my boredom-busting toolkit – interesting and meaningful activities, preferably requiring minimal supervision. I’ve really needed them during the current school holidays, and they’ll be helpful as we spend more time indoors during the cooler months. Anything to stave off moans about Being Bored, or battles about too much screentime! These terrific activity books fit the bill – they offer lots of open-ended ideas that encourage kids to play, think, reflect and create.

Usborne Design Activity Book by Alice James, Tom Mumbray and Petra Baan

Usborne has been publishing excellent children’s activity books for years – you may remember books about spycraft / origami / cooking from your own childhood. This Design Activity Book is another great example, and should offer plenty of fun and inspiration to kids who love art and visual design. Project ideas range from the more traditional, such as hand lettering, and designing logos and book covers, to more complex ones such as developing a board game, developing a website, and applying branding to a collection of items. Each idea is supported by lots of prompts and useful tips that draw upon the different steps of the design process. For ages 8+.

Chill Out: My Mindfulness Activity Book by Josephine Dellow

This activity book is not only fun and inspirational, but being based on mindfulness, can also help to support young people’s wellbeing in the longer term. Chill Out offers a good range of activities, puzzles, games and crafts, created with and for 5 – 8-year-olds; each activity encourages children to focus in on a task, settle the mind, and help to create a peaceful moment in their day. Chill Out is published by Ups!de Down Books, an independent publisher specialising in positive, age-appropriate and accessible titles around mental health and wellbeing. For ages 5-8.

Ninja Life Hacks Journal for Kids by Mary Nhin

This journal is a companion volume to the Ninja Life Hacks series, which are bite-sized, colourful books that aim to help children develop life skills. It covers topics such as managing emotions, developing resilience and learning respectful interactions.  The Ninja Life Hacks Journal turns these messages into goal-setting exercises that nurture a growth mindset: how to look past failures and learn from mistakes, practise positive self-talk and ultimately, develop grit and resilience.  Not only is it a useful workbook, it can become a great keepsake.  For ages 3-11.

101 Things for Kids to do Screen-Free by Dawn Isaac

Are you constantly trying to limit your kids’ screen time? Screen time is a big issue in so many families – especially during holidays –  so Dawn Isaac’s new book caught my eye right away. Dawn’s previous books on Outdoor activities and Rainy Day activities are both terrific resources, and this is no exception. The 101 Things described in this book range from the creative (no-sew sock creatures), to the silly (hands-free eating challenge) to the impressive (backyard mini golf).  There are crafts, recipes, outdoor challenges, games, and projects; most require few or commonly-found materials; some can be done on your own, while others are great for groups.  For ages 4-11.

The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play by Laura Brand

Laura Brand may not be well-known outside the UK – yet – but her great ideas around engaging with nature, creative crafting and the importance of play, deserve a wide audience. The Joy Journal offers fifty simple, engaging and open-ended play ideas that will appeal to a range of ages, including toddlers under supervision. Most of the projects are no-cost or low-cost, and use common household items, or scavenged natural materials such as flowers, leaves and twigs. Laura champions messy play, but offers helpful tips and “messiness ratings” for parents who may be more hesitant. The beautiful photograps and friendly chatty text means the book is a pleasure for the parent-reader as well! For ages 2+.

Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Bold Engineers by Andrea Beaty

Rosie Revere, Engineer is a firm favourite with both kids and adults, for its fun introduction to the engineering process, and its stereotype-busting story.  Now you can further nurture the inventiveness of your budding engineer with a Rosie Revere project book. With full-colour illustrations, Rosie Revere encourages readers to design and prototype solutions to everyday problems using commonplace items, and to learn from, rather than be discouraged by, failures and flops. The 40+ featured projects include designing a better bicycle, build a simple catapult, construct a solar oven, and more.  For ages 5+.

Cooking up a storm with Booko: We Can All Eat That

We Can All Eat That serves up creative, delicious and informed ideas and recipes for introducing allergens to children.

Hey science teacher – make it fun

Science teacher Tyler DeWitt thinks science textbooks are impossible to understand. He delivers a rousing call for science teachers to ditch the jargon and make science fun in this Ted Talk.