Category Archives: Children

Posts about children’s literature

Boredom Busters: The Best Picture Books to Read These School Holidays

While the school holidays are almost over here in Victoria we know they are just beginning in other parts of the world. One of our favourite Winter school holiday activities was finding (or making) a spot to curl up in and read all day long. We’ve currently having a cold snap here in Melbourne so it’s the perfect reading weather. We’ve also found 6 super fun picture books that we know your little ones are going to love spending the day reading in a fort made of all of the couch cushions and blankets. 

A Sprinkle of Sadie by Lana Spasevski

Say hello to Sadie … a superstar baker with a big heart! In this book, Sadie needs to throw a surprise birthday for her mum, help out at the Cookgrove fundraising day, and welcome someone new to her class. But Sadie’s sweet intentions do not always go to plan! Her vanilla ice-cream cake for Mum is as flat as a pancake. Her cupcake stall has tough competition. And her welcome treat is not welcomed! Can Sadie find a way to save the day? In these three sprinkle-filled stories (complete with recipes!) the unstoppable Sadie shows that any problem can be solved with generosity, kindness and, of course, a delicious baked treat.

Water: Protect Freshwater to Save Life on Earth by Catherine Barr

Water is a ground-breaking global introduction to water that includes sharing and protecting freshwater worldwide. Water is life! Freshwater bubbles, flows and floods with the most wonderful life on Earth – and all of us rely on it to stay alive. BUT today, because of pollution and climate change, it is becoming more and more difficult for people and animals to find the clean freshwater they need to survive. It’s time to act! Water tells the story of freshwater around the world. Discover the history of water, how the water cycle works, learn about the different kinds of water and about the amazing variety of wildlife that freshwater is home to. Then find out what happens to water because of climate change and global heating; the importance of clean water for health; the worldwide problem of water pollution and the devastating impact of water shortage on children’s lives and education. Catherine Barr challenges us to take action, to use water wisely and protect freshwater to save our planet.

Building a Home by Polly Faber

Building a Home is a beautifully illustrated picture book guide to exactly how an old building can become a brand-new home. With action-packed artwork from Klas Fahlen and a gentle narrative text by Polly Faber, find out all about the people, machines, processes and tools involved in breathing new life into an old building. Packed with builders, cranes, diggers, cement mixers and a host of other exciting tools and machinery, follow a crumbling old factory on the edge of town as it goes from being an empty shell to something entirely new… a home.

The Book Family Robinson by Jonathan Emmett

A bookish family shipwrecked on a treasure island faces off against a fearsome pirate crew. The keen-reading Robinsons set out to sea, their boat barely afloat with all their books, until a storm strikes down their holiday plans. Shipwrecked on a mysterious island, they gather their soggy books up and research how to survive – completely missing the treasure littered all around them! But the Bloodbucket pirates remember it all too well, and when they find the Robinsons have taken their turf, it’s time to walk the plank. With only Silly Monkey Goes to the Toilet left to hand, can the Robinsons read themselves free from a watery doom?

Maybe… by Chris Haughton

From Chris Haughton comes a funny, suspenseful and keenly observed cautionary tale about pushing boundaries and indulging your more mischievous, cheeky side (when nobody is looking). Three little monkeys, and their big monkey, are sat high up on their branch in the forest canopy. “Ok, monkeys! I’m off,” says the big monkey. “Now remember. Whatever you do, do NOT go down to the mango tree. There are tigers down there.” Mmm . mangos! think the little monkeys. They LOVE mangos. Hmm … maybe . maybe they could just look at the mangos? That’d be ok, right?

Amazing Activists Who Are Changing Our World by Rebecca Schiller

Discover the stories of 20 amazing activists who are caring for our planet and its people. Fascinating facts about each activist’s life and times are accompanied by bright and accessible illustrations, making this book ideal for young children wanting to learn about incredible people who through their brave actions have changed the world for the better. Positive, uplifting and packed full of information, this book will show children that no one is too small to make a difference. Activists featured: Sonita Alizdeh; Rachel Carson; Favio Chavez; Mahatma Gandhi; Jane Goodall; Helen Keller; Martin Luther King Jr; Nelson Mandela; Wangari Maathai; Aditya Mukarji; Emmeline Pankhurst; Autumn Peltier; Boyan Slat; Gareth Thomas; Greta Thunberg; Harriet Tubman; William Wilberforce; Ai Weiwei Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah; Malala Yousafzai.

Enjoy!

Return Yourself to the Library these School Holidays 

Need some ideas for what to do during the school holidays ? Your public libraries can help! Libraries are a great source of low-cost and no-cost activities and educational and entertainment options for all ages. Whether you want to attend organised workshops and activities in-person, or borrow materials – including books, DVDs, even console/board games or robotics toys – to create your own activities at home, libraries have you covered.
In my home state of Victoria, public libraries are running a campaign called Return Yourself to Your Library. As libraries return to full services following disruptions caused by the pandemic, they would love to remind their members (past, present and future!) of the wide range of services they offer. Not only are they a great source of borrowable and/or downloadable materials, they can also support your entertainment and creativity needs, as well as being welcoming spaces where you can make new friends and feel part of a community.
In today’s blogpost I am highlighting some activities offered by libraries around and beyond Victoria, to show the diversity of events available. I hope this inspires you to contact your nearest library to see what they have to offer. From story times and craft workshops to robotics and dance sessions, library events can add some welcomed variety to your school holidays!

Image Source: City Of Melbourne

Treasure Hunt at the City of Melbourne Libraries
Whether you live in the City of Melbourne, or are visiting for the day, you can drop into one of their five branches (City Library on Flinders Lane, Southbank, Docklands, North Melbourne, East Melbourne, and Kathleen Syme in Carlton) for a treasure hunt! Follow the clues, discover some surprises, find the hidden pictures and collect your treasure! This is a self-guided activity available anytime during library opening hours – speak to a staff member for full details. Also look out for pop-up library spaces throughout the CBD – perfect for a bit of quiet downtime or free internet access.

The Australian Ballet at Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries
One of the biggest library services in Melbourne, Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries is offering an extensive holiday program across its nine branches.  One highlight is its collaboration with The Australian Ballet – ballet storytime for young children (5 years and under) at Watsonia Library, and STEAM dance workshops for 5-12 year olds at Ivanhoe Library.  These workshops encourage and nurture movement, creativity as well as literacy. No dance experience required, bookings essential.  Other holiday activities include movie afternoons, Minecraft and coding.

Little Warriors Yoga at the State Library of Victoria Every Wednesday, you and your preschooler can enjoy a fun and free 45-minute yoga class hosted by Little Warriors Yoga.  Help your little one grow into happy and confident beings with tips on stretching, calmness and wellbeing.  Two sessions available every Wednesday morning, bookings essential.  Part of the Playdate at the Library series of events suitable for 3-5 year olds. And while you are there, why not explore the beautiful spaces in this iconic building, including the famous Dome Reading Room, and the beautifully refurbished, dedicated Children’s Quarter?

LEGO Club at the Geelong Libraries The popular LEGO Club at the Geelong Regional Libraries is running a bricktastic workshop as part of its school holiday program, where you can make new friends and explore your creativity.  These sessions are for parents and children to build together, and can suit diverse needs, especially for children on the autism spectrum.  Sessions are held at the Bannockburn Library and are suitable for 5-11 year olds.

Image Source: Goldfields Libraries

Make a seed bomb at the Goldfields Libraries
The Goldfields Libraries service a number of central Victorian towns including Bendigo, Castlemaine, Gisborne and Kyneton.  The current school holiday program has a Peter Rabbit theme and focusses on hands-on activities including craft, LEGO and robotics.  If you have young people who love gardening and/or messy play, drop into one of their branches and make a Seed Bomb.  Seed bombs are a tried-and-true method of providing an optimal environment for germinating seeds – great for home-use and also as gifts.  All materials supplied.

Laser-cut Jewellery workshop for teens at the City of Sydney Library
Further afield, the City of Sydney Libraries are hosting a range of creative workshops at their Darling Square Library.  Many public libraries offer Maker Spaces with equipment that are free to use and help support your creativity – from sewing machines to 3D printers to design software and even sound studios.  The gorgeous new Darling Square Library is offering a jewellery-making session for adults and older teens.  Suitable for beginners, the workshop will show you how to use Adobe Illustrator software to create a design, that can then be turned into reality using a laser cutter on plywood or perspex.  Follow the link for booking and cost details.

Ted Talk: How to design a library that makes kids want to read

When Michael Bierut was tapped to design a logo for public school libraries, he had no idea that he was embarking on a years-long passion project. In this hilarious talk, he recalls his obsessive quest to bring energy, learning, art and graphics into these magical spaces where school librarians can inspire new generations of readers and thinkers.

Boredom Busters for the School Holidays  – the coolest activity books on the market

The school holidays are right around the corner and if they have snuck up on you as they have us, then fear not, we have found some amazing books that will eradicate any complaints of boredom over the next two weeks. But if these aren’t enough to fill the days, next week Karen is going to be sharing what’s on in the libraries over the holidays too, just in case you are running out of ideas. 

Get ready to get clicking because we know that the children (and perhaps a parent or two) will absolutely love these creative activity books. 

Absolutely Epic Sudoku by Ivy Finnegan

We all know that Sudoku puzzles reinforce logic and problem-solving and this is a bumper book of these number based puzzles.

Young puzzlers can put their number and logic skills to the test with this ultimate book of over 180 sudoku puzzles. Inside you’ll find puzzles for everyone, from sudoku beginners to number ninjas. They’re graded by skill level so that you can start wherever you feel comfortable – then level up when you’re ready for a challenge. With epic cartoon illustrations, this collection offers hours of fun and satisfaction while improving memory and critical thinking too! Fantastic fun for puzzlers aged 7+.

Everything Under the Sun: a curious question for every day of the year by Molly Oldfield

This is a wonderful collection of 366 curious questions asked by children from around the world, based on the award-winning podcast by Molly Oldfield. How much bamboo can a giant panda eat? Do aliens exist? What we would do if we didn’t have a prime minister? Why do hammerhead sharks have such strange-shaped heads? Find out the answers to these curious questions and much, much more! Find out why you taste things differently when you have a cold with Michelin star chef, Heston Blumenthal. Learn about everything from how astronauts see in the dark to what the biggest dinosaur was with experts from the Natural History Museum. Fascinating facts are accompanied by gorgeous illustrations making this the perfect school holiday activity book. Whether you read a question a day, or dip into it whenever you are feeling curious, this is a book to treasure and share all year round.

Big Life Journal, Second Edition: A Growth Mindset Journal for Children by Alexandra Eidens

This is a second edition of the popular Big Life Journal for Children (you can buy the first edition here). It’s an illustrated and guided journal for children to develop a growth mindset, and promotes social-emotional learning. Children’s negative self-talk can lead to a fixed mindset, they begin to fear failure and their self-esteem plummets. As parents, we can make a huge impact on how much our kids believe in themselves and how they approach challenges. By giving them the right tools, we help them better understand their brain and learn the importance of positive self-talk.

Big Life Journal incorporates the latest research in positive psychology, brain science, and youth development. With plenty of room to draw and write on each page, this interactive journal is a growth mindset workbook for kids to work through at their own pace as they reflect, learn and grow. And there is a different engaging activity on every page, so this is the interactive journal kids will actually want to use! A life story journal becomes a beautiful future keepsake. With a bright, colourful and durable hard cover, this kids journal with prompts contains 176 high quality pages that stand up to pencils and markers with a lay-flat design, and a sewn in satin bookmark.

How to Draw a Mermaid and Other Cute Creatures by Lulu Mayo

From a magical mermicorn and a friendly narwhal to a puppy cupid and a panda cupcake, these cute creations are loads of fun to draw. The book demonstrates how to create quirky kawaii-style characters in an easy, step-by-step way that will also have readers coming up with their own cute characters in no time. Using simple shapes, illustrator Lulu Mayo explains how to draw each mythical, magical or just plain marvellous creature. Her 30 imaginative creations are sure to keep budding artists entertained and inspired to dream up their very own weird and wonderful characters.

if you have a budding artist that you know will love this book, Lulu has written more. You can find them here.

Puzzlooies! Space Cats to the Rescue: A Solve-the-Story Puzzle Adventure by Russell Ginns, Jonathan Maier

Snag a pencil. Sink into the story. Solve the puzzles – and save the day!

Say goodbye to boring downtime and hello to Puzzlooies!, the latest in portable entertainment. Meant for kids to write in, these illustrated and compact books flip up like a reporter’s notebook, making them perfect for fast fun while on-the-go. Each zany adventure is packed with eclectic puzzles to decipher and decode, as well as jokes, riddles, and true trivia galore that’ll keep readers laughing ’til the very end . . . if they can reach it!

Sharpen your pencils and prepare for liftoff! Here come . . . Space Cats to the Rescue! In this exciting Puzzlooey instalment, Earth is in big trouble. A deadly asteroid is on its way to pummel the planet. Humanity’s only hope is a fearless foursome of felines.

You can buy more Puzzlooies here

Give This Book a Cover by Jarrett Lerner

Inspire kids to grow their imaginations with this second collection of creative activities from Jarrett Lerner, author of the EngiNerds, Geeger the Robot, and Hunger Heroes series! This collection of fun, open-ended writing and drawing prompts will kick-start creativity and challenge kids to be imaginative in new ways with every turn of a page. The Finish This Comic section features a variety of scenarios and characters inspire kids to write and illustrate a six-panel story. How to Draw instructions encourage kids to find their own drawing styles. Drawing and writing prompts and a smorgasbord of other activities add to the fun perfect for home, road trips, school, and anywhere!

Enjoy!