Tag Archives: #Children

10 ways to foster a love of reading for your child

Learning to read, or rather teaching someone else to learn to read can be a daunting task – do you start with phonetics, rhyming, sounds or learn the name of letters? Whatever way you choose, sharing the love of reading needs to be fun, relaxed and exciting. Our favourite book on the topic is The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, it’s been a wonderful resource for several of the Booko children. Here are our top 10 tips from the book:

  1. Begin reading to your children as soon as possible. The younger you start them, the easier, and better it is.
  2. Set aside at least one specific time each day for a story and make it part of your daily routine.
  3. Start with picture books that have only a few sentences on the page, then gradually move to books with more text and fewer pictures before building to chapter books.
  4. As you read, keep listeners involved by occasionally asking ‘what do you think is going to happen next?’
  5. If the chapters are long, or you don’t have enough time to finish one each day, find a suspenseful spot at which to stop. Leave your little audience hanging and they will be counting the minutes until the next reading.
  6. Allow your listeners a few minutes to settle down and adjust their feet and minds to the story. Mood is an important factor in listening, make sure you foster a receptive one.
  7. Use expression when reading. Change your tone, adjusting pace and lowering your voice in suspenseful parts makes it all very exciting.
  8. Slow down. The most common mistake is reading too fast. Reading quickly allows no time for mental pictures to be made and more expression to be used.
  9. Bring the author to life. Google the author to find out more about them. This lets them know that books are written by people and not machines.
  10. When children wish to read to you, it is better for the book to be too easy than too hard, just as a beginner’s bicycle is better to be too small than too big.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Upon its first publication in 1982, millions of parents and educators have turned to Jim Trelease’s beloved classic for more than three decades to help countless children become avid readers through awakening their imaginations and improving their language skills. It has also been a staple in schools of education for new teachers. This updated edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook discusses the benefits, the rewards, and the importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation. Supported by delightful anecdotes as well as the latest research (including the good and bad news on digital learning). The Read-Aloud Handbook offers proven techniques and strategies for helping children discover the pleasures of reading and setting them on the road to becoming lifelong readers.

 

Here’s a few of our favourites to help you share the joy of reading aloud:

 

Creature abc by Andrew Zuckerman.

Alphabet books can be valuable for teaching kids the sounds that letters make — but only if they are fun to read! Creature abc is fun; it features amazing animal photographs and an entertaining format. On one page is a letter (e.g. “Aa”) and a photograph of an animal’s body part (e.g. an alligator’s hand). When I read this book, I make the letter’s sound, and my kids guess what animal they will see on the following page.

 

 

Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox

There are red sheep and blue sheep, wind sheep and wave sheep, scared sheep and brave sheep, but where is the green sheep? The search is on in this cozy, sheep-filled story from beloved author Mem Fox and popular Australian cartoonist Judy Horacek. Complete with sleepy rhymes and bright illustrations, this book is sure to delight children of all ages, from the very young to those just beginning to read. Mem has never owned a sheep, let alone a green one, but she does admit to having woolly thoughts from time to time. Judy loves drawing things, especially sheep. This is her first flock.

 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

This gentle bedtime story, which has lulled generations of children to sleep, is the perfect first book to share at bedtime. In a great green room a little bunny is tucked up snugly and safely in bed and is getting ready to say goodnight to all the familiar things in his room, one by one. Margaret Wise Brown’s comforting, rhythmical text accompanied by the warmth of Clement Hurd’s classic mid-century illustrations make Goodnight Moon a timeless picture book, which is known and loved around the world.

 

I Am So Strong by Mario Ramos

This is a terrific read aloud – it’s a book with some yelling in it, with a handful of  familiar characters like a wolf and Red Riding Hood and three pigs, joined by a couple of dwarfs, and a baby dinosaur and his HUGE mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of all, have fun together!

How to set up a reading space for kids

There’s nothing like having a comfy, quiet space to enjoy reading a good book.  In order to spark an interest and engagement in reading with our kids, the same idea applies.  When it comes to teaching your child to read, finding a special reading space promotes quiet and calm and is particularly good for children who struggle to concentrate.

f8aec4e4abc4c6275272e74231d018c5A reading nook doesn’t need to cost hundreds of dollars or follow the latest design trends, but we’ve looked into some of the recommendations from My Little Bookcase and Creatingalearningenvironment.com to firm up our ideas.  Here are our tips on setting up a reading space for kids:


Light
– Set up a space in a light-filled room.  Use lamps when required to create a warm, ambient glow.  There should be enough light to be able to read the books easily but also create a lovely atmosphere.

4460438978_9174e6f4e5Enclose a space – Children love the idea of a ‘cubby’ or a secret space just for them.  It’s also nice to enclose a space within a larger room, so their reading nook is easy to identify.  Different ways to do this are to set up a tent over a few floor cushions.  Other ideas are to take the doors off a cupboard and deck out the shelves with books, adding seating into the bottom.  We love this version by Playtivities.com


Make it cosy
– By adding floor cushions, soft toys and throw rugs, the reading nook will become a favourite place to ‘chill out’ and relax after a day at daycare or school.  Adding  comfy elements will also allow the child to ‘make it their own’.

readingbench-225x300Add some books – Make sure that books are at your child’s eye level.  Find different ways of storing the books, such as in baskets and bins.  Mix up the books so that a selection of their book collection are sitting in the reading nook.  A great idea is to ask your child to select which books are brought into the reading nook at a time and when they should be swapped for new ones.  This promotes ownership of the space.  Other ways to store books is to create a reading bench, such as that featured in Creatingalearningenvironment.com.  A simple idea of turning a bookshelf on it’s side, adding a padded top and filling it with books creates a beautiful and cost effective DIY reading bench.  We love this!

So that’s it!  A reading nook doesn’t need to be over-engineered, it just needs a few basic elements to become part of your child’s learning journey.

Looking through the ideas on Pinterest there are amazing and intricate reading nooks and spaces that clever people have created for their children.  Here are some of our favourites.

 

 

How to encourage your child to read more

This month we are celebrating readers of all genres and as we had such a great response to our post last year on encouraging children to read we thought we would share it again for you.

Most people would agree that reading is a good thing, and that it is critical to language and literacy development.  But not everyone is a natural bookworm – so here are some tips on how to help your child develop a love of reading.

Tip 1: Reading should be fun

Your first goal is to convince your child that reading is a pleasurable activity that they will want to do again and again.  Focus on making reading a fun experience.

Tip 2: Target their interests

Choose books that reflect your child’s interests – whether it be trucks/ princesses/ food/ shoes.  There are books on just about every topic – the right one can get the reader hooked on reading for life.

Tip 3: Create a reading-friendly lifestyle

Create a comfortable space for reading – it can be a couch, or beanbag, or cushions, or in bed – and stock up on a variety of books or other reading materials, such as magazines or newspapers.

Incorporate reading into your weekly routine, for example by visiting your local library regularly, or by setting aside some “reading time” at bedtime or on weekends.

Tip 4: Model good reading habits

Let your child see you read.  Show that you enjoy reading, want to do it regularly, and that you feel confident about reading.  You can also explain why you love reading, such as “reading helps me make sense of things”, or “reading makes me laugh”.

If you want to improve your own confidence in reading, there are community resources to support you.  Contact your local library or adult education organisation to see how they can help.

Tip 5: Try different formats

Reading isn’t just about novels.  Some children prefer non-fiction (information books), particularly illustrated titles.  Don’t forget that newspapers, magazines, even recipes and instruction manuals, can offer good reading opportunities – whatever interests the child.

If your child prefers pictures to words, then why not try picture books or graphic novels? There are many sophisticated picture books aimed at older readers (such as The Arrival by Shaun Tan)  , and the graphic novel format has been used on a range of topics including literary classics (for example Nikki Greenberg’s adaptation of Hamlet) .  Children who like to listen to stories can try to read and listen at the same time – play an audiobook and encourage them to follow the story on a printed copy.

Tip 6: Make it a family activity

Some children may find reading more appealing if it is done as a family activity.  It could be reading aloud to each other; or reading silently side by side; or listening to an audiobook together during a car trip.  It can even be watching a film adaptation together (and discussing how it differs from the original book).  Be creative, and choose something that all of you can enjoy.

Tip 7: Talk to the experts

Teachers, school librarians, local librarians and children’s booksellers all have professional knowledge and experience in engaging reluctant readers.  Talk to them and ask for useful strategies and/or book recommendations.   Beloved author Paul Jennings, who is also a teacher and speech pathologist, has written a guide called “The Reading Bug and how to help your child catch it”.

Final tip: Relax

670px-Teach-Your-Child-to-Read-Step-3-Version-2

Remember Tip 1: Reading should be fun?  Encouraging children to read should not be stressful for parents either.
Don’t worry if they don’t read everyday – this is understandable, especially at the beginning.  Be gentle but persistent with your encouragement.
Don’t worry if they don’t choose “good” literature, or if they only read about a single topic or character; sooner or later they will branch out.
Don’t worry if they choose something that is too hard or too easy; gently offer a more appropriate alternative, but also respect their choice.
Finally, try not to feel disappointed if your child shows no interest in reading your own childhood favourites.  Encourage them to read widely, and one day they may give your favourite books another chance!

Back to school: books that smooth the transition

As January hurtles along, many families will be preparing for a big milestone – the First Day of School.  To help both kids and parents prepare for this exciting event, we present our favourite books on starting school.  The big kids have not been forgotten – we have included books on starting secondary school, because we understand that this is a big challenge too.  Hopefully this list will also help any families starting school later in the year!

For Young Kids

Many picture books talk about starting school.  A good place to start may be your child’s favourite book or TV character – many of them, including Hugless Douglas, Maisy, Charlie and Lola and Peppa Pig, offer stories about starting preschool / kindergarten / primary school.  Other great stories (and conversation starters) include:

Starting School by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker

This gentle and sympathetic book follows five children – Tim, Hannah, Sunita, Joe, and Polly – on their first day of school.  The children have different personalities and experience the day differently.  The story is engaging and also informative, since it highlights the many predictable events of orientation, such as finding your way around, getting to know people, and learning new routines.  From the team that bring us the equally gorgeous and popular All Through the Year (about the months of the year) and Today We Have No Plans  (about the days of the week).

Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School by Herman Parish and Lynne Avril

This is a good introduction to the Amelia Bedelia series, which can grow with your child through their primary years – the series range from picture books to early readers and chapter books.  Amelia Bedelia is a very literal-minded girl who gets confused by common sayings.  Her misunderstandings land her in many funny situations!  Here, Amelia Bedelia learns to enjoy her first day at school despite feeling nervous and having a very eventful time.

 

First Day by Andrew Daddo and Jonathan Bentley

First Day gives “first day nerves” a little twist when it’s the parent, not the child, who is feeling them!  This is a joyous, affectionate look at the excitement of getting ready for school on The First Day.  The excitement may be tempered by a little sadness, but that’s okay, because “the best bit about waving goodbye is the next wave will be hello”.  Andrew Daddo and Jonathan Bentley is a great team who is adept at capturing the moods and behaviours of young children.

The Terrible Suitcase by Emma Allen and Freya Blackwood

The combination of Freya Blackwood’s illustrations and a grumpy main character made me smile and smile as I read The Terrible Suitcase.  The little girl longs for a red backpack with yellow rockets to take to her first day of school, but all she has is a Terrible Suitcase. She feels so mad that she hides in a big cardboard box in her classroom.  Luckily, friendliness and imagination turns this terrible day into something magical. I love how real the characters seem, and how inventive this story is.

For Parents

Ready, Set, Go? How to Tell if your Child’s Ready for School and Prepare them for the Best Start by Kathy Walker

Deciding when to send your child to school can be daunting, particularly when present-day ideas about “school readiness” focus on emotional and social maturity (which can be hard to recognise), rather than the more clear-cut criteria of age or intellectual development.  Kathy Walker, a leading parenting and education expert, is here to help you with this guide.  Based on her experiences working with families and educators, Kathy explains what school readiness means and how to assess it; she also describes how schools work, and gives advice on how to choose a school that suits a child and their families. Finally there are tips on preparing children for school, both in the lead-up and in the early weeks of term.  Readable and highly informative.

High School Rocks: Make Starting High School an Awesome Experience by Jenny Atkinson

Jenny Atkinson is a former teacher who now specialises in helping students, parents and staff achieve a confident, happy transition to high school.   Based on survey feedback from over 1600 students, High School Rocks addresses the challenges that concern students the most – including friendships, independence, time-management and bullying.  A mix of tips, stories and advice will help families develop their own coping strategies, and improve resilience.  High School Rocks is currently available only from the Kindle Store  or the author’s website.

For Big Kids

Many stories aimed at upper-primary or early teen readers explore themes of dealing with change, loneliness and understanding oneself, issues also relevant to the transition to secondary school.  Some novels that specifically mention school transition include:

New Boy by Nick Earls

Herschelle and his family have just moved from South Africa to Australia, and despite his careful study of Aussie slang, he is struggling to fit in.  At school, he is lumped in with the nerds, though he was one of the cool kids back in Cape Town.  Nobody understands his accent or his Aussie-isms, and both he and his family make gaffes because they are confounded by local customs.  Things come to a head when Herschelle is picked on for being different.  New Boy has great messages about diversity, racism and bullying – especially because it offers the interesting twist of having a bullying-victim who is white.  This is Nick Earls’ first book for younger readers, after a string of successes for teens and adults.

Pea’s Book of Best Friends by Susie Day

Life changes for Pea and her sisters when their ditzy mum becomes a successful author.  Her new glamorous image means they have to relocate from a ramshackle flat in Wales to a house in London.  Pea is excited about London’s various attractions – and even likes her new school uniform, “in a masochistic Malory Towers sort of way” – but she really misses having a best friend.  Catastrophes ensue as Pea hunts for a new best friend while her sisters plot to return to their former lives.  Pea’s Book of Best Friends is a fun read with likeable, quirky characters.  The first in an ongoing series.

 

How to be Happy: a Memoir of Love, Sex and Teenage Confusion by David Burton

For mature readers, or with adult guidance – How to be Happy is an award-winning memoir that has been variously praised as hilarious, heartbreaking, and important.  It follows David’s life as he enters high school, through his attempts to fit in both at home and at school, and into his early twenties.  How to Be Happy tackles many confronting topics – including depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, love and academic pressure – with sincerity and honesty.  It is ultimately uplifting as David realises that life can be okay even when it is not happy 100% of the time.

Early Chapter Halloween Readers

Halloween is a great theme to explore with children starting to read. There’s plenty of drama, scary costumes and twists in the tale. Explore the meaning behind Halloween and have some fun with this selection, aimed at the 6+ age group.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:AntAnt and Honey Bee: A pair of friends at Halloween by Megan McDonald

From the Author of the very popular ‘Judy Moody’ series comes the ‘Ant and Honey Bee’ series. The ant and honey bee are great friends and explore seasonal events together, such as Halloween. This book covers topics such as ‘what makes a great pair’ and ‘what goes together’ as the duo collaborate on fun costume ideas.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:MercyMercy Watson: Princess in Disguise by Kate DiCamillo

Mercy Watson books feature colourful characters and beautiful illustrations. Persuaded by the word “treating” to dress up as a princess for Halloween, Mercy the pig’s trick-or-treat outing has some very unexpected results. This Halloween reader is full of humour, hijinks, tricks and treats.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:HubbleHubble Bubble: The Super-Spooky Fright Night by Tracey Corderoy

Three more fabulously funny stories in one book, about a glorious granny, a little girl, a nervy black cat and a great deal of mayhem. A varied layout and illustrations on every page helps children navigate the reading experience. Frighteningly funny!

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:peculiarThe Peculiar Pumpkin Thief by Geronimo Stilton

When all the pumpkins in New Mouse City disappear days before Halloween, Geronimo and his detective friend Hercule Poirat investigate, as all the mice in the city receive invitations to a mysterious party. Geronimo Stilton books are incredibly popular and really bring the text to life for new readers through use of colour and varied fonts. We are huge fans of Geronimo Stilton at Booko.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:cemeteryThe Cemetery Dance by Lucy George

Once a century on Halloween, the creatures of the night gather for the cemetery dance. Sounds spine chilling! With minimal copy and stunning illustrations that take up ¾ of the page, this phonics reader is a great option for a first chapter book. It also forms part of a structured reading program that takes children through pairs and groups of letters, which improves reading and spelling ability, and overall confidence which is so important at this level.

How to encourage your child to read more?

Most people would agree that reading is a good thing, and that it is critical to language and literacy development.  But not everyone is a natural bookworm – so here are some tips on how to help your child develop a love of reading.

Tip 1: Reading should be fun

Your first goal is to convince your child that reading is a pleasurable activity that they will want to do again and again.  Focus on making reading a fun experience.

Tip 2: Target their interests

Choose books that reflect your child’s interests – whether it be trucks/ princesses/ food/ shoes.  There are books on just about every topic – the right one can get the reader hooked on reading for life.

Tip 3: Create a reading-friendly lifestyle

Create a comfortable space for reading – it can be a couch, or beanbag, or cushions, or in bed – and stock up on a variety of books or other reading materials, such as magazines or newspapers.

Incorporate reading into your weekly routine, for example by visiting your local library regularly, or by setting aside some “reading time” at bedtime or on weekends.

Tip 4: Model good reading habits

Let your child see you read.  Show that you enjoy reading, want to do it regularly, and that you feel confident about reading.  You can also explain why you love reading, such as “reading helps me make sense of things”, or “reading makes me laugh”.

If you want to improve your own confidence in reading, there are community resources to support you.  Contact your local library or adult education organisation to see how they can help.

Tip 5: Try different formats

Reading isn’t just about novels.  Some children prefer non-fiction (information books), particularly illustrated titles.  Don’t forget that newspapers, magazines, even recipes and instruction manuals, can offer good reading opportunities – whatever interests the child.

If your child prefers pictures to words, then why not try picture books or graphic novels? There are many sophisticated picture books aimed at older readers (such as The Arrival by Shaun Tan)  , and the graphic novel format has been used on a range of topics including literary classics (for example Nikki Greenberg’s adaptation of Hamlet) .  Children who like to listen to stories can try to read and listen at the same time – play an audiobook and encourage them to follow the story on a printed copy.

Tip 6: Make it a family activity

Some children may find reading more appealing if it is done as a family activity.  It could be reading aloud to each other; or reading silently side by side; or listening to an audiobook together during a car trip.  It can even be watching a film adaptation together (and discussing how it differs from the original book).  Be creative, and choose something that all of you can enjoy.

Tip 7: Talk to the experts

Teachers, school librarians, local librarians and children’s booksellers all have professional knowledge and experience in engaging reluctant readers.  Talk to them and ask for useful strategies and/or book recommendations.   Beloved author Paul Jennings, who is also a teacher and speech pathologist, has written a guide called “The Reading Bug and how to help your child catch it”.

Final tip: Relax

670px-Teach-Your-Child-to-Read-Step-3-Version-2

Remember Tip 1: Reading should be fun?  Encouraging children to read should not be stressful for parents either.
Don’t worry if they don’t read everyday – this is understandable, especially at the beginning.  Be gentle but persistent with your encouragement.
Don’t worry if they don’t choose “good” literature, or if they only read about a single topic or character; sooner or later they will branch out.
Don’t worry if they choose something that is too hard or too easy; gently offer a more appropriate alternative, but also respect their choice.
Finally, try not to feel disappointed if your child shows no interest in reading your own childhood favourites.  Encourage them to read widely, and one day they may give your favourite books another chance!

Take 5: Books with adult and junior versions

Are you looking forward to the day when your kids will be old enough to share what you are reading, or to discuss issues you are passionate about?  That day may come sooner than you think.  Some great books are now available in junior versions aimed at 5-15 year olds.  While many teens will enjoy the original (adult) versions, these junior editions will allow new generations of readers to access these inspiring and thought-provoking works.
Ugly: My Memoir by Robert Hoge

One recent example is Ugly, the joyous and uplifting memoir of Robert Hoge.  Ugly follows Robert’s life from his birth to the birth of his daughter.  His childhood is suburban and familiar, filled with childhood pranks, school camps, bad haircuts, and siblings.  What makes his story extraordinary is that Robert was born significantly disfigured – a massive tumour distorted his facial features, and his legs were twisted and useless.  Despite this, Robert’s family is determined to give him an ordinary upbringing.  Lots of love and courage, as well as a series of groundbreaking operations, allow Robert to triumph over his difficult beginnings, and grow up to be a successful journalist, science communicator and political advisor.

Ugly by Robert Hoge

A younger readers’ version of Ugly was published in August this year, allowing 8-15 year olds to share in this inspirational story.  Ugly also offers a reflection on disability, beauty and ugliness – all important issues for this age group.  May have particular appeal for fans of R. J. Palacio’s Wonder.

 

 

 

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Dohttps-::covers.booko.info:300:refugee1

The plight of refugees is in the spotlight once more, making this a great time to revisit this heart-warming book.  The Happiest Refugee is comedian Anh Do’s memoir, which begins with his family’s escape from war-torn Vietnam.  During their journey in a leaky fishing boat, Anh and his family nearly die from disease, starvation, dehydration and pirate attacks.   Even when they are rescued and resettled in Australia, there is no simple Happy Ever After: Anh and his family face many hardships while they rebuild their lives.  Fortunately, hard work, determination, a loving family and a sense of humour help them to overcome many difficulties and pave the way to success.

The Happiest Refugee has won many awards, and was so popular that it became a live show that toured Australia.  What makes it so special is Anh’s irrepressible optimism – he can find the silver lining in even the darkest cloud.

The Little Refugee by Anh Do, illustrated by Bruce Whatleyhttps-::covers.booko.info:300:refugee2

The Little Refugee is a picture book adaptation of The Happiest Refugee, aimed at primary school students.  From young Anh’s point of view, we learn about Anh’s life from his birth in Vietnam to his early years in Australia.  Atmospheric illustrations by Bruce Whatley (of Diary of a Wombat fame) effectively contrast the Do Family’s frightening journey with the more humorous situations as they settle into Australian life, and emphasises how hard work, persistence and a sense of humour triumph over hardship. The Little Refugee was awarded CBCA Honour Book in the Information Book of the Year category in 2012.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:Weather1The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

The Weather Makers is the book that identifies Tim Flannery as an international authority on climate change.  It is an award-winning, best selling work that has been highly influential, with endorsements by policy makers, scientists, and writers worldwide.  The Weather Makers tells the climate change story – from its its history, to its current status, and onto potential future impact.  It also encourages its readers to start taking action to avert the imminent climate crisis.  The Weather Makers is widely admired for being authoritative and comprehensive while remaining readable and accessible to the general public.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:Weather2We are the Weather Makers: the Story of Global Warming by Tim Flannery

Since Tim Flannery dedicated The Weather Makers to children, “to all of their generation who will have to live with the consequences of our decisions”, it makes sense to produce a version of the book that speaks to youth readers directly.  The result is called We are the Weather Makers.  It is underpinned by the same vigorous scholarship, but with updated data, and more streamlined, concise prose.  While it is aimed at 10-15 year olds, We are the Weather Makers will appeal to anyone who wants a succinct version of the original, important work.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:Eats1Eats, Shoots and Leaves: the Zero-Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

When Lynne Truss wrote her “small book on punctuation”, she had no idea that it would become a bestseller that reinvigorates interest in the niceties of the English language.  Eats, Shoots and Leaves is more than a guide to punctuation use – it is also a lament and a call-to-arms.  Through amusing anecdotes drawn from history, literature, and real signage, Lynne Truss discusses the origin and history of different punctuations and how they should be used. Eats, Shoots and Leaves manages to be witty, informative and compulsively readable, because it shows that misplaced or absent punctuation can change the meaning of sentences in dramatic and funny ways.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:SpaghettiThe Girl’s Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can’t Manage Without Apostrophes! by Lynne Truss, illustrated by Bonnie Timmons

The adult version of Eats, Shoots and Leaves has inspired two picture books illustrated by Bonnie Timmons.  While Eats, Shoots and Leaves focusses on the use of commas, The Girl’s Like Spaghetti focusses on apostrophes.  Each book contains double spread pages that show how dramatically meanings can change when punctuations are placed differently.  For example, “the girl’s like spaghetti” may describe your best friend, while “the girls like spaghetti” sounds like a good meal!  The witty illustrations allow even young children to appreciate the quirkiness of the English language, and the importance of good punctuation.  Perfect for Ages 6-12.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:FastfoodFast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Fast Food Nation is Eric Schlosser’s critique of the American fast food industry.  He shows how the rise of fast food has resulted in many societal problems including rising obesity rates, widening income gap, labour exploitation, and potential for mass outbreaks of serious diseases (such as BSE, aka “mad cow disease”).  It is also a warning for the future, as emerging economies embrace fast food as part of their yearning for a Western lifestyle.  Eric Schlosser is an investigative journalist who has used a compelling narrative to make serious topics – politics, economics, health, business strategy, psychology – interesting and accessible.  Fast Food Nation is a seminal work that has inspired other exposes into big businesses, such as Super Size Me and Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:ChewChew on This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson

Chew on This is an adaptation of Fast Food Nation aimed at 10-16 year olds.  Eric Schlosser teams up with fellow journalist Charles Wilson to refine the original text and make it more accessible to the age groups that most favour fast food.  Chew on This has retained the engaging narrative and the solid research (including footnotes) of Fast Food Nation, but is more concise and straightforward.

5 activities for a non-boring school holiday

Only a few more weeks until the September school holidays!  The prospect of a slower pace (perhaps even a sleep-in!?) is attractive, but school holidays can also mean squabbles and excessive screen-time if the kids are at a loose end.  So here are some activities that can lure your young’uns from the couch / TV / e-devices while stretching their creativity and imagination!  They are also great resources for nurturing an existing interest.

These ideas have been inspired by the excellent programs run by our librarian friends around the country.  Many public libraries have free or low-cost events specially designed for children and youth – these can range from theatre shows, games tournaments, craft sessions, to how-to workshops.  Some libraries even have specialist equipment such as recording studios and 3D printers – and will teach you how to use them.  So do check out your local library to see what they are offering these school holidays!

For those who like drawing / cartooning:
Kids Draw Big Book of Everything Manga by Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart is a bestselling author of how-to-draw books.  He has guides catering to all ages from young children to adults, and to all skill levels.  Kids Draw Big Book of Everything Manga is a beginner’s guide for middle-primary students, just starting to develop their own characters.  It starts with basic style elements that define a manga-style drawing, then offers stepwise instructions on how to draw typical characters, poses and equipment for genres such as monsters, fantasy and shoujo.

For those who like computer games:
Scratch for Kids for Dummies by Derek Breen

If you love computer games, why not try to create your own?  Scratch is a visual programming language that is easy to learn, allowing users to quickly start creating their own stories, animations and games.  (Users build projects by joining chunks of ready-made code together, like virtual LEGO).  There is also a version for younger children called ScratchJr available as a tablet app.  It is available free of charge and has impeccable educational credentials – created at the MIT Media Lab specifically to help children learn computer programming.

Scratch for Kids for Dummies can be used as a troubleshooting guide as well as a complete beginner’s course in Scratch.  It is divided into three sections – character design, animation and games creation.  Like other For Dummies guides, it feels approachable – it is easy to read and has clear stepwise instructions with lots of illustrations. Each chapter also ends with ideas for extending your skills.  Available in both paperback and eBook formats.

For those who love the outdoors:
Cronin’s Key Guide to Australian Wildlife by Leonard Cronin

The September Holidays is a great opportunity to head outdoors and enjoy some long-awaited warmth and sunshine.  Some local councils and libraries run a Junior Rangers program during school holidays to encourage young people to visit local parks.  Junior Rangers learn about nature and conservation through activities such as guided walks, wildlife and plant identification, puzzles and games.

Create your own Junior Ranger activities using Cronin’s guides.  The Guide to Australian Wildlife offers a general introduction to plants and animals for a range of habitats including coral reefs, rain forests, woodlands and deserts.  Other titles in this series focus on specific topics such as trees, wildflowers, mammals, reptiles, and rainforest plants.  Each entry is beautifully illustrated and contains a detailed description including information on location, size, type of habitat, diet etc.  Cronin’s Guides can be useful whether you are travelling or even at home – there’s a surprising variety of birds and wildlife even in suburbia!

For anyone who loves LEGO:
LEGO Awesome Ideas by Daniel Lipkowitz

Hot off the press is this latest book of ideas to help LEGO builders extend their play and stretch their imagination.  Following from the success of the LEGO Ideas Book (2011) and LEGO Play Book (2013), Daniel Lipkowitz now shows builders how to create whole imaginary worlds starting from a single creation.

LEGO Awesome Ideas is arranged in themed chapters, such as Outer Space and The Wild West.  In each chapter, it offers suggestions on what to build, how to build and what else to build, to help fans go from a single creation to developing a complete LEGO world.  Each topic is richly illustrated, including with step-by-step instructions and visual break-downs for clear guidance.

For those who love cooking, science and/or getting messy:
Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family friendly Experiments from around the House by Liz Lee Heinecke

Using everyday objects to demonstrate science is a great way to engage kids and facilitate their understanding.  Kitchen Science Lab for Kids contains 52 simple experiments based on common and inexpensive materials.  The experiments are grouped by type (such as acids and bases, sunny science and life science), and cover key principles in chemistry, physics, and biology.  Each experiment includes step-by-step instructions, safety tips, a discussion of the relevant scientific principles and an extension activity.  They are simple enough that young children can participate, while interesting enough to appeal to teens.

Children who like to cook will also enjoy these experiments – after all, the process of gathering ingredients then carefully following a set of instructions is common to both cooking and to science!

Big Fat Smile

Big_Fat_Smile

At Booko, we’re hugely supportive of groups that inspire and promote reading. Big Fat Smile is a Community-owned, not-for-profit group who have served children and families since 2012. Big Fat Smile has supported refugee families, women and children fleeing from domestic violence and families who have been affected by drug abuse. All of the children in these families didn’t have any, or enough, appropriate clothing and nothing of their own to play with or read.

Big Fat Smile helps prepare children for the best start in life with packs that include a selection of clothing, a toy and always a book.

Booko has previously gifted a selection of new books to Big Fat Smile to form part of the packs given to children.

If you have new or pre-loved books to donate to Big Fat Smile, they would love to hear from you. All donations can be sent to:

Big Fat Smile
PO Box 190
Olinda VIC 3788

For more information on Big Fat Smile, visit their Facebook page