Tag Archives: #Childrensbooks

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!

Caring is … Sharing great books and games

How do you extend that summertime feeling to the rest of the year? For me, summer holidays mean more time to enjoy the company of family and friends – eating, chatting and playing together. Such quality time may seem impossible within the busyness of your normal routine, but is definitely worth scheduling. Start with an activity that can involve your whole family – such as cooking, making things, playing games or reading – here are some resources to get you started. And if you are a fan of board games, don’t forget that Booko can help you find the best prices for games as well as books!

Qwirkle Cubes

The latest version of this award-winning game comes as a set of colourful cubes. Make rows or columns of cubes by matching either the colour or shape on their faces. The cubic shape of the pieces add an extra level of game play – you can try to change the shapes you have by rolling the cubes. The basic rules are easy to learn for even young players, while some tactical thinking will ensure you achieve high scores. For 2-4 players, ages 6+

Sleeping Queens card game by Gamewright

Sleeping Queens has become a family favourite after we travelled with it this summer. It is a compact card game with a fairytale / Alice in Wonderland flavour (and this special 10th Anniversary edition comes in a beautiful carry tin). The Pancake Queen, the Rose Queen and their ten queenly friends have fallen into a magical sleep and need to be woken up. A King can wake a Queen but watch out for Knights that might steal her away! Winning is based on a little skill, some maths and some luck. Sleeping Queens also shines through its gorgeous and funny art. For 2-5 players, ages 8+

Parlour Games for Modern Families by Myfanwy Jones and Spiri Tsintziras

Parlour Games for Modern Families shows how to play silly and raucous games with big crowds and small, and with few or no props at all. Unusual games such as Farkle and Blind Potatoes join old favourites including Chatterboxes, Murder in the Dark and Dictionary. There are chapters for word games, drawing games, card games and mystery games. Suitable for ages 4-104, these games will help to lighten up rainy days, family gatherings, even dinner parties and work functions.

 

 

Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids that you will Actually Enjoy by Rebecca Green

We’ve all been there – that resigned feeling of doing an activity “for the kids” rather than “with the kids”. Banish Boredom promises to change all that, with suggestions on activities that are stimulating and fun for both adults and kids. From art to science experiments to excursions, Rebecca Green offers a variety of ideas as well as useful tips on how to plan, manage and extend activities. Banish Boredom is a great parenting resource for any time of year.

 
The World of David Walliams CD Story Collection by David Walliams

 

Listening to audiobooks turns reading into a social activity, especially useful on those long holiday car trips. Comedian-turned-superstar-author David Walliams is the creator of bestsellers including Mr Stink and Awful Auntie. Many reviewers see him as a successor to Roald Dahl, skilfully mixing over-the-top humour with poignant reflections on friendship and loneliness. David Walliams voices his audiobooks himself – but listen out for cameos by famous guests such as Matt Lucas. For immediate gratification, choose the 14-CD 5-story set ; or pre-order the Bumper-tastic 27-CD, 8-story edition , out in late January.

 

Cooking with Coco: Family Recipes to Cook Together by Anna Del Conte

Cooking is a great activity to do with children – not only will there be a delicious outcome, you will also be nurturing some healthy habits and useful life skills. Cooking with Coco is a collection of recipes Anna Del Conte has cooked with her children and grandchildren (Coco, now in her teens, has become a confident and creative cook). The collection features classic dishes including baked polenta, beef rolls, basic biscuits and pear cake – sophisticated food that will appeal to both adults and children, without resorting to novelty shapes or lollies.

The Best Children’s Books for Christmas

It’s that time of year when we fill children’s stockings with books that we know will capture their imagination, making them giggle, gasp and snort…and there’s nothing like the anticipation of a new story at bedtime that makes them brush their teeth and pop their pjs on faster! (top tip from our household…you’re welcome).

Here are our faves to pop into the stockings this Christmas…

Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey

No one loves Christmas more than Pig. And the world’s greediest Pug will stay up all night to get his presents and he has a very long list for Santa!

From the multi-award-winning picture-book creator Aaron Blabey comes another fabulous story guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. An ideal readaloud, it is perfect for teaching children about manners and Christmas spirit.

 

 

Ruby Red Shoes Goes To London by Kate Knapp

Ruby Red Shoes is a white hare who lives in a prettily painted caravan with her grandmother. Ruby is gentle and kind, cheery and enchanting. She loves animals and people, trees and nature, flowers and sunshine. Ruby is particularly partial to strawberry jam and peppermint tea. She is also rather fond of red shoes.

This is the third book in the best-selling Ruby Red Shoes series. Ruby and her grandmother love to travel and now they are in London, the home of red buses, red telephone boxes and red letter boxes. No wonder Ruby’s red shoes feel especially at home in this wonderful city!

 

 

We Found A Hat by Jon Klassen

Hold on to your hats! From the Kate Greenaway-winning creator of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat comes the much-anticipated conclusion to the celebrated hat trilogy. Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat…Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this perfectly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy, deceptive simplicity and deliciously deadpan humour.

 

 

 

Don’t Call Me Bear by Aaron Blabey

Gosh Aaron Blabey has had a super busy year, so far he’s given us the delightfully funny Pug books and the check Bad Guys books and now this wonderful book about Warren.

G’day my name is Warren, and I’ve got something to share… Just because I’m furry doesn’t mean that I’m a bear. Warren the Koala is many things: a marsupial, cute and furry, a bit of a grump, but the one thing he is not is a bear!

 

 

Marge In Charge by Isla Fisher

Jemima and Jake’s new babysitter doesn’t look too promising. In fact she looks very sensible, very old and VERY small (she only comes up to daddy’s armpit!). But the moment their parents leave the house, Marge gives a mischievous wink, takes off her hat and reveals a marvellous mane of rainbow-coloured hair! Marge really is a babysitter like no other and the children spend a wild evening with her – racing snails, slurping chocolate soup and mixing potions in the bath! But if Jake and Jemima want her to babysit again it’s time for them to take charge of Marge, tidy up and settle her down for a little sleep.

 

 

 

Belle and Boo and the Very Merry Christmas by Mandy Sutcliffe

Enter the charming world of Belle and Boo, a bob-haired little girl and her adorable bunny friend. Follow the adventures of this curious pair as they enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood, drawing us into a magical world of imagination and discovery. It’s almost Christmas Day. Time to decorate the tree, hang up stockings and bake delicious treats. Boo thinks the best thing about Christmas is the presents waiting for him under the tree. But, with a little help from his friend Belle, Boo learns that kindness and sharing will make for the merriest Christmas of all.

 

and a few for the older ones…

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut is captured in this exciting hardcover edition of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay. When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone… Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best. Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader’s bookshelf.

 

78 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Join Andy and Terry in their spectacular new 78-storey treehouse. They’ve added 13 new levels including a drive-through car wash, a combining machine, a scribbletorium, an ALL-BALL sports stadium, Andyland, Terrytown, a high-security potato chip storage facility and an open-air movie theatre. Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pokemon Go: Diary Of A Pokemon Trainer by Red Smith

Did you know that before Ash becomes the exceptional Pokemon battler, he’s just a weak guy who hates to deal with social life and poor in handling pokemon? Everything changes when his dad who is a great Pokemon Master decides to train him personally. And you’re in luck to have the chance to discover Red’s journey and some of the hidden secret Pokemon tips from his first ever written diary.

 

 

 

 

 

Baby-Sitters Club Graphix #1-4 Box Set by Ann M Martin and adapted by Raina Telgemeier

Hold on to your seats…they are back…I adored these books as a child and now they are available in graphic!!! Squeal!!!

Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn are The Baby-sitters Club. Whatever comes up — cranky toddlers, huge dogs, scary neighbours, prank calls — you can count on them to save the day. Raina Telgemeier, using the signature style featured in her acclaimed graphic novels Smile and Sisters, perfectly captures all the drama and humour of the original novels by Ann M. Martin!

 

Happy reading.

Books to help our children slow down

I had a chat with an older lady in the supermarket today and she was telling me about her childhood.  One of eight children, they foraged or trapped their dinners most nights.  Whether it was mushrooms, blackberries or catching rabbits, they went out with dad to find their ‘tea’.  After lunch, which was a weetbix with butter, they were told to go and play, just be home by dinnertime.

If you have a think about your childhood and compare it to the children of today: what are the main differences?  My childhood was definitely slower, we just did….less.  While we didn’t trap rabbits for dinner, there was a simple mundanity: dinners were meat and 3 veg and we spent most of our days outdoors playing on our bikes.  When I was growing up, there were less activities, opportunities and sources of information.  There were far less choices when I was a child, but there was a beautiful simplicity that went with it. Many behavioural issues that children are experiencing are said to come from our modern frenetic lifestyles.  As a result, authors have penned books to help us help our children to slow down.  Here are some of our favourite titles:

https-covers-booko-info300bearA Boy and a Bear by Lori Lite

‘A Boy and a Bear’ is a very simple story that can be read to children who might find it hard getting to sleep.  Through the story, a very simple technique called ‘circular breathing is taught.  This aims to bring calmness and well-being to both the child and the parent.  It’s a nice calm read to promote an easier bed-time routine.  Lite has written a suite of stories focused on bringing calm, visualisations and affirmations to children.  There have been positive reviews from some of the children, too: ‘I liked the story because it makes you feel relaxed and sleepy.  Every muscle in my body felt still.  I felt as relaxed as I could be’.  (Mandy, aged 8).

 

https-covers-booko-info300rabbitThe Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Foreseen Ehrlin

The groundbreaking #1 bestseller is sure to turn nightly bedtime battles into a loving and special end-of-day ritual. This child-tested, parent-approved story uses an innovative technique that brings a calm end to any child’s day. Do you struggle with getting your child to fall asleep? Join parents all over the world who have embraced ‘The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep’ as their new nightly routine.

 

https-covers-booko-info300turtleA Boy and a Turtle by Lori Lite

Children love to visualize or imagine filling their bodies with the colors of the rainbow. This effective stress-management technique also known as guided imagery is widely accepted and used by both traditional and holistic communities. These gentle but powerful visualization techniques stimulate the imagination. Visualization can have a positive impact on the health of children, improving creativity and performance. It can also lower stress and anxiety levels and is used to control anger.

https-covers-booko-info300childrenRelax Kids – How to be Happy: 52 positive activities for children by Marneta Viegas

‘Relax Kids: How to be Happy’ is packed with ideas focused on children spending quality time with their families.  At the same time, it helps children manage their worries and emotions and encourages them to grow up happy and contented.

The aim of the book is for families to spend time together completing activities and creating memories.   There is a different activity each week and each of the activities is explained with diagrams, which make it easy to follow.  Children experience confidence and increased self esteem from their ability to complete the activities.

 

https-covers-booko-info300imaginationsImaginations by Carolyn Clarke

Winner of the San Diego Book Award for Children’s Non Fiction, ‘Imaginations’ teaches children to relax and meditate as a means of slowing down their minds.  The ability to relax is an essential skill in our hectic world today.  Kids are shuttled from home to school to after school activities and home again, often without transition time or down time. ‘Imaginations’ contains stories to help children learn to calm their bodies and relax their minds.

 

https-covers-booko-info300quietA Handful of Quiet by Thich Nhat Hanh

A Handful of Quiet presents one of the best known and most innovative meditation practices developed by Thich Nhat Hanh as part of the Plum Village community’s practice with children. Pebble meditation is a playful and fun activity that parents and educators can do with their children to introduce them to meditation. It is designed to involve children in a hands-on and creative way that touches on their interconnection with nature.

Lessons learned from your favourite childhood books

Growing up, books were how you made sense of the world.  Some books stood the test of time and made a lasting impression, along with the ‘life lessons’ they conveyed.  Here is a retro list of some of the books you enjoyed as a child and the lessons they taught us:

https-::covers.booko.info:300:MadMadeleine by Ludwig Bemelmans

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines….”

The first few lines of Madeleine always seem to spring from your memory easily.  The series of Madeleine books contain rich, intricate artwork and beautiful rhyming prose.  In a world where precision and order was admired and encouraged, Madeleine was feisty, brave and always up for an adventure.

Life lesson: Be courageous

https-::covers.booko.info:300:givingThe Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

“Once there was a tree . . . and she loved a little boy.” The Giving Tree has been a popular childhood book for the last 50 years.  50 years!   The boy and the giving tree have a relationship where they can communicate.  At various stages throughout the boy’s life, they boy comes to the tree asking for something to solve a problem, which the tree gives, selflessly, until there is nothing left to give.  The relationship between the tree and the boy has been described as modelling the parent-child relationship.

Life lesson: Give without keeping score

https-::covers.booko.info:300:1terabithiaBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

This was our class novel in Grade 7 with one of my favourite teachers.  It’s a firm favourite and had the class in floods of tears.  Written in 1978 and now made into a film, it’s the story of 2 lonely children who are able to see the magic in each other that many cannot.  5th graders Jesse Aarons befriends a newcomer to the town, Leslie Burke.  Both social outcasts, they create the mythical kingdom of Terabithia where they both can truly be themselves.  When tragedy strikes, Jesse learns to overcome it.

Life lesson: Friendship conquers all

https-::covers.booko.info:300:loraxThe Lorax by Dr Seuss

The Lorax was Dr Seuss’ personal favourite among all his books.  It’s most commonly thought of as a modern fable: the threat of greed to nature.   The idea for the Lorax came from the anger of the author (Ted Geisel).  “In The Lorax I was out to attack what I think are evil things and let the chips fall where they might.”  The Lorax has been lauded as a brilliant teaching aid when discussing environmental issues with children.

Life lesson: We must speak for the trees (and all other living things).

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:secretThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden celebrated it’s 100th birthday in 2011.  A beloved classic, The Secret Garden  is about a young girl called Mary who loses her parents and is sent to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion in England.  Lonely and with no-one to play with, she learns of a secret garden on the grounds.  A chance meeting introduces her to her cousin Colin who has an unidentified illness which prevents him from walking.  Both the garden and Colin thrive from the new friendship.

Life lesson: The only way to have experiences is to leave your comfort zone.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:poohWinnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh is yet another cult classic and essential part of any child’s library.  The tales of Pooh and his friends are gently told and illustrated beautifully (I love this one due to the simple and elegant drawings by E.H. Shepherd).  Each Pooh tale expresses a range of life lessons, most due, in part, to the bear’s positivity.  The values of empathy, gratitude and creative problem-solving are featured in just about every tale, making these books easily digestible values-based stories for children.

Life lesson: Cherish your friends

Books that Teach your Children Values

My Son’s Kindergarten class have incorporated the concepts from the book ‘Have you filled a bucket today?’ into their everyday vernacular.  The book uses the metaphor of a bucket to explain how positive behaviours have an effect of ‘filling’ others’ as well as your own bucket.  Negative behaviour has the opposite effect.

Books seem to be an easy way to teach values in a relatable way for children.  In today’s blog we explore 6 popular books that teach positive behaviours in children:
https-::covers.booko.info:300:bucketHave you filled a bucket today? by Carol McCloud

This award-winning book is based around the metaphor that everyone has an invisible bucket that can be filled or dipped into by a person’s actions (or the actions of another towards this person).  Having such an easily relatable concept as a ‘bucket’ helps children understand the impact of their actions and words on others.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:mineThe Mine-O-Saur by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Gosh, what a fantastic title for a book.  There is a mine-o-saur that lives in our house that could surely benefit from this book.  The mine-o-saur in this books grabs all the toys, blocks and snacks, shouting “Mine, mine, mine.”  When will he learn the secret to making friends is sharing?  The value ‘sharing is caring’ is explored in this colourful and beautifully illustrated book.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:onehenOne Hen : How One Small Loan made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway

What I love about this book is how it teaches children about what life can be like for others, particularly in countries where affluence is not so prevalent.  Based on a true story, tells of how a poor Ghanaian boy buys a chicken through a community loan program, which eventually helps lift him, his mother, and his community out of poverty.

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:emptypotThe Empty Pot by Demi

The value taught in this book is honesty, which can be challenging to model when you’re trying to compete in a society that values winning above all else.  Set in China,  Ping is set a challenge by the Emperor to grow a flower from seeds that will never bear flowers.  When Ping admits that he is the only child in China unable to grow a flower from the seeds distributed by the Emperor, he is rewarded for his honesty.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:samstoriesSam Tells Stories by Thierry Robberecht

The best way to make new friends is to try and impress them, right?  This is certainly the case for a lot of children (including mine).  This book explores the process and how honesty is the best policy.  Sam tries to win his new classmates over by telling a story that isn’t true.  When he is confronted with the truth, he decides to set the record straight and learns the benefits of honesty in the process.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:kindnessEach Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Is there anything more gruelling than the first day of school when you don’t know a soul?  Maya tries to befriend Chloe who, in turn, makes fun of her shabby clothes and refuses to play with her.  Their teacher takes a lesson on kindness and Chloe realises that her behaviour has been wrong.  This book is beautifully written and illustrated.  It also doesn’t end in the conventional way we are conditioned to expect books to.  There isn’t a happy ending and Chloe learns that her opportunity to show kindness to Maya was lost.

Take 5: Favourite Children’s Books

What are your favourite children’s books? This is the sort of question that leads to passionate debate – because childhood favourites can leave such strong impressions on young, uncrowded minds; they may even inspire or shape the young reader’s identity.  Here are five critically acclaimed and hugely popular books that may already be part of your Favourites List; they certainly deserve to be the catalysts that trigger a lifelong love of reading:

Matilda by Roald Dahl

It’s hard to single out just one Roald Dahl book, but as a booklover-turned-librarian, I have a soft spot for Matilda.  Matilda is a story that celebrates intelligence and the transformative power of reading; there is sympathetic portrayal of libraries and librarians (the best ones are always welcoming and non-judgmental), and there is a good-versus-evil battle that makes you want to shout and cheer!  The success of the recent musical adaptation has renewed awareness for this well-known and well-loved book.  What better way to relive the show than to revisit the original book, in this theatre tie-in edition?

The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The Jolly Postman has everything that will delight little children – rollicking rhymes, fairytale mashups, cute drawings, things to spot in the detailed illustrations, and little cards, letters and a mini-book to take out of dainty envelopes!  On one busy day, this Jolly Postman rides his red bicycle delivering mail to villagers including Goldilocks, a Giant and the Big Bad Wolf.  Can he avoid being eaten and get home in time for dinner?  Books by the Ahlbergs feature regularly in “Best of” Lists, and The Jolly Postman is a classic example of their affectionate and whimsical style.  There’s lots of laugh-out-loud humour for both adults and children too.

Mirror by Jeannie Baker

Mirror is a brilliant picture book for all ages, because it is not only beautifully crafted, but inspiring and thought-provoking as well.  It has a creative dual-book format that shows the stories of two families – one in Australia, one in Morocco – unfolding simultaneously.  The visually stunning spreads, in Jeannie Baker’s distinctive, meticulous collage, show that despite external differences such as landscape and clothing, the two families are essentially the same, in their need for connection and belonging.  Winner of awards in both Australia and the UK for its technical excellence and humanitarian message, Mirror is worth revisiting now, when foreignness is creating much fear and doubt.

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth may be better known in the US than in the UK and Australia; but with fans including Maurice Sendak and Philip Pullman, think of it as the choice of Those in the Know.  The Phantom Tollbooth is about Milo, a bored boy who goes on a fantastical quest after driving through a magical tollbooth.  Norton Juster has huge fun with words in the Phantom Tollbooth, where much of the action is linked to wordplay (for example, Milo’s watchdog companion is half-dog, half-watch; to reach an island called Conclusions, they have to jump).  This annotated edition celebrates the incredible richness in Norton Juster’s language, which references mathematics, philosophy, and science besides the extensive wordplay. The Phantom Tollbooth reminds us of the power of learning, and has been described as a modern-day Alice in Wonderland.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

With over 450 million copies sold, the Harry Potter series is probably the most popular children’s books of all time.  Although the original books and films concluded years ago, Potter mania shows no sign of waning – with a thriving fandom developing its own traditions including a Quidditch World Cup (which recently attracted 21 teams from countries worldwide).  The story of the Boy Wizard has classic themes of friendship, adventure quest and personal growth that doubtless will continue to engage and resonate with readers. In anticipation of the soon-to-come Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, relive the original story with this beautiful full-colour illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

 

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.

 

 

The importance of tinkering

With an endless supply of TV shows and movies at our fingertips (hello Netflix, Stan, Apple TV, Presto and Foxtel),  time that children would normally spend playing, exploring and creating has been reduced to a whisper. The role of ‘tinkering’ by children is important in it’s ability to force our children to devise new and wonderful solutions to problems. Tinkering in our home tends to occur more readily when sticky tape or masking tape is left out. Numerous ‘traps’ are then set up using said sticky tape and different items of furniture.

The importance of tinkering has been acknowledged by an initiative called the ‘Makerspace movement’, which started in US libraries. The movement is part of an ongoing evaluation looking into what the role of the modern library should be in our society. Makerspaces are places where people can come together and create, explore, tinker, re-engineer and involve themselves in problem solving and discovery.

Here are our picks of books that inspire creativity and exploration in children:

 Inspiring making

https-::covers.booko.info:300:ViioletHow to make small things with Violet Mackerel by Anna Branford

Violet Mackerel loves to make things – especially small things. Let Violet show you how to make some of her favourite small things: small things to wear, small things to use and small things to give. Packed full of crafty ideas and lots of thinking outside the square! All of the fun and small things Violet shows you how to make can easily be made with things you have at home!

 

Inspiring cooking

https-::covers.booko.info:300:FrenchKids cook french: Les Enfants Cuisinent a la Francaise by Claudine Pepin

According to Jacques Pepin, “the moment for a child to be in the kitchen is from the moment they are born.” Kids Cook French, written by his daughter Claudine Pepin, is a fun, interactive cookbook for kids that introduces them to the art and joy of cooking. It gets them interested in making their own meals and better eating habits, while also teaching them the importance of culture.

 

Inspiring tinkering

https-::covers.booko.info:300:tinkeringTinkering: Kids learn by making stuff by Curt Gabrielson

In this book, you’ll learn tinkering techniques in key science areas, how to let kids learn science with hands-on tinkering, engaging techniques for science learning and step-by-step instructions for activities that don’t end with a single project, but that provide many paths for tinkering forward.

 

Inspiring exploration

https-::covers.booko.info:300:ExploralabExploralab by Weldon Owen

Let science blow your mind with the Exploratorium! Take a good look around: The ho-hum spots you inhabit every day are actually secret laboratories full of fascinating and eye-popping wonder—from the instant you wake up to the time you nod off at night! Discover these awe-inspiring scientific playgrounds with Exploralab—the hands-on, action-packed activity guide from the world’s most beloved and fun-filled laboratory of all, the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

 

Inspiring art play

https-::covers.booko.info:300:BeautifulBeautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg

This book demonstrates the many ways that torn, crinkled, and smudged bits of paper can be transformed into various shapes and images.

 

Inspiring gardening

https-::covers.booko.info:300:Gardening300 Step-by-step Cooking and Gardening Projects for Kids by Nancy McDougall

Suitable for budding gardeners and chefs, a guide to cooking and gardening presents a range of more than three hundred activities and simple recipes–from growing fruits and vegetables to cooking them for delicious results–all shown in clear, colour photographs.

Check out our collection of ‘non-boring’ school activity books on Pinterest.

This blog was inspired by an article called ‘Books on making, tinkering and creating’ by Megan Daley and published via childrensbookdaily.com

Celebrating the story of Chinese New Year

Understanding all cultures and their values has become essential to our next generation. For two joyous weeks red is all around as we see the colourful celebration of the Chinese New Year. The colour represents luck and happiness. Children receive money wrapped in red paper, while friends and loved ones exchange poems written on red paper. The Chinese New Year is also an opportunity to remember ancestors, and to wish peace and happiness to friends and family. The holiday ends with the Festival of Lanterns, as many large communities stage the famous Dragon Dance. Fireworks, parades, lanterns, presents, and feasts: these are some of the joys experienced by all who observe Chinese New Year.


Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns
by Carolyn Otto.

Celebrate Chinese New Year is the latest, timely addition to National Geographic’s popular Holidays Around the World series. With 25 colourful images and a simple, educational text, the book is a lively invitation to revel in this child-friendly, national and international holiday. Carolyn Otto brings the historical and cultural aspects of the Chinese New Year into focus, and young readers experience the full flavour of an event celebrated by over a billion people in China, and countless others worldwide.

 

Dragon Dance: a Chinese New Year byJoan Holub 

Introduce the customs of Chinese New Year to even the youngest readers with this festive new lift-the-flap book. Shopping at the outdoor market for fresh flowers, eating New Year’s dinner with the whole family, receiving red envelopes from Grandma and Grandpa, and best of all-watching the spectacular Chinese New Year’s parade! A pure delight.

 

 

 

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China by Joanna Cole

Young readers fare taken on a journey rom present day Chinese New Year celebrations to the rice fields and palaces of Imperial China. In this instalment Ms.Frizzle explores China, explains the concept of taxes and covers many of the inventions that came from the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Zodiac Animals by Sanmu Tang

Children will love to learn all about their Chinese zodiac animal with this great multicultural book.

Which Chinese zodiac animal are you? A clever rat? A brave tiger? A hardworking ox? Or an energetic dragon?

Chinese Zodiac Animals explains the traits of each animal sign and what luck the future might hold for the person born under that sign. Chinese Zodiac Animals is a fun and informative way to learn about an important part of Chinese traditional culture.

 

Celebrating Chinese New Year: An Activity Book by Hingman Chan

Celebrating Chinese New Year is a fun-filled craft, activity and resource book for the Chinese New Year. In addition to basic facts and history of the Chinese New Year, you can make a dragon parade, a paper lantern, and red lucky envelopes following simple directions and examples in this activity book. You will also have fun learning about your Chinese Zodiac signs. This book is an excellent resource for parents and teachers with children ages 5 to 10. A must for celebrating Chinese New Year.

 

 

Gong xi fa cai! (Or Kung hei fat choy! if you’re speaking Cantonese.) Welcome to the year of the fire monkey.