Tag Archives: #ChildrensLiterature

The Books that are the Playlist of my Life

Sometimes, the books you read, and the authors you love, are like staging posts, reflecting particular stages and events in your life; you grow from the experience and move on.  Sometimes, what you crave is a life partner – someone whose books engage and resonate with you year after year, come what may.  While most authors excel at writing in a specific genre or for a particular age group, there are many who write more broadly and are potential “life partners”.  Here are three popular authors who write across genres and age groups… do you have more you can recommend?

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is best known for his children’s stories – including his acclaimed and very entertaining autobiography Boy – but his adult fiction is also incredible.  He is a master of the short story, able to evoke a vivid scenario, then throw in a gasp-inducing twist, all within a handful of pages.  Where Roald Dahl’s twisted humour makes his children’s stories fantastical, it turns his adult stories hyper-real, emphasising the sinister, nasty side of human nature.  A celebrated example is The Champion of the World, a short story about pheasant poaching contained in his compilation Kiss Kiss; its twistedness was then transformed into Danny the Champion of the World, an altogether more whimsical story about the father-son bond and beating the establishment (and pheasant poaching!).

Kaz Cooke

Kaz Cooke is a fearless, frank and funny feminist – the sort of person you wish were your cool best friend, or fun auntie. Kaz works as a cartoonist, journalist, and agony aunt – and she has used these skills to create a range of advice books for women and children. From pregnancy (Up the Duff) to puberty (Girl Stuff) and women’s health (Women’s Stuff), Kaz has pretty much every life stage covered. What I love about these books is their excellent balance between irreverence and information – they are funny and easy to read, yet meticulously researched. Kaz also champions a body-positive message that helps readers block out the BS and learn to love and trust themselves and be more confident.

Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot is best known for The Princess Diaries, which amply showcases her chatty style and deft balancing of comedy, romance and sweet earnestness. Through a series of fifteen books, we see Mia come of age, from a gawky teenager to a confident princess, developing her own personality while honouring duty, and juggling the demands of family, friendship and romance.  Meg Cabot has extended this series up into Chick Lit territory with Royal Wedding, where an adult Mia prepares to get married (but not before lots of drama!); and also down into junior fiction, with the spin-off Notebooks of a Middle School Princess.  Not content with one hugely successful series, Meg Cabot has also written in other genres, including series of paranormal romance, and murder mysteries.

Escape to Everywhere

Australia punches well above its weight when it comes to children’s literature – so it is particularly fitting that we devote an entire week to celebrating this each year. This year’s CBCA Book Week theme is “Escape to Everywhere”, which perfectly describes what great writing means to me: whether it takes you to a fantasy land within your mind, or offers a glimpse of life elsewhere on Earth – a great book stretches your imagination and broadens your horizons.  Drumroll please for this year’s winners…

Book of the Year: Older Readers

One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn

Claire Zorn is a YA force to be reckoned with – all three of her novels are award-winners, including two CBCA Book of the Year awards (The Protected won in 2015).  One Would Think the Deep is about Sam, whose mum dies suddenly, shockingly, in his arms.  Having no options, he moves to the coast to live with his estranged aunt and cousins.  In this new environment, he struggles to process his grief, shock and anger – but also finds some solace in the surf.  One Would Think the Deep is almost painful to read, but Claire Zorn’s complex characterisation and raw, visceral portrayal of grief draws you in and doesn’t let go.

Book of the Year: Younger Readers

Rockhopping by Trace Balla

Trace Balla is another rising star, with both Rockhopping and its prequel, Rivertime, winning major awards. Having travelled down the Glenelg river together in Rivertime, Uncle Egg has finally agreed to take Clancy hiking to the Glenelg’s source in Gariwerd (the Grampians). During their five days in the wilderness, they see lots of flora and fauna, meet other hikers, have some scary moments – and Clancy grows up a little.  Trace Balla shows her love of nature through her incredibly detailed illustrations; she also conveys some beautiful messages about slowing down, living in the moment and respecting indigenous culture.

Book of the Year: Early Childhood

Go Home, Cheeky Animals! by Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley

Inspired by life in Tennant Creek, Go Home, Cheeky Animals! is a great book for reading aloud (loudly!), with lots of opportunities for audience participation.  There are too many cheeky dogs in Canteen Creek, but when the weather changes and more cheeky animals arrive, chaos begins! The lively rhythm of the text and child-like illustrations combine to present a hilarious and riotous scenario that will appeal to both school-aged and younger children.

Picture Book of the Year

Home in the Rain by Bob Graham

“Delightful” and “heartwarming” are no exaggeration when it comes to Bob Graham’s books – he is an expert at showing the humour and joy in the minutiae of life.  Home in the Rain starts with a little red car stuck in traffic – Francie, her mum and her baby sister (warmly tucked inside Mummy’s tum)  face a long drive on a rain-sodden day. From such an ordinary premise, Bob Graham has crafted a tender story that makes your heart glow. Home in the Rain is his eighth CBCA win – and a compelling example of why Bob Graham is one of our most beloved and awarded authors.

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books

Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks by Gina M. Newton

Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks showcases more than 120 animals from 55 National Parks around Australia – from our national icons, through birds, to fish and insects. The book is divided into seven sections, each exploring a different habitat; thus offering additional insights into geography and ecology.  Gina M. Newton and NLA Publishing have done a terrific job in making a wealth of information accessible rather than overwhelming, using a range of colour coding, charts, maps and photos. Perfect for browsing as well as for reference.

The Crichton Award for New Illustrators

The Patchwork Bike by Van T. Rudd (text by Maxine Beneba Clarke)

A streetwise gang of children build a patchwork bike using what they can find – branches for handlebars, a flour sack for a flag. This exuberant story highlights the joy of making your own fun using creativity and imagination. The setting is hugely different from suburban Australia, emphasising how play is universally valued by kids, whatever their circumstances.  The street-art style of Van T Rudd perfectly matches the rhythmic text of slam-poet Maxine Beneba Clarke.

Bringing Books to Life for Kids

Bringing books to life for children is a lot of fun and a wonderful learning opportunity for young minds. Reading aloud, drawing pictures and imaginary play are just a few ways you can do this at home which gives children an opportunity to work on reading comprehension, creative thinking, recognising letters, numbers, colours, shapes and patterns, listening, exploring social and emotional skills and sharing and taking turns.

As we grow older our books can also come to life through audio books where the author is reading us their book with amazing inflection and passion, or through television and movie adaptations.

Here are a few of our favourite children’s books that have come alive.

 

Books we can watch…

 

Charlotte’s Web written by E.B White

An affectionate, sometimes bashful pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. A prancing, playful bloke, Wilbur is devastated when he learns of the destiny that befalls all those of porcine persuasion. Determined to save her friend, Charlotte spins a web that reads “Some Pig,” convincing the farmer and surrounding community that Wilbur is no ordinary animal and should be saved. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, E.B. White reminds us to open our eyes to the wonder and miracle often found in the simplest of things.

The DVD is available here.

 

 

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are a prize-winning team and the creators of many bestselling books for Macmillan. Julia Donaldson was a songwriter before becoming an author, and music continues to play an important part in her life. She is always much in demand for her brilliant events at schools and literary festivals. Axel Scheffler is a star illustrator within the children’s book world, and his books have been translated into over 30 languages. His bright, humorous illustrations are a perfect complement to Julia’s lively songs.

The DVD is available here.

 

Books we listen to…

 

Road Dahl’s Phizz-Whizzing Audio Collection by Roald Dahl

Spread over eight CDs, these three sumptuous recordings are complete and unabridged, allowing listeners to enjoy Dahl’s work word for word. The stories in this collection have all been skilfully brought to life. ”Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” read by James Bolam (Abridged): Charlie Bucket thinks he is the luckiest boy alive when he wins an amazing tour of Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. It’s a tour of a lifetime that changes his life beyond belief! “The BFG” read by Geoffrey Palmer (Abridged): The BFG is a Big Friendly Giant who spirits Sophie out of bed one night. Together, Sophie and the BFG cook up an ingenious plan to rid the world of child-eating giants forever! “James and the Giant Peach” read by Andrew Sachs (Unabridged): James lives a lonely life with his two beastly aunts.Then one day, something very peculiar happens, something magical that will take him on the most amazing journey …

The books are available here.

 

Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter

This is a fabulous six-CD audio box-set containing the entire collection of stories by Beatrix Potter, complete and unabridged. The twenty-three tales have never lost their popularity, and sell in their millions all over the world. Meet the famous characters that children love and adore: Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, The Flopsy Bunnies, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Tom Kitten, Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-Duck and many more. These stories are beautifully brought to life by a talented cast of readers, including Patricia Routledge, Timothy West, Michael Hordern, Janet Maw, and Rosemary Leach.

The books are available here.

 

Books we can colour and play with…

 

I Completely Must Do Drawing Now and Painting and Colouring by Lauren Child

Even the rainiest of days is no match for the wonderful imaginations of Charlie and Lola! It may be dull outside, but Charlie and Lola’s world is full of colourful adventure, and with this unique colouring book, kids can join in on the fun. With simple text on the page, activities, and tons of space to draw, the possibilities are endless! It’s the perfect way to bring imagination to life – rainy day or any day!

 

 

Maisy’s Farm by Lucy Cousins

This is a huge favourite in our house. This pop-up-and-play book opens up with a free-standing model of Maisy’s barn, garden and farmyard. It comes with a sixteen-page full-colour booklet that features learning activities based on Maisy’s day on the farm. In each room, there’s a sheet of card pieces to press out, tabs to pull, doors to open and more…so much fun!

 

 

Also…

Keep an eye out for the new initiative from Play School. In celebration of Children’s Book Week this year there will be a delightful new Play School series featuring some of Australia’s much loved celebrities as they snuggle up on the couch and read entertaining picture books written by Australian authors and they will be accompanied by Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima, Humpty and Joey.

Enjoy!

Great start to literacy – 1000 Books Before School

Most people are aware that reading to children is beneficial; in fact, it is one of the best preparations for school.  When we read to children, we are exposing them to a rich vocabulary, helping them develop listening skills and attention spans, conveying information and fostering a love of reading.  These skills create a solid foundation for developing literacy.

Many libraries are now running “1000 Books Before School” programs (sometimes called “1000 Books Before Kindergarten”) to help encourage caregivers and children to keep reading and reap those literacy benefits.  The 1000 books goal is based on research – it is big enough to allow children to experience a variety of language, but still achievable – for children who start school at 5, it translates to about one book every 2 days. And for children who prefer to have the same book read over and over, each time counts as one book!

To make the process more fun, libraries and some websites offer record sheets to help families keep track of their reading.  Regular milestones (with small rewards) help build a sense of achievement until the big, final graduation.

Families living in Victoria can enrol in the program through the State Library of Victoria website or at your local library.

To get you started, here are some new and older favourites, perfect for sharing with your children.  6 down, 994 to go…

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Sturdy board books are great for the youngest readers, who might show their enjoyment of books by chewing and throwing! In Dear Zoo, a child writes to the zoo to send them a pet.  It takes a bit of trial and error to find a pet that is just right!  Dear Zoo has been a favourite with both little and big kids for over 30 years.  Its combination of a funny story, cute animals, lift-the-flaps and call-and-response makes it an excellent choice for both reading aloud and reading on your own.

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

Tap the Magic Tree is as much a toy as it is a picture book.  Each page invites the reader to tap, shake, jiggle, or pat the book, even to blow it a kiss!  Starting with a bare brown tree, we gradually see leaves sprout, buds blossom, apples grow, the leaves yellow and finally blow away with the changing of the seasons.  The simple drawings and sparse text combine into an absorbing story that is elegant and sweetly magical.

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

Charlie and Lola stories are laugh-out-loud funny, with vivid characters and situations that perfectly captures life with young children.  I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato is the story that started it all, and is still one of the best.  Big brother Charlie – the sensible, long-suffering one – needs to give dinner to his funny little sister Lola.  But she is really fussy about her food! So Charlie plays a trick on Lola – what if he is not giving her mashed potato, but cloud fluff from the peak of Mount Fuji?

Mr Huff by Anna Walker

Bill woke up with a bad feeling about his day.  As more things go wrong, his huffy feelings coalesce into a big grey thing, who sighs and keeps following Bill around.  How can Bill make Mr Huff go away?  Mr Huff is a cute and poignant story, and perfect conversation-starter about how to deal with sad, gloomy feelings.  Anna Walker’s understated illustrations add surprising amounts of drama and emotion.  Well-deserved winner of last year’s CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year Award.

The Usborne Big Book of the Body

Non-fiction (information) books can often engage children who don’t seem interested in stories.  Usborne is known as a publisher of beautifully-produced, interesting information books for children, and The Big Book of the Body is no exception.  The pages fold out into giant posters showing our main bodily functions, including bones and muscles, heart and blood, lungs, brain and our senses. A mix of short explanations and quirky facts make The Big Book of the Body entertaining as well as educational.

Billie’s Underwater Adventure by Sally Rippin and Alisa Coburn

As your child gets older, why not introduce them to great characters whose stories will keep them company through their school years? Billie’s Underwater Adventure is a picture book where Billie and her friend Jack use their imaginations to have marvellous adventures at Kinder.  Then there’s the Billie B Brown and Hey Jack series, which are slice-of-life stories aimed at beginner readers; and the Billie B Brown Mysteries is a collection of short chapter books that is perfect for those mystery- and excitement-loving middle graders.

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!

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.