Tag Archives: #Learning

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 Learn Anything – our top 5 skills to learn in 2017

If you’re anything like me you’ll find January is the time of year we announce to the world that “I’m going to learn a new skill”…and now that it’s February we really ought to make a start.

People have been learning new skills from books for years so it’s nothing new, but to be honest there are some things that are much easier to teach yourself via videos online rather than from a book – playing the guitar, learning to crochet, how to use your online accounting system…the list goes on. However there are a few fabulous skills that are best suited to learning through a book. Books allow you the time to take things in and patiently wait as you get distracted and start daydreaming out of the window (or is that just me?).

Here’s our 5 top skills you need to learn this year…and they are all from books. You’re very welcome.

1. Start making a difference in the world

Getting to Maybe by Frances Westley

Many of us have a deep desire to make the world around us a better place. But often our good intentions are undermined by the fear that we are so insignificant in the big scheme of things that nothing we can do will actually help feed the world’s hungry, fix the damage of a Hurricane Katrina or even get a healthy lunch program up and running in the local school. We tend to think that great social change is the province of heroes – an intimidating view of reality that keeps ordinary people on the couch. But extraordinary leaders such as Gandhi and even unlikely social activists such as Bob Geldof most often see themselves as harnessing the forces around them, rather than singlehandedly setting those forces in motion. The trick in any great social project is to stop looking at the discrete elements and start trying to understand the complex relationships between them. By studying fascinating real-life examples of social change this book teases out the rules of engagement between volunteers, leaders, organisations and circumstance and harvests the experiences of a wide range of people and organisations to lay out a brand new way of thinking about making change in communities, in business, and in the world.

2. Take control of your finances

The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need by Scott Pape

So I’ve just finished reading “The Barefoot Investor’ and I’ve been left feeling…a bit emotional really. One thing that you’ll find different between this book and any other finance book you have read is that getting on top of your finances gives you enormous freedom. Divorced? Made redundant? Want a change of career? Sort your finances by putting in place the ‘set and forget’ steps covered by Scott Pape and you’re halfway there. For many, this book has been life changing.



3. Get ahead in life

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss

For the last two years, Ferriss interviewed nearly two hundred world-class performers for the podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The guests range from super celebs (Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger), athletes (icons of powerlifting, gymnastics, surfing) and legendary Special Operations commanders and black-market biochemists. This book contains the distilled tools, tactics, and ‘inside baseball’ you won’t find anywhere else. It also includes new tips from past guests, and life lessons from new guests. “What makes the show different is a relentless focus on actionable details. This is reflected in the questions. For example: What do these people do in the first sixty minutes of each morning? What do their workout routines look like, and why? What books have they gifted most to other people? What are the biggest wastes of time for novices in their field? What supplements do they take on a daily basis?

4. Learn how to Code
How to Code: A Step-By-Step Guide to Computer Coding by Max Wainewright

Become a master coder, with these step-by-step instructions and robot helpers too! How to Code teaches you all the basic concepts, including Loops, Variables, and Selection, and then develops your skills further until you can create your own website . . . and more! Learn how to use Logo, build games in Scratch, program projects in Python, experiment with HTML, and make interactive web pages with JavaScript.




5. Master makeup wizardry

Amazinger Face by Zoe Foster-Blake

Sometimes a lady just needs to know the most flattering lipstick for her skin tone, or how to correctly use sunscreen, or a very quick hairstyle to conceal her unwashed hair. And there’s no reason she shouldn’t know which foundation or mascara is best for her, either. All the answers are here, in this top-to-toe beauty extravaganza. Former Cosmopolitan and Harper’s BAZAAR beauty director, and the founder of Go-To skin care, Zoë Foster (Blake) suggests makeup colours and brands for every occasion, useful, practical skin care routines and products for every age, and step-by-step instructions for winged eyeliner, arresting red lips, foolproof tanning, simple up-dos, sexy second-day hair, and much, much more.


And if that wasn’t enough (or if you’re already deciding to renege on the resolution) take a leaf out of Barbara Arrowsmith-Young’s amazing personal story of retraining her brain.

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: Revised Edition by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young was born with severe learning disabilities that caused teachers to label her slow, stubborn — or worse. As a child, she read and wrote everything backward, struggled to process concepts in language, continually got lost, and was physically uncoordinated. She could make no sense of an analogue clock. But by relying on her formidable memory and iron will, she made her way to graduate school, where she chanced upon research that inspired her to invent cognitive exercises to “fix” her own brain.

The capability of nerve cells to change is known as neuroplasticity, and Arrowsmith-Young has been putting it into practice for decades. With great inventiveness, after combining two lines of research, Barbara developed unusual cognitive calisthenics that radically increased the functioning of her weakened brain areas to normal and, in some areas, even above normal levels.


Happy Learning!

Brain Food for Any Age

One of the delights of reading is that it offers us to access to so much knowledge – including the work of great thinkers and scholars both past and present.  Developing a love of learning can help us become more interesting people, insure us against the unexpected (such as the need to change jobs) and help keep our mental acuity for longer. Here are some “brain food” on a range of topics that are interesting and readable for different ages:

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe

Thing Explainer was a hit during the last Christmas gift-giving season, and it’s easy to understand why. It has an appealing premise (explaining complex scientific knowledge using only the 1000 most frequently-used English words), beautiful production values (a large-format hardback with intricate line drawings, in blue-and-white reminiscent of blueprints), educational cred (Randall Munroe is a former NASA robotics scientist) as well as a sense of humour (he has a cult following as the author of xkcd, a geeky webcomic; and the illustrations contain stick figures!).  I love Thing Explainer because it is truly Brain Food for All Ages – while the simple vocabulary makes these concepts more accessible, it also creates constraints; the result is a sort of cryptic puzzle that is challenging and hilarious (a famous example is calling the Saturn V Rocket “Up Goer Five”).

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt

The Food Lab is the latest in a long line of books exploring the science of cooking, a topic of current interest through the work of chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrià.  What makes it different (and visually stunning) is that it is both a science text AND a recipe book.   Basically, The Food Lab uses the scientific method to work out the best way to cook a dish, then explain why it works.  It is a skilful combination of explanations, instruction, reference and classic homestyle recipes.  By showing the science behind cooking processes, The Food Lab will help you become a better and more confident cook – able to experiment beyond following a recipe to the letter.

The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton is a philosopher and writer who has made his name highlighting the relevance of philosophy to modern life.  In The Consolations of Philosophy, he reinterprets the thinking of six great philosophers, to show how they can offer valuable advice about life problems.  The resultant essays include Socrates for unpopularity; Epicurus for not having enough money; and Schopenhauer for having a broken heart.  Consolations of Philosophy is part Philosophy 101, part self-help book; it is witty and readable and plays a valuable part in debunking the “worthy but intimidating” image of philosophy.

The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll and Martin Gardner

There’s more to this childhood favourite than meets the eye.  The Annotated Alice contains the texts of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with the classic illustrations by John Tenniel, and extensively annotated by Martin Gardner, a mathematician who was widely admired for his Mathematical Games column in Scientific American magazine.  The annotations reveal a wealth of hidden meaning, from wordplay, to mathematical puzzles, literary parodies and cultural references. These rich details show that the Alice books are more than just nonsensical fantasy – enough to make you fall in love with them all over again.

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith is an acclaimed creative duo whose frenetic energy, wild imagination and dark humour makes maths fun and exciting in The Math Curse.  An unsuspecting student becomes the victim of the Math Curse when his teacher says “you can think of almost everything as a math problem” – suddenly, his daily routine becomes a series of time problems, fractions, statistics and money sums.  He feels exhausted, but manages to break his curse when he realises that a problem is no longer a problem when it has an answer.  Lucky for us, the book includes all answers to the problems described.  Fast-paced maths fun for ages 6-10.

Quantum Physics for Babies by Chris Ferrie

Quantum Physics for Babies made headlines recently when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla were photographed reading it to their baby daughter.  The book may seem gimmicky – Chris Ferrie, the author, assumes that it is often purchased as a novelty gift – but the content is based on Chris Ferrie’s expertise as a trained quantum physicist, and written in language aimed at young children.  He has since written other physics-based picture books on Newtonian physics, optical physics and quantum entanglement.  A great way for children (and parents!) to learn some important concepts and familiarise with technical language.

Little Master Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet: a Counting Primer
 and Little Miss Austen Sense and Sensibility: an Opposites Primer by Jennifer Adams



It’s never too early to get to know great literature – and the BabyLit collection aims to do just that.  BabyLit is a series of cute and stylish board books based on literary classics.  Fancy a counting book based on Romeo and Juliet ?  Or a book of Opposites based on Sense and Sensibility ? The range of titles is growing, and includes Treasure Island (shapes), Les Miserables (French vocabulary) and Wuthering Heights (weather).  The text includes themes as well as immortal lines from each work.