Author Archives: Norah

About Norah

Early childhood educator and resource developer.

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess by Deedee Cummings

Plan to Follow Your Dreams on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – #readilearn

Today, the last Friday in January, is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I am delighted to participate once again by spreading the word about Multicultural children’s books.

In this post I review the picture book Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess, which will be released in the northern spring of 2021 by Make a Way Media, publishers of diverse books.  The book can be pre-ordered from their website. The author gifted me a copy to review.

About Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess, written by Deedee Cummings and illustrated by Charlene Mosley, was inspired by the life of Deedee’s own real-life princess, Broadway actress Kayla Pecchioni.

Kayla’s mum is a busy working mum. She wakes Kayla before she leaves for work in the mornings and asks her about her plans for the day. She tells Kayla that plans give you hope and hope gives you dreams. Often, Kayla doesn’t see her mother again as she gets home after Kayla has gone to bed.

But one day, Dad tells Kayla she can stay up late because her mum has some exciting news. When her mum tells Kayla that she has received a promotion that she worked hard to earn, she also gives Kayla a tiara and tells her that it is to always remind her that she is special, regardless of what others might do, say or think. Kayla went to sleep believing the world to be a magical place and knowing that, with a plan, she could make her dreams come true.

This book is the first in a five-part series about Kayla.

What I like about this book

I wasn’t aware of Kayla Pecchioni before reading this book but am delighted to learn about her and her determination to be successful. The story shows the importance of family in developing confidence and providing opportunities for young people to be who they want to be.

Like many, Kayla’s mother felt guilty about not having more time to spend with her daughter. However, the book shows that love and encouragement and being a good role model is equally important as time.

As author Deedee Cummings says, “Daughters learn their place in the world by watching their mothers claim theirs.”

Many young children will be able to identify with Kayla’s situation and be encouraged to feel the same sense of worth, determination and possibility as Kayla does. I especially like the focus on growth and determination to achieve your goals and dreams.

About Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children's Book Day
Used courtesy of Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Continue reading: Plan to Follow Your Dreams on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – readilearn

learning about gender pronounds on Multicultural Children's Book Day

Learning about Gender Pronouns on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – #readilearn

Today, the last Friday in January, is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I am delighted to participate once again by spreading the word about Multicultural children’s books.

In this post I review the picture book Jamie and Bubbie, recently published by Free Spirit Publishing and gifted to me to review.

About Jamie and Bubbie

Jamie and Bubbie, A Book about People’s Pronouns was written by Afsaneh Moradian and illustrated by Maria Bogade. In a gentle way, it introduces children and adults to the appropriate use of pronouns when another’s gender is unknown.

Jamie loves his great grandmother Bubbie and, when she comes for a visit they go for a walk around the neighbourhood. On the way, they meet some friends and strangers. In her references to or about the people, Bubbie often uses an inappropriate pronoun. Jamie gently explains why the pronoun is inappropriate and what she could use instead.

What I like about this book

Jamie and Bubbie is a book for our times, and a necessary one. It not only educates us adults about the appropriate use of people’s pronouns, it helps us explain them to children in simple language and easy-to-understand ways. I like Jamie’s gentle and tactful approach, and also that it is the child who does the explaining to great grandma in the book.

However, even more than that, I like the notes for teachers, parents and caregivers in the back of the book. The notes explain the importance of using the names and pronouns that individuals choose to use about themselves. They include suggestions for finding out those pronouns and what to use if you don’t know them. Advice for discussing pronouns with children is also provided as are suggested sources of further information.

I think the information provided in this book is important for all of us to know.

About Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children's Book Day
Used courtesy of Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Continue reading: Learning about Gender Pronouns on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – readilearn

With a Little Help from my Friends flash fiction

With a Little Help from My Friends #flashfiction

The focus of my life has always been on children’s learning and development, whether at home as a parent or in the classroom as a teacher. I believe in the importance of play, curiosity and fun.

Now that my own children are grown and I am no longer in the classroom, my focus remains on children as I prepare lessons that focus on learning and support teachers teaching for my website readilearn and write stories in the hope they will be published in the future as picture books.

In the meantime, I enjoy writing 99 words in response to the weekly flash fiction prompts at the Carrot Ranch. Not always, but often, my stories reflect my focus on children as they play, develop and learn.

Last week, when writers were challenged by Charli Mills to write about dressing up, I combined it with a playful ‘dare’ from D. Avery at Shift and Shake that she would do anything I would. In response, I had D. and me dressing up appropriately to ride a zipline from the US to Australia, just like a couple of preschoolers dressing up and having fun in their imaginations.

This week Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that rephrases “light at the end of the tunnel.” Think of how the cliche replacement communicates a hopeful ending and aligns with your character or story. Go where the prompt leads!

I thought this prompt provided the perfect opportunity for a sequel to Norah and D.’s zipline story, especially as Charli said she’d like to come too. For that to happen, they had to go back and accompany her. (Please think of them as children in the playground, just coincidentally with names of writers you know.) Some suggested the zipline would be too dangerous for children, but it couldn’t be used to return north because ziplines work with gravity. (That’s a down under joke.)

I hope you enjoy this sequel and see its underlying message about the importance of the support and encouragement we receive from friends.

With a Little Help from My Friends

“Whatcha doing?”

“Digging.”

“Can I help?”

“Sure.”

The two girls dug side by side. Then D. broke the silence, “What’re we digging?”

“A tunnel.”

“Why?”

“Charli wants to come down too. We can’t use the zipline anymore. Anyways, going through a tunnel’s quicker’n going round.”

“Looks jes like a hole to me.”

“Tunnels always start as holes.”

They continued digging. The pile of dirt grew higher as the hole got deeper.

“Look. We can stand in it now,” said Norah.

“How will we know when we get there?”

“Easy. Charli’s waiting, holding a light to show us the way.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin free ebook

Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin #free ebook

I am absolutely delighted to invite Anne Goodwin back to my blog today. It is just over five years ago that her debut novel Sugar and Snails was published by Inspired Quill and I had the pleasure of her joining me to discuss the importance friendships — in person, virtual and in her novel.

At the time I had known Anne (virtually) for two years, but we’d also had the pleasure of meeting up in London (briefly) the year before when she revealed the (then still secret) book contract. I am honoured to count her as a friend.

My admiration for and enjoyment of Anne’s writing has only increased over the years. Since then, she has had another novel published and the publication of a third is imminent. I’ve lost count (she hasn’t) of the number of short stories she has published.

If you haven’t yet ventured into Anne’s writing, then now is the perfect time. During February, you can read the ebook of Sugar and Snails free. What a wonderful opportunity to get to know this amazing author.

Here is the link to sign up to this generous offer which closes on 28 February: https://www.subscribepage.com/sugar-and-snails-free-e-book 

About Anne

Anne Goodwin is the author of two novels and a short story collection. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Throughout February, subscribers to her newsletter can read Sugar and Snails for free: https://www.subscribepage.com/sugar-and-snails-free-e-book 

About Sugar and Snails

At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

If you need a little more enticement, please view the trailer:

Find out more about Anne, or connect with her on social media via any of the links below:

Website: annegoodwin.weebly.com

Twitter @Annecdotist.

Link tree https://linktr.ee/annecdotist

Amazon author page: viewauthor.at/AnneGoodwin

Listen to Anne read

You may enjoy listening to Anne read excerpts of her stories on her YouTube channel:

Anne Goodwin’s YouTube channel

Including this excerpt of Diana’s earliest memory from Sugar and Snails.

Remember, to get your free Sugar and Snails ebook throughout the month of February, all you need to do is click this link and sign up to Anne’s newsletter.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

interview with Brooke Graham author of Go Away, Worry Monster

Go Away, Worry Monster! — Interview with Brooke Graham #readilearn

It is not uncommon for children to experience some level of anxiety or worry when beginning a new school year or starting at a new school. Many adults experience it too when faced with a new situation. It is important to keep the worries in perspective to avoid having them grow uncontrollably until they take on monster proportions.

Today I am interviewing Brooke Graham, author of a beautiful new picture book called Go Away, Worry Monster! that is not only a tool for discussing these worries with children but also shares strategies they can use independently to chase those worry monsters away.

About the author Brooke Graham

Brooke Graham author of Go Away Worry Monster

Brooke Graham is a children’s author, primary school teacher and mother. She enjoys writing emotive stories that help children cope with life’s ups and downs. Brooke is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), The Australian Society of Authors, and Write Links, a Brisbane based writers’ group. Brooke teaches in primary schools part-time. She also does author visits in schools and kindergartens. In her spare time Brooke enjoys reading, bike riding, bush walking and spending time with family and friends.

About the book Go Away, Worry Monster!

Go Away Worry Monster, a picture book by Brooke Graham

Worry Monster loves ‘helping’ Archie worry, especially on the night before he starts at a new school. Archie feels so anxious that his head hurts, his tummy flutters and his heart pounds. He soon realizes that the only way to feel better is to make Worry Monster go away. He does his belly breaths and challenges his inner fears by facing facts, and Worry Monster is forced to leave Archie alone! Go Away, Worry Monster! gives children useful strategies to cope with their anxieties and stress, showing them how to make their own Worry Monsters leave, even in highly stressful times.

What I like about Go Away, Worry Monster!

Continue reading: Go Away, Worry Monster – Interview with Brooke Graham – readilearn

flash fiction Riding the Zipline Down Under

Riding the Zipline Down Under #flashfiction

I’m not known for being adventurous. I don’t like heights or enclosed spaces or cars that speed. I’m not sure where my fears originated but they generally don’t bother me too much as they have little effect on my everyday life. I don’t have to clean windows on high-rise buildings, and I don’t operate the lifts inside them. I generally take the stairs if going only one or two floors, always checking the door will open again before closing it behind me. I can manage travelling in a lift, especially if there are few other occupants and it goes directly to my floor, but I am always relieved when it arrives and the doors open to release me.

I have never and will never ride a roller coaster or bungy jump; and haven’t as yet and probably won’t, travel on one of those ‘Eyes of’ the world. I don’t feel I am missing out by not doing most of these things. I think life is exciting enough without them.

That’s not to say I haven’t ever done anything I found terrifying. When I visited the Great Wall of China outside Beijing, I had to take a chairlift up to the top. My heart was racing, and my palms were sweaty, but I did it. Then I had to take a flume ride down to the bottom. If pressured, I might say it was even a little bit fun, but I wouldn’t choose to do it again, unless I had no choice as in this instance.

Probably the one thing I think I would love to do, if I was brave enough, is hot air ballooning. I think the sensation of floating up there in the air, looking down on the world, would be amazing. But it could also be terrifying. If I could get on without being overcome by anxiety and knew I could come down when I wanted, I’d probably do it; but I think that’s for another life.

Surprisingly, perhaps, I love being in a plane and looking down at the earth below. One would think a fear of heights and claustrophobia would prevent this. I can’t explain why it doesn’t. I love the moment of lift off, of being taken up into the air. I always thought it would be great to be a bird flying above the earth, looking down. It is a beautiful view. Perhaps that’s why Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is one of my favourite books.

Anyway, because of my reluctance to do some of these adventurous things like jump out of a plane, go zorbing or ride a zipline, people close to me often joke that they will do them if I will, knowing full well that I won’t, and they won’t have to admit their own reluctance.

So, I was amused this week by a conversation with friend and fellow writer D. Avery on her post Zip: SixSentenceStory. (Please pop over to read it.)

In D.’s story, her young character Marlie made a zipline from the top of the fort for her doll. I was picturing a playground flying fox which I think I would have enjoyed as a child, had they been invented then, and commented that ziplines are fun. (My grandchildren love flying foxes.) D. replied, ‘… let’s agree to disagree on the fun-ness of zip lines. Tell you what, Buddy, you go first.’ Well, that sounded like a challenge to me and I told her that we could maybe go together in a next life or in a story. And so, the story was born, with a little help from Charli Mills.

At the Carrot Ranch this week, Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about dressing up. It can be a child or another character. Be playful or go where the prompt leads!

Perhaps it is a stretch to go from dressing up to a zipline, but we’d have to dress differently from our everyday, wear a harness, and harness a persona we wouldn’t normally wear, so I hope the stretch isn’t too far. After all, it is pure play through story and from USA to Australia is only halfway around the world. Charli always says to go where the prompt leads …

I hope you (especially you, D.) enjoy it.

Riding the Zipline Down Under

Many hid behind Norah’s fear of heights, speed and enclosed spaces. “I’ll do anything Norah does,” they’d boast, feigning bravery. D. said she’d ride the zipline from its start, high up in the US, all the way Down Under, if Norah did.

Dressed for warmth and to prevent chafing, they adjusted their harnesses. “You first,” said D., still not believing Norah would do it.

“Whee! I’m flying; flying without wings,” sang Norah, zooming across the landscape.

“I’m dying,” screamed D., squeezing her eyes shut.

“We’re here,” said Norah. “Welcome to Australia.”

“That was amazing,” said D. “I did it!”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

preparing for a new school year lower primary

And so it begins — a New School Year – #readilearn

Teachers around Australia are already thinking about how they will organise their classrooms to maximise learning when the new school year begins at the end of January. They are as excited as the children with hopes and expectations of a successful and enjoyable school year.

To ensure a rewarding year, it is important to begin with a clear idea of what you want to achieve and the steps that will contribute to success. It is useful to keep in mind that one of the most significant contributors to children’s learning is the classroom environment, especially the relationship with the teacher. A supportive classroom environment that welcomes students and their families is essential so that children have a sense both of belonging and ownership.

Rita Pierson makes this quite clear in her TED Talk Every kid needs a champion.

Here at readilearn, our focus is on supporting teachers with lessons that are ready for them to teach rather than on worksheets for children to complete. We recognise the beneficial role of discussions that involve both teachers and students sharing ideas. We also assist teachers to establish a welcoming and supportive classroom environment.

Establish a welcoming environment

getting ready for the first day of school

Continue reading: And so it begins — a New School Year – readilearn

A Butterfly Promise #flashfiction

A Butterfly Promise #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the contrasting prompts butterfly and stones. The two can be used in any way in your story. Go where the prompt leads!

Charli is a collector of stones and I love butterflies. I don’t collect them, but I welcome them into my garden, and one of my favourite things of the year while teaching was having a butterfly house in the classroom.

We would acquire some butterfly eggs or just-hatched caterpillars, watch them grow and pupate, wait while they metamorphosed, and gaze in wonder as they emerged and prepared for flight.

The children and I enjoyed the experience so much, I gave my granddaughter a butterfly house for her birthday one year and re-filled it for her on successive years. It was enjoyed by all the family.

I have written about our classroom butterfly experience many times, both here and at readilearn where minibeasts (including butterflies) are star attractions. Some of those posts include:

I Spy Butterflies

Classroom Minibeasts

Who’s on the Move? (includes FF but not butterfly-related)

Bug Me, Please (includes FF but not butterfly-related)

Learning about minibeasts at home or at school

I have also written other butterfly-themed flash fiction in response to Charli’s previous prompts, including:

First Flight

Once upon a time … the power of story

Which brings me to this week’s story linking butterflies and stones. I hope you enjoy it.

A Butterfly Promise

Jack scrambled over the rocks to their favourite place for discussing the wonders of the universe and the meaning of life. And death. He took Grandma’s special stone from his pocket, turned it this way and that in the sunlight, and admired its iridescence. ‘Like butterfly wings. Like life.’ Grandma said she’d come back as a butterfly, if she could.

‘You shouldn’t have left me, Grandma!’ Jack didn’t try to stop his tears. He blinked when a beautiful butterfly alighted on the stone, tickled his nose and circled his head before fluttering away. ‘Grandma!’ called Jack. ‘You came back!’

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

We're All in This Together, a picture book by Skye Hughes

We’re All in This Together — a Picture Book by Skye Hughes #readilearn

The refrain ‘We’re all in this together’ echoed around the world in 2020 as we came to grips with the changes that living with a pandemic brought. Teaching online and children learning at home required major adjustments to programs and how they were delivered. Many started talking of the ‘new normal’ while most hoped that 2021 would bring a return to the old familiar ‘normal’. While it may eventually, it is still too soon to get overly comfortable.

Throughout 2020, many were finding creative ways of dealing with the restrictions, lockdowns and changing expectations. Others were using their creativity to help others cope. One of these creatives is Skye Hughes whose beautiful picture book We’re All in This Together illustrates how the changes were shared by many and provides opportunities for discussions between teachers, parents and children that help reduce anxieties and foster empathy.

About Skye Hughes

Skye Hughes was born in Adelaide but spent much of her childhood travelling around Australia in a caravan with her three younger siblings and parents. She is a school teacher, youth program facilitator and big fan of Nutella donuts. Skye currently lives in Melbourne and when she isn’t writing children’s books, looking after her house plants or teaching young people, you will find her travelling the globe and connecting with people from all walks of life. It is these connections that inspire her to keep growing, learning and creating beautiful memories.

About the picture book We’re All in this Together

School friends – Kiana, Amin, Roshan, Casey, Ming, and Tyler all have one thing in common — they can’t go to school. The world changed very quickly and now they have to stay home to keep themselves and their families and friends safe. They discover that even apart, they can find new and fun ways to be together.
At a time when the world looks a little different, this encouraging story promises young readers an opportunity to reflect on their own experience of this unique moment in history while promoting resilience and unity.

The interview

Continue reading: We’re All in This Together — a Picture Book by Skye Hughes — readilearn

Happy New Year 2021 readilearn

Wishing you a Happy New Year 2021! #readilearn

I wish all my wonderful readilearn readers and supporters a happy and healthy 2021. I think most of us are ready to welcome in the new year with its promise of better things to come. I thank you all for you support throughout 2020 and look forward to what 2021 has to offer.

I am excited that 2021 is both the International Year of Peace and Trust and the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. I am hoping that it fulfils the expectation of a peaceful year in which trust in each other becomes the norm and a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables becomes available for every one of us.

During the week, I uploaded some new calendars and calendar bookmarks to celebrate both themes of the coming year:

Contine reading: Wishing you a Happy New Year 2021 — readilearn