Category Archives: Literacy education

Interview with Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern author of Charlie's Adventures in South Africa

readilearn: Books on Wednesday — Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

This week I have great pleasure in introducing Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern author of Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa. This post is but one of several celebrating Jacqueline’s beautiful picture book in Romi Sharp’s Books on Tour. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Jacqueline’s work.

About Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern is a Canberra based author and the recipient of the ACT Writers Centre 2017 Anne Edgeworth Fellowship. Her debut picture book, Charlie’s Adventures…in Hawaii, was shortlisted for the 2017 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards and chosen as a finalist in the 2017 American Best Book Awards. Her second book in the Charlie’s Adventure series, Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa, was recently released. At the heart of Jacqueline’s books are an appreciation of travel and the uniqueness of culture. She endeavours to encourage her readers to learn more about the world, supporting an empathetic and inclusive community.

About Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa

Charlie is off on the second of his adventures with his family … to South Africa! With his friends, Charlie is set on a discovery of different clues to uncover South Africa’s Rainbow Nation. Join Charlie and his family on their adventures across the world.

The interview

Welcome to readilearn, Jacqueline.

Thanks for inviting me.

Jacqueline, what gave you the idea for this book?

Continue reading: readilearn: Books on Wednesday — Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

innovating on the traditional story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

When you’re on a theme, stick to it

Education is my theme. It’s my passion. Sometimes I think I should get another interest, but I’m stuck with this one. Sometimes I get stuck with a theme within a theme too. That’s happening at the moment.

Goldilocks and her Friends the Three Bears interactive innovation

A couple of weeks ago, I uploaded an innovation on the traditional story of Goldilocks to readilearn, a collection of teaching resources for the first three years of school. I also added some suggestions for using the resource to teach reading and writing, including sight words in context. I have other supporting resources in progress to be added to the collection soon.

While my story Goldilocks and her Friends the Three Bears is not really a fractured fairy tale, it’s simply a retelling with an alternative ending; I’ve also been thinking of fractured fairy tales for my Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest coming up next month. (Look for further details to be published at the Ranch this week.)

So stuck on this theme am I, that I wrote a 297 (3 x 99) word story as a response to Charli’s Tuff prompt “Papa’s Bar”. While this Free-Write contest is now closed (writers have only twenty-four hours to respond to the prompt), there will be four more chances to enter the TUFFest Ride event with the next one scheduled for September 19. Be sure to look out for it if you want to be in it.

Note: I’m not sure where or what the Papa’s bar is that Charli alluded to, but I am sure that it’s not what I wrote my story about. In Australia, when we play tiggy, that you might know as tag or tig, or some other name, we might allocate a certain spot as ‘bar’. This means that you are safe and cannot be tagged when on or touching that spot. Sometimes, players will attempt to allocate a spot as bar just as they arrive at it in order to avoid being tagged.

While I have no thoughts that I may win any of the TUFF contests, it is fun having a go. This is what I wrote in response to the Papa’s Bar prompt. I hope you enjoy it.

bears sleeping

Papa’s Bar

Out in the woods lived a family of bears; Papa Bear, Mama Bear and baby bears five. All summer long, Papa Bear toiled, ensuring his family were contentedly fuelled, ready to sleep through the winter’s long dark. They filled up their bellies with berries hung low, with fish in abundance in streams flowing clear, and hives’ full bounty of gold. Mama and babies had no need to complain, every meal Papa made, a sumptuous feast.  When autumn arrived, and food became scarce, Papa Bear said, ‘Now’s time for bed. Close your eyes little ones, dream sweet dreams until spring.’

The babies were restless, not ready for sleep.

‘We need a story,’ a little one said. ‘Tell us about life when you were a cub. What did you eat? Where did you play?’

‘Just one story — then sleep.’

‘We need a drink first,’ said the cubs.

‘Okay, but lickety-split.’

They had just settled back when another voice said, ‘I’m hungry.’

‘Me too,’ chimed the others.

‘Can’t be,’ said Papa Bear. ‘No food until spring.’

‘Awh,’ they chorused.

‘I could make some porridge,’ yawned Mama Bear.

‘Yay! Porridge!’ said the baby bears.

‘But then you must sleep,’ said Papa Bear.

But they didn’t. Before his story was through, Papa Bear was snoring with Mama Bear nestled beside him.

‘Let’s play tag,’ smirked one.

‘I’m It,’ said another.

They took turns to run and catch, and through it all, the parent bears slept.

At last, the littlest bear yawned. No more running and catching, he was ready for sleep. He scrambled over Papa Bear, escaping the tagger’s clutches with a warning, ‘Can’t get me. Papa’s bar.’

His eyes closed and then, one by one, they snuggled into a big bear hug, murmuring ‘Papa’s bar’ as they drifted off to sleep.

Pasta prompt for Carrot Ranch Flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills

When Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch posted this week’s flash fiction prompt, challenging writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta. It can be spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, or any variety. It can be a meal or a work of art. Go where the prompt leads, how could I not get the bears in on the act again.

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it too.

Pasta for Breakfast

Papa Bear pushed back his chair. “Not this muck again.”

Mama Bear stopped mid-ladle. “It’s Baby Bear’s favourite. I— I thought it was yours too.”

Baby Bear’s lip quivered.

“Pfft! Sometimes a bear needs real food.” He grabbed his hat. “I’m going for a walk.”

“Papa!” Baby Bear went after him.

Mama Bear dumped the porridge, pot and all, into the bin, grabbed her hat and followed.

“Where are we going?” asked Baby Bear.

“Somewhere nice for breakfast. It is spring after all.”

Papa Bear paused outside BreakFasta Pasta, then went in.

Mama Bear smiled; pasta was her favourite.

Thank you blog post

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

celebrating reading and writing on International Literacy Day

readilearn: Celebrating reading and writing on International Literacy Day

Tomorrow is International Literacy Day. It has been celebrated on 8 September for over fifty years. The purpose of the day is to remind the international community of the importance of literacy and to eradicate illiteracy around the world. It values literacy education for young people the world over. This year’s theme is Literacy and skills development and focuses on the integration of literacy with other skills to enhance people’s lives and employment opportunities.

In our early childhood classrooms, the focus is always on the development of literacy. A strong foundation in both reading and writing enables children to be more successful learners at school and independent learners out of school. It provides them with skills essential to full participation in and contribution to our world. While we may not be ostensibly training them for future employment, the literacy skills they learn in early childhood form the foundation upon which that learning develops.

The idea of integrating literacy development with other skills is not unfamiliar to early childhood classrooms. The most effective approaches focus on teaching skills in meaningful contexts rather than in isolation.

In celebration of International Literacy Day this year, I have uploaded some new resources to the literacy collection. As with other readilearn literacy resources, the focus is on teaching literacy skills in context.

Continue reading: readilearn: Celebrating reading and writing on International Literacy Day

be prepared - the casual teacher's motto

readilearn: Be prepared – a casual teacher’s motto

It’s not always easy being a casual teacher, taking over another teacher’s class for the day. You might be in a different class at a different school, working with a different age group and a different set of expectations, and probably playground duty, every day of the week.

But it does have its advantages too. You can arrive just before school begins and leave when it finishes. You don’t have to do assessment, write reports or be involved in parent meetings.

But it is important to be prepared.

Familiarise yourself with the class timetable and program

Many teachers leave a program for relief teachers to follow and, if one is available, it is important to follow it to maintain continuity for the children and to avoid interrupting the teaching and learning schedule. However, there may be days when a program is not available, and a casual teacher needs to be prepared for these.

Whether a day’s program is available or not, it is important to remember that it’s not your class. There will be established class expectations, procedures and timetables. The day will work best if these can be followed as closely as possible, particularly if teacher aides, support personnel and specialist teachers are involved.

Introduce yourself and your expectations

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Rainforest Rescue by Karen Tyrrell

Books on Wednesday — Rainforest Rescue by Karen Tyrrell – Readilearn

A review of Rainforest Rescue the third in the Song Bird series of empowering junior fiction books by author Karen Tyrrell.

This week, I want to let you know about Rainforest Rescue, newly released and third junior fiction novel in the Song Bird series of empowering books for young people, by Karen Tyrrell.

I have previously interviewed Karen about the other books in her Song Bird series, Song Bird Superhero and The Battle of Bug World so wanted to let you know that the third is now available.

Song Bird, Tree Man, and Wonder Girl

I was delighted to attend the recent launch of Rainforest Rescue. Song Bird (Karen) and Tree Man (Karen’s husband and co-author, Steve) wowed their audience that included other superheroes as well as mere mortals like me.

Since the launch, Karen and Steve have been busy visiting schools and making bookshop appearances as part of Book Week Celebrations. If you would like a visit from Karen with one of her empowering presentations or pantomimes, you can contact her on her website here, or connect with her on social media — Twitter:  @Karen_Tyrrell. FB: @KarenTyrrellAuthor.

Visit Karen’s website for free teacher resources, a special offer for Australian readers, and information about purchasing Rainforest Rescue elsewhere.

This is my review of Rainforest Rescue, which you can read on Amazon here.

Rainforest Rescue is the third book in the Song Bird series by Karen Tyrrell and the best yet.

Continue reading: Books on Wednesday — Rainforest Rescue by Karen Tyrrell – Readilearn

reading magic - read, talk, play, laugh, have fun

A sprinkle of this, a pinch of that, and poof! It’s reading — magic!

ArtbyJonz ©Norah Colvin 2015

My children were early readers. Both began reading real books well before their fourth birthdays. Of course, the timing, whether early or late, matters little now that they are adults. What matters is that they are readers who read competently and confidently for a range of purposes including for information and pleasure. They are readers by choice as well as purpose.

The ability to read is something that most of us take for granted. Many have no recollection of learning to read, only of being able to do so all of a sudden, as if we just could, by magic.

But, as with any spell, there are certain essential ingredients that make the magic happen and others that inhibit the process. Creating readers of choice and not just purpose is the real magic. Creating non-readers is the effect of a spell in reverse, of a bad mix of ingredients, that sadly occurs all too often.

Bec reading to herself at 12 months

Bec reading to herself at 12 months

My children were readers of choice long before they could read anything for themselves. I wouldn’t say I set out to “teach” them to read. In fact, I didn’t at all. I set out to encourage in them a love of books and writing. Their learning to read was a by-product of sharing the love of words, language and reading.

The magic ingredients for developing readers:

  • Talk
  • Play
  • Read
  • Write
  • Love
  • Fun

I loved having time with my children. Being with them, watching them grow and develop was special, the best and most magical of days. They taught me as much or more about love, life and learning as they learned from me.

Talk

From their earliest days I talked to them, explained things to them — what was happening, what we were doing, and how things worked. I pointed things out and told them what it was called, what it was doing, what it was used for, or how it worked. When we were out and about, I’d point out signs and explain how I knew to stop or where to go. I avoided “baby” talk and always used appropriate everyday language.

Play

We played and had fun together, using our imaginations to create our own games. Sometimes we played simple board games and completed jigsaw puzzles. Whatever we played, talk always accompanied it.

Nor and Bec reading the family book

Reading to Bec at about 12 months old.

Read

I read to them, every day, not just one but many books. As I read, we discussed details in the illustrations and made predictions about the stories, sharing our thoughts. If a word was presented in a large or colourful font, I’d point to it as I read it. We’d laugh at the funny stories and cry at the sad and discuss all the story events. When they could read, they’d read to me, and we took turns reading together until they were early teens.

Write

When they first started to talk, I made books with pictures and words from their growing vocabulary. I labelled items in their rooms; for example, bed, shelf, window, door.

I made books about things we did with photographs and text. A book about our family made for my daughter’s first birthday was one of the favourites when cousins came to visit too.

The environment

I provided my children with an environment rich in language, books and opportunities for thinking. I’d read and write with them and to them, and they’d see me reading and writing for myself as well.

When son Rob was little, I didn’t yet know what I now know about the development of language, reading, and thinking. He taught me much that was later confirmed by my studies.

Rob reading to his toys at age two

Rob, aged two, reading to some of his toys.

When he was only two, Rob would line up his toys on the couch, sit in the middle, and “read” to them. He would almost recite the stories from beginning to end. He already knew that the words in a book remain the same each time they are read — an important concept for beginning readers to grasp. When he was only three, he’d jump into bed beside me in the early morning after Hub had gone to work, prise my eyes open, and read to me! Magic!

Daughter Bec was born twelve years after Rob. Meanwhile, I had returned to college and studied the development of reading and language. I was amazed to find that we had unwittingly created the essential mix of ingredients for his learning to occur

Naturally, armed with experience as well as understanding, I did things pretty much the same for Bec — talking, reading, writing, playing, having fun and enjoying time together.

Bec sharing one of her favourite books.

Bec sharing one of her favourite books.

When she was five, Bec was invited to participate in a study of children who learned to read before starting school. Of the children (maybe half a dozen) involved in the study, Bec was the only one the researcher considered to be really reading. She was reading fluently, with comprehension and at a higher level than the other children.

Some of the children were able to recognise isolated words, but not read them in continuous text. Others had been taught letters and sounds using flashcards and stopped to ‘sound’ out every word. They hadn’t become real readers.

Bec was not subjected to reading “lessons” as the other children had been. She was immersed in an environment that encouraged a love of learning, language and literacy.  The other parents had a need for their children to read as if their value as parents depended on it.

While I had an expectation that Bec would read, I was confident that she would come to it in her own time. My credibility as a parent was not tied to her ability. Having said that, both children (adults) are now very successful in their chosen fields, so I must have done something right. Or perhaps we were just lucky that we chanced upon the magic mix of ingredients.

I do wish that all parents would include a sprinkle of language and a pinch of reading mixed with love and fun into their children’s lives every day. It would contribute greatly toward eradicating illiteracy.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills: magic

What got me thinking about reading, and magic in particular, is the challenge by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes magic. It can be a supernatural force, a moment or idea, or use it as a verb. Go where the prompt leads.

The ability to be transported into other realms is pure magic. The ability to share this magic with others is bliss.

Mem Fox has more to say about that in her lovely book for parents Reading Magica book I always include when selecting gifts for first-time parents.

Reading Magic by Mem Fox

Here is my response to Charli’s prompt. I hope you enjoy it.

A Sprinkle of This and a Pinch of That

“Whatcha doin?”

“Makin’ a spell.”

“What sorta spell?”

“A magic spell.”

“Can I help?”

“Sure.”

“Whadda I do?”

“Put stuff in the pot.”

“What sorta stuff?”

“Gotta read the recipe.”

“What’s it say?”

“Ya gotta read it.”

“I can’t.”

“Oh. Okay. I’ll help. Look, it says …”

Mum stopped at the door to the kitchen. “Wha— What are you doing?”

“Nothin’,” mumbled the older.

“Makin’ magic spells,” grinned the younger, covered in flour from head to toe.

“What sort of magic spell?” asked Mum, wishing for her own magic spell.

“Take us to outa space.”

“Can I come too?”

Thank you blog post

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

 

Interview with Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World's Worst Pirate by Michelle Worthington

readilearn: Introducing Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate

This week I have enormous pleasure in introducing you to Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate, written by Michelle Worthington.

The World’s Worst Pirate is a captivating book about being true to yourself and unleashing your inner strengths.

Story Synopsis

One might wonder why Will, the world’s worst pirate, would want to be a pirate anyway. The truth is, he didn’t. There wasn’t much at all he liked about being at sea. He was happiest in the galley cooking cupcakes. The ship’s captain, his mother, on the other hand, couldn’t understand why he didn’t love being a pirate as much as she did. When the ship is attacked by a terrifying sea monster, no one could have predicted the outcome. Katrin Dreiling’s illustrations are a perfect fit or Michelle Worthington’s story. They add humour, delight, and a sub-plot of their own.

The Illustrator

The World’s Worst Pirate, published by Little Pink Dog Books in 2017, is Katrin’s first picture book. In 2018 the book received the CBCA Notable Book award, a wonderful achievement, especially for a first book. Prior to becoming an illustrator in Australia, Katrin studied languages in Germany to become a teacher. She loves to come up with quirky creations that inspire children to get creative themselves. Katrin’s second book, also written by Michelle and published by Little Pink Dog Books, will launch in September this year.  Katrin also enjoys writing for children and regularly teaches art classes in Newfarm, Brisbane.

The Interview

Welcome to readilearn, Katrin.

Thank you for inviting me.

Katrin, The World’s Worst Pirate was listed as a Notable Picture Book in the CBCA 2018 Book of the Year awards. Congratulations. Since it is your very first published picture book, that must have been very special. How did it make you feel?

Continue reading: readilearn: Introducing Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate