Category Archives: Picture books

author Dimity Powell discusses her picture book Pippa

Fly away with Pippa and her author Dimity Powell – reblogged from readilearn

Have you ever wished you could fly? Or perhaps wished for a chance to explore but were held back by rules and restrictions?

I always thought it would be marvellous to be a bird, soaring above the earth, looking down upon its beauty. Oh, the freedom it would bring. Looking out at the world from a plane’s window is, for me, the nearest thing. But for Dimity Powell’s latest endearing character Pippa, flight is a reality.

About Pippa

You see, Pippa is a pigeon, and, like all pigeons, Pippa was born to fly. She wants nothing more than to spread her wings and go exploring. However, her parents aren’t sure she’s ready and fill her head with fears and days with restrictions to keep her close at home. It works for a while. But, one day when her parents are otherwise occupied, Pippa discovers she can fly, and that’s where her adventures, explorations and discoveries begin.

Pippa is a delightful new picture book that is bound to win hearts and spread joy. Award-winning author Dimity Powell describes her book thus:

Pippa is a light-hearted adventure tale about striking out alone, following your dreams and desires and experiencing what it’s like when you get there. It is a tale that acknowledges the sometimes-suffocating affection parents have for their offspring, which can temper and frustrate a child’s sense of freedom and adventure, and suggests that it’s okay to take risks from time to time. Although the adventure may be perilous, it is still worth experiencing for you never know what glorious discoveries lie ahead.

Pippa is small, determined, stubborn, and wilful, just like many other six-year-olds. And, like many youngsters who’ve wanted more than they can handle, when she finally does return to her flock, she realises that when it comes to true security and contentment, it’s family that matter most.”

About Dimity Powell

I previously introduced Dimity to you in her popular guest post Libraries: A wonderous universe to explore and in an interview about her  picture book At the End of Holyrood Lane for which she was recently awarded the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Crystal Kite Members’ Choice 2019 Award, Australia and New Zealand region.

Dimity likes to fill every spare moment with words. She writes and reviews stories exclusively for kids and is the Managing Editor for Kids’ Book Review. Her word webs appear in anthologies, school magazines, junior novels, as creative digital content, and picture books including The Fix-It Man (2017), At The End of Holyrood Lane (2018) and Pippa (2019) with more to follow in 2020 and beyond.

She is a seasoned presenter both in Australia and overseas, an accredited Write Like An Author facilitator and a Books in Homes Role Model Volunteer in Australia.

Dimity believes picture books are soul food, to be consumed at least 10 times a week. If these aren’t available, she’ll settle for ice-cream. She lives just around the corner from Bat Man on the Gold Coast although she still prefers hanging out in libraries than with superheroes.

Dimity’s inspiration for writing about Pippa

Continue reading: Fly away with Pippa and her author Dimity Powell – readilearn

Raymund and the Fear Monster by Megan Higginson

Fighting the Fear Monster – reblogged from readilearn

Most of us have fears that can become monsters if we allow them to get out of control. Learning how to manage them and put them in perspective is essential for mental health.

In this post, I introduce you to Megan Higginson, author of the newly released picture book Raymund and the Fear Monster.

About Megan Higginson

Megan Higginson loves to write and illustrate stories of monsters, aliens, and mind-blowing places and asking questions like, ‘What if?’. Megan Higginson is also an artist, speaker, street library ambassador, a Books in Homes Role Model, dyslexic book worm, a mother, a qualified youth worker and education support worker, and a retired horse whisper. Megan believes in living an amazing life even with a chronic illness and encouraging kids and adults not to give up. She hopes her stories and illustrations will help readers to look at their life and the world around them with new eyes.

Megan is the author of, The Sock Thief which was included in The Creative Kids Tales Story Collection Vol. 1 in 2017, and An Angel to Watch Over Them (shortlisted) in the anthology Three Dummies in a Dinghy and Other Stories of Life in 2018. Her stories, Freya and the Fear Monster and Super Moon and Fairy Dust in The Creative Kids Tales Story Collection Vol. 2 in 2019. Three Seconds, Truck Stops and Log Trucks (shortlisted) in Papa’s Shoes and Other Stories of Life 2019. She loves to write stories of monsters, aliens, and mind-blowing places. 

About Raymund and the Fear Monster

A tale of courage and overcoming fears when the odds seem to be stacked against you.

At the top of an enormous mountain is a dark and gloomy forest. In the dark and gloomy forest lives a monster who roars and growls and makes terrible noises. Raymund lives in a small village at the bottom of the enormous mountain. Raymund is scared of many things. But, most of all he is afraid of the night, and the monster that sends him running to hide under his bed. How will Raymund face his fear, discover what it means to have courage, and defeat the huge and hideous monster that smells like fish guts, rotten eggs and smelly feet?

Continue reading: Fighting the Fear Monster – readilearn

appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms

Appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms – reblogged from readilearn

Poetry is a wonderful tool for learning language. When children listen to or recite poetry, they are learning the rhythms and sounds of language, exploring ideas and how to express them, expanding vocabularies, deepening understanding in nuances of meaning, and having fun with thoughts and their expression.

Children are exposed to rhythm and rhyme from their earliest days through nursery rhymes, chants and songs as well as the text of picture books. It is important for children to have opportunities for appreciating and exploring poetry into and throughout their school years. The Australian Curriculum places poetry firmly into the literature strand of English teaching each year. But it is not necessary to relegate poetry just to a poetry unit of work when stipulated by the curriculum. Poetry, rhymes, chants and songs can be easily incorporated into the daily class program.

Michael Rosen, who you may know as the author of Going on a Bear Hunt and who I previously introduced to you in this post, shares some recommendations for teaching poetry on his blog. Although the suggestions were written for a year one teacher, I think the suggestions could be extended out to other years. Following his recommendations would more than cover the expectations of the Australian Curriculum, and what a wonderful way to turn children (and yourself) onto poetry.

I’m only sharing a few of his recommendations here. Please visit his website to read the others.

Michael Rosen’s suggestions for teaching poetry

  • Get as many poetry books into your classroom as possible. Encourage the children in pairs to browse, choose and read.
  • Read poems to them every day, use vids of poets (check out Michael Rosen’s YouTube channel) , use national poetry archive. Writing poems with no poems in your head is too big an ask. Fill their heads with ‘What poetry can do’ ie loads of poems.

Continue reading: Appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms – readilearn

Death - It's just a stage we're going to flash fiction

Death — It’s just a stage we’re going to

The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo is over for another year and the weekly flash fiction challenges have resumed.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Day of the Dead

This week Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the Day of the Dead. It can be the Mexican holiday, a modern adaptation of it, a similar remembrance, or something entirely new. Go where the prompt leads!

I would have to say that, here in Australia, we have been rather insulated from the Halloween phenomena until recent years and it was only very recently that I became aware of the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos, which celebrates the dead, remembering them and celebrating with them as if they were alive. What a wonderful way of keeping the memory of loved ones who have passed, alive.

We are not very good about discussing death in our culture, especially with children. Rather than accepted as a normal stage of life, it is kept secret as if to be feared. Yes, none of us want to go before we’re ready, but there isn’t one of us, as far as I know, who has found the secret of living (in this Earthly lifetime) forever.

The Tiny Star

The-Tiny-Star by Mem Fox

Last week I had the absolute joy of attending the launch of a lovely new picture book The Tiny Star, written by Mem Fox and beautifully illustrated by Freya Blackwood. The book is a joyous celebration of life’s journey from the beginning when ‘a tiny star fell to earth and turned into a baby’ until its return to the night sky where it would be ‘loving them from afar and watching over them … forever.’ The book provides a beautiful opportunity for discussing, even with very young children, the passage of time and the passing of loved ones in a way that is sensitive, respectful and meaningful. It is a book, just like each ‘star’, to be treasured. You can hear Mem read the book by following the link in the book’s title above and listen to her discussing the book with illustrator Freya Blackwood in this video.

The Fix-It Man

The Fix-It Man by Dimity Powell

Another lovely picture book that deals well with the topic of death for young children is The Fix-It Man, written by Dimity Powell and illustrated by Nicky Johnston. The book deals, sensitively and honestly, with a child’s grief at the loss of a parent. The child discovers that her father, who is usually able to fix any broken thing, is unable to fix her sick mother. Together the child and father find a way to support and strengthen each other through their grief and come to terms with their loss.

The Forever Kid

The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Cummings

The Forever Kid, written by Elizabeth Cummings and illustrated by Cheri Hughes, is another lovely picture book that sensitively tackles the topic of death, this time with the loss of a sibling. Each day, on the ‘forever’ child’s birthday, the family keeps his memory alive by celebrating with his favourite activity—lying on their backs on the grass telling cloud stories. Families who have experienced the loss of a child may be moved to find their own ways of remembering and celebrating the life that was. (I interviewed Elizabeth about The Forever Kid for readilearn here.)

Flash fiction challenge

So, back to Charli’s challenge to write about the Day of the Dead. While Halloween and the Day of the Dead have similarities (perhaps more to the uninitiated than to those in the know), they are not the same thing. However, my story is probably more like Halloween than the Day of the Dead. Oh well, that’s where the prompt took me, maybe because of the discussion about Halloween not being an Australian tradition that arises at this time every year, and perhaps because, in the 80s (anyone else remember that far back?) we teachers were instructed to not do anything involving Halloween or witches in our classrooms. That has now been revoked and many teachers work a little fun into their program with Halloween-themed activities. (As I suggested on readilearn recently.)

Anyway, here goes.

Full Bags, Dying Heart

From his room, Johnny watched the parade of monsters and ghouls wending from door to door. They laughed and giggled, whooped and cheered, clutching bags bulging with candy.

“Get inside,” she’d admonished.

“Why?”

“It’s the devil’s work. Dressing up like dead people. It’s not our way.”

She’d dragged him inside, shut the door and turned off the lights.

“We don’t want those nasty children knocking on our door.”

“But, Mum. It’s Graham and Gerard and even sweet Sue …”

“Enough! Get to your room!”

He watched, puzzled—How could it be devil’s work? They were his friends having fun.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading.

Note: I would have liked to write a sequel to this where Johnny sneaks out and joins his friends, but I ran out of time. Maybe another time.

I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

empowerment through reading instruction

Empowerment through reading instruction – reblogged from readilearn

The importance of reading to children every day is never far from my mind. It comes from a passion for all things literacy as well as the knowledge that reading means empowerment. Reading is the key that unlocks so much that is meaningful in today’s world.

Whether at home or in the classroom, children need to listen to stories read aloud to them every day. It should be non-negotiable and prioritised. I would also add time for independent reading of self-selected material to that non-negotiable list and, in the classroom, time for independent writing on self-chosen topics.

Listening to stories benefits children in many ways; including, but not limited to:

  • Sheer enjoyment
  • Connection with others and other ideas which leads to understanding, respect and empathy
  • Exposure to language and vocabulary which in turns develops language and vocabulary
  • Positive feelings for books as a source of pleasure and information and a stimulus for imagination and creativity
  • A model of fluent and expressive reading behaviour that can be aspired to and emulate
  • A desire to read for oneself.

Keeping in mind that reading aloud to children and making time for their independent reading are non-negotiable and occur in the classroom every day, children also require purposeful instruction in the process of reading.

While some children appear to learn easily and without effort before starting school, as my own two children did, others struggle to understand the marks on the page. Most children fall somewhere on a continuum between, benefitting from instruction along the way.

The readilearn collection of teaching resources for teachers of the first three years of school includes many to support your teaching of reading. Many resources are free, others are available for no more than a few dollars, or you can access all the resources for one low annual subscription of just A$25. (That’s about £13, €15, US$17 or CAN$22) I’m sure you’ll agree that’s great value.

Browse resources now

readilearn supports teachers teaching reading

Reading aloud

As part of our support for reading aloud, on the readilearn blog we regularly conduct interviews with authors and illustrators about their new books. Many of these interviews are available to download free from the Author and Illustrator Spotlight resources.  We also publish free lists of books on different topics for you to download; for example,

multicultural picture book

Continue reading: Empowerment through reading instruction – readilearn

Pamela Wight discusses her new picture book Molly Finds Her Purr

A Purr-fect new picture book by Pamela Wight – readilearn

Today, I am talking with author Pamela Wight about her new picture book Molly Finds Her Purr. I previously introduced you to Pamela when her first picture book Birds of Paradise was released in 2017. You can read that interview here.

The importance of being true to yourself and the acknowledgment of the strength of friendship, even when differences exist, are strong themes in Pamela’s books.

Birds of Paradise is a delightful story of two sparrows Bert and Bessie who discover that friendship can unite even for two with very different attitudes to life.

In Molly Finds Her Purr, Molly the cat discovers that a purr comes from finding a circle of friends, and that friendship can be strong despite their outward differences.

Both books are beautifully illustrated by Shelley Steinle who has added a secret character for children to find on every page.

I am delighted that some of my words of praise for Birds of Paradise were used on the back cover of Molly Finds Her Purr. I wrote, “Shelly Steinle’s illustrations are gorgeous and perfectly complement Pamela Wight’s lovely story.” I could say exactly the same in praise of Molly Finds Her Purr.

A little about Pamela Wight

Pamela S. Wight writes fiction for children and adults. She is the published author of The Right Wrong Man and Twin Desires, and pens a popular weekly blog called Roughwighting (roughwighting.net). She teaches creative writing classes in the Boston and San Francisco areas. Her first picture book, Birds of Paradise, published in 2017, was a finalist in the 2018 International Book Awards.

About Molly Finds Her Purr

Continue reading: A Purr-fect new picture book by Pamela Wight – readilearn

Library For All - a Force for Equality through Literacy

Library For All — a Force for Equality through Literacy – readilearn

What is Library For All?

Library For All is an Australian not for profit organisation with a mission to “make knowledge accessible to all, equally” through a digital library of books that is available free to anyone anywhere in the world. The focus is on providing high quality, engaging, age appropriate and culturally relevant books to children in developing countries and remote areas.

Who can access Library For All?

Library For All found that, even in “communities where history, poverty or remoteness are everyday barriers to accessing knowledge”, many children have access to mobile phones, e-tablets and readers. Recognising this, the digital library was created which allows children anywhere to freely access reading material through the app, available in the Google Play Store on any Android device.

Teachers can also use the app with children in their classrooms. What a great way of accessing a range of culturally diverse books from simple beginning stories to chapter books.

In addition to their availability on locally owned smart phones and tablets, through the support of development organisations around the world, the books are available to many schools and communities in developing countries and remote areas through the Spark Digital Library Kits.

Continue reading: Library For All — a Force for Equality through Literacy – readilearn