Category Archives: Picture books

readilearn: NAIDOC Week Celebrations 2018—Because of Her, We Can

In Australia, NAIDOC Week is celebrated around the country each July. The acronym NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. The theme of this year’s celebration, which runs from 8 to 15 July, is Because of Her, We Can!

The purpose of the week is to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Islander Peoples and acknowledge their contributions to our country. This year’s theme recognises that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play – active and significant roles at the community, local, state and national levels”, roles that have often gone unrecognised.

The 2018 poster, a painting by Bigambul woman, Cheryl Moggs, from Goondiwindi, portrays the courage and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. You can read, in Cheryl’s own words, the inspiration behind her artwork here.

While most Australian school children are enjoying their mid-year break during NAIDOC Week, many teachers will be looking for ways to share the celebrations with their students when school resumes.

Any time is a good time to incorporate learning about Indigenous cultures and histories. In fact, embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures is one of the cross-curriculum priorities in the Australian Curriculum.  Although I provide links to resources and suggestions that Australian teachers can use with their classes when celebrating NAIDOC Week, I’m certain many of the resources will be of interest to others around the world when teaching about diverse cultures and histories.

The NAIDOC website has suggestions to get you started, and you can download a free copy of the 2018 NAIDOC Week poster from the website too. You can also check out their calendar for events near you. Refer to News for stories of women to celebrate.

In the following video, Uncle Barry Watson, the Elder in Residence with Communities for Children in Logan City in south-east Queensland, explains the

Continue reading: readilearn: NAIDOC Week Celebrations 2018—Because of Her, We Can – Readilearn

Dimity Powell, author, discusses the importance of libraries

readilearn: Libraries: A wondrous universe to explore — A guest post by Dimity Powell

This week I am delighted to introduce you to award-winning children’s author Dimity Powell.

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) and At The End of Holyrood Lane (2018).

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.

In this post, Dimity shares her love of libraries and explains why it is important to ensure every child has access to a library at school and every reader a local library.

Welcome to readilearn, Dimity. Over to you.

Continue reading: readilearn: Libraries: A wondrous universe to explore — A guest post by Dimity Powell

Emma Middleton author and illustrator discusses the importance of illustrations in children's picture books

The importance of illustrations in picture books – a guest post by Emma Middleton – Readilearn

This week I have great pleasure in introducing you to Emma Middleton who is here to discuss illustrations in picture books as tools for analysis, enjoyment and interpretation.

Emma is a picture book author, illustrator, children’s performer and former ballerina who lives near Noosa, Queensland. After a career in performing arts, during which time she danced for the Vienna Ballet, she returned to Australia to direct and teach at The Brighton Dance Academy.

Emma retired from teaching dance to follow her passion for picture books by creating stories that will enhance a child’s sense of wonder, delight and unlimited possibility. Emma is the author of companion picture books The Lion in our Living Room and The Bear in our Backyard.

Welcome to readilearn, Emma. Over to you.

Illustrations in picture books can be an excellent tool for developing children’s analytical and interpretative skills, as well as enhancing their enjoyment of art. Picture book advocate Megan Daley says, ‘Picture books are works of art which should adorn the walls of art galleries and libraries.’

For young children, illustrated books open the door to understanding story. Illustrations provide young readers with an immediate vision of the characters, setting, and mood of the story. Children instantly respond to characters from their visual appeal. We all know and love many picture book characters from their image alone.

Emma Middleton discusses the importance of illustrations in children's picture books, including Peter Rabbit

 

Continue reading: The importance of illustrations in picture books – a guest post by Emma Middleton – Readilearn

readilearn: Meet the author-illustrator team for Turtle Love – Renee Hills and Anna Jacobson

Do you love turtles? I find these magnificent creatures of the sea fascinating. Although I already owned a collection of picture books about turtles, I couldn’t resist supporting local author Renee Hills publish her first picture book Turtle Love, illustrated by Anna Jacobson, through Pozible at the end of last year. I was delighted when I received my very own copy of this beautiful picture book with its warm and empowering story that engages young children and invites them to be proactive about the welfare of other creatures.”

Synopsis

Turtle Love is about Jacob Gordon Lachlan Brown who lives on perhaps the most interesting and beautiful beach in the world. The flatback turtles agree. They come every summer to lay their eggs. But life is becoming more difficult for the turtles because the big ships that load coal are stirring up sediment and this affects the seagrass that the turtles eat.  And this beautiful beach is where they MUST come to nest. Why don’t the flatback turtles go somewhere else? What can Jacob do to help them?

The text explores themes including the impact of man-made coastal developments on the habitat of other species; how to advocate for threatened creatures and the right of all living beings to have a safe place to nest and live. As a bonus, the book contains a story within a story, a mythical explanation for the beautiful coloured rock landform on the beach where the turtles nest.

About the author

Renee Hills has been writing ever since she won a prize for an essay about the future when she was a country North Queensland kid. After graduating and working briefly as a teacher, Renee honed her writing skills as a print journalist, editor, and self- publisher.

Continue reading: readilearn: Meet the author-illustrator team for Turtle Love – Renee Hills and Anna Jacobson

Reeling in the fishermen

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fish tale. It can be about fishing from any angle, about those who fish, or what might be caught. Go where the prompt leads.

I cast my net hoping to catch an idea.

Would I share some fish-themed picture books? For example:

The Little Fish that Got Away by Bernadine Cook and Corbett Johnson

The Little Fish that Got Away, written by Bernadine Cook and illustrated by Crockett Johnson

one fish two fish by Dr Seuss

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss

The rainbow fish by Marcus Pfister

The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister

Would I consider rhyming words?

dish

fish

squish

swish

wish

fish on a dish rhyming words

Perhaps a childhood skipping game?

Fish, Fish,

Come into the dish.

Fish, Fish,

Turn around in the dish.

Fish, Fish,

Touch the bottom of the dish.

Fish Fish, run out of the dish.

Fish fish come into the dish skipping game

Fishy sayings?

something fishy going on around here

Sounds or smells fishy

A fish out of water

A dead fish handshake

Fell for it, hook, line and sinker

Plenty of fish in the ocean

Or maybe a childhood story?

When I was a child, my father fished a lot in his spare time. As well as being a cheap way of feeding his large family, he probably enjoyed getting out on the water in his rowboat for some peace. When the fishing was good, it could be on the menu twice a day, seven days a week. Exaggerations, maybe, but sometimes it seemed that way.

I did accompany him once. Neither of us caught anything edible. I caught a knotty eel, a tiny trumpeter and a desire to never go fishing again. I never have. Catching words is much more to my taste.

For my response to Charli’s prompt, I have gone with a story from my childhood. It incorporates some of the ideas that got caught in the net. I hope you like it.

Reeling in the fishermen

She sat by the window watching as the invisible painter coloured the morning sky. These moments lost in waking dreams, with the youngest of her brood suckling quietly, were precious. Slamming car doors and laughter interrupted the silence but not her thoughts. An occasional word invaded her consciousness…haul, fishing, catch. Wait—her man, a fisherman, was home. The night was not conducive to fishing. She leaned forward. Two dark figures unloaded a ute. They had neither lines nor nets, and it sure wasn’t fish in those boxes. “Fisherman, eh?” she thought as she dialled the local police. “You’re hooked.”

Thank you blog post

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

activities for celebrating Mother's Day in early childhood classrooms

Learning fun with Mother’s Day activities in early childhood classrooms – Readilearn

Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May in many countries, including Australia, the United States, and Canada. As the day approaches, teachers often look for easy-to-make gifts for children to give to mothers or other carers.  In this post, I share inexpensive suggestions that are easily incorporated into your class literacy and art programs.

Before beginning to work on gifts for mothers, it is important to have some knowledge of children’s backgrounds so you can treat with sensitivity the diversity of family situations that may be represented in your classroom and adjust the program accordingly. For example, when you are already part-way through an activity, it is no good finding out from an upset child that his mother has passed.

It is best to find out this information at least a few weeks before commencing the activities to allow time for consultation with families if necessary. An easy way of doing this is to ask the children to draw a picture of the people who live at their house. Children can then show and discuss their pictures and their families, including those who have two homes and two families.

Your school librarian will be able to suggest picture books to read about diverse families, or you can find some on this list.

You could introduce the activity by saying something like, “Mother’s Day is a day on which

Continue reading: readilearn: Learning fun with Mother’s Day activities in early childhood classrooms – Readilearn

Into the forest with a flash fiction story about forest bathing to continue Mouse and Crow

Into the forest

Since its beginning in 1970, every 22 April is celebrated as Earth Day, a day for appreciating the beauty of our Earth and mobilising ourselves to protect it. Earth Day is credited with starting the environmental movement and is the largest worldwide environment event.

This year focuses on single-use plastic with the aim to End Plastic Pollution. The goals of the Earth Day Network “include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics.”

While governments introduce regulations about the use of plastics, it is up to each of us to monitor and reduce our own usage.

Unless quote from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Other Earth Day campaigns include combating climate change, greening schools and cities, and protecting forests, anything to help create a greener, more sustainable future.

Five of my favourite picture books that include these themes are:

The Lorax by Dr Seuss

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss demonstrates the effects of pollution and destruction of the environment and highlights the important role of each person in protecting the environment.

Window by Jeannie Baker deals with the effect of progress on wilderness areas as towns and cities are built. (All book by Jeannie Baker carry strong environmental messages.)

Leaf Litter by Rachel Tonkin helps children appreciate the smaller parts of our world and the way they are all interconnected.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is about a boy who greens a dead part of the city.

One Less Fish Kim Michelle Toft

One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft deals with dangers to marine life and suggests what can be done to improve the marine environment.

These are just a few of the many wonderful books available. Please let me know your favourite in the comments.

By the way, did you notice that each of these books is written and illustrated by an author-illustrator?

At the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills celebrated Earth Day this year with a little forest bathing or Shinrin Yoku. Developed in Japan in the 1980s, Shinrin Yoku is about “fostering deeper relationships and positive experiences with forested areas”. Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about forest bathing. You can use the Japanese term, Shinrin Yoku, or you can make up your own ideas about the phrase. Go where the prompt leads.

A few weeks ago, in response to another prompt, I wrote this story about Crow and Mouse.

a fable about crow and mouse in which mouse helps crow and crow helps mouse

I presented the story to my local critique group and received some useful suggestions. One was to have Mouse explore the forest on his own in an attempt to fend for himself, rather than rely on Crow for food. I thought this fitted in nicely with the aim of Shinrin Yoku, and it is to that suggestion I have responded. I’ve changed the setting, for this prompt, from woods to forest. I haven’t quite managed to tell all I wanted in 99 words, which is usual for me, but I hope you like it.

We pick up the story from “In the darkness, Mouse trembled.”

Forest Feast

Unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells assailed his senses. He dived into a pile of leaves.

“Would you mind!” squealed Skink.

“Sorry,” said Mouse, backing into Frog.

“Hey! This is my cockroach,” said Frog.

“Ewww!” said mouse. “Who eats cockroaches?”

Mouse’s belly rumbled.

Skink was eating a slug. Frog had a cockroach. Nothing for Mouse anywhere.

“Try mushroom,” suggested Frog.

Mouse hesitated, then began nibbling.

Flapping overhead sent Skink and Frog for cover. Mouse, oblivious, had been spotted.

Crow alighted and placed a gift of bread at Mouse’s feet.

“Thank you,” said Mouse. “I like bread, but I love mushroom!”

Thank you blog post

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