Category Archives: Picture books

Getting ready for National Simultaneous Storytime

Are you ready for National Simultaneous Storytime? – readilearn

It’s time to celebrate National Simultaneous Storytime. Held every year since 2001 and organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) encourages everyone in Australia to read the same picture book at the same time.

This year’s event takes place next

Wednesday 22 May at 11 am AEST.

The picture book to be read is

Alpacas with Maracas by Matt Cosgrove.

As outlined on the website, the purpose of the event is to:

  • promote the value of reading and literacy,
  • promote the value and fun of books,
  • promote an Australian writer and publisher,
  • promote storytime activities in public libraries and communities around the country,
  • and provide opportunities to involve parents, grandparents, the media and others to participate in and enjoy the occasion.

Participating in such an event will help children to see themselves as part of a larger community of readers and understand that reading is not something confined to their classroom but enjoyed by others everywhere.

Everyone can participate — libraries, schools, childcare centres, bookshops families, grandparents, individuals.

Registration for NSS is free and, if you register prior to Monday 20 May, you will receive downloadable material to support your event, including a free downloadable PDF version of the book to use during your NSS event.

Free teaching ideas

In addition to all the great teaching ideas available on the NSS website, other teaching ideas and resources are available from

Continue reading: Are you ready for National Simultaneous Storytime? – readilearn

classroom-activities-for-celebrating-mothers-day

Classroom activities for celebrating Mother’s Day – readilearn

With Mother’s Day just a little over a week away on Sunday 12 May, teachers are looking for classroom activities that are easy to implement but foster learning while making something special for the children’s mums to treasure. readilearn Mother’s Day suggestions help you do just that.

Benefits of written gifts

Writing letters, cards and books for mothers is one of the best ways of fulfilling all these requirements.

Written gifts:

  • are easily slotted into the class writing program
  • provide opportunities for teaching and learning writing skills
  • encourage creativity
  • are gifts from the heart
  • are unique and personalised for each mother or carer
  • become treasures that never wear out and are easy to keep
  • require little to no additional purchases or expenditure on the part of the teacher

Start with discussion

The best preparation for writing is discussion.

Discussion provides children with an opportunity to:

  • share ideas
  • be inspired by others’ ideas
  • decide what they wish to write and how they might express it
  • consider alternative recipients for their writing

Read books for inspiration

Many beautiful picture books celebrate mothers.

Reading aloud to children helps to:

  • Foster a love of books and language
  • Develop language and vocabulary
  • Stimulate ideas
  • Inspire creativity

A few of my favourite picture books about mothers are:

Continue reading: Classroom activities for celebrating Mother’s Day – readilearn

interview-with-jacqui-halpin-author-of-wheres-lucky

Interview with Jacqui Halpin author of Where’s Lucky? – readilearn

This week it is my great pleasure to welcome author Jacqui Halpin back to the blog. In this interview, Jacqui talks with us about her recently published picture book Where’s Lucky, the story of an orphaned joey and his road to recovery and release.

We previously met Jacqui in 2018 when she discussed her first picture book Parmesan, the Reluctant Racehorse. As we talked with Jacqui in that interview about her writing process, today we focus our discussion on her new book Where’s Lucky?

About Jacqui

Jacqui Halpin’s passion for children’s literature started when reading bedtime stories to her children. They outgrew their childhood books, but Jacqui never did. Jacqui writes picture books, junior fiction and middle-grade fiction. Her short stories appear in anthologies by Stringybark Publishing, Creative Kids Tales, and The School Magazine.

Her first picture book, Parmesan, the Reluctant Racehorse, illustrated by John Phillips, was published by Little Pink Dog Books in October 2017.

Where’s Lucky?, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini and published in April 2019, is her second picture book with Little Pink Dog Books.

While writing and editing, Jacqui loves to sip tea from fine china and eat copious amounts of chocolate. She also has a love of bookshops and should never be allowed to enter the children’s book section with a credit card in her possession.

About Lucky

Lucky, the orphaned swamp wallaby, has a knack for getting into mischief at the wildlife rescue shelter where he lives.

Continue reading: Interview with Jacqui Halpin author of Where’s Lucky? – readilearn

remembering-anzac-day-in-the-classroom

Remembering: Anzac Day in the classroom – readilearn

Tomorrow, 25 April is Anzac Day, a day of national significance and a public holiday in both Australia and New Zealand. The day is the anniversary of the first major military campaign fought by Australian and New Zealand forces in World War I, but now commemorates all who have served in any military campaign or operation since. The acronym stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Ceremonies are held around the country and well-attended by past and present servicemen and women, their families and friends, and the general public.

While most children and teachers in both Australia and New Zealand are still on school holidays, they will undoubtedly discuss, and conduct ceremonies in recognition of ANZAC Day when school returns.

To assist your discussions, I remind you of Allison Paterson’s wonderful book Australia Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials, about which I interviewed Allison in November last year as part of the Books on Tour promotion.

About the book

The book explains, in a way that is detailed but accessible for a young audience, the origins and significance of both Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. Explanations of the traditions and symbols ensure that children understand why it is important to observe these historical events and why we should never forget those who fought for our country and those who keep us safe today.

Here are some reminders of Allison’s book:

Continue reading: Remembering: Anzac Day in the classroom – readilearn

a flash fiction story about a mouse

What’s a mouse got to do with it?

A furry mouse or a magic mouse? Which do you prefer?

This week, Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch got herself a new computer with a new mouse. She thinks it’s a magic mouse. I hope it is.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - mouse

In her excitement, she put out the challenge to writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a mouse. It can be real, imagined, electronic or whiskered. Go where the prompt leads!

Mice feature prominently in stories, poems and songs for children.

Very young children learn the nursery rhymes Hickory Dickory Dock and Three Blind Mice.

Rose Fyleman’s poem about Mice is always popular for children to learn and recite in school.

There is the fable about The Lion and the Mouse, the story of The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse and the more recent The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.

As a child, I enjoyed the song Windmill in Old Amsterdam. Perhaps you remember it too?

But I think my favourite mouse story is that of Possum Magic, the classic picture book by Mem Fox. I’m not referring to the picture book itself, but the story of how it came to be.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

Mem shares some of the goss on her site. You see, Hush started life as an invisible mouse in an assignment Mem produced as part of a course in children’s literature. She was awarded a high distinction for the story and, over the next five years, sent it off to nine different publishers. Each time the story came back.

While Mem found the rejections disheartening, she was encouraged by family and friends who believed in her story. So, she sent it off again, and the tenth publisher asked her to “cut the story by two thirds, re-write it more lyrically, make it even more Australian and change the mice to a cuddly Australian animal. “

Mem did as requested, changed the mice to possums, and so Possum Magic was born. The book was published in 1983 and remains one of the most popular and best-selling picture books in Australia. (While not mentioned on the site, I seem to remember reading that the book had almost 30 rewrites!)

When I first heard this story of Possum Magic, I was younger than Mem was when the book was published. The story inspired me and encouraged me to hope. I loved Mem’s yet attitude (though I didn’t yet know it as that), her belief in her story, persistence in pursuing its publication and willingness to learn from others. Without those marvellous qualities, Possum Magic may never have seen the light of day. It may have languished in the bottom of a drawer somewhere with other forgotten manuscripts.

How many manuscripts do you need to take out, dust off, and send on their way?

Here’s my little story in response to Charli’s challenge this week. I hope you like it.

A Mouse Backfires

“Eek!“ shrieked Granny, toppling back on the chair, arms and legs flailing.

“Thwunk!” Her head struck the wall, silencing the children’s sniggers.

Granny slumped motionless, eyes closed, tongue lolling from her slack jaw.

Barney gaped. “D’ya, d’ya think she’s dead?”

“Don’t be silly,” admonished Eliza, older and wiser. “She couldn’t be. Could she?”

The children tiptoed closer.

“What if she wakes up?”

“What if she doesn’t?”

“I’ll check her pulse,” mouthed Eliza.

Suddenly, Granny jolted upright, eyes staring blankly.

The children gasped.

“Gotcha!” laughed Granny. “But that is a clever mouse.”

“How did you —?”

Granny winked. “Granny knows.”

Thank you blog post

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

 

interview with author Wenda Shurety about her picture book Eva's Imagination

Interview with author Wenda Shurety – Readilearn

This week, it is my pleasure to introduce you to author Wenda Shurety as she discusses her new picture book Eva’s Imagination. I especially enjoy Wenda’s book for its focus on imagination, something I consider very important to encourage in young children. Without imagination, we are unable to see beyond what is and have little chance of progress being made.

About Wenda

Wenda grew up in the beautiful county of Norfolk in England and now resides in Brisbane with her supportive husband, cheeky daughter and two rescue dogs. Wenda loves to write children’s stories with heart; whether it involves diversity, science or the magical world of the imagination.

About Eva’s Imagination

Eva doesn’t know what an imagination is. With the help of her dog Chops, Eva goes on a hunt to find it. Eva’s Imagination is a delightful story about the power of the imagination that aims to inspire young children to find adventure in their surroundings rather than from screens.

Now let’s meet Wenda.

The interview

Continue reading: Interview with author Wenda Shurety – Readilearn

Beach adventures and sea mist

Beach adventures and sea mist

Growing up near the beach

Beach adventures were a big part of my childhood. I spent many long days swimming, sunbaking and exploring with friends and siblings at the beach no more than 500 metres from home. Generally, the instruction was to be home by tea time so, on our long summer holidays, we could spend as much time on the beach as we liked.

It wasn’t the most beautiful of beaches. The sand was coarse and yellow and the shore rocky in places. The water was often filled with jellyfish and seaweed. The narrow beach was edged by tall red cliffs which prompted Captain James Cook to name the area Redcliffe when he passed by in 1770. But we loved it anyway.

There were huge cotton trees, as perfect for climbing as the red cliffs were for scaling, and a playground with swings and slides, many of which are no longer considered child-safe. But we survived.

We’d explore the rocks for sea life, avoiding the jellyfish and seaweed as best we could, both in and out of the water. We’d play in the water and on the sand and lie on our towels talking, laughing and dreaming of whatever we did as children back then.

Sun safety

It may sound idyllic and perhaps it was, though to us, it just was. Most of us are now paying for those long days at the beach with sun damaged skin. If anyone was aware of the dangers of being too long in the sun back then, we certainly weren’t. We considered a bad dose of sunburn as nothing more than inconvenient and we took turns to peel layers of skin off each other’s backs when the blisters burst.

Nowadays, my beach adventures are mostly confined to observations of sparkling white sands and perfect blue water from a shady deck with a cool drink in hand. However, I may venture out for a stroll in the late afternoon when the sun’s light has dimmed, leaving the water and sky to meet and greet in shades of pink and lilac.

Our Australian culture has a love-hate relationship with the beach and sunshine. At the first hint of warm summer weather, we’ll be told it’s a great day for the beach and we’ll be presented with images of beaches crowded with sunbathers. On another occasion, we’ll be advised to stay out of the sun and avoid the damage to our skin. Queensland is, after all, the skin cancer capital of the world. I’ve never figured out why we don’t get a more sensible approach that combines enjoyment with safety.

But let’s not dwell too long on the negatives. Hopefully now with better education and the availability of protective products, the younger generation will not be so nonchalant about time spent in the sun.

A beach excursion

A beach excursion, whether with school or family, presents as many opportunities for learning as it does for fun. There are phenomena to inspire wonder and stimulate curiosity, and countless questions to ask and answers to discover; for example,

Ten beach-inspired questions

  • What makes the waves?
  • Why does the tide come in and out?
  • How is sand made?
  • Where do the shells come from?
  • Why does the sand squeak when we walk on it?
  • What lives in the ocean?
  • Why should we take our rubbish home with us or put it in a bin?
  • How do fish breathe?
  • What made these tracks on the sand?
  • My sandcastle was here this morning. What happened to it?

Some answers can be discovered through investigation and exploration at the beach. Others require research.

Three fun beach activities that involve learning

Shells are not only fun to collect, they are great for sorting and counting, measuring and making, creating patterns and trading.

Fish might be fun to catch (for some); but they can also be identified, measured and weighed. Children can research the different types of fish and regulations for catching them.

Photographs provide a great record of beach adventures. Children can be encouraged to compile them and write a recount or report about the outing.

And of course, there are always wonderful books to read about the beach; such as:

Ten beach or ocean themed picture books

The Magic Beach by Alison Lester

Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker

Circle by Jeannie Baker

The Hidden Forest by Jeannie Baker

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft

Coral Sea Dreaming by Kim Michelle Toft

Neptune’s Nursery by Kim Michelle Toft

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Beach-inspired flash fiction

Charli Mills's flash fiction challenge at the Carrot Ranch

I was taken back to the beach this week by the challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to  In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist. How does it create an environment for a story? It can set the stage or take the stage. Go where the prompt leads.

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Canned Sea Mist

No more than a hint of sea spray and she was flown back on wings of joy to carefree childhood days frolicking in the shallows, basking on golden sands, fossicking for hints of life in rockpools and amassing precious collections of shells and other treasures arranged for her pleasure by the tide. Lulled by a gentle breeze and waves whispering a heart’s rhythm, she dozed, uninterrupted by seagulls squawking, murmured conversations, hushed laughter, or the shuffle of approaching and receding footsteps. As the sun glowed bright above, she sighed her last, now and forever one with the sea’s mist.

Thank you blog post

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