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.
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.
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
“Can I help?”
The two girls dug side by side. Then D. broke the silence, “What’re we digging?”
“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 for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
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.
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:
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 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 bookGo Away, Worry Monster!
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.
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.
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 for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
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.
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:
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 for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
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.
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: