That’s what friends are for

At this time of year, minds and hearts turn to friends and family, and contemplations of what we can do to make the world a better place. When we think of global events, we may feel overwhelmed, wondering what possible effect our actions could have. But when we focus on our own circle, any positive difference we make can effect changes of which we may never be aware. That’s the ripple effect, and that’s what friends are for.

I belong to a very supportive online community whose encouragement helps to keep me going.

With my focus on education, particularly early childhood education, and their work mostly targeting adult audiences, I struggle to find ways of supporting them and their creative pursuits during the year, other than the usual shares on Twitter and Facebook.

However, come Christmas time, what’s to stop me doing a little more?

love of reading to young children in early childhood education

In a recent readilearn post, I acknowledged authors and illustrators of children’s literature whom I was fortunate enough to interview throughout the year. You can read that post here. I was also delighted to be invited by Christy Birmingham to write a guest post about them for her blog When Women Inspire.

SMAG Society of Mutual Admiration and Gratitude

In this post, I acknowledge and promote recent works published by my SMAG community; lovely people who support me both here and over at readilearn. SMAG is an acronym for Society of Mutual Appreciation and Gratitude. The community is open to anyone. All that is required is friendship. If you’d like to add the badge to your blog, I’d be honoured. If you’re not sure how to do so, you can find instructions here.

I know I won’t catch all my SMAGgers, but I’ll do my best. If I miss you, I apologise. Please add your details in the comments.

I hope as you read through my list your will find some books to add to your own collection or to gift to another for Christmas, or holiday, or anytime reading.

Carrot Ranch

My first acknowledgement goes to Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

Participation in the Carrot Ranch weekly flash fiction challenges inspires many of the posts shared here. The support of Charli, Lead Buckaroo, and the team of Rough Writers has been a constant source of encouragement.

Congress of Rough Writers Anthology Vol 1

While we eagerly await the publication of Charli’s two novels-in-progress, she has compiled an anthology of flash fiction submitted to the weekly prompts. The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Volume 1 will be available soon. I am rather delighted to say that some of my writing features in the Anthology. (Check out books by other Rough Writers featured on the Books page.)

Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin's books

I very much enjoyed Anne Goodwin’s debut novel Sugar and Snails, and was not disappointed with her second novel Underneath, released earlier this year. Anne is also a prolific writer of short stories, many of which are available from her website. An anthology (Annethology) will be available soon. I’ve yet to read a story of Anne’s I didn’t like.

Sarah Brentyn

Sarah Brentyn's books

Sarah is a micro-fiction expert. She packs a whole lot of story into just a few words. I described her first book Hinting at Shadows as a box of chocolates – bite-sized pieces of dark delight; once you’ve tasted you can’t stop! Her second anthology On the Edge of a Raindrop, just released, holds equal promise.

Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle's books

If you haven’t yet checked out Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate Books you really must. Robbie’s unique style of illustrating her stories with fondant creations will make your mouth water.

The Sir Chocolate Books series of stories were written by Robbie and her son Michael. The rhyming stories are supplemented by the inclusion of recipes and links to YouTube videos.

Debby Gies

Debby Gies books

Debby Gies writes memoir; stories from her life and her heart; stories that will resonate with us, inspire us, make us laugh, and make us cry. When I read Have Bags Will Travel, I couldn’t believe how much of my experience she was sharing.

Debby has numerous books in her collection, including her new release Twenty Years: After “I Do. I’m sure you’ll find at least one to take your fancy.

Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham Versions of the Self

Christy Birmingham’s book of poems Versions of the Self is an exploration of the emotions experienced in relationships and the personal growth that occurs through them.

D. Avery

D. Avery Chicken Shift For the Girls

D. Avery’s books of poems make excellent reading. Chicken Shift combines philosophy, humour and utter nonsense by contemplating answers to the old riddle “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Who would have thought there could be so many responses? – Only D.

For the girls explores responses to a diagnosis of breast cancer and what it means personally and to others. It’s a must read for anyone whose life has been touched by cancer. There are few of  us who haven’t supported a loved one as they work through their emotional, as well as physical, response.

Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin's books

Sally Cronin is a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her most recent publication What’s in a Name? Stories of Life and Romance Volume 2 is a book of short stories in which she explores why we find the names of some people memorable.

Sally is also an amazing support for writers and all things writing. I was delighted to be recently featured in her series Posts from my Archives here and here. Thank you, Sally.

Susan Scott

Susan Scott Aging and Becoming

This year Susan Scott published Aging and Becoming – A Reflective Inquiry, which she cowrote with Susan E. Schwartz. The Susans reflect on life and its effects on the physical, mental and emotional experience as we age. Throughout the year, Susan shared excerpts on her lovely Garden of Eden blog.

Not just books

Pauline King has many lovely crafts and artworks for sale in her Contented Crafter’s Gift Shop.

Robin Etter-Cleave plays Notes from Squire Street on her melodic alto flute.

For an early childhood teacher, a readilearn subscription makes a thoughtful gift. Contact me for details.

For other suggestions, check out last year’s list here.

Apologies again if I have missed your current publications. Please know that each of you is greatly appreciated. The purpose of writing is to connect with readers. If you “like” or share a post, that is wonderful. If you leave a comment and engage in conversation, that is even better still. Thank you.

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

Five of the best

Children's books tag

Warning! I’ve been tagged. It can be contagious.

Kids’ Storyworld tagged me and asked me to join in. I don’t normally do this but I’m making an exception. How could I not – it’s about children’s books.

I’m required to nominate my top five children’s books, then nominate another five people to join in!

Rules:

  1. Thank whoever’s nominated you and share their blog link.
  2. Let us know your top 5 children’s books
  3. Nominate 5 people to do the same
  4. Let your nominees know you nominated them

Right, let’s get to it.

  1. Thank you, Kids’ Storyworld.
  2. Top 5 children’s books. Now this is going to be hard. Only five! But you know, when I interview authors and illustrators for the readilearn interview series, I ask them for just one favourite. Five has to be easier, right; so, I can’t complain.

These are five of my favourite children’s books

The BFG by Roald Dahl

The BFG by Roald Dahl – I love the humour, and love to read it aloud to children. It is such fun.

The Iron Man Ted Hughes

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes – I love the poetry of language and the way the story builds. It is also a perfect read aloud.

Whoever You Are Mem Fox

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox – I love the message: although we are diverse we share a common humanity.

One Less Fish Kim Michelle Toft

One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft – This was the first of Kim’s books I read. I love the message about protecting the natural environment and adore her silk paintings that illustrate the book.

Heidi Johanna SpyriInside Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Heidi by Johanna Spyri – I received a beautiful illustrated edition of this book from Santa (inscribed by my Mum) when I was nine years old. I remember waking up to find it at the foot of my bed and watching the title and cover picture appear as day dawned. I read and re-read it. I still own it. It has to be on my list, doesn’t it?

Do I really have to stop at five?

  1. Nominating five people to share their favourite five children’s books is fairly easy. I know many who write about children’s books, though some of them have already been nominated, so I can’t nominate them again.

You are invited

Maybe you don’t write about children’s books but would like to share your favourites anyway. Please consider this invitation inclusion. If you would like to join in, please do.

Alternatively, if you are one of the people I nominate, and you’d rather not join in, or have already been nominated, it’s okay to decline.

Here are my five:

Robbie Cheadle blogs at Robbie’s Inspiration and writes the Sir Chocolate Books. I wonder if she’ll nominate her own books. Why not?

Patricia Tilton blogs at Children’s Books Heal where she reviews picture books that she believes will help children through tough times. Patricia reads so widely, I think she’ll have more trouble than I with this one. (Sorry, Patricia.)

Vanessa Ryan blogs at Educate.Empower and especially promotes books about the environment and sustainability. I wonder if Vanessa’s choices will reflect those interests.

Jennie Fitskee blogs at A Teacher’s Reflections with inspirational posts about educating young children. She often shares books she reads aloud with her little ones. What will she share with us?

Mary Wade blogs at HonorsGradU sharing a lot of good sense and great ideas for teachers and parents. I’m interested to see what will influence her book choices.

  1. I’ll definitely let the nominees know they’ve been tagged.

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

love of reading to young children in early childhood education

Readilearn: Wrapping up a year of books – the gift of reading

The love of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.

Reading is empowering, and a book is a gift that continues to give, long after the occasion has past. It’s effects cannot always be measured.

To help you decide which books to give to whom for Christmas, I thought I’d make your task a little easier by reminding you of the lovely books I shared throughout the year in interviews with their authors and illustrators.

Below you will find a list the books and their authors and illustrators. I also include links to

  • the interview on the blog
  • the interview in the Author or Illustrator Spotlight
  • the creative’s website
  • a place where the book may be purchased.

Many of these authors and illustrators have more than one book, some for readers in other age groups, including adult, so please check out their websites for additional information.

At the conclusion of the post, I list other books read and enjoyed. Sadly, there’s just not enough time for all the interviews I’d love to do.

Of course, the list is not exhaustive. These are just a few suggestions to get you started. Enjoy!

Continue reading at:  Readilearn: Wrapping up a year of books – the gift of reading

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives. The Accidental Home Schooler by Norah Colvin

I’m so delighted to share this post on Sally Cronin’s lovely Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life blog. It allowed me to see my thoughts from a completely different angle. Please pop over to read and let me know what you think.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

The second post in the series by educator Norah Colvin and this week Norah shares a concept that she had to offer an alternative to the government run schooling on offer in her area.

The Accidental Home Schooler by Norah Colvin

In a previous post “To school or not to school” I discussed thoughts I had pondered and issues I had considered when deciding the future education of my daughter.

Although the main focus of that article was whether to school or not, home education was not only not my first choice, but not even a consideration.

The merest hint of an idea of starting my own school had niggled away in the back of my thoughts for a long time. More than ten years before that article was written, I was in college studying the teaching of literacy when the idea popped into conscious thought. In response to an…

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Be Inspired by Women Writers and Illustrators

I am very honoured to be invited to write a guest post for Christy Birmingham to feature on her lovely blog When Women Inspire.
I wrote about the inspirational female authors and illustrators I interviewed this year.
Please pop over to Christy’s blog to read the full post.

When Women Inspire

Today I proudly welcome educator and writer Norah Colvin here to guest post. I was delighted when she accepted my offer to visit and chat about some of the women she has highlighted on her website so far in their roles as writers and illustrators for children’s books. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did upon receiving it. Norah, the floor is yours.

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Winner of Flash Fiction Contest #4

What fabulous entries in Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #4 scars – how difficult it must have been to choose one winner. Well done, everyone!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Scars

By Irene Waters

During October, the Rodeo, which was the brain child of Charli Mills from Carrot Ranch, gave us a wonderful opportunity to put ourselves outside our comfort zones by writing different forms and genres. Personally, I found it difficult, challenging but always fun and judging by the number of repeat entries, so did many others.

It was a pleasure to lead the fourth contest and come up with a topic and judging criteria. The topic – Scars – was inspired by a quote by Stephen King – whose book on writing should be read, I believe, by all aspiring writers. He wrote “Writers remember everything … especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you…

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Mr Potato Head

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Five a DayEvery week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenges writers to respond to a prompt with 99-word flash fiction. The prompts provide an opportunity to practice craft while having a little fun in a supportive writing community. Although participation is voluntary and never prescribed, the benefits to mind and spirit equal the benefits to physical health by the five-a-day servings of fruit and vegetables recommended by many health departments around the world.

 

This week, Charli challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Five a Day. It does not have to be five servings of fruits and vegetables. What is needed five times a day? Have fun with what pops to mind for the prompt.

It’s a good thing Charli not only allows, but encourages, writers to “Go where the prompt leads”, as I’m not always satisfied with the obvious, literal interpretation. My mind jumps about like a rabbit in a vegetable patch, trying out different thoughts and ideas.

While Charli was talking about the five serves of fruit and vegetables as day for our physical health, I wondered about essentials for mental health that help us navigate each day.

sweet hearts

Mental health

How about a daily dose of these?

  • Self-worth – a sense of being valued, of having the right to occupy space in the world
  • Confidence – a willingness to approach tasks and face what life brings
  • Trust – an ability to trust others and feel safe in one’s environment
  • Empathy – making connections with others on a deep level
  • Compassion – giving and accepting kindness, contributing to a positive community and environment

What would you add?

I also wondered about the essentials for nurturing children’s growth and development. What would those five servings a day be?

girl child dancing

Children’s needs

First and foremost, children need to be loved and to have their physical needs met; for example food, water and warmth. They are givens.

Then to have their minds stimulated, every day, they need adults to:

  • Talk with them
  • Read to them
  • Sing songs with them
  • Play with them, and
  • Laugh with them.

What would you add?

world earth map

The world’s needs

And what about for the world, what do we all need?

  • Friendship
  • Understanding
  • Tolerance
  • Empathy
  • Peace

What would you add?

Why don’t children like vegetables?

But let’s get back to Charli’s five, and children. Sometimes getting children to eat their five serves of fruit and vegetables a day can be difficult. While fruit is often enjoyed, vegetables are frequently rejected. Researchers have investigated reasons for children’s refusal to eat vegetables and found these reasons (reported here and here):

  • Children burn lots of energy and need foods that are high in calories – vegetables aren’t.
  • Children are generally more sensitive to bitter tastes, which are often nature’s warning of toxicity.
  • Children have not yet learned through repeated taste tests and observations that vegetables are safe to eat.
  • Children associate vegetables with unpleasant situations (parental nagging) and associate other “treats” with more pleasant situations.

vegetables

How to get your children to eat vegetables

Suggestions include:

  • Reduce the natural bitterness by adding salt, sugar and other flavours
  • Serve small amounts of vegetables with other foods familiar to children
  • Present vegetables in different ways and repeated times
  • Avoid using food as reward or punishment and don’t nag

Of course, there are the old camouflage tricks – dress them up like a funny face – or play games like the “aeroplane” spoon trying to land food in the mouth.

What works for you?

Thanks Pixabay!

Thinking about the relevance of bitterness to toxicity and food refusal in children got me thinking about dementia patients who refuse food, believing it to be poisoned. I did a quick internet search (not very thorough) but could see only articles in which food refusal was linked to paranoia.

I wonder, with their changing realities and sensitivities, could they become more sensitive to certain tastes? Could taste contribute as much as the paranoia. Many would find it no easier to express than children. I’m certainly no expert, and it’s an uneducated thought, but it’s the thought that’s led me to my flash fiction response. I hope you enjoy it.

Mr Potato Head

Jamie’s head shook, and his bottom lip protruded as tears pooled.

Mum sighed.

“But you love Mr Potato Head,” coaxed Dad.

Jamie lowered his eyes and pushed the plate away. This was not Mr Potato – just a stupid face made from yukky stuff.

Dad moved it back. “Just a little try,” he urged. Mum watched.

Jamie refused.

Jamie visited at meal time. Mum was in tears. “He won’t eat anything.”

Jamie considered the unappetising mush. “Who would?” he thought, as he replaced the cover and opened dessert.

“May as well enjoy what you can,” he said. Dad smiled.

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