Tag Archives: books

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

Plant the seeds of literacy

About this time last year, I shared my excitement when Jackie French was recognised for her “long and distinguished career as a beloved children’s author” as Senior Australian of the Year. At the time she was halfway through her two-year role as Australian’s Children’s Laureate with the task of promoting the importance and transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians.

If-you-want-intelligent children

Later in the year, in a series of posts celebrating Australian picture books, I shared more of Jackie’s work.

jackie french's books

Now the roles of Children’s Laureate and Senior Australian of the Year have been passed to others. Jackie has obviously been asked what she is now going to do with all her “free” time. In her newsletter she says, “if one more person says ‘now you can relax’ if (sic) will bite them like a wombat, the snappish kind” because it means that work is finished, which it isn’t. I feel exactly the same way when people ask me about my retirement, though I fear Jackie and I work at a very different pace and the occupation of my time may seem like retirement in comparison to hers.

While an author may not have received the top recognition as Australian of the Year 2016, three advocates of children’s literature each became a Member of the Order of Australia:

Jackie French for significant service to literature as an author of children’s books, and as an advocate for improved youth literacy’.

Ann James for ‘significant service to children’s literature as an author and illustrator and through advocacy roles with literacy and professional bodies’.

Ann Haddon for significant services to children’s literature, as a fundraiser and supporter of Indigenous literacy, and to professional organisations’.

It is wonderful to see the recognition given to authors, and to the importance of reading.

lucy_goosey_cover_lowres

One of my favourite books, illustrated by Ann James is Lucy Goosey. It is a beautiful story, written by Margaret Wild, about the love between mother and child. I can’t read it all the way through without crying. But in a good way. It is very touching.

Ann talks about illustrating the story here:

I’m also pleased to say that I have an original Ann James, done for Bec at a literary festival many years ago, hanging on my wall.

Ann James

In her Senior Australian of the Year Valedictory Speech, Jackie French says,

“You never know what seeds you plant will grow; if they will keep growing; who will take them and tend them. But there is one thing I have learned in my 62 years: keep planting seeds.

Jackie French - keep planting seeds

 Never think: I am 62 and still have not achieved world peace, universal tolerance and justice, or even an Australia where every single child is given the chance to learn to read.

Change is never fast enough for any person of goodwill.

A rain drop is just a rain drop. But together we are a flood.  Together we have changed the world.

Jackie french - raindrops

She concludes her speech with these words:

“Let us give our children role models who do not, will not despair, no matter how long it takes to change the world. And let us never surrender, no matter how tired we are, or how long it takes. Because with these weapons we shape the future of our planet.”

I like her words of hope. She is a meliorist. But even more than that, she is an active meliorist. She puts her words into action. She may no longer carry the title of Children’s Laureate or Australian of the Year, but her advocacy doesn’t stop.

Thank you

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Once upon a time … the power of story

 

Alan Rickman

In stories we find our hopes, our dreams, our inspirations, and our fears.  In stories our imaginations take flight as we contemplate ideas never before encountered.  Stories help us figure out the world and our place in it. We come to understand the stories of others and develop compassion and empathy. We find ways of confronting our fears in safety. We escape the ordinariness of the everyday with dreams as much of the impossible as the possible.

The love of reading is gift

Stories can be shared orally, in print, or through a variety of media. All are valid and valuable sources, but sharing the stories presented in books is especially important to the development of young children, and anything that can put books into the hearts and hands of children is to be encouraged. The ability to read is empowering and the love of books is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child. Not only can reading change the life of an individual, it can improve the lives of many through education.

This week I read a post by Paul Thomas  on his blog the becoming radical. In this post, entitled “Please—a little less love, and a little more common decency. Paul said,

“If we cannot change the world (and I suspect we can’t), we can provide all children the sorts of environments all children deserve in their school day—environments of kindness, compassion, safety, and challenges.”

I think Paul meant that we can’t change the whole world, that would be a rather daunting task, but the provisions mentioned are vital and change the lives of individuals in important ways, just as reading does. I like to think of changing the world with one thought, one word, one action at a time, or as Mem Fox says, also quoted in my post The magic effect – why children need books,

“. . . let’s get on and change the world, one page at a time.”

malala

Another post I read this week was by Michelle Eastman Calling all Book Lovers and Authors to make a Difference to a Child in Need on her blog Michelle Eastman’s Books. In that post Michelle explains that, last year, she initiated a project “MARCHing books to Kids”. The purpose of this project is to raise awareness of and provide books for children of incarcerated parents. Michelle goes on to say,

“I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have picture books read to him/her and to own their very own books. “

I agree with her of course and consider her project to be very worthwhile. It reminds me of another very worthwhile program mentioned by Caroline Lodge, who blogs at Book Word, about providing books to prisoners. Both of these projects have the ability to change lives, to empower people and by so doing, change the world, not only their world.

As well as changing lives, stories influence our attitudes. If they encourage feelings of kindness and compassion, as Paul Thomas says, that may be a good thing.  But what of the stereotypes that seem so pervasive? How many stories have you read about princesses in dire circumstances waiting to be rescued by handsome princes or knights in shining armour who must slay a dragon in doing so? What effect do these stories have upon the developing self-image of a young girl or boy? It is important to teach children to think critically about the stories they read, and about the portrayal of characters and their attitudes, especially stereotypes.

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

But that is in reading stories. What of writing stories? Writing stories, whether factual accounts or imagined events, is also empowering. In writing stories children, and adults, can express and explore their hopes, dreams, inspirations, and fears.  In writing stories their imaginations take flight as they contemplate ideas never before encountered.  Writing stories helps us figure out the world and our place in it.

In her post Storytelling as Personal Metaphor Anne Goodwin who blogs at Annecdotal raised the question of how much of the self is revealed in fiction.

Paula Reed Nancarrow, whose blog tagline is Essays, Stories, Ephemera, talked about working towards an understanding of contentment: what it is and how it is experienced; in her post Enough Already: Exploring the Art of Contentment,

Contentment is something that I too wonder about, and am especially perplexed by the need to push myself into new territory and new learning when others are content to sit back and watch the clouds pass by. Why are there so many things I feel I must do? Pretty soon I’ll be gone and it won’t matter a hoot. I have sometimes thought that if I were to write a fictionalised account of my life I would begin with the words She was an unremarkable woman”.

I have connected these thoughts: about the power of story to change lives, the revelation of self in fiction and the quest for contentment; to write my response to the one who initiated my thinking about stories this week, Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Communications with her flash fiction challenge to in 99 words (no more, no less) begin a story with, “Once upon a time …”  I’d love to know what you think.

Contentment

Once upon a time there was an ordinary girl who lived an ordinary life with her ordinary family. She did all the ordinary things that others did and dreamed of nothing else. Each day followed one after the other with little difference. There was no magic. There were no fairies, and there were no dragons to slay. She just did what she had to do and took little notice of others doing the same. Strangely enough she was content for, from somewhere deep within, she knew that this ordinary life was but preparation for the extraordinariness of the next.

Monarch butterfly

Thank you

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Life — A “choose your own” adventure?

This morning Hub mentioned a book he had read about and asked if I had heard of the author Wayne Dyer. “Of course,” I replied and proceeded to explain that I had read many of Dyer’s books, had gone to a seminar to hear him speak and had been swept off my feet by accompanying speaker Deepak Chopra. I mentioned that a favourite book of his was marked now by a gap on my shelves, a phenomena recently mentioned by both Caroline Lodge, who blogs at book word and talked about missing books, and Anne Goodwin, who blogs at annethology and talked about the dilemma of lending books.

Wayne Dyer

I think there may be more than one missing from my self!

Deepak Chopra

I think. looking at these titles, its time for some re-reading!

This favourite book, read and lent many times, What Do You Really Want for Your Children? was very influential in shaping the way I parented and taught. It is one of a few books that I read and re-read with a highlighter and sticky notes. There was much in it for me to get my head around. While I am unable to now refer to it for its wisdom, one of the things that I remember most was a hypothetical letter from a child thanking parents for the way they had parented. I considered it a letter any parent would love to receive, personalised of course.

As often happens, Hub got the long (love) story as it tumbled out in a torrent of reminiscences and of joys in discovering inspiring minds. When I paused long enough to take a breath, I remembered to ask about the book to which he referred. He said it was about the recollections of past lives as told by young children, of children choosing their parents and of being in heaven.  Later research informs me that the book is Memories of Heaven, subtitledChildren’s astounding recollections of the time before they came to Earth.

I had previously, many years ago, heard the suggestion that children choose their parents. I like to think (though don’t believe) that my children chose me, and often thank them for doing so. They have taught me a lot about life. I am a strong believer in the wisdom of young children: if we are attentive and take the time to observe and listen, we can learn much from them. Sometimes it seems they enter the world with wisdom but “we” do our best to obliterate it as quickly as we can.

As it is wont to do, my thinking followed a circuitous path with if, buts, maybes and questions. Children choosing parents may be a nice idea; but what of the children living in poverty, with famine, and in war-torn areas? Why would anyone choose those conditions?

That question led me through my basic understanding of the Buddhist philosophy in relation to karma and rebirth. I have read a few books on the subject but don’t profess to have any real knowledge. I don’t like to think that these situations may be endured as the result of bad karma from a previous life, and am not even sure if they would be viewed that way in Buddhist thinking. Perhaps these situations could be an improvement on the previous, a step to the next? Maybe that’s not so unpleasant a thought.

Dalai LamaTibetan book of living and dying

I like the idea of improvement, of always learning, of striving for perfection and enlightenment. It is probably one of the reasons that the “yet” thinking of a growth mindset fits nicely into my philosophy. It explains why one of my favourite books (I almost wrote “of all time” – what would that say about me and my past lives?) is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, who dedicated the book “To the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all”.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Slide2

I had always thought that being a bird would be pretty amazing with the freedom to fly above the world and look down upon its beauty. Maybe this is one reason Jonathan’s story appealed to me. Perhaps it explains the analogy of flight in my poem about education. Maybe it’s why I love to sit at an airplane’s window and marvel at the scenes below.

education-is-2

And so my thoughts meandered, drifting through clouds and pockets of time, until they were suddenly interrupted by the voice of the child next door singing, “Let it go”.

I think those three words “Let it go” may be the only ones that anyone sings along with, but the message of the song is powerful: to let go of insecurities and realise the potential within; don’t care “what they’re going to say” and acknowledge that “It’s time to see what I can do”.

Slide1

The message is not unlike that of Jonathan Seagull: to stretch beyond the limits imposed by others and their labels and to attain self-realisation. It is a journey undertaken by most thinking people, as demonstrated by the identity crisis that has befallen Sarah Brentyn who blogs at Lemon Shark. What is that if not a call for release from chains that may bind to enable the freedom for flight?

The end of a year is generally a time for reflecting on what has been achieved and what is yet to be. Perhaps it is also a time for letting go in preparation for what lies ahead.

Slide3

I hope that, as you reflect, you are happy with what you have achieved, with where you are, and with the path that lies ahead. I wish you a safe, fun and fruitful journey along the “road to find out”.

I have enjoyed your company this year and appreciate your feedback. The conversations are what keep me going, growing and learning. Thank you. I look forward to the journey continuing.

Thank you

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

 

 

@aussietony’s 20 gift suggestions for #life-long learning

Wrapped in living

Today I share with you a book by a passionate educator and life-long learner, Tony Ryan. I have shared material by Tony before. Here I wrote about his book The Ripple Effect, here I wrote about his Thinkers Keys, and about his seminar on Future-Proofing Kids here. In this post I nominated him as an educator I find inspiring.

The book, Wrapped in Living! 20 Gifts for Creating Passion in Your Life! is now in its twentieth year but has lost no relevance with the passing years. Its gifts are perennial and I find myself dipping back into it for reminders from time to time. With one of the busiest gift-giving times just around the corner you may consider the book as a gift for yourself or for someone else, or perhaps taking one or some of the ideas to make a gift of wishes.

Wrapped in Living is described as

A highly innovative approach to effective living and learning. Twenty special metaphorical gifts for re-discovering passion in life. Each of the gifts represents a vital principle for creating enthusiasm in life-long learning experiences. Full of entertaining stories and quotes.”

The gifts include such things as A Set of Sparklers to “unleash your imagination”; A Tapestry to “Become a life-long learner”; A Potplant to “create a peaceful environment”; A Hammock to “learn to relax; and An Hourglass to “take your time”. There are gifts for setting goals, for telling stories, for listening, for finding the magic in the everyday, and for knowing that you can make a difference, and more.

Tony describes each metaphorical gift, explains why it is important, and suggests how it might inspire you, how you might implement the gift in your daily life. He includes stories and quotes that add meaning and inspiration. For example I opened the book to a page at random and found a story by Anthony De Mello about a man sitting in a marketplace strumming one note on his guitar. A crowd gathered. Soon he was asked why he didn’t vary his playing like other musicians do. His response: Those fools. They’re searching for the right note. I’ve already found it.”

Tony’s message from this:

“You do not always have to search elsewhere for the information that you require. It already may be within you.”

tapestry

Tony’s third gift, a tapestry, “offers a perspective from start to finish, and reminds you that you must Become A Life-Long Learner.

He says,

“Many famous tapestries display a long–term historical perspective on different cultures. They allow you to view events from beginning to end. You also should look at yourself in the same way. Think of life as a learning journey from start to finish. You are born to learn, and you should continue to learn until the day you die.”

jigsaw

Tony’s tenth gift is a jigsaw to “encourage you to Look For The Big Picture”.

He says,

“When you play with a jigsaw, you often use two strategies to finish the puzzle. The first is to assemble the parts. The second is to view the cover of the jigsaw packet. Your life needs both of these approaches, namely, to place the parts together, and also to look for the big picture.”

globe

The final gift in Tony’s book is a very important one today when the problems around the world can seem insurmountable and overwhelming. It reminds us to look at what we can change rather than what we can’t; to find and focus on the positives, rather than seek out the negatives and allow them to destroy us; to focus on those things we have the power to influence.

It is a globe to “help you to Know That You Can Make A Difference”.

Tony says,

“When you look at your globe, you can see more easily that this beautiful planet is a single entity, rather than an infinite collection of people and problems. Suddenly the world does not appear quite so overwhelming. This can help you to believe that you actually can make a difference with your daily actions. In fact, because everything on this ONE planet is connected in mysterious and special ways, your actions can ripple out and benefit others around the world every day.”

starfish

He includes a story that takes place on a beach dotted with thousands of starfish which had been left stranded by the receding tide. A man was picking up the starfish one at a time and throwing them back into the sea. A passer-by questioned what he was doing and remarked that there were so many starfish he couldn’t possibly make a difference. As the man picked up one starfish and threw it into the water he replied,

“Made a difference to that one!”

As an individual we sometimes feel that we can’t make much difference to the world. But looking at it another way, we realise we can make a world of difference to another. How will you make a difference today? Tony has many suggestions in this book and other publications including The Ripple Effect.

Tony Ryan's 20 gifts

Which of these gifts have you received? Which would you like to receive? Which would you gift to another?

Thank you

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

A celebration of Australian picture books #6 — Jackie French

If-you-want-intelligent children

This post is the sixth in a series celebrating picture books by Australian authors. If you missed earlier posts, please follow these links to the introduction, Mem Fox, Kim Michelle Toft, Narelle Oliver and Jeannie Baker.

In this post I reintroduce you to Jackie French, prolific and well-known Australian author and advocate for literacy and the environment. She is currently the Australian Children’s Laureate with the task of promoting the importance and transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians. In January she received an Australian of the Year Award for her contribution to literacy. Jackie’s words from her acceptance speech “If you want intelligent children, give them a book” resonated with me.

You can listen to Jackie’s acceptance speech in its entirety here:

These are some of my favourite quotes from the speech:

Failure-is-not-an-option

A-book-can-change-the

There-is-no-such-thing

Jackie has written over 140 books and won more than 60 awards. I am not going to share all of Jackie’s books here; just a few of her picture books that I own. This complete(ish) list of her books indicates the range of genres in which Jackie writes. Although in Standing on the Shoulders of Giants by Mark Rifidi Jackie describes it differently. She says,

“People assume I write in different genres. From my point of view I don’t. Whether it’s history, ecology, or the fiction I’m writing about now, it’s all grounded in the way of life here and the landscape here.”

(Jackie lives a self-sufficient life in the Araluen valley on the edge of the Deua wilderness area.)

jackie french's books

These are the four of Jackie’s picture books that I currently own. I have read others and given others away as gifts. While these four are illustrated by Bruce Whatley, Bruce is not the only illustrator of her work.

2015-09-19 11.19.08

Diary of a Wombat is probably Jackie’s best known and most popular picture book. This is what Jackie says about it, as recorded in Standing on the Shoulders of Giants:

Diary of a Wombat isn’t fiction … (it) is pretty much a week in the life of Mothball, who is one of the wombats that got fed last night” 

The seeming simplicity of the text coupled with Bruce Whatley’s gorgeous illustrations make this book a joy to read, over and over.

In the book Mothball sleeps, eats, scratches, eats, sleeps, and easily trains humans to be “quite good pets”.

You can listen to Jackie read it here.

2015-09-19 11.16.36

A sequel to the Diary, Baby Wombat’s Week is pretty much a week in the life of Mothball’s baby. It is just as delightful and humorous as the original story with new adventures and escapades; but still lots of sleeping and eating.

There are two other books in the series: Wombat Goes to School and Christmas Wombat. The Secret World of Wombats is a non-fiction text exploring “everything you ever wanted to know about wombats.”

2015-09-19 11.15.56

Josephine Wants to Dance is a delightful story of a kangaroo who loved to dance but dreamed of dancing another way. One day the ballet came to town and Josephine decided that was how she wanted to dance. Though others discouraged her, Josephine was determined to give it a try. It is a lovely story of believing in yourself and following your dreams.

2015-09-19 11.18.32

Too Many Pears is another delightful and humorous story with illustrations that add interest and humour. (It reminds me a little of the battle Charli Mills had with gophers in her vegetable patch.)

Pamela, a cow, loves pears. She loves them straight from the tree, in pies, with ice cream … any way she can get them. Amy and her family have to figure out a way of stopping Pamela from eating all their pears. They do. But then Pamela spies the apples!

I am happy to recommend each of these books. They will not disappoint. Jackie’s text coupled with Bruce’s perfectly matched illustrations continue to delight during repeated readings.

Jackie’s website too is a treasure trove of interesting stuff. On her Kids’ Facts and Info for School Projects page she shares her writing process and a lot of other information that would be of interest to writers as well as to kids. She also has a page of Writing  Tips and Advice and a page about How to Get Kids Reading, topics close to my heart.

In addition to illustrating Jackie’s books, Bruce Whatley writes and illustrates books of his own as well as those of other authors. In a recent post I talked about drawing on the right side of your brain. In this video Bruce challenges everyone to have a go at drawing with their left hand. Is that engaging the right side of your brain?

I am very grateful to Sarah Brentyn, who blogs at Lemon Shark, for alerting me to Standing on the Shoulders of Giants by Mark Rifidi just in time for this post. Thank you Sarah and Mark. I’m certain I will be having more to say about Mark’s book in future posts. It is a great resource celebrating the work of 20 Australian picture book authors and illustrators.

In the final paragraph of her biography chapter in Mark’s book, Jackie says,

“The one thing you show readers by writing about history is not to be afraid of change. Tomorrow always is going to be different from yesterday. It always has been. But human beings are extraordinarily good survivors, superb adapters. We are very good at creating a sort of world that we want. Books are perhaps the most effective tool to help us find it.”

I like her thinking!

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

 

Five Photos Five Stories – Day one

For the love of books

This week I was surprised to be nominated by, writer extraordinaire, Geoff Le Pard in a Five Photos Five Stories challenge. Geoff blogs at TanGental where he shares numerous and beautiful photos of his garden, family, travels and adventures. He writes an eclectic assortment of prose and poetry, memoir and fiction, with content both challenging and humorous. He also posts at the speed of light with at least one post each day. I can understand why the challenge would appeal to Geoff.

I’m not like that. I tend to stick to my routine of two posts each week and write mainly expository text about education with a response to a flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills thrown in. I rarely write explanations of or stories about photos and mostly use photos to support and add interest to the page. Why would Geoff nominate me?

Well it seems Geoff must have known something about me that I didn’t, as I have decided to throw caution to the wind and join in the challenge.

The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

For my first photo I have chosen, and you won’t be surprised, books:

books

These are just a few of my favourites. As you can see I have chosen a range including picture books and chapter books for children and both fiction and non-fiction titles for adults. There are others that should have been there but I could not fit my entire collection into one photo!

Books have always been an important part of my life and I think a love of reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures. My love of books and reading is one of the reasons, if not THE reason I feel so passionately about education and the teaching of literacy. Sharing a learner’s excitement at becoming literate is both an honour and a joy. I have been privileged to share that excitement with many children during my teaching career, and of course with my own two children who both learned to read well before starting school.

I have written about the importance of reading many times before, including here, here, and here.

For this post, and for this photo, I will share ten totally random recollections of books and reading from my younger years.

I remember:

  • books as gifts for Christmas and birthdays
  • an expedition to the council library, a six-kilometre walk there and back, each Saturday afternoon for an armful of books to read during the week
  • being deaf to the world when totally absorbed in a book for hours on end (particularly so when there were jobs to be done)
  • the eagerness of wanting to get to the end of a book and the sadness and reaching the last page
  • the excitement of finding the next book in a series or by a favourite author
  • marvelling at words and phrases for the imagery or feelings they evoked
  • enjoying an author’s style and trying to emulate it by writing and writing and writing, and wishing to one day be an author too
  • the smell of new books
  • tracing the embossed lettering on the hardcover when the jacket was removed
  • being fiercely protective of my books and having a great dislike of seeing them torn or marked
  • the joy of ownership

And now I nominate the lovely Michelle James who blogs at Book Chat to take up this challenge if she so wishes. Her love of books is at least as great as my own!

Thank you

 

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.