Tag Archives: Picture books

Celebrating Book Week's Secret Power - Reading

Celebrating Book Week’s Secret Power — Reading – readilearn

The CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) Book Week kicks off tomorrow 17 August for a week of activities celebrating Australian Literature. Book Week is heralded by the announcement of the book awards on the third Friday in August at 12 noon.

The awards are presented to books in the following categories:

  • Older Readers
  • Younger Readers
  • Early Childhood
  • Picture Book
  • Eve Pownall (for information books)

(Click this link to see the Notables, a fine collection of books) from which the Short List was compiled and from which Winners were selected in each category.)

2019 Book Week Theme and Resources

The theme for this year’s Book Week is Reading is My Secret Power.

To celebrate, poet Mike Lucas has written a great poem. You can download a copy of Mike’s poem Reading is my Secret Power here.

The CBCA website provides these useful links to resources to help you celebrate Book Week.

Children’s Rights to Read

Reading may be a secret power, but it is also a superpower and a right of every child. Book Week is an appropriate time during which to reflect upon our classroom practices and consider how well they meet the International Literacy Association’s Children’s Rights to Read. (You can download and support the rights through this link.)

Continue reading: Celebrating Book Week’s Secret Power — Reading – readilearn


Lessons ready to teach critical thinking in early childhood classrooms – readilearn

Even young children in early childhood classrooms can be taught to think critically about material that is presented to them. Being able to discern the accuracy of what they read is increasingly important in this era of fake news.

In this post, I provide some suggestions with lessons ready to teach using children’s picture books. The types of questions and ideas can be applied to other books for checking the accuracy of information.

To assist in verification of information, children can be encouraged to ask and answer questions such as:

  • What do we already know?
  • Does this match what we already know?
  • What do we want to find out?
  • How can we find out?
  • How can we be sure the information is true?
  • Is it fact or is it fiction?

Children, and adults, need to be aware that misinformation, often cleverly disguised as fact, is available everywhere, including on the internet. Being able to navigate one’s way through it all is a very important skill, regardless of age. This article by Tech Teacher Jacqui Murray has some useful advice about Fake News or Fact? How do you tell?

We don’t need to present young children with fake news stories to teach them the skills of critical thinking. We can begin with discussions of stories and information we present to them each day.

Continue reading: Lessons ready to teach critical thinking in early childhood classrooms – Readilearn

Interview with Anne Donnelly author illustrator of Ori's Clean-Up

Interview with Anne Donnelly, author-illustrator – readilearn

With tomorrow 8 June World Oceans Day and World Environment Day just a few days ago on 5 June, there is no better time than now to introduce you to Anne Donnelly and her delightful picture book Ori’s Clean-up.

The aim of World Oceans Day is to celebrate, protect and conserve the world’s oceans. The 2019 theme Together we can protect and restore our ocean focuses on preventing plastic pollution.  With its environmental theme incorporating recycling and re-using, Anne’s book is a perfect fit.

About Anne Donnelly

Anne lives in Sydney with her husband, her two children and their new puppy that chews everything! She loves to be creative in all sorts of ways. She loves to read, write, craft and is a very animated storyteller. As a little girl, she used to draw on the underside of the kitchen table and all the way up the stairs, on each step, much to her parent’s shock.

She has released three books in the Ori Octopus series; Ori the Octopus and Ori’s Christmas in 2017. And now she is especially excited about her latest book Ori’s Clean-Up as it combines two of her passions; children’s literacy and care of our environment. This book has been endorsed by Clean Up Australia and is being stocked at various zoos, national parks, museums, visitor centres, aquariums and holiday destinations all over the country.

About Ori’s Clean-Up

Ori the Octopus and his friends have left their rubbish everywhere. They tidy up, but it doesn’t work. To keep their home clean and healthy, they need to do something different, something better.

The Interview

 Hi, Anne. Welcome to readilearn.

 Thanks for inviting me.

Anne, you tell your stories with words and pictures. When did you know you wanted to be a storyteller and share your stories with others?

Continue reading: Interview with Anne Donnelly, author-illustrator – readilearn

School Days Reminiscences of Robbie Cheadle

School Days, Reminiscences of Robbie Cheadle

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Robbie Cheadle, author, poet and blogger. I’m not sure when or where I first met Robbie, but I know was captivated by her delightfully unique Sir Chocolate series of picture books which she illustrates with amazing fondant figurines. I was also intrigued to know that these books were jointly written with her and her son Michael, starting from when he was ten years old. There are now six books in the Sir Chocolate series and, since then, Robbie has published a memoir of her mother’s war-time childhood, co-written a book of poems, and had others of her poems and short stories featured in anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle and her books

Before we begin the interview, I asked Robbie to tell you a little of herself:

Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. 

Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

Robbie has also recently published a poetry collection, Open a new door, together with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Welcome, Robbie.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I went to fourteen different schools as we moved around a lot. My first school was Craighall Convent in Johannesburg. The school I learned the most at was a bilingual school in George in the Western Cape. I was only there for six weeks but I learned the basics of Afrikaans (second language in South Africa) which I had missed out on before.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

I attended a mixture of schools. I attended a couple of private schools when I was in primary school including two convents. I went to public schools when we lived in George for the first time and when we lived in Cape Town. I attended a public high school in Johannesburg.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I have a degree and an honours degree in Accounting as well as my board examinations to become a chartered accountant. I was keen to do an economics degree a few years ago when I wrote my publications on direct foreign investment into Africa but I couldn’t find anything suitable. I reverted to self-study and analysis instead and this research is in my publications.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

Immediately after school I went to a secretarial college for a year where I learned typing, shorthand and the other skills of a professional secretary. I then worked for a few years and saved money which I used to pay for some of my university education. I attended a correspondence university and worked shifts in a video shop to earn money while I did my first degree. I applied for, and was accepted, for an internship at KPMG in Johannesburg when I finished my degree. KPMG paid for my studies for my honours degree and I studied part time in the evenings and during public holidays and weekends. It was hard but I managed to do it and I passed all my examinations first time around, even my honours degree where I had to pass all nine examinations in one sitting.

What is your earliest memory of school?

Robbie Cheadle as a school girl in the news

I remember having my photograph taken for the national newspaper on the first day of school. My friend’s father was a photographer for the newspaper and he used me as his “First day of school” photograph that year.

I also remember being left out when the girls (aged 7 years old) when to mass and practiced for their first Holy Communion. I recall being sad that I didn’t have a long white dress and candle. I only took my Holy Communion when I was 12 years old and we were living in George.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I remember being fascinated with books and reading. I can recall sounding out the words by myself and the triumph of reading Little Bear all by myself. Once I got the hang of reading, I just went from strength to strength. I got books for every birthday and Christmas and belonged to the library. When I was 9 years old and we lived in Cape Town, I used to cycle to the library twice a week and take out 7 books at a time to read (4 library cards were mine and 3 were my sister, Cath’s, but she let me use them.)

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I remember writing my name in my books and I always inverted by b’s, d’s and p’s. I had a bit of remedial help and this was corrected when I was 8 years old. My old books still have the inscription Roderta Eaton.

What do you remember about math classes?

I have very little memory of maths class other than I was able to do reasonably well without much effort which left me lots of time to read. I remember my high school maths teacher writing a remark on my report that said: “Generally speaking, Robbie is generally speaking.” I have always remembered that comment. I had one teacher that told my mom that I had layers like an onion which you needed to peel back to find the real me. My mother was also told by a teacher that I practiced “silent insubordination.”

Robbie Cheadle discusses what she liked best about school

What was your favourite subject?

I enjoyed English firstly and then History. Accounting and Maths were both relatively easy for me and I hated Afrikaans with a passion. My second ever Afrikaans teacher embarrassed me in front of the whole class and I would never bother with learning this language after that.

What did you like best about school?

I have two lovely memories of school, one, was creating a play with my friends to perform for the class when I was 8 years old. I loved organizing the cast and teaching them their roles. I have always enjoyed project management and organizing. The other memory I cherish was being chosen to be Mary in the Nativity Play when I was 12-years old. I was simply thrilled.

What did you like least about school?

I can’t think of anything I really didn’t like about school; it just was something I did every day for 12 years. I have always been a loner and would always chose books over people. We moved a lot, so I learned not to get too close to other children, it was easier to uproot myself that way. I am still quite good at accepting change and I don’t retain long-term physical friendships. I prefer my virtual friends who are constant and always there.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Unfortunately, the quality of the public education in South Africa for underprivileged children has not improved much since 1994. Lots of children start learning English late in their school career (at the age of 10 or 11 years old) and it is difficult for them to cope with being taught in English.

There is still a huge shortage of school basics in many rural schools and children are still being taught under trees and in classes with few desks and chairs and even fewer learning materials. There are often no proper toilets for the children to use.

I belong to charities which donate books and stationery to underprivileged schools. A lot is done to help by the private business sector and individuals.

My sons both attend private schools and the college my older son attends is exemplary in its out-reach programme. It supports a disadvantaged college in a rural area and has a programme to train teachers from disadvantaged backgrounds. It also has a programme to help disadvantaged children with potential to achieve at school. This is run in the afternoons and the teaching staff freely give of the own time and skills. It is a sad that the public education is poor because our world is evolving into one where higher-level skills are becoming vital to get and retain jobs. English and maths skills are essential.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

I can only answer this question from the point of view of my own sons. Both of their schools have outcomes-based education programmes and this works so well. Their curriculums are marvelous and I often find myself thinking how much I would have enjoyed their schooling when I was a girl. My older son’s school has programmes to give accelerated learning opportunities to boys who find learning easier and support programmes for boys that find some areas of learning more difficult. They just do such wonderful things, read fantastic books and have marvelous learning opportunities. Of course, as with all things in life, you have to grasp opportunities or else they pass you by.

How do you think schools could be improved?

The most important thing in our government schools is to get good teachers. Teachers that aren’t masters in their subject will struggle to teach others, particularly, children that can’t learn in one specific way but need the information presented in another way. The children also need a safe learning environment, which often isn’t the case, and basic learning materials.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Robbie. It was interesting to hear the comparisons between your own schooling and that of your son’s current schooling. I was interested to hear your response to learning Afrikaans and was surprised at how late English was taught. The photographs of you from the newspaper are very cute and to be treasured.

Find out more about Robbie Cheadle on her blogs

Bake and Write

Robbie’s inspiration

And her Goodreads author page:


Connect with her on social media

Facebook @SirChocolateBooks

Roberta Writes

Twitter @bakeandwrite


Robbie’s books can be purchased from



TSL Publications

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King


D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Susan Scott

Mabel Kwong

Sherri Matthews

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

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


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

picture books make great Christmas gifts

Wrapping up a year of books — 2018 – Readilearn

Wrap up a book for a gift that gives more

Reading and books combine to form one of life’s greatest pleasures and one of life’s best avenues for advancement and empowerment.

Giving books gifts much more than simply the words on the page. We may never know just what joy, wisdom or inspiration a reader receives when gifted a book; and, of course, the love of reading is one of the most valuable gifts a parent or teacher can give a child.

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

Throughout the year, I have been privileged with the opportunity of interviewing many talented authors and illustrators about their picture books. However, these books are but a few of the wonderful picture books that are available for children to read.

Books, books, books

Last December, I presented you with a list of books by authors and illustrators I’d interviewed throughout 2017. In this post, I present a list of books by authors and illustrators I interviewed this year. I hope you will find the list useful when choosing books to gift your young readers. Be sure to read back over last year’s list for additional suggestions.

As with last year’s list, for each author or illustrator I interviewed, I 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.

Continue reading: Wrapping up a year of books — 2018 – Readilearn

interview with Robyn Osborne author of Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog of the Bush

Interview with picture book author Robyn Osborne – Readilearn

This week I am delighted to introduce you to Australian author and fellow Queensland educator Robyn Osborne and her delightful picture book Bruno, the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush.

This post is but one of several celebrating Robyn’s book in Romi Sharp’s Books on Tour. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Robyn’s work.

About Robyn

Robyn Osborne is an Australian author and teacher based in Queensland. She is dog obsessive and many of her books, including Bruno, have been inspired by her furry friends. Robyn grew up on the Sunshine Coast in South East Queensland where her father worked as a sugarcane cutter. As a child, she was surrounded by pets and quickly became an animal fanatic. At age eleven, when she made the connection between cows and steak, she became a vegetarian.

Although she always wanted to be a writer, a number of uncreative roles got in the way. It was when she became a teacher that she rediscovered her love of writing. She has won or been shortlisted for many awards and has published many short stories, junior novels and picture books.

About Bruno, the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush

This is a timeless Aussie tale celebrating the friendship between Bob the bushie and his best buddy, Bruno the blue dog.

Continue reading: Interview with picture book author Robyn Osborne – Readilearn