Tag Archives: Reading

Tap into knowledge with books and reading

Tap into knowledge with books and reading

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tapping. You can play with the sound, make it an action, or create something unexpected. Tap a story and go where the prompt leads!

As it usually does, the prompt led me to children and education, especially the empowerment that comes from being able to read. Reading is the key that unlocks the wonders of the world.

While not a continuation of previous stories, it does include some of the characters. I hope you like it.

The Key

Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.

Peter removed his headphones.

Silence.

He returned to his game. ZING! KAPOW! BOOM!

Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.

There it was again. Incessant.

What was It? Where was it?

He placed his tablet and headphones on the couch and crept towards the sound — the bookcase!

Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.

With every step, the tapping intensified. The dusty glass obscured the interior, but the key was in the lock. Should he, or shouldn’t he?

He did!

Into his lap tumbled a rainbow cat, a girl in a hood, a herd of dinosaurs, an Egyptian Pharaoh and all the wonders of the world. Magic!

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First Cow in Space flash fiction

First Cow in Space #flashfiction

I’m sure you all know the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle about a cat playing a fiddle and a cow jumping over the moon.

I love using nursery rhymes with young children. They are a great way for them to learn the sounds and rhythms of our language, develop their memories and just have fun with nonsense. I’ve never considered it important for them (or me) to know the background of the rhymes. We can leave that to more serious students of literature.

The rhythm and rhyme of nursery rhymes encourage children to join in with the recitation and commit them to memory. Their memory for the rhymes can be used as a step into reading. I’ve written before about nursery rhymes, both on this blog and on the readilearn blog here and here. I have also some written some literacy lessons based on nursery rhymes that are available in the readilearn collection, including Let’s read and write with Little Miss Muffet, Humpty Dumpty — a story in five sittings and The Accident — Humpty Dumpty’s Fall.

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about Clarice. She can be any Clarice real, historical, or imagined. What story does she have for you to tell? Go where she may lead!

You may well wonder what that prompt has to do with nursery rhymes. But Charli always says to go where the prompt leads. It usually leads me to children and education in some way. This time, and with a huge apology to all the Clarices out there, it led me to a cow in a nursery rhyme. Why should she be called Clarice? I don’t know, but I thought the first cow in space would be quite an imaginary historical figure. I hope you like my story. I’m certain, if given a chance, children would come up with their own wonderful innovations too.

First Cow in Space

“We are here today with the first cow in space, whose identity, until now, has been kept secret. Will you please welcome [drum roll] Clarice Cloverdale.”

[Applause]

“Clarice, please tell us about your adventure and why your identity was undisclosed for so long.”

“It was simply a non-disclosure agreement. That contract has now terminated so I’m free to tell.”

“Go on.”

“We were all tired of playing second-fiddle to Cat. Dish and Spoon ran away so Dog had no alternative but to make me the star. Needless to say, I was over the moon. The rest is history.”

[Applause]

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On the road with the library cat flashfiction

On the road with the Library Cat #Flashfiction

My passion is education in general with a focus on the education of young children. The development of literacy is a major part of that. Much of one’s success in life depends upon being literate. Literacy is recognised by the United Nations as a basic human right. Anything that impedes a child’s ability to learn to read and write violates that right.

Being literate is not only empowering, it can be a source of joy and escape. A literate population requires access to books of all kinds so that readers can choose materials relevant to interests and purpose.

I fail to see any sense behind decisions to have school libraries without trained teacher-librarians, or indeed, to close school and public libraries. I was incredulous when I learned that new schools were opening without a library, let alone a teacher-librarian. In my opinion, the library should be the hub of the school.  I am happy to say I am not alone in that thought.

But the idea needs more support. Fortunately, there is at least one Australian politician who agrees.

As reported on the SCBWI blog, NSW Member of Parliament David Shoebridge says that “libraries should be the heart of every school and that investment in school libraries is essential!”

In the next sitting of Parliament, he is moving that “every public school student in NSW has access to a quality school library and a qualified teacher librarian.”

If only we could get all MPs in every state to support the same movement for all our children, in every state, in every school.

Last week I wrote a story about a library cat. It was well received so I decided to write another episode this week.

Carrot Ranch - Open Road

Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch made it easy for me with her challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the open road. Where will the trip lead? Who is going, and why? Follow the open road wherever it may lead! I hope you like it.

Looking for Love

Rainbow Cat clawed through the rubble. One by one she pulled out the survivors — Little Red Riding Hood, Little Miss Muffet, The Gingerbread Man; even Wolf who promised to behave.

“Where are we going?” squealed the Three Little Pigs as they piled onto the bus.

“Where children will love us, like before.”

For many, this was their first time beyond the covers of a book. As the bus roared down the open road, they peered through the windscreen and out the windows, dreaming up new adventures yet untold.

Spontaneously, they burst into a chorus of On the Road Again.

Thank you blog post

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

The Library Cat Flash fiction

The Library Cat #Flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a library cat named Rainbow who escapes. Use this situation to write what happens next. Where does this e=situation take place, and who else might be involved? Go where the prompt leads!

I haven’t joined in the prompts recently for a variety of reasons — other priorities mainly. However, I couldn’t resist this one about libraries and stories — two things of which I am very fond.

I think a cat, especially a rainbow cat, would make a wonderful addition to any library, especially one packed with great children’s literature. I can just imagine the children reading while the cat devours every word.

Of course, I had libraries, books, stories and children in mind as I wrote my story in verse —aimed at a younger audience, of course. I hope you enjoy it, nonetheless.

 

The Library Cat

The library cat is fatter than fat.

She sits by the door on the welcome mat.

She greets the readers as they come in —

Nods her head with a welcome grin.

 

Sometimes she’s in. Sometimes she’s out.

She’s especially quiet when a reader’s about.

She sits so still you can see her purr

When the reader strokes her rainbow fur.

 

She’s heard every story there is to be told.

Even the classics never grow old.

But read her stories of adventures rare

She twitches her whiskers, “I’ve been there.

No need of a cape. Reading books is my escape.”

Thank you blog post

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interview with Wendy Haynes author of Hayden's Bedtime

Interview with Wendy Haynes, author of Hayden’s Bedtime #booksontourpr – #readilearn

Today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Wendy Haynes and her delightful new picture book Hayden’s Bedtime as part of the Books on Tour promotion.

About Wendy Haynes

Wendy Haynes has completed a Diploma in Creative Writing at Southern Cross University. Her writing focuses on middle-grade fantasy, historical, and contemporary stories for children, picture books, junior fiction, and YA. She believes that having a regular writing practice, and understand the device at your disposal, is the key to not only completing a story but in building the skills required to produce a worthy manuscript.

About Hayden’s Bedtime

What parent of a young child hasn’t had to perform a bedtime ritual to get the child into bed and off to sleep? Hayden’s Dad is no different as he checks every corner, every nook and cranny to ensure there is nothing lurking in the bedroom. All he finds are everyday things like building blocks and smelly socks, toy cars and chewed up gum. When the child is satisfied that all is safe, Dad reads a story and the child settles down for a good night’s sleep.

Why I like this book:

Continue reading: Interview with Wendy Haynes, author of Hayden’s Bedtime #booksontourpr – readilearn

classroom Christmas lessons and activities

Classroom Christmas lessons and activities – reblogged from readilearn

It’s almost Christmas again and here in Australia we’re on the countdown to the end of the school year and our long summer holidays. Whether you’ll be enjoying a long break or a shorter break over the festive season, here at readilearn we’ve got many ready-to-teach lessons and activities to support your teaching in the lead-up to Christmas.

Get an early start with these lessons and activities

You will get most benefit from some activities if you begin them a few weeks before the finish of term.

Friendship Trees, one of readilearn’s most popular Christmas activities is best begun three to four weeks before school closes for Christmas. Children make their own friendship trees which are then placed on display in the classroom.

Each day children write anonymous messages of affirmation or friendship to each other and place them in the trees. At the end of term, children take their trees home and read the positive messages contained within.

The trees help to develop self-esteem, confidence and friendship skills and are perfect for those last few weeks when temperatures soar and children can become edgy with excitement for the holidays.

A 3D Christmas tree makes a beautiful focal point of the classroom Christmas display. Children cooperatively construct the tree by contributing leaves made by tracing or printing their hands. It is a visible recognition of the value of teamwork and will be admired (and envied) by many. It makes a beautiful background for photographs of individual children to be given as gifts to parents or other loved ones.

Continue reading: Classroom Christmas lessons and activities – readilearn

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

great app for teaching reading - Word Zoo

Great App for Future Readers: Word Zoo | Ask a Tech Teacher – readilearn

This week I am pleased to share with you information about a new reading app, Word Zoo, reviewed by Jacqui Murray on her website Ask a Tech Teacher. If you need to know anything about using technology in the classroom, Jacqui will be able to help you out.

Over to you, Jacqui:

Reading is defined as “the action or skill of absorbing written or printed matter silently or aloud.” Sounds dry, maybe even boring, but the ability to read has been credited with exercising the mind, saving lives, bringing people together, and predicting success in school. It alleviates boredom in the bits of free time that pop up between soccer and dinner and it can be done alone or in a group.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends…”
― Charles William Eliot

So when I find an app that organically encourages reading, I get excited. But I’m fussy. Here’s what I look for–the red answers are how this mystery ready app sized up:

Continue reading: Great App for Future Readers: Word Zoo | Ask a Tech Teacher – readilearn

Interview with Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Interview with Teena Raffa-Mulligan, author of The Apostrophe Posse

Today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Teena Raffa-Mulligan, author of a fun story for young readers The Apostrophe Posse.

This interview is part of Romi Sharp’s Books On Tour PR & Marketing and just one of several celebrating the launch of Teena’s book. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Teena’s work.

Note: Mostly, I publish these interviews first on readilearn but, until the readilearn blog schedule is resumed, I am sharing them here first.

About Teena Raffa-Mulligan

About Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a reader, writer and daydream believer who believes there is magic in every day if you choose to find it. She discovered the wonderful world of storytelling as a child and decided to become a writer at an early age. Teena’s publications for children include poetry, short stories, picture books and chapter books. Her writing life has also included a long career in journalism. She shares her passion for books and writing by presenting talks and workshops to encourage people of all ages to write their own stories.

About The Apostrophe Posse

Trouble comes to Tea Tree Bend…

In cowboy movies the sheriff forms a posse to round up all the bad guys. Cam and Ellie from Daisy Cottage and their friends Billy and Louisa have formed a different posse. Their mission is to find and fix all the signs in Tea Tree Bend with missing apostrophes. The summer holidays are almost over so they have just nine days to complete their task.
How can doing the right thing go so wrong?

My thoughts

I couldn’t resist reading a book with the title The Apostrophe Posse. Many writers, children and adults alike, have difficulty with apostrophes and I could just imagine a posse going out after all the missing or misused apostrophes. I see so much of it myself and would love to round up all those apostrophes and put them where they should be.

I also found the consonance and assonance in the title appealing. It hinted that the book would be fun, and it is.

The book would be a great stimulus to discussions about the placement of apostrophes, but it’s too good a read to be limited to that alone.

Let’s find out what Teena has to say.

The interview.

 Hi, Teena. Welcome to my blog.

Thanks for inviting me.

Teena, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I grew up in an English/Italian family, surrounded by natural story tellers whose tales about their lives captured my imagination. Once I learnt to read, books opened a wonderful window into the world of make believe and I knew from a very early age that I wanted to become a writer. I also wanted to be a ballerina, so I thought I’d write novels in the dressing room between performances while travelling the world. Reality woke me from the dancing dream, but I didn’t give up on the ambition to become an author and began submitting short adult fiction and poetry to publishers in my late teens. When I became a mum at the age of 21 and began sharing books with my small son, I realised I wanted to write for children.

Where do you write? Do you like to be by yourself in the quiet, or do you like to write in a noisy space?  

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's roll-top desk

I write in the lounge room in my recliner chair near the front window, in bed, at the kitchen bench, on the back patio, out on the deck overlooking the back garden, and I also have the luxury of my own office at home. When my children were small, I wrote anywhere around the house in snatched fragments of time. I didn’t have an office (they needed somewhere to sleep!) so I had a gorgeous timber roll-top desk in the kitchen that I bought with my first earnings from writing stories. It wasn’t quiet or peaceful with the business of the household going on around me and that didn’t seem to matter then. Those days are long gone, and I have become accustomed to my peace and quiet. I don’t even play music while I’m writing.

What do you use to write – pencil and paper or computer?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's writing process

I like to get started with pen/pencil and paper… a few paragraphs, some dialogue, a scene or two. Being confronted by a blank computer screen sends my words into hiding. They don’t come out to play until they have some friends to join. Once I have something to work with, I prefer to stick with the computer. I write, revise, edit and proof on screen.

When do you write?

Not often enough! I spend hours every day on writing related activities but not necessarily on progressing my current WIP. I’m volunteer coordinator of the local writing centre so that keeps me busy. I also visit schools, libraries and community groups to present author talks and writing sessions whenever I get the opportunity. I recently ventured into indie publishing, releasing some of my own books and also my late father’s collection of spiritual writing. Then there’s social media to keep up with, plus reading blogs and watching videos to develop new writing and publishing skills. My new writing happens around all of that. I do set myself deadlines each week but they’re rather elastic.

When do you get your ideas?

They can come anytime and anywhere. The best ideas often arrive unexpectedly in the middle of the night, especially in winter when the last thing I want to do is leave my cosy, warm bed. I’ve learnt to keep notebooks handy after losing some wonderful stories because I thought I’d remember them in the morning. Once I have an initial idea, I don’t plan my stories. I start writing and see where they take me. This means I often don’t know what happens next. Walking, driving and washing dishes are great times for figuring that out.

Do you think of the story in your head before you write it?

Always. I compose sentences, mentally write paragraphs, describe scenes and devise conversations.

What gave you the idea for The Apostrophe Posse?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's thoughts about apostrophes

I’ve spent most of my adult life working with words, as an author, a journalist, a sub editor, an editor, a proof reader. I cringe at the widespread misuse of apostrophes and itch to correct them. I love the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. I was driving to my job at the local paper one morning after dropping my children off at school when the idea for The Apostrophe Posse popped into my head. I watched quite a few cowboy movies as a kid and the sheriff often gathers his posse of men to ride out of town to catch the bad guys. In my story that’s Cam and company and they want to find and fix all the incorrect signs around town.  Perhaps there’s a secret part of me that would also love to go out under cover of darkness armed with my editor’s pen and make a few corrections.

What do you like best about The Apostrophe Posse?

The way Cam, Ellie, Billie and Louisa want to put something right, but everything goes wrong.

Do you like the way Veronica Rooke illustrated the cover?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's thoughts on Veronica Rooke's illustrations

Veronica has illustrated three of my picture books and created covers for four of my other books, so I was happy to have her create the cover of Posse. She’s talented, versatile, creative and professional. I usually give her a couple of vague ideas and she works her magic. I’ve never been disappointed.

How did you feel when you wrote The Apostrophe Posse?

It was fun coming up with what could go wrong when a group of well-meaning country kids set out to do their good deed for the community. Of course, everything worked out happily in the end, as it always does in my stories, so I sat at my computer with a big smile on my face.

How do you hope readers will feel?

It would be great if my story brought a smile to their day and left them with the feeling they’d made some new friends.

How would you like teachers to present The Apostrophe Posse? to children?

I hope it will be presented first as a book to enjoy, a fun story about a group of kids whose good intentions get them into trouble. Discussion could follow about community, cooperation, consequences and, of course, punctuation and why we need it if we are going to communicate clearly with each other.

Are there any messages you would like them to discuss?

Cooperation and the importance of working together to achieve something positive. Facing the consequences of our actions. Children could also think about why we have rules and guidelines in our communities and what might happen if there were none.

Do you have any advice for teachers in their role as writing guides?

If you’re excited about books and language, students will pick up on this. Create a spirit of adventure around writing stories and encourage them to explore where words can take them. A lot of kids get stuck at the start because they’re convinced they don’t know what to write or how to express the ideas they do have. It’s important to stress that they don’t have to get it right, just get it down. In the beginning, it’s all about creating something to work on.    

Do you have any advice for children as writers?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's advice for children as writers

Writing stories is fun. You get to create characters, put them in weird and wonderful situations and then decide what happens next. In your imagination you can be anyone, go anywhere and do anything at all. What will you be today? A super hero? A detective? An astronaut? Where will you go? Deep beneath the sea? To the top of the world’s highest mountain? To the farthest stars? It’s up to you! Don’t worry about whether what you’re writing is an amazing story. Just play with the words. Let one follow another and see where they take you. It’s an adventure.

What is your favourite children’s book?

I’ve read so many wonderful books for children over the years and it’s impossible for me to choose just one. Books I loved reading when I was in primary school were Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series, E. Nesbitt’s Five Children and It and The Railway Children and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. What Katy Did also struck a chord, as did books by Elizabeth Goudge. As a teenager I discovered John Wyndham and read all of his books including The Chrysalids, Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes. Fantasy also captured my imagination, particularly Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern series.

Who is your favourite children’s author? What do you like about his or her work?

When I visit schools and children ask me which of the books I’ve written I like best, I always tell them I have three children and they are all special in their own way. I could not choose one ahead of the other. I feel the same about authors. I am in awe of some of the writing being produced, from picture books to YA novels, and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve come to the final word in a story and closed the book on the thought, ‘Wow! I wish I’d written that!’

When my children were small, I enjoyed sharing the Dr Seuss books with them. I loved the way he played with words.

thank you authors and illustrators

Thank you, Teena. I enjoyed meeting you and finding out a little more about your writing process, your fun book The Apostrophe Posse and your purpose for writing it. As you said, there is much more to your book than a lesson in apostrophes. It is a lesson in life. You have shared so many valuable thoughts with us. I found myself nodding along with you and thinking, “I wish I’d said that!”

 

Find out more about Teena

from her website: Teena Raffa-Mulligan

or her blog: In Their Own Write

Connect with her on social media

Facebook: Teena Raffa-Mulligan.Author

 

The Apostrophe Posse blog tour schedule

Check out other posts about The Apostrophe Posse on the Blog tour schedule:

Monday April 1 – Friday April 5: www.justkidslit.com/blog

PLUS!

Tuesday April 2: www.instagram.com/thebyrdandthebookworms

Thursday April 4: www.authorjillsmith.wordpress.com

Friday April 5: www.littlebigreads.com

SPECIAL FEATURE!

Middle Grade Mavens Podcast: www.middlegradepodcast.com

Thank you blog post

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

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Whose story is it anyway by Norah Colvin

I’m over at Sally Cronin’s wonderful blog this week, sharing a post from my archives about family history. Sally and I would love for you to pop over and have a read and share your thoughts.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

This is the second post from the archives of  educator and storyteller Norah Colvin and this week Norah shares her own experiences of telling real stories about family to young children, not just their immediate family but passing on living history about those relatives we have met but the younger generation may not have.

Whose story is it anyway by Norah Colvin

Nor and Bec reading
Children love stories. They love being read stories and beg for them to be read, over and over again.

Equally as much, if not more, they love being told stories, especially stories of their own lives. They beg for them to be told over and over, listening attentively and with wonder as their own stories (her story and his story) are being revealed. They commit these tales to memory so that eventually it is difficult to distinguish the genuine experiential memory from the telling. Even as adults they…

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