It’s not difficult for me to talk about love and books in the same sentence as I have loved books for as long as I can remember. Although my reading habits have changed over the years, I have always been an avid reader and was a dedicated borrower of books from the library as I was growing up.
As an adult, I tend/ed to purchase rather than borrow for my own reading and could never pass a book shop without purchasing something for me, a family member or friend, and a picture book or three for my classroom collection. Books borrowed from the school library filled out the classroom library.
A birthday, Christmas or other occasion never passed without giving and receiving books. So, being able to combine the celebration of love, books and an appreciation for libraries is a treat. Nothing could be easier. Simply take someone you love to the library and gift them a book.
Last week I provided you with a list of picture books I had reviewed or whose authors and illustrators I had interviewed throughout the year. Of course, I read many more than that. It would be impossible to review all the books I read. However, in this post, I share just ten other picture books I have read and enjoyed this year, not all of which were published this year. I hope you find at least one that appeals to you or your young people. (Note: where I was able to source a video, I have included one.)
The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name
by Sandhya Parappukkaran and Michelle Pereira (a Bright Light book published by Hardie Grant, 2021)
The blurb states that ‘No-one should ever have to shrink themselves down to fit in.’ I think we would all agree with that.
However, when Zimdalamashkermishkada starts school, he knows he will have to do something about his name. He is asked to spell it and repeat it before a friend shortens it to Zim. When he asks his mother if he can shorten Zimdalamashkermishkada to Zim, she explains the reasons for giving him his name and suggests he gives people a chance to learn it. Which is just what he does. He stretches his name out bit by bit to teach his new friend Ella who shares pride in his name and teaches others to use it correctly too.
I love the theme of this book and its message about recognising and accepting others. How many times do we have children in our classes with names that we at first find difficult to pronounce? How tempting is it to simply shorten them because it is easy? How much more important is it for us to acknowledge and learn their given names showing respect for them and their culture and modelling that respect for the children in our class as well as our colleagues. Shortening names may be easy, but it can be hurtful too. This book is a great reminder of that and of appreciating our differences and what it means to be unique.
(Note; while there is a reading of this book on YouTube, I haven’t shared it here as I was disappointed that the reader didn’t even pronounce the author’s name correctly. Sorry, Sandhya.)
Usha and the Big Digger
by Amitha Jagannath Knight and Sandhya Prabhat (a story telling Math book published by Charlesbridge, 2021)
This is another wonderful book that I received as a gift from the author, simply for leaving a comment on an interview with Kaitlyn Sanchez on her blog Math is Everywhere.
In my comment, before reading the book, I simply said, ‘This book sounds amazing. I love that the constellation is viewed from different perspectives. What a great introduction to perspective for children – both the maths, and the ideas/points of view. The cover is appealing with the gorgeous night-sky colours. Yes, I’d love to read this one and have added it to my Good Reads Want to Read list. Here in Australia, we have different ways of looking at the constellations too. While we see the images drawn by connecting the dots (stars), our Indigenous Peoples see the shapes in the dark. It’s quite fascinating.’
And for that I received a free book from Amitha. That’s amazing. And the book doesn’t disappoint either. The deep colours that Sandhya Prabhat has used to illustrate the dark of the night and the sky with its stars are just beautiful and add so much depth of the discussions and the themes.
In the story, three girls observe the constellation that I know as the Big Dipper or the saucepan. The older sister also refers to it as the Big Dipper or a big spoon. The younger sister Usha, who loves trucks, sees it as a big digger. Unable to agree, they call on their cousin. But Gloria sees neither a dipper nor a digger. She sees a kite. When they try to see the stars from the others’ perspective, they come to a whole new understanding.
I love the way this book deals with looking at things from different perspectives and coming to an understanding. I also like that it includes information about the constellation, including that it isn’t really a constellation, it’s an asterism, and how it is seen by different cultures around the world. In addition, it includes suggestions for exploring maths related to the story. I wasn’t previously aware that there was a publisher of STEM related books such as Storytelling Math. I’ll be looking for more of their titles as I think picture books are a great way to encourage a love of maths as well as reading. That’s definitely a win-win.
You can listen to Amitha talk about her book here.
Here at readilearn we recognise that not all learning takes place in school. We know that learning can occur anywhere at any time and continues throughout life. It can be planned or incidental. It can be fun and joyful. It can even cause frustration at times. In fact, some frustration may encourage the learner to push further and try harder to find a solution. That is especially so when the frustration occurs in a purposeful activity in which the learner is engaged and feels a need to solve. Unsuccessful attempts don’t mean failure. They mean it’s time to try again. We see this in situations from a child learning to walk or ride a bike to scientists finding a cure for disease. What we most need to do to develop a love of learning is inspire curiosity and creativity and avoid ringbarking either through confinement.
As the end of the school year in Australia approaches, most teachers and parents are looking forward to the holidays as much as the students are. The last couple of years have been tough with changes to teaching and learning circumstances and the increased involvement of parents in monitoring their children’s school learning at home. While parents may have become more familiar with teaching methods used in the classroom, it is important for them to realise that learning can still occur during the holidays without the formality of classroom exercises.
The most important things parents can do for children, right from birth and through their developing years and beyond, is to talk with them, play with them and read to them — every day. The same can be said for teachers.
I previously shared this wonderful TEDtalk by 7-year-old Molly Wright in a post about The Importance of the Early Years. But it is inspiring and watching it gives me joy and I thought watching it might also give you joy. It is definitely worth sharing with parents to encourage and affirm positive interactions with their children.
We also have some handouts of suggestions which you are welcome to copy and send home to parents. You can find them in the Classroom Management — For Parents collection. They are all free resources and suggest ways of increasing the learning in everyday situations, mostly by being aware of the opportunities that arise incidentally throughout the day.
While Christmas might be still eight weeks away, for some of you, the school year will finish well before that, and I know many are already planning your Christmas and holiday-themed lessons and activities.
Here at readilearn, we ensure that learning continues when the Christmas fun begins.
Who celebrates Christmas?
Before you begin Christmas-related activities, it is a good idea to conduct a survey to find out which children do and do not celebrate Christmas with their families. While you may already know this, the survey can be an interesting way to begin discussions of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.
These discussions should always be respectful and inclusive. It is essential for children, and all of us, to see that what we have in common is more important than any differences.
How many school days until Christmas?
This calendar helps to count down the last fifteen days of term and provides an opportunity for children to present information about their family’s traditions. The Countdown Calendar can be used to countdown to Christmas or, for inclusivity, to the holidays.
It’s August already and we are starting to see a change in the seasons. Here in the Southern Hemisphere we are getting ready for Spring, while in the Northern Hemisphere, you are maybe hoping things will start to cool soon. Wherever we are, it seems the uncertainty caused by the pandemic still has us in its grip. I think I’d probably be right in saying that we’d all like that to change, and soon.
The help lighten your workload and inject something a little different into the routine, I’ve listed some special days and events you might like to celebrate in the classroom this month.
The MS Readathon runs throughout the month of August. The purpose of the MS Readathon is to encourage children to read and, at the same time, raise money to help kids who have a parent with multiple sclerosis. Teachers can register their class or children can register individually. Find out more and download some great resources from their website.
The Horses’ Birthday is celebrated on 1 August in the Southern Hemisphere. Horses born after 1 August in will be considered one year old on 1 August the following year.
In the Northern Hemisphere, 1 January is recognised as the horses’ birthday. The dates are chosen as most foals are born in late winter.
Why not celebrate with a carrot cake, or give your favourite horse a carrot treat?
Children may enjoy discussing the question, “What if we had a people’s birthday, and celebrated everyone’s birthday on the same day, regardless of when they were born?”
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
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.
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 for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.
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 Tourpromotion.
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.