Books About Things We’re Not Taught in School – Part 2: Visualisation

Perhaps you’re not a big fan of the idea that you can determine your life path through creative visualisation, after all that would need to be accompanied by belief. It’s a subject which is often dismissed as a little new age and far out. However, whether you warm to the idea or not is irrelevant here as regardless of your beliefs there is no doubt that we all use visualisation on a daily basis. That may be to remind ourselves of the next turning we need to take when finding the right route home for example, picturing the choices we have for breakfast, formulating ideas for a flyer for a new business, imagining stories or our next holiday. We may not always be aware of it but we are regularly using it to get to where we want to be and our children are no different. However the more aware we become of the images that we’re creating and thinking about the more power we have to change them or strengthen them to our advantage. Today I’m reviewing a book called Nightlights which can help a child do just that.

Understanding Visualisation

Visualisation is the word we assign to the act of forming images in our minds. It’s in all of us to be creative creatures. How we express that is very individual but to start being creative first requires us to use our imagination. We can form these visual images in our mind as a fleeting natural reaction to a given situation or a deliberate act of intent.

Book Review on Nightlights by author/s Anne Givardi, Kate Petty, Joyce Dunbar and Louisa Somerville.

Nightlights

What’s it all about?

Nightlights begins with chapters dedicated to useful support for the adult on how to use and make the most of the book covering topics such as Imagination and Creativity, Finding Identity Through Stories and The Art of Reading to Children. Next follows twenty interactive stories which encourage your child to relax and concentrate on the story, to close their eyes and purposefully visualise the story as it’s being read to them.

The stories themselves carry an uncomplicated and gentle tone. Each bright and detailed digital illustration maintains a contemporary appearance for a book which tackles such an ancient topic. Each story is between three and five pages long so just the right length to be read at bedtime. This book encourages your child to imagine themselves in the story and in so doing shows them how to mentally create pictures in their mind with purpose to help organise their thoughts, dreams and ideas and help make sense of them. At the end of each story is a list of related affirmations to reinforce the values behind the story, although to me they’re more akin to wise advice than affirmations.

After the stories we’re offered some additional relaxation and visualisation techniques which focus on specific worries. These techniques can be easily remembered and practised when required. The book talks about these skills as the premise for meditation, breathing and concentration techniques. At the very back of the book is an index of values and issues which makes it easier to pick the right story for the right situation or current concern for your child that day.

Which age group is it aimed at?

This children’s book is advertised on Amazon as being aimed at ages 3 to 7. I see no reason why this book can’t have a positive effect on any child’s mindset but to truly appreciate this book I would recommend waiting until ages 5 upwards as any younger I feel they may not have developed the level of concentration required to see the whole story through to the end in the way that’s required of them.

Conclusion: Nightlights has been a permanent fixture on our shelves for some time now. It’s the type of book that I like to dip into every now and again as it’s something quite different to your average children’s book. I consider it an invaluable book for teaching children the skills to be creative with their lives. It covers a complex topic in a very organised and systematic way. It’s a book to be read out loud to a child and in small chunks. To get the most out of this book I’d suggest a little extra time should be taken to orientate yourself around it before sharing with your children.

Story Editor: Anne Civardi.

Author/s: Kate Petty, Joyce Dunbar, Louisa Somerville.

Introduced by: David Fontana.

Publisher: Duncan Baird Publishers (2003)

Our Rating: 4 out of 5

CLICK TO BUY Nightlights: Stories for You to Read to Your Child – To Encourage Calm, Confidence and Creativity

Next week in PART 3 I will be reviewing a book about how to think positively.

Books About Things We’re Not Taught in School – PART 1: Emotions.

Books About Things We’re Not Taught in School – PART 3: Positive Thinking.

Books About Things We’re Not Taught in School – PART 4: Overcoming Fears.

 

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.

Reading with Down’s Syndrome

I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to interview Jilly Smithson, an incredible women who has been teaching for sixteen years as well as having worked or volunteered with people with disabilities since she was eighteen. She is now the proud mother of two children, Emily and Tom with Down’s Syndrome. You may have read her inspiring and heartfelt story in the Guardian recently (I chose to adopt two babies with Down’s Syndrome as a single mother).  It’s a story which summons the feelings of awe, disbelief, respect and admiration all rolled into one. I’ve always felt that with the right approach reading can benefit everyone and for me Jilly is the ideal person to give advice on the ways in which reading can add to the life of any child with Down’s Syndrome so I asked her a few questions to try and get a better insight into the reading time she has with her children.

At what age did you start reading to your children?

From babies – it has always been part of their bedtime routine and there have always been books around the house for them to look at when they want.

What has been the greatest challenge for you as a mum trying to support your children to read?

Emily has a visual impairment so it has been hard to get her interested in the written word. She has enlarged texts from the visual impairment team but still prefers to listen to stories read by others.

What are their favourite books and why?

Emily likes touchy feely books and stories with rhyming. She especially likes the Blue Kangaroo series of books at the moment.

Tom likes books that have actions or things that he can do as he reads, eg. lift the flap book, press the sound button.

In what ways has reading added value to your lives as a family?

It is something we do altogether as a special time before bed. It was one way in which I helped Emily to bond with Tom when he first came home.

What have you found to be the best way to keep them interested in reading?

Lots of different books that do different things – sound books, touchy feely books, lift the flap books, books with DVDs. Visits to the library, book bus etc. To be honest they’ve always been interested in books.

What do you think your children enjoy most about reading?

The individual time they get with me! Books are also an activity they can do independently so it is something that they can do for themselves.

What’s the funniest memory you’ve had so far of reading with your children?

We read The Gruffalo touch book. Tom was very young, about 10 months old. Both children explored the different textures etc then when we came to the wart on the end of his nose, it was a sticky spot on the page, Tom’s face after he touched it was a picture!

Having taught and worked with people with many types of disabilities over the years and now a mum of two children with Down’s Syndrome, what advice would you give to other parents with children with Down’s syndrome with regards to helping them to read?

Just read little and often, have books always available and remember that children with Down’s Syndrome find learning to read phonetically very difficult. We use a lot of symbols around the house – they have a picture and the word so that the children are being exposed to the written word all the time.

What would be the best message about life a children’s book could teach your children?

That it is ok to be different. The books by Todd Parr are perfect for this. They cover difficult topics in a simple way for young children and have wonderfully bright illustrations.

A huge thank you to Jilly for your input which clearly demonstrates that reading with children is not just about what’s in the book, it’s also about bonding, interacting and sharing time. Reading remains pleasurable when you remove any expectations of what levels you think should be attained or what you are told should be attained. Learning to read is a very individual journey for every child and this is no different for children with Down’s Syndrome. It is more about helping children to find the ways in which reading can add to their lives to give them that purpose and desire to read.

Resource links recommended by Jilly:

Down’s Syndrome Education International (DSE) – See and Learn Language and Reading.

Down’s Syndrome Education International (DSE) – A Reading and Language Intervention for Children with Down Syndrome.

Books mentioned by Jilly:


CLICK TO BUY My First Gruffalo: Touch-and-Feel book by Julia Donaldson (author) & Axel Scheffler (illustrator); Published: MacMillan Children’s Books.

 


Blue Kangaroo series by Emma Chichester Clark (author/illustrator); Published: Andersen Press.
CLICK TO BUY I Love You, Blue Kangaroo!

 

Books by Todd Parr; Published: Little, Brown Young Readers such as:


CLICK TO BUY It’s Okay to be Different

 


CLICK TO BUY It’s Okay To Make Mistakes

 

 


CLICK TO BUY The Feelings Book

 

 

Note: some names in this blog have been changed.

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  Amazon.co.uk

Rabbits & Bunnies in Picture Books

In the run up to Easter, I’ve found some super bunny themed picture books to pop in a bag with a chocolate egg for Easter. So hop on over and take a seat to choose your favourite one from my bunny line up.


What Small Rabbit HeardSheryl Webster (author) & Tim Warnes (illustrator); Published: OUP Oxford, 2 Sept 2010.

An adorable rabbit who just wants to play. Follow Small Rabbit having fun whilst his mum is running along behind him trying to keep up and look after him.

CLICK TO BUY What Small Rabbit Heard


The Rabbits John Marsden (author) & Shaun Tan (illustrator); cover design by Tony Gilevski; Published: Lothian Children’s Books, Hodder Children’s Books, 16 Sept 2010.

A picture book aimed at older children and adults depicting the effects of colonization on the environment. Although not a cheery bedtime read and this book has attracted much debate and criticism due to the subject matter it remains an extremely relevant topic in today’s political climate. The quirky illustrations successfully add to the impact of the message.

CLICK TO BUY The Rabbits


The Rhyming RabbitJulia Donaldson (author) & Lydia Monks (illustrator); Published: MacMillan Children’s Books, 24 May 2012.

A glittering publication filled with rhyme and a gentle story of how being yourself and being different is special. To successfully distinguish between the character’s rhymes and the story the text is written in part rhyme and part prose accompanied by clear and vibrant illustrations.

CLICK TO BUY The Rhyming Rabbit


The Black RabbitPhillipa Leathers (author/illustrator); Published: Walker Books, 6 Mar 2014.

I love the contemporary illustrations in this original rabbit and wolf tale. Rabbit is afraid of his own shadow but soon finds out that his shadow is his best friend.

CLICK TO BUY The Black Rabbit


That’s Not Funny Bunny!Bethany Rose Hines (author/illustrator); Published: Top That Publishing, 18 Feb 2015.

The message this story conveys is clear. Don’t try and be something you’re not, always be yourself. The lovable characters, text repetition and soft illustrations all help to make this an easy book to remember.

CLICK TO BUY That’s Not Funny Bunny (Picture Storybooks)


Big Bad BunnyMelanie Joyce (author) & Maurizia Rubino (illustrator); Published: Igloo Books Ltd, 1 Dec 2014.

A rhyming story about a new bunny in the wood who persists at creating havoc with his loud and rude behaviour but goodwill and kindness from the other creatures prevails in the end. A sweet story with bright illustrations. Sadly the rhyme at times feels a little out of sync but the message is spot on.

CLICK TO BUY Big, Bad Bunny (Picture Flats)


Lion vs RabbitAlex Latimer (author/illustrator); Publisher: Picture Corgi, 7 Feb 2013.

A brilliant and funny story which keeps you chuckling beyond the last page. Lion is a bully. So who is brave (or tricky) enough to stop him being mean? You don’t want to beat a bully with fists or weapons so it’s a delight to see how the clever rabbit thinks differently to the other animals and ends up out smarting the lion.

CLICK TO BUY Lion vs Rabbit

I won’t rabbit on anymore (oh groan) but don’t forget to carrot rate your books with Ralfy Rabbit (book by Emily MacKenzie).

Sources: Library or private copies.

 

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.

 

World Book Day 2016

A Book in the Home

Welcome to World Book Day, the day when a fantastical array of characters set off for school across the world. I dropped off Harry Potter (books by J. K. Rowling) and Claude with his faithful friend Sir Bobblysock (books by Alex T. Smith) this morning and after the previous day’s mad scramble around the shops I welcomed a huge sigh of relief that I’d actually managed to pull the costumes together in time.

It was hard to ignore the new found murmur of excitement in the playground this morning. World Book Day had evidently lifted the fun factor of school a notch or two. I saw big smiles as each child took on the role of their favourite children’s book characters with hidden thespian confidence. Dressing up is a fun way to engage children with books but what do children really think about books? What do books mean to them?

For World Book Day I wanted to try and capture a small insight into how books have impacted on some children’s lives so I decided to ask around and do a quick investigation to test the water. The question I asked the children was :-

“What do books mean to you? For example this can be a feeling, a place or time that you link with books.”

All the responses are from children aged 12 and under. I have to admit I was expecting some negative or indifferent comments interspersed between the positive ones so I wasn’t one hundred percent sure where this blog would take me before I got some answers. It turned out that books are pretty popular (in case you hadn’t noticed). Some of the answers are a little random as you may expect from children but overall it emerged that most of the children associate books with bedtime, their favourite books and a happy time. I thought these results deserved being made into this A4 poster as a nice addition to any reading nook.

Book Poster

Feel free to copy and paste to print out.

Kindle or book for kids?

 

Kindle or Book for KidsSo far I’ve resisted the Kindle urge and continue to cling to the faithfully printed pages which I can open up and touch; where I can fan through the remaining chapters and not stare at a soulless percentage figure; where I have the choice to peek at the last lines with a dramatic flick to tease myself into thinking I know how it ends, where there’s no scrolling through endless digital pages which look eerily familiar to all the previous ones. However sometimes I do wonder if I’m missing out or getting left behind in the dark ages. Could the slim line word generator make me a quicker, more avid reader?

For me I won’t be defecting to the Kindle side anytime soon as my current “mother of two” lifestyle gives me no need for one. I’m happy with my chunky literary fascinations knocking each other off my busy bookshelves. If you’d offered me one fifteen years ago however it may have been a different story. I may have welcomed the ease of such a svelte device in my overcrowded commuting bag.

As a determined writer on the other hand, sometimes the magnetic allure of its promises can be very tempting. When Amazon launched the Kindle Fire for kids coupled with their Kid’s Book Creator my mind started planning a whole new fantasy world of its own. Exciting! Was this the revolutionary kick start I needed? The book creator would enable little old me to publish full colour children’s illustrated digital books. At first I was ecstatic at the prospect of publication being at the command of my own fingers. Could the power of the send button be the answer to my success? I felt sure I could conquer the digital networks of such a program and present my stories in an instance to the real world.

Until the first signs of doubt set in.

I soon hit the brakes when I started asking myself basic questions. What type of books am I writing? Picture books. Who is my target audience? That will be four to seven year olds and their parents. Of course by this stage a whole new set of questions tumbled out of my mind. How would the illustrations look on screen? Do the parents want their children to have more screen time? When would a parent deem it ok for their child to read from a Kindle? Or do they, like me, prefer the printed alternative?

Suddenly it was looking less and less like the best forum to launch my books.

With the way I feel about books I struggled to see how a digital picture book could be more captivating than its printed version. How a solid flat screen could compare to flipping the floppy pages of children’s books which of course have the added advantage of doubling up as hats or towers whenever the need takes hold! So I resorted to considering the practical advantages as a parent.

When would I be tempted to read picture books to my children from a Kindle or iPhone for example? The only time that I thought a children’s e-book would have its advantages over a printed book, was on holidays. Travelling with children inevitably involves taking a myriad of unnecessary items plus the kitchen sink, so a skinny, lightweight screen could be welcomed to ease such a heavy, bulky load. A Kindle would mean I could take one or even two different picture books for every night of the holiday without having to arrange a separate shipment for them. A definite advantage but is this enough to make the e-book option more attractive overall?

For now I’ve chosen to embark on the traditional publication route but I haven’t dismissed self-publication forever. Perhaps there are merits to pursuing both? I’m sure the debate will continue to rage on in my head for some time and I know as a children’s writer I’m not alone with this conundrum. Feel free to offer your thoughts.

Potty About Penguin Picture Books

Yeh it’s Penguin Awareness Day! I confess, I am penguin potty and just adore these comical, clumsy little creatures but how have these photogenic stars managed to bag their own National Day of celebration? Is it their cute waddle? The way they flap their flippers like an excited child? Perhaps we admire their brave, reckless abandonment as they throw themselves off cliffs into the thrashing sea? Do we empathise with their affection for one another? Or are we in awe of their endurance of cold, harsh conditions? There’s no doubt they are fascinating creatures which have captured the hearts of millions of us but beware Protect a Penguin Day could become the harsh reality if we don’t do our bit for global warming – Emperer Penguins are now endangered, warn biologists, The Telegraph.

It’s hard to take penguins for granted in our house, whether it’s on a scarf, disguised as a biscuit tin or peeping out of a picture, there’s usually at least one in view in some form or another! So as I haven’t been able to resist passing on the love to my children and we’ve been enjoying some fantastic picture books about them lately. Each book has been rated out of ten by my nine and six year old boys but it seems they’re all very popular in our household judging by the lack of deviation from a resounding ten all round!



The Night Iceberg – Helen Stephens (author/illustrator); Published: Alison Green Books 2010. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

Tofta wanted her iceberg to be a place she could call her own … until a penguin appears followed by his entire family & friends so she soon finds out that sharing with others can also bring a lot of pleasure. A story to be read again and again with illustrations to be admired.

CLICK TO BUY The Night Iceberg


Penguin – Polly Dunbar (author/illustrator); Published: Walker Books 2007. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

A beautiful book which uses simple but striking illustrations and hints of humour to convey the importance of actions speaking louder than words. It’s not what Penguin says (which is not a lot), it is what he does that says everything!

CLICK TO BUY Penguin


Up and Down – Oliver Jeffers (author/illustrator); Published: Harper Collins Children’s Books 2015. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

From the well known author of Lost and Found, yet another beautiful story of the friendship between the boy and his penguin. Penguin is determined to fly high but how will he do this? Will he fail? Will the boy be there for him if he falls? The classic conundrum of how to allow a loved one to find the confidence to fly the nest whilst trying to keep them safe is written with true Oliver Jeffers’ eloquence.

CLICK TO BUY Up and Down


Blown Away – Rob Biddulph (author/illustrator); Published: Harper Collins Children’s Books 2015. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

An effortless rhyming story about Penguin Blue and his adventures with a kite. With gorgeous vivid, contemporary illustrations that invite you to study each page, it’s easy to get pulled along with Penguin Blue on his journey.

CLICK TO BUY Blown Away


Could a Penguin Ride a Bike? – Camilla Bedoyere (author) & Aleksei Bitskoff (illustrator); Published: QED Publishing 2015. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

A very fresh approach for a factual book about penguins as the facts have been cleverly weaved into a fun story. Could a penguin go bowling, ride a bike or join a choir? You can find out from this book how a penguin might fair in these and many other situations he could find himself in if he came to stay with you.

CLICK TO BUY Could A Penguin Ride a Bike?


Penguin in Peril – Helen Hancocks (author/illustrator); Published: Templar Publishing 2013. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

Three hungry cats on the hunt for a penguin to catch them some fish. But the penguin doesn’t want to catch fish, he just wants to get home. The full colour illustrations bring his story to life as the cats chase the penguin around town.

CLICK TO BUY Penguin in Peril


The Not-so-Perfect Penguin – Steve Smallman (author/illustrator); Published: QED Publishing 2014. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

Often the things we love about others are their imperfections. Percy is no exception. Percy is always acting the clown while his sensible friends are being very sensible and always raising their eyebrows at him. However when Percy goes missing one day they soon realise that it is his playful ways that they love. A sweet story about true friendship and accepting others.

CLICK TO BUY Storytime: The Not-So-Perfect Penguin


Cuddly Dudley – Jez Alborough (author/illustrator); Published Walker Children’s Books 2007. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

You can never get enough hugs! Everyone wants to cuddly Dudley but Dudley gets a little tired of the constant attention and just wants to be alone until he realises that sometimes a cuddle is all he needs.

CLICK TO BUY Cuddly Dudley


Dragon Loves Penguin – Debi Giliori (author/illustrator); Published: Bloomsbury Childrens 2014. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

Knowing that things happen for a reason. What happens when a lonely egg and a egg-less dragon meet? A heart-warming tale of an unexpected friendship. You can feel, see and read the quality of this book.

CLICK TO BUY Dragon Loves Penguin

As an extra penguin treat I’ll leave you with this wonderful blog from Making Them Readers reviewing the book 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and Joelle Jolivet.

Source: Own or public library.

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  Amazon.co.uk

Is an Early Reader a Lifetime Reader?

Reading with Baby 2

Should a three year old who is found to be capable of learning to read be taught to read? This article from the Independent titled Toddlers could be ready to begin reading lessons at three years old, study finds, instantly got my fingers typing! Why can’t we as a nation just leave our children to play and explore their new surroundings? Instead we seem to need to instantly exert pressure on them to achieve targets and goals the moment they clap eyes on the world.

In short, the study concluded that three year old children were demonstrating they could recognise that a written word represents a single linguistic unit which should be interpreted in a set way whereas a drawing can be interpreted in a number of ways. This ability to differentiate between the two was considered a skill required to be able to learn to read.

Children in the UK are currently taught to read by the phonetic learning method during their first year at school between the age of four and five in reception class. Compared with many of our European counterparts this is very early. In Poland, Finland, Sweden and Denmark for example children typically start school at age seven. So unless their parents or carers have taught them to read and write most children will still be in the early stages of doing so.

I’m a big supporter of regularly reading to children even from as early as a few months of being born but there is a vast difference between encouraging reading and actively pushing reading instruction onto them. Undoubtedly this study could help us understand child development and capabilities in more depth and even assist in developing new effective teaching methods but I’m struggling to see any practical benefits for a three year old being able to read.

There are many immediate and long-term, social and psychological advantages to learning to read at a young age but are there sufficient additional advantages to learning at age three opposed to four or five? Does waiting a year or two really make that much difference to a child’s life? Let’s look at what we could consider to be other benefits of reading at three years. Parents and teachers would have an alternative communication method other than speech, in terms of written instruction.  The children could sit and read a book by themselves. Perhaps it would increase their vocabulary knowledge – very impressive for school test results providing they could also speak and write coherently at three years. Hang on a minute… aren’t these more beneficial for the adults than the children? I’m seriously wondering if we are focusing on the child’s best interests or ours. It seems that most of these so called benefits are limiting conversation which could potentially have the knock on effect of hindering the development of oral communication at this important stage of their lives.

I volunteer in the foundation unit of a local primary school each week and part of my role is to assist with reading to or with the children (depending on their age). I’ve observed that reading abilities within this age group vary greatly. Many of the nursery aged children at three to four years are yet to develop the attention span to sit still and listen to an entire story being read to them unless they are actively being engaged by the reader with intermittent questions. Not exactly a strong indication that they have the ability to concentrate on recognising letters and learning phonic sounds. In addition many are still unable to consistently form clear, comprehensible speech. This is not because the children are being naughty, lazy and stupid or feeling bored; they are merely being toddlers who are developing at their own pace.

So is three years too early to start reading? To consider this viewpoint, I think we need to look at what else is going on around a child at three years. What else are they trying to achieve at this time? To talk coherently is high priority. They are also mark making but very few are writing. What about learning social skills? For many it is the first time they have mixed with a large group on a regular basis or been expected to conform to a strict routine. Surely the last thing we want to encourage is an earlier divide between reading abilities?

Reading with Letters 2

For a child already dealing with a steep learning curve, throwing in the need to master additional reading targets could have the opposite effect and put them off for life! Children first need to experience the world before they read about it in a book. We’ve already been communicating with our children since birth through words, sounds, actions, instincts and intuition. Concentrating too heavily on the written word at three years could have long term detrimental effects on the development of all these other valuable forms of communication. It’s these interactive skills which are learnt through play and conversation that ultimately serve to enhance a child’s appreciation of reading in later life not the exposure to letters and phonemes. People enjoy reading because of the content, imagination and empathy these stories inspire, not because they like the look and sound of the letters! If a child is truly capable of learning to read at this age they will naturally pick up letter recognition through sound and sight from other daily interactions without the need to be formally instructed.

So let’s take a step back for a moment and question whether we want to nurture a revolution of avid readers or create a reading rebellion? What do you think? Is there an optimum time to learn to read?

Other interesting articles on this topic:

Guardian 2007 – Under sevens “too young to learn to read.” (Written before the plans for a Foundation Stage were implemented and any untested targets of achievement were set).

Huffington Post 2011 – Learning to Read: How Young is Too Young?

Teach Reading Early – Benefits of Early Reading.

It’s a New Page in My Book!

Why is it that everyone suddenly starts to think about what they want in life at the start of a new year when every new day gives us that same opportunity to start afresh?

“Little by little one walks far.” Peruvian proverb.

This proverb is etched on a necklace I have. It appealed to me as the words resonate with how I deal with those moments when everything I want to achieve seems overwhelming. Writing a book is one such enormous task. A picture book may be short but there are still many aspects to consider but I find if I break each step down into bite sized chunks it becomes very satisfying when I can gradually tick them off as completed.

I’m finally about to turn a new page in my quest for publication. I have two picture books which are now ready to offer to publishers. For the past year I’ve been learning a great deal about format, style and expectations followed by the necessary tweaking in the hope that it will put me in good stead. Yet at the end of the day I know it’s down to me to dig out the confidence to put myself forward for criticism. So for 2016 I’m preparing for the barrage of rejections that everyone says is an inevitable part of the course and the lack of explanation for those rejections as well as conjuring up an endless dose of patience out of thin air; but above all I’m preparing to believe in myself and the possibility of that chance of success.

You could say my 2016 is starting to sound a little bit gloomy and a great deal more scary but a New Year is about having hope for something better and a new day is about putting that hope into action. So every day of 2016 I will be focusing on any new progression that I achieve, big or small. I will see the New Year as empty and waiting to be filled with endless possibilities and I‘ll be keeping my eyes on where I ultimately want to be. This way, each little day to day progression becomes a part of something much bigger.

There are two picture books I know that I think every little girl and boy should read as they echo these sentiments perfectly.


Little by LittleAmber Stewart (author) & Layn Marlow (illustrator); Published: OUP Oxford 2008.

This book is one of an adorable series of books about bravery, patience, trying new things and growing up but this is the one which has particularly stuck in my mind. It’s a story about Scramble the Otter who is trying to swim. He sees everyone else doing it but just can’t seem to do it himself. Until one day he’s shown that by taking little steps he can go a long way.

CLICK TO BUY Little by Little


Some Dogs DoJez Alborough (author/illustrator); Published: Walker Books, 2004.

This book manages to say so much in very few words as well as being fun, funny and written in rhyme. It’s about trusting and believing in yourself.  Just because someone else believes something is impossible doesn’t mean it is.

CLICK TO BUY Some Dogs Do

So whether the New Year helps you kick start some lost enthusiasm, move on from the loss of a loved one or achieve a burning ambition I wish you all a very happy and successful New Year.

Sources: personal or library copies.

 

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  Amazon.co.uk

Fabulously Festive Picture Books

I couldn’t resist putting together a list of some of my favourite Christmas themed picture books around at the moment. Some excellent present ideas. There’s nothing better than reading a Christmas book to add to the excitement and anticipation of the family festive spirit. As usual these have been rated by my two boys of 6 and 9 years. The first rating is from my eldest.


Father Christmas on the Naughty Step – Mark Sperring (author) & Tom McLaughlin (illustrator); Published: Puffin 2013. Rating: 6/10; 8/10.

Who’d have thought Father Christmas can be naughty too! This is a brilliant spin on the usual Christmas Eve tales and a lesson in how to say sorry – something every child can relate to – and worth remembering that even Santa has to say sorry sometimes too!

CLICK TO BUY Father Christmas on the Naughty Step


Norman the Slug who Saved Christmas – Sue Hendra (author) & Paul Linnet (illustrator); Published:  Simon and Schuster Children’s UK 2015. Rating: 10/10; 10/10.

Norman is a surprising yet adorable hero for Father Christmas. He’s a very thoughtful snail who does a good deed and expects nothing in return. Although I can’t help feeling a little sad that Father Christmas completely forgot about Norman. Nonetheless it’s a fun, happy story with cute illustrations and all in all a humorous delight to read.

CLICK TO BUY Norman the Slug Who Saved Christmas


Socks for Santa – Adam and Charlotte Guillain (authors) &  Lee Wildish (illustrator); Published: Egmont 2015. Rating: 8/10; 9/10.

Santa gives out millions of presents every year but nobody stops to think about giving Santa a present – except George. George is a little boy who reminds us that Christmas is about giving and not receiving.

CLICK TO BUY Socks for Santa (George’s Amazing Adventures)

 

The Tooth Fairy’s Christmas – Peter Bently (author) & Garry Parsons (illustrator); Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books Ed. 2015. Rating: 10/10; 10/10.

Beautiful bold and bright illustrations accompany this sweet rhyming story about how the Tooth Fairy and Santa help each other out one Christmas Eve.

CLICK TO BUY Tooth Fairy’s Christmas


Tales from Christmas Wood – Suzy Senior (author) & James Newman Gray (illustrator); Published: Lion Children’s Books 2015. Rating: 8/10; 9/10.

As the animals of Christmas Wood are busy preparing for the upcoming Christmas festivities, this magical collection of five stories and pretty illustrations shows that Christmas is about gathering together and spending time with friends and family closest to us with the final story depicting a pretty nativity scene to remind us of the meaning of Christmas. A longer than average picture book which could be read over several nights.

CLICK TO BUY Tales from Christmas Wood


The Christmas Carrot – Alan Plenderleith (author/illustrator); Published: Ravette Publishing Ltd 2013. Rating: 9/10; 10/10.

He’s running for his life as everyone wants a bite of the Christmas carrot. Enjoy some light-hearted fun with this funny and engaging vegetable chase.

CLICK TO BUY The Christmas Carrot


Kipper’s Christmas Eve – Mick Inkpen (author/illustrator); Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books Ed. 2014. Rating: 9/10; 10/10.

The lovable character Kipper charms the socks off us again with another gentle, heart warming story which captures the warm festive glow of friendship, anticipation and excitement perfectly.

CLICK TO BUY Kipper’s Christmas Eve


The Lighthouse Keeper’s Christmas – Ronda & David Armitage (authors/illustrators); Published: Scholastic Children’s Books Ed 2014. Rating: 7/10; 5/10.

George has an unexpected Christmas stranded at the lighthouse. How will Santa know to come to the Lighthouse? How will Mrs Grinling reach them? Christmas songs, decorations and treats (including chocolate biscuits for breakfast apparently – perhaps this should be made into a national Christmas tradition!) but the best presents are the things that matter most to each of us. Making Christmas special no matter where you are.

CLICK TO BUY The Lighthouse Keeper’s Christmas

There’s so many fantastic books out there to choose from. What are your favourite Christmas picture books?

Source: Private or public copies.

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

Picture Book Craft: Everyone is Carrot Rating

Wanted Ralfy Rabbit Book Burglar 2

WANTED! Ralfy Rabbit Book Burglar by children’s author and illustrator Emily MacKenzie (published by Bloomsbury Publishing 2015) has been awarded a googolflex carrot rating in our household. We got the idea from Ralfy himself who loves reading and gives every book he reads a special carrot rating. So I thought perhaps by spreading more of Ralfy’s carrots around, his love of reading could become infectious and encourage many more children to read.

So please follow the instructions to print out your own Little Book of Carrot Ratings to help make bedtime reading even more fun.

Step 1: First you will need some carrots… a maximum of five per book rating. Here are twenty four on one page so print onto card as many times as needed.

Carrots x24

Step 2: Next cut out the carrots individually and put blu tac on the back of each one so they can stick to the score cards.

Carrots Cut

Step 3: Cut one piece of A4 orange card in half to make the front and back covers for your book.

Step 4: Print out the following two carrot score cards. Cut out and stick onto card of any colour. You need one score card for every book being rated so this image can be printed multiple times as required. The score card has room for the title of the book, a space to draw a picture about the book and a maximum of five carrots.

Carrot Rating Sheet x2

Step 5: For the book cover, print the following image onto a sheet of paper and stick one onto one half of the A4 orange card. (I’ve included two cover images as I needed one per child).

Carrot Book Cover

Step 6: Punch a hole at the top left hand corner of the front and back covers and any carrot score cards. Use a split pin or treasury tag to attach them together so it is easy to undo and insert a new carrot rating at any time.

Little Book of Carrot Ratings

Now your Little Book of Carrot Ratings is complete and ready to help you rate your books from 1-5 carrots. Five being the most delicious! The carrot scores can easily be removed and changed at any time and enough carrot score cards can be added until the novelty wears off.

It’s very simple to do. Have fun!

PB Craft Ralfy Rabbit


CLICK TO BUY Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar

 

 

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  Amazon.co.uk