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.


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.


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You’re a Funny Man Mr. Stanton!

The Cambridge Union Chamber with Mr Stanton

Mr Stanton was an animated middle aged man with a curly black beard, bright spectacled eyes and arms which flapped like an owl trapped in the House of Lords. He was an unexpected surprise who hated being serious or limited to reading one type of book. What he liked was acting the fool, reading books, twisting a tale, having the audience in hysterics, writing stories, being silly, taking the mickey, guzzling water, reading and eating pizza and… did I mention books?

Only those of you who have read You’re a Bad Man Mr Gum may recognise some distant similarities to that quirky introduction.

Mr Gum 1

I’ve just returned from an afternoon in Cambridge with my family having been thoroughly entertained by Andy Stanton, children’s author of the Mr Gum series (published by Egmont), as part of the line up for the Cambridge Literary Festival today. His zany approach was both refreshing and uplifting and cleverly appealed on many levels to both adults and children.

He began by reading various amusing excerpts from his childhood schoolwork followed by some story ideas he’d written for Mr Gum which never reached the final book. A great message I thought for all writers young and old, that even though not all ideas will come to fruition keep writing them down. You never know how they may be used in the future.

Mr Gum 2

Mr Stanton was able to mix the trivial with the serious and jump from wacky to informative in the flip of a coin and was almost lyrical about his expulsion from Oxford University. He said “picture a vast meadow where you might want to look at a tree, a stream and a patch of grass or a flower.” For him reading is like being able to look at each of these elements separately or combined but he felt the university was putting constraints and limitations on which elements he was allowed to focus on. I see an even greater message lurking here. One that says you should always follow your heart – or maybe I’m misinterpreting it when really Andy is saying that “the truth is a lemon meringue.” Friday from Mr Gum would understand.

Mr Gum 3

It was clear Mr Stanton enjoys performing. He was consistently engaging as he continued to tease and interact throughout. He even got those who don’t like putting their hands up to put their hands up. My youngest particularly loved the conversation between the crow and Old King Thunder Belly. Andy continued his light hearted pantomime approach right through to the grand finale of question time.  He is a true entertainer and it was hilarious to experience his personality.

If you liked the sound of this event, please follow me on Twitter Amanda Lonergan (@lonerganbooks) and Facebook to hear about other upcoming author events, book crafts, news on children’s book releases and much more.

CLICK TO BUY You’re a Bad Man, Mr. Gum!

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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



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Children’s Author Museums Around the World

Last week I posted a link on my Facebook page to an article announcing that Astrid Lindgren’s apartment in Stockholm, Sweden has been opened for small tour groups to view as a museum of her life and where she wrote her famous children’s books about Pippi Longstocking.

So why do we find it so fascinating to walk the floorboards of an author’s home, see photos or read about events in their lives? Are we just nosy? Or is it natural curiosity? Perhaps it is like being given a glimpse into a successful mind or the hope that we can just walk into their world of fantasy and take a little of their magic home with us.

Despite most of us gaining access to only a very small percentage of published children’s books in our lives, of which many are also limited to our immediate culture, children’s books are a great credit to the universal desire to teach, entertain, support and communicate with our children. Children’s books are something we can all relate to as having contributed to our childhood learning so it’s not surprising that many museums have been set up around the world to commemorate the lives and imaginations of some of our most famous children’s authors who have in turn touched our own lives. So next time you’re out and about on your travels, here are eleven museums which may tickle your taste for childhood memories or create some new ones for your own children.

Anne of Green Gables Museum – Park Corner, P.E.I., Canada

AUTHOR: L.M. Montgomery; BOOKS:  Best known for Anne of Green Gables.

Grimm World – Kassel, Germany

AUTHORS: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (otherwise known as the Brothers Grimm); BOOKS: Cinderella, The Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel and many, many others.

The museum opened summer 2015 .

Hans Christian Andersen Museum – Odense, Denmark

AUTHOR: Hans Christian Andersen; BOOKS: The Emporer’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid and many, many others.

Kinglsey Museum – Clovelly, Devon, UK

AUTHOR: Charles Kingsley; BOOKS: Best known for The Water Babies.

Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House – Massachusetts, USA

AUTHOR: Louisa May Alcott; BOOKS: Little Women, Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

Musee Herge – Louvain-la-Neuve, Brussels, Belgium

AUTHOR: Herge; BOOKS: Tintin.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art – Amherst, MA, USA

AUTHOR: Eric Carle; BOOKS: Best known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Busy Spider and many, many others.

Tampere Art Museum Moominvalley – Tampere, Finland

Author: Tove Jansson; BOOKS: the Moomin series of books.

The Lewis Carroll Centre – Cheshire, UK

AUTHOR: Lewis Carroll; BOOKS: Best known for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – Great Missenden, UK

AUTHOR: Roald Dahl; BOOKS: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Fantastic Mr Fox, James and the Giant Peach and the list goes on!

The World of Beatrix Potter – Cumbria, UK

AUTHOR: Beatrix Potter; BOOKS: The Tale of Peter Rabbit and his many friends such as The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher plus many, many others.

Children’s Picture Books about Books

Picture books about books, reading and creating stories are the perfect choice if you want to encourage your child to read during the new term. I really enjoyed putting this list together as each book demonstrates such an individual approach to the same topic from both new and established children’s authors. As before, I’ve written a short review and my two boys have rated them out of 10, the first score being from my youngest, age five.

This Book Just Ate my Dog – Richard Byrne (author & illustrator). Publisher: OUP Oxford (1 Jan 2015). RATING: 10/10; 10/10.

This is a fun, quick read. Beautifully sketched illustrations coupled with a basic story but guaranteed to get some chuckles from the younger ones enjoying the unexpected interactive element to the story.

CLICK TO BUY This Book Just Ate My Dog! (Ben & Bella)

Wanted Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar – Emily Mackenzie (author & illustrator). Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s (18 Dec 2014). RATING: 10/9; 10/10.

I adore this book in every way. The vocabulary and language used is just the right mix of simplistic and clever. The character is cute and the bright and bold illustrations compliment the humorous story. This is exactly the kind of book I aspire to write! I can’t get enough of Ralfy and neither can my boys. It’s a firm bedtime favourite. A “must have” for any little person’s book shelf.

CLICK TO BUY Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar

Recipe for a Story – Ella Burfoot (author & illustrator). Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (1 Jan 2015). RATING: 1/10; 7/10.

I thought this book was both original and informative. The rhyme makes it a pleasure to read and its light-hearted approach to the elements of story-making is a fun way to introduce story writing to children. However, for my youngest the idea was not believable. Being quite matter of fact, he was adamant that it was a strange story as “you can’t cook a book.” He had a point and it highlighted that the age group that this book was written for might not be able to understand or appreciate the full meaning inferred by the clever play on words and take the story more literally than intended.

CLICK TO BUY Recipe For a Story

The Incredible Book Eating Boy – Oliver Jeffers (author & illustrator). Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books (25 Jun 2009). RATING: 10/10; 10/10.

This is an entertaining story full of amusing and quirky illustrations. It must be on the road to becoming a classic by now. We have read this book so many times and yet it still remains a page turner for us all.

Note to reader: Although you can’t cook a book apparently it’s quite possible to eat hundreds of them!

CLICK TO BUY The Incredible Book Eating Boy

Bears Don’t Read – Emma Chichester Clark (author & illustrator). Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books (26 Feb 2015). RATING: 7/10; 8/10.

George is a bear who is not satisfied with doing the usual bear things, he wants more. He wants to be able to read and it takes a little girl called Clementine to give him a chance and fulfill his dream. This is a charming story with amusing illustrations which can inspire children to be brave, determined and go beyond what they know.

CLICK TO BUY Bears Don’t Read!

Books Always Everywhere – Jane Blatt (author) & Sarah Massini (illustrator). Publisher: Nosy Crow (31 Mar 2013). RATING: 4/10; 2/10.

A very simple rhyming text coupled with large bold illustrations of different types of books, where you find books and what you can do with books means this book will appeal to pre-school children.

CLICK TO BUY Books Always Everywhere

It’s a Book – Lane Smith (author & illustrator). Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (1 Mar 2012). RATING: 10/10; 10/10.

This is a book of few words, yet it says so much. It’s a humorous comparison between a traditional book and our expectations of modern technology. It’s brilliant and my boys find it hilarious. We usually take turns in reading the different character parts. However, although the tongue in cheek use of the word Jackass (opposed to donkey) is apt for this story as it’s not a word we commonly use for a male donkey in the UK (except for negative connotations perhaps) I’m not convinced it works as well in a book for young children in the UK as it might in the US and it leaves me cringing ever so slightly every time the boys read the word.

CLICK TO BUY It’s a Book

The Story Machine – Tom McLaughlin (author & illustrator). Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s (15 Jan 2015). RATING: 10/10; 9/10.

The author’s creative imagination and artistic skill shines through in this book. It beautifully demonstrates that the art of telling stories doesn’t require high tech gadgets to bring them alive. It’s about creating something new with words and pictures in your mind.

CLICK TO BUY The Story Machine

Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite – Nick Bromley (author) Nicola O’Byrne (illustrator). Publisher: Nosy Crow (6 Mar 2014). RATING: 6/10; 4/10.

It’s all about the book! Caught up in the wrong book is a crocodile, who likes to eat words, gobble up letters and swallow sentences. He gets scribbled on and shaken until he eats his way out the book. A book that aims to engage the reader to comment.

CLICK TO BUY Open Very Carefully

Use Your Imagination – Nicola O’Byrne (author & illustrator). Publisher: Nosy Crow (4 Mar 2015). RATING: 8/10; 9/10.

Wolf teaches rabbit how to create his own story using well known, traditional wolf tales as the basis for this amusing modern twist. A witty, colourful and vibrant read.

CLICK TO BUY Use Your Imagination

What theme would you like to see in my quick look book reviews?

Source: Public or private library.


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Is Doodling Snoozing?

I was supposed to be writing my blog…………I blame it on the trolls. It all started with Cousin Troll and then a couple of his friends joined in. The Guardian recently featured a hilarious step by step guide to drawing a troll by Adam Stower children’s author of Grumbug (published 1 Jun 2015 by Templar Publishing). It had me hooked. It was meant for the kids but I couldn’t resist. So I grabbed the boy’s felt tip pens (hence the sketchy colouring) and brought these little creatures to life. It was a huge amount of fun. Give it a try!

The Trolls

A mere glance at my friendly trolls and the trained (even untrained) eye can see that I’m not an illustrator…….but I do love to doodle. Flowers, trees and cubes are my preferred doodles. I doodle on notepads, calendars, school letters, receipts, printer paper and even bills….especially bills! Furniture and books not so much of course.

For the most part doodling has been seen as a form of day dreaming. I certainly remember it as something to be reprimanded for in school. Yet is it truly a sign of a lack of concentration? Or is it a way for the brain to relax and let thoughts develop and creativity to take hold? I doodle mostly when I’m toying with new ideas for my books but am not sure which way to take them. It serves as a pause in the typing and a rest for the frown lines. I’m not even sure if I’m thinking about anything at all as I doodle my way through the fog but it feels good and leaves me with a sense of calm.

Psychologists have studied the doodling phenomena and have come up with some surprising results. Apparently instead of distracting the mind it helps to focus it (see Doodling Your Way to a More Mindful Life by Cathy Malchiodi). It’s an outlet for generating creative ideas (5 Big Benefits of Being a Doodler, The Huffington Post), it’s a stress reliever. I can certainly appreciate the healing benefits of stepping away from the manic rush of every day life from time to time in favour of some subconscious scribbling but I’m even more intrigued as to how doodling can help our children’s literacy.

Have you ever been presented with a scrappy piece of paper by your child and found yourself looking at random squiggles and tried to tactfully ask what the picture’s called in the vague hope it would shed some light on the ideas behind such a masterpiece? Literacy Development: The Importance of Doodling by Anna Ranson and guest blogger Kate describes several benefits of mark making for preschoolers as an early sign of communication which helps them to understand the connection between the people and objects around them and these lines and symbols written on paper. When children learn to write they enjoy colouring in letters, making patterns on them and embellishing them. It helps to imprint the letter formation in the child’s mind. Is this not their version of doodling? The physical and mental benefits of doodling suggest it is a valuable creative learning tool and a calming memory aid (The Cognitive Benefits of Doodling by Steven Heller). These are skills required to learn how to read so I can’t help wondering whether doodling is an undervalued subject in the school curriculum (Learning science through reading, writing…..and doodling by Laura Guertin) – although I’d probably need to do some doodling first to fathom out how exactly it could aid the teaching of reading!

Well doodling some trolls has certainly inspired me to write this blog, even if it wasn’t what I’d originally set out to write……but isn’t that the marvel of creativity where you can start down one route and often end up on another?

Please give my trolls some names and maybe use them as a story starter this summer – but make sure you squeeze in a spot of doodling to get those creative ideas flowing!


CLICK TO BUY Grumbug (Troll & the Oliver 2)

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London Storytelling Events for May Half Term

Fun 1

Looking for ideas to keep the kids out of trouble this May half term? I thought I’d sneak in an extra blog this week to pull together some suggestions of exciting storytelling events (in no particular order) for those of you in and around London.

Paper Performances: Museum of London, Docklands

Monday 25th May 2015 – a free drop in session to design your own paper theatre to bring your stories to life.

Blown Away by Rob Biddulph: Discover Children’s Story Centre, Stratford

Saturday 30th May 2015 – An author, illustrator and book signing event from the winner of the Waterstones 2015 Children’s Book Prize.

Fulham Palace Fun Day: Fulham Palace SW6

Wednesday 29th May 2015 – Family drama, storytelling and dress up sessions.

A World of Stories: Horniman Museum & Gardens, Forest Hill, SE23

Every Sunday now until 31st May 2015 – interactive story session inspired by their exhibitions. Age 5+

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: Southbank Centre, SE1

Wednesday 27th May and Thursday 28th May 2015 – An adaptation of the award winning book by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto.

Sam’s Pet Temper: Paddington Library, Westminster

Thursday 28th May 2015 – Canadian author, Sangeeta Bhadra tells the story of Sam’s Pet Temper followed by a craft session for 3-10 year olds.

Adventures in Wonderland: The Vaults, Waterloo

Permanent venue – step into Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland and experience it for yourself! Ages 5+

The One Dollar Horse, Shaping Stories: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Saturday 23rd May 2015 – Meet Lauren St John, children’s author of The One Dollar Horse and create your own horse-inspired tales.

The Alice Look: V & A Museum of Childhood, E2

From now until 1 November 2015 – an exhibition of rare editions to inspired fashions showing how Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has changed, adapted and influenced many trends throughout the world.

Greenwich Book Festival: University of Greenwich, SE10

Friday 22nd May – Sunday 24th May 2015 – Many events, workshops and activities from designing your own book cover with artist Alexandra Antenopolou, meeting the award-winning children’s illustrator Axel Scheffler or Steven Butler with Dennis the Menace to a puppet adaptation of Polly Dunbar’s book Flyaway Kate. Plus so much more so follow the link above!

The Paper Dolls: Little Angel Theatre, N1

From now until Sunday 28th June 2015 – a performance based on the book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Rebecca Cobb and the Paper Dolls Crafty Day on Friday 29th May.

Roald Dahl’s The Twits: Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square

From now until Sunday 31st May 2015 – Theatrical performance of The Twits followed by a free storytelling workshop for 8-11 year olds.

There’s some great events there so let me know how you get on.

10 Book Themed Fundraising Ideas

Book Fundraising Ideas Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

It’s that time of year again when I see the red noses appearing and the Comic Relief adverts starting to pop up as the momentum builds to prepare us for the big fundraiser. David Walliams’ new picture book “The Queen’s Orang-utan” (illustrated by Tony Ross) was published today in aid of Comic Relief and once again reviews promise his story will not disappoint. Many people would have been involved at various stages or production in giving their time to compose this book with the aim of helping to raise awareness and funds to make hundreds of people’s lives better.

Raising money for charity is not an easy task though. It’s always difficult to ask people to hand over their hard earned cash and usually it boils down to asking the same few people every time so there comes a point when applying a little imagination to encourage people to give is required. If you want to help raise some money for your school or a charity close to your heart here are ten fundraising ideas which involve books. It’s time for a laugh so put on your funny face and enjoy some simple fun and light-hearted fundraising activities.

Second hand book sale: Ask family, teachers, neighbours and friends to donate any unwanted or outgrown books. Set up a stall and charge a £1 or 50p per book depending on the condition. Many second hand bookstores will give you a nominal bulk price for any of the books you don’t sell. All profits to be donated to charity.

Sponsored bookathon: Choose a charity such as Red Nose Day. Set a challenge, for example to read as many pages as possible in 1 hour.  Each child is sponsored per page read so it is a challenge all ages and abilities can participate in. Hand out copies of sponsor forms and arrange place and time. Conduct the big read as a group activity or individually. Advise a date when sponsor money is to be collected and handed in.

Make a school poetry book: This will need a little extra pre-planning. Ask the children to write a poem. Either set a topic or leave it optional. Vary the length according to the age group. Get book printed with each child’s poem and sell to parents and friends of school for charity. Some publishers publish individual school print runs. The children and their parents will love seeing their work in print.

Open mic poetry session: Ideal for budding poets and writers in the school who can sign up to recite their poems or short stories to other pupils. Sell tickets for a small fee which goes to charity.

Book auction: This requires the donation of books which have an immediate appeal to people such as new, in demand books from publishers or bookshops, classic collectable books in good condition, sets of popular books, attractive displayable books or unusual books to sell to the highest bidder as a charity donation.

Play book bingo: Sell tickets for an afternoon of book bingo. Make up bingo sheets of popular children’s books with small prizes for each winner. All profits donated to charity.

Raffle a book cake: Ask a local cake maker or a talented parent to donate a cake in the shape of a book or popular book theme and sell raffle tickets for charity.

Dress up as your favourite book character: Pupils pay a fee to be allowed to come to school dressed as their favourite character in a book. Any money collected goes to charity. For ideas visit my new Pinterest board where I’ve put together a selection of my favourite pins for DIY Book Character Costumes. Some are quick, some are easy others may require some skill!

Make and sell bookmarks: Set up a handcrafted bookmark stall. Get the children to make different bookmarks to sell to other pupils, teachers and parents. For fun bookmarks visit my Pinterest board displaying some great finds in how to make Children’s homemade bookmarks.

Host a book quiz: This could either be a team quiz or mastermind style quiz on a chosen book. I’ll be pinning some children’s book quiz lists to my Pinterest boards soon so if this idea could work for you please check back later.

I’d love to know if any of you have been involved in book related fundraising events so please share how they went, what worked, what didn’t work and any other ideas you came up with.

The Power of Words

Words can inspire quote

Before Christmas I put up this link on my Facebook page (Children’s Books by Amanda Lonergan) to the video of actor B. J. Novak reading his book titled “The Book with No Pictures” to a hall full of young school children. Their reactions were a delight to witness, the giggles; the anticipation and the captivation were clearly evident and a poignant demonstration of how words alone can entertain. As an aspiring children’s picture book author with relatively average drawing skills this is a comforting thought that the words can evoke such enthusiasm yet at the same time I feel a little apprehension creeping in as to the responsibility this entails.

We all know how one misplaced word or a poorly phrased sentence in an email can change the whole tone and lead to misinterpretation and even cause unintended offence. In the same way if a child takes a dislike to a story, the vocabulary is incomprehensible to them or it causes nightmares it could easily put them off reading for life! Every book that a child (or adult) reads is an experience. This may be an experience of new information, new emotions, a new understanding or a reinforcement of previous feelings and judgements. Yet the same book experience can be interpreted very differently by each individual so inevitably will shape each individual’s world in a unique way. Take the following example from an early English nursery rhyme:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.”

What would you interpret this to mean? “It doesn’t matter what others think of me” OR “I should not feel hurt by someone else’s cruel words.”

Initially you may think that both interpretations essentially mean the same thing but look again and you will see that the first is empowering the reader whilst the latter is implying the reader is weak if they feel hurt by verbal abuse; which we all know is undoubtedly hurtful and it certainly should not be considered weak to acknowledge such emotions. These two interpretations would likely go towards shaping two very different outlooks on life.

So if we all interpret things differently, how can an author possibly write a book which is loved and adored by every single child around the globe? The reality check is that it’s absolutely impossible, however ensuring that the vocabulary used offers a positive experience and influence for all, is possible.

Children’s books need to be fun and light-hearted in order to be enjoyable, a pleasure to read and act as a platform for them to learn through play. Sometimes the books may broach difficult topics but that shouldn’t stop them being written in such a way as to help the child become a glass half full type of person rather than a glass half empty type of person. Like anything, maintaining a positive outlook on life doesn’t always come naturally, especially if life insists on continually throwing lemons at you, it needs to be learnt and one way to show children how to do this is by the books that they read helping them deal with their emotions and think positively from an early age.

Read Newspaper Image

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

So does this mean all words in children’s books should strictly adhere to dictionary perfection and be full of words like strength, individuality and inspiration? Far from it! Some of the words in B.J. Novak’s book were in fact nonsense words and it was because of this that they got a giggle due to their lack of meaning and his well timed delivery and tone opposed to any deep and meaningful message. In the same vein Dr Seuss’s “wocket” from There’s a Wocket in my Pocket and Roald Dahl’s “snozzberry” from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory are brilliant examples of this use of nonsensical humour being incorporated into their stories. I’m not saying we should get sloppy and misspell words or avoid popping the occasional bigger word in to challenge the reader, but adding in a make believe word can show children it is fun to play with words and encourage them to think and imagine beyond what is traditionally accepted as correct. Knowing what isn’t strictly correct often gives them a firmer grasp on what is. Reading traditionally written books can expand a child’s vocabulary for better communication whereas reading a book incorporating made up words can show them they are in control of their own expression through words and language rather than the words and language limiting and controlling their expression.

On that note I’d like to wish you all a happy, healthy and successful 2015 and some additional articles to read.

Words can change your brain by Therese J. Borchard

The Psychology of Words by M. Farouk Radwan MSc.