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  1. As Patron of Reading, I've been thinking about the importance of involving children from an early age in reading stories. As well as entertaining kids, books can be a fun way of teaching them things.  Even very young children can learn a lot from books if you look at the pictures together and talk about what’s happening, involving the child with the story.  Let’s take a look at a couple of my books for young children and see what children can learn from them.

     

    Silly Moo

    When an apple falls out of the tree onto Cow’s head she forgets where she lives so wanders around the farm trying to find her home. This is a great book to read to 3-6 year olds who love guessing if Cow has found the right home then lifting the flaps to see if they were right. They also love shouting "What a Silly Moo!" every time Cow gets it wrong. They can learn about animals, the different homes they live in and join in with the different sounds the animals make.

     

    Dolphin Rescue

    An exciting holiday diary for 6-8 year olds with a fact section about real dolphin rescues. Children can learn about writing a diary and some facts about how beached dolphins are rescued and returned back to the sea.  A great topic for discussion about holidays, the seaside, dolphins and other sea creatures. They can also be encouraged to write their own holiday diary.

     

     

      Toothpaste

    I wrote this book a long time ago, but it's still popular. This book is for pre-schoolers and is about a toddler called Abiola who relates the different things she can do as she is ‘big now.’ Young children love looking at the pictures showing the contrast between Abiola as a baby and a toddler, and talking about what they were like as a baby and things they can do now they are older. They can learn a lot about growing and personal development from this book.

    So remember, next time your child comes home with a book from school, don’t just read the story to them – talk about it, discuss what’s happening, what they can see in the pictures, how they feel about the story, relate it to their own experiences.

    Next week I'll be looking at what older readers can learn from my books

     

    (A version of this blog first appeared on K5 Learning Blog  http://www.k5learning.com/blog/learning-through-reading)

     

  2. I’m fascinated by unusual homes. Whenever I see an unusual house/cottage/barge or whatever I wonder who lives there, what the history of the house is and all other sorts of stuff. I was wandering around the ruins of Ludlow Castle one day and couldn’t help wondering what life was like then. What would it be like to live in a castle? I started imagining all the characters that could live there, the Lord and Lady, their servants, knights perhaps, visitors that came to stay. Each of these characters have a story to tell. Putting a character in a setting is a ploy I often use both in my own writing and in my writing workshops.

    One of the most popular workshops I run in schools is based on a picture of an unusual home. I put the picture on a board and ask the children who they think lives in it. Then we start bulding up a story. I often used pictures from this fantastic internet site which features weird and wonderful homes around the world:  http://www.roxanneardary.com/blog/unusual-architecture-from-around-the-world/

    I trawl through it and select a picture for my workshop. Here are two of the pictures I’ve used:

    This a home in Vietnam. Imagine living in that! When the children make up a story about who lives there it’s usually a witch or a zombie or a princess who’s been captured by a witch.

    I’ve no idea where this home is but the children at Alveston CofE Primary School in Stratford made up a fantastic story based around it being a diving school where a mad headmaster made the pupils dive for pearls. We then turned that into a performance for the parents to watch as part of the Stratford Literary Festival.

    Next time you're stuck for a story try finding a picture of an unusual home and ask yourself who lives there? Thinking about your home and the character who lives in it might help you come up with a great story idea.