HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY!

I have been so excited and looking forward to World Book Day. My son is going to nursery dressed as a Highway Rat (his nursery is celebrating tomorrow). A costume I spent hours slaving over….honest guv…not a click & collect….erm….OK….I CONFESS! While other parents may have been sweating blood & tears, feet in blisters trailing every inch of every craft shop to prepare for the big day I cheated and got a ready made one. You have to understand, at school it took me THREE YEARS to sew an apron. That’s right. THREE YEARS…the teacher gave up on me. I also made a cushion at high school. Stuffed with plastic bags rather than lovely soft cushion foam. I forgot until the last minute and it was the best idea I could come up with. So trust me when I say that me not making a costume is for the best. Otherwise I’d need to start making it for an 18 year old rather than a 4 year old…. Anyway, I’m going off topic. World Book Day. Yes. We love it in our family. Yes the costumes are fun etc etc but the main thing for me is that it gets children talking about books. It gets teachers talking more than usual about books and importantly it gets parents talking about books! If we’re engaged and invested then the children become engaged and invested. Talk about books you like and don’t like. Ask questions about the books they are reading. It can be hard to find time to read to them – even bedtimes can be a struggle if parents work late. My husband is rarely back for bedtime during the week but reads to them at the weekends. I read whenever I can to them and always have a book to hand…car journeys, if we go to coffee shops, restaurants, anywhere we might be queuing or waiting. Books are a great way to keep kids entertained until their food turns up! There are loads of little pocket books that you don’t need a suitcase to carry. I remember my mum used to read to me at the dining table while I was eating or having a snack….even when I was on the potty.

Here is a link to the fantastic BookTrust with various useful reading tips.
BookTrust Reading Tips

Happy reading!

BOOK REVIEW Charlie Changes Into A Chicken – written by Sam Copeland, Illustrations by Sarah Horne
charlie chicken.jpg

Well, one book that has been everywhere with us*, is Charlie Changes Into A Chicken written by Sam Copeland.

*we did get some funny looks on the tube when I was reading out loud to my son about spiders having 8 bums – but I bet that’s just because the other passengers were jealous. (That they were just reading boring newspapers, not because they don’t have 8 bums…..)

Charlie McGuffin is a boy with an incredible secret….when he feels anxious and worried HE CHANGES INTO ANIMALS. All sorts of animals. Spider, flea, pigeon and even a rhino! This book is a bonkers, laugh out loud kind of a book and covers some sensitive topics in a unique way that is very relatable to children. Charlie is worried about his brother in hospital, the school bully and appearing on stage (my son hate’s going on stage in front of everyone so could empathise quite well with this). He has to find a way to deal with his new power and luckily has his three best friends to confide in. Children will love reading this book or having it read to them (if they can wrestle it off their parents first – I found myself reading it well after son was in bed!) Though be warned, there’s a lovely (happy) lump in your throat moment towards the end that had me reaching for the tissues. Cannot recommend this book highly enough. Such a beautiful read and the amazing illustrations by Sarah Horne perfectly match it.

About the Author
Sam Copeland is an author and literary agent living in London. His favourite part about writing the book was writing about the friendship between the characters and feeling the characters come alive. Having read it I can understand this. You can close your eyes and imagine them in real life. They’re the kind of best friends that don’t just get you out of trouble after it’s happened but the ones that come along with you for the ride to make sure you’re ok.

I couldn’t not ask Sam the question (note to author – apologies if it’s the 100th time you’ve been asked!) If he could change into any animal, what would he change into? He answered that he’d love to turn into something microscopic like a myxozoa as it would give him a truely unique view of the universe. Also, as Sam pointed out it makes a great scrabble word!
(What?? You don’t know what a myxozoa is?…Well thank goodness for Google & dictionaries :-))
And if Sam were a flea and could jump on anyone’s head for the day without them noticing he would jump on a dog as “animals are far more interesting than people”. This is a good point. People all tend to do similar things get up eat, go to school/work, come home, eat, go to bed…boring stuff (except of course for Charlie who is very unique). However, there are sooooo many varieties of animals…including ones with weird names like myxozoa….

Having read Charlie Changes Into A Chicken we cannot wait for Sam’s new book out in August Charlie Turns Into A T-Rex. Especially that we’ve been promised the most disgusting wee scene EVER….(just when I didn’t think anything could top the revolting rhinos scene in chapter 12 of this book…hold your noses people!) 

 

Children’s Poetry…

Children’s rhymes and poems can shape the way we look at the world when we’re younger and bring back amazing memories when we’re older. To give you an example, I honestly can’t walk past a fish tank or see a kitten without fondly remembering sitting in a classroom (think it was Year 1) and learning, writing out and illustrating this one by Ogden Nash:

The Guppyby Ogden Nash

Whales have calves,
Cats have kittens,
Bears have cubs,
Bats have bittens,
Swans have cygnets,
Seals have puppies,
But guppies just have little guppies.

A.A. Milne, Michael Rosen, Roger Mcgough, Spike Milligan all have special places in my heart and different meanings for me. I think the one that terrified me was one we had to learn for a school concert: Matilda – Hillaire Belloc it’s a bit like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” but much darker!

Children’s poetry is fantastic for repetition, vocabulary and according to one blog even physical coordination…

Why Reading Poetry is So Important for Children

It’s also great to create poems with children and get them thinking about how words can sound with rhythm. How they can be used to express thoughts and feelings or just fun noises!

A game that my 3 year old son loves it when I rhyme words and change the first letter to make new and sometimes nonsense words. He joins in which is fantastic (though we have to be a bit careful…listening to the radio he heard the name Jack Horn…he suddenly started shouting “Jack Horn! Jack Corn! Jack Forn!Jack Morn! Jack P…..” 😳 Luckily we were in the car so no one around and I managed to distract him by shouting frantically back “Jack Corn Jack Corn” and then change the topic which seemed to work)<<<<<<<<<<<<
y article that gives ideas for simple activities. I particularly love the suggestion of having a book around the house that kids can write in. I used to have my own blue notebook (would love to dig it out!) And poetry is educational, helps kids to read etc but most of all it's just good fun!

Children’s Poems <<<<<<<<<<<<
ouch and let me know – What was your or what is your child's favourite childhood poem?

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Curious world…..

My eldest is 3 and going through the question stage. “It’s dark Mummy! Why is it dark? What about the moon Mummy? Where is the moon? Pointing at a light in the car: What is that Mummy? Answering his own question: It’s a light! Why is the light on Mummy? Light goes off: Where has the light gone Mummy? The light has gone off….” etc. etc. All this within a 2minute journey from the nursery to the car. It doesn’t stop there. Some days we get what feels like a full day in question commentary. Exhausting but fun – unless you’re trying to get somewhere on time! It got me thinking “Why do they ask “why?”so much?”

I found a couple of interesting links which helped answer my question….and apparently kids can ask up to 300 questions a day!!!! I shouldn’t be surprised but still…Wow!

Mothers Are Asked Nearly 300 Questions a Day….

The article below has some great tips and also suggests reading books to your children to encourage the questions. I love books that give children the chance to ask and answer questions. One of my son’s favourite is a Thomas the Tank Engine book that asks questions along the lines of “What does Bertie need to continue his journey? A red light or a green light?”

Why do children ask “why?”

Such a lot for them to find out about and sometimes we learn new stuff along the way too! Thanks

Last but not least, hope you enjoy my latest poem. It’s about some of the things I’ve found myself saying…….No wonder they ask so many questions!

What a Confusing World! – by Kirsten Allen

I’m listening and watching and only three-But oh my! The world’s such a confusing place to be.
Mummy says “Stay where I can see you!”
But how would I know where that is?
Mummy says “Don’t talk to strangers!”
But “be polite and say ‘hello’ to this lady! Go on – give her a kiss”
“Don’t run – you’ll slip and fall in this dreadful rain!”
“Quick run or we’ll miss the very last train!”
“You must share toys – now give him your bat!”
But if I want something “No! She’s playing with it – you can’t take that!”
“Sit still! Slow down! Don’t just inhale the food on your plate!”
“Come on! Hurry and eat up or we’ll be late!”
However, I’m hopeful that by the time I’m four,
I’ll understand a little more!
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Something for the weekend….

What a lovely week! I’ve been fortunate to have been asked to do a monthly blog for a wonderful charity, Motherwell Cheshire CIO so watch this space!

https://www.motherwellcheshirecio.com/services 

Also I’ve volunteered to do a regular storytime at Hanwell Library in London which starts on the 9th November. Very excited and looking forward to it!

We’ve also got a wonderful new addition to our book family (it was recommended by a lovely lady on a Facebook thread) It’s such a sweet amusing story I just had to share!!!

The Pout-Pout Fish – by Deborah Diesen

This is a story about a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face spreading his dreary-wearies all over the place! (Think we’ve all had those days! 😂) It’s not his fault…it’s the way he was born…or so he thinks! This has lots of repetition and rhyming, alongside colourful characters. It’s a great one for the under sixes. Really love this book and so did my 3 year old. Here’s the link below. Have a great weekend!

Pout-Pout Fish

Interesting Article….

I love this article with some simple tips on helping children to read. I’ll be honest…my 3year old loves books but not sure how many letters he recognises (or is supposed to recognise at this stage! -Any early stages teachers out there -I’d love to hear from you out of interest!). He knows “O = Oliver” and “H = Henry” and “T = Thomas” (the latter 2 from the bain of our life Thomas the Tank Engine….at least it has some uses!! 😂) The rest he just makes up. The only reason I have any concern is because dyslexia is in our family. However, he’s only 3 so not going to worry about it at the moment and just let him enjoy the books at his own pace (I’m only allowed to read Green Eggs and Ham at the moment!!) 

Have a great weekend! 

http://www.readingrockets.org/blogs/shanahan-literacy/11-ways-parents-can-help-their-children-read

Storytelling nerves…..

What are your favourite Autumn children’s books? 
This week Sandhurst Library have very kind in asking me to lead a storytelling session on Thursday and it’s Autumn themed. I’m so flattered that they would like to hear some bits that I’ve written alongside  some Autumn type books.

So here’s a little something I wrote for the occasion:

Autumn – by Kirsten Allen 

Mud squishing in my fingers 
Brown conkers all around
Golden leaves are falling. What a crunchy sound!!!
Furry squirrels playing hide and seek with the acorns that they find.
Lushes lovely berries!
Types of every kind.
These are the wonderful things I think of,
When Autumn springs to mind.

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Just had to review….

So it’s been a mad whirl of holidays, teething and 3 year old birthday parties. My youngest has been waking at 5am and then going back to sleep. Oliver then wakes up and while waiting for his younger brother we’ve had a lovely time cuddling and reading a a story before getting ready. He received some beautiful books as birthday gifts which he loves. Including this one which made me smile and he loved it. Can recommend it:

There’s No Dragon In This Story – by Lou Carter & Deborah Allwright

This story is about a dragon. He wants to be a hero….unfortunately for him Goldilocks, The Gingerbread Man, Hansel and Gretel plus others already have their stories. Surely someone needs a dragon to save the day……
This is a fun easy read story for 6years old and under. Have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it!!!!

On another note I came across this interesting article. I have to say, even as an adult I love bonding with people over books they’ve read. Chatting with friends about what they’ve been reading has opened up new genres for me which I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Also, my son loves telling me about stories that have been read at nursery. Children are never too young to be read to!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2016/11/09/how-to-bond-with-your-child-through-reading/

Half a book review…

It’s only half as am only part way through but really enjoying it! It’s a bit advanced for my 3 year old but I’m keen to review a variety of children’s books not just picture books. So taking one for the team I’m reading them myself (and loving it!!!) the one I’m currently reading is The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch.  Would say it’s aimed at 9-12 year olds (not as grim as it sounds but mentions death and divorce). It’s about a girl (Cass) and a boy (Max-Ernest) who stumble on adventure. A lady brings a box full of smells to the antique shop Cass is staying at until her mother returns from a business trip. The adventure leads to a magician’s notebook. I’m almost half way through and can’t put it down. Wonderfully woven into the story are little historical facts, and things to do (how to make a compass) and there’s an appendix with useful words and definitions. Please don’t give the end away as am still reading but would love to know if your child (or you!) have read this book and if they enjoyed it? 

Vocabulary and a book review…

This is a very useful article for helping children build vocabulary. I strongly believe in repetition with new words and concepts and a little at a time rather than loads of new words. 

Also with my 2 year old I try (though slip up quite frequently – especially if it’s a word like “clock” and he misses the “l”  😂😂) to say “Good try!” And then repeat the word back to him in a sentence rather than say “No! That’s not how you say it!” . For him he responds better otherwise if I say “No! That’s not how you say it!” He insists that his way is the right way. 

http://www.parenttoolkit.com/academics/advice/english-language-arts/helping-your-child-build-a-strong-vocabulary

Yesterday’s rhyme was about going on an adventure so in keeping with that this week I’ll review some adventure books.

Where the Wild Things are – Maurice Sendak

Beautiful illustrations with a fantastic story about a boy called Maurice who is sent to bed without supper for being wild. He falls asleep and his room changes to a moonlit forest surrounded by an ocean. The forest is where the wild things live. Maurice becomes king and tames them. Such a classic book that can be read over and over. My own little wild thing loves this story!

Tuesday’s Challenge and Rhyme Time

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”

Beatrix Potter

Tuesday’s Challenge!

For today’s challenge, children should draw a scene, it can be under the ocean, at the zoo, in space, a pirates ship or a mystical magical land….any where they want. They can draw a few characters (maybe a fish with 3 heads, a mermaid with 2 tails or a weird alien…anything they can imagine!) and then tell you about the picture and characters. You can make up stories together starting “One day (name of character)…..”

And now for a little rhyme I hope you enjoy:

An Adventurous Day Out
By Kirsten Allen

We’re going on an adventure, adventure adventure
We’re going on an adventure and the best is yet to come!
We’ve packed our jam sandwiches, jam sandwiches, jam sandwiches 
We’ve packed our jam sandwiches. Yummy yummy scrum!

We’ve packed our rainy day wellies, rainy day wellies, rainy day wellies, 
We’ve packed our rainy day wellies in case it starts to rain.
We’ve put on our nice warm jackets, nice warm jackets, nice warm jackets
We’ve put on our nice warm jackets and we’re off to catch the train!

We’re choo-chooing to the zoo, to the zoo, to the zoo
We’re choo-chooing to the zoo – I wonder what is there?
I can hear a roaring noise, a roaring noise, a roaring noise.
I can hear a roaring noise – is it a noisy bear?

NO IT’S NOT A BEAR!!!!! It’s a hungry LION and he’s escaped from his cage!!!!! HEEEELLLPPP!!!!!!

We’re running back out of the zoo, out of the zoo, out of the zoo!
We’re running back out of the zoo – it’s the only thing to do! 
We’re now all safe and sound, safe and sound, safe and sound
We’re now all safe and sound – BIG BIG PHEW!!!!!! 

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