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!) 

 

World Book Day Costume Dilemma & Book Review

“I want to go as Blaze from Blaze as the Monster Machines!” my son said about World Book Day. A a children’s book blogger, writer and reader a little bit of me died inside! Have to be honest…I’m all for freedom of expression but in this case not on my watch buddy!! I negotiated with him and told him that he could pick something from a book for World Book Day and when it was World Television Day, I would make him a Blaze costume…he seemed happy with this solution thank goodness!!!

The week leading to World Book Day is such a great opportunity to engage children in reading, discussing and engaging with books of all varieties. Children have such varied tastes and imaginations. There’s been a lot recently on whether parents should have a say on what their children read and discourage comics and so called babyish books. Some people might disagree with me and parents know their own children, however, my overall opinion is no they shouldn’t. Children should be free to read read read!!!! Yes there are books that have some things that they might not understand or maybe outdated thoughts… children’s books written back in the day might be sexist, or racist but isn’t it good to be able to talk about these topics and explain how things have changed or what still needs changing? As for things like comics not being proper reading material…I used to read The Beano and would love for my child to do the same. It didn’t stop me reading “proper stories”. An early childhood memory I have is Sunday mornings my parents would always be reading in bed. I’d take my book and climb in between them. Sometimes I’d ask to read their books outloud to them. They never said no. I learnt new words and new concepts. Reading books with my parents meant we spoke about them, could have conversations about them. Now with my own boys (well at least with my 4 year old), I talk about what I’m reading in simple terms. “It’s a mystery book” or “It’s a book about an elderly man who doesn’t have a family” (A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – if you’ve not read it please do. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy for the tears will come. It took me 2 days before I could pick up another book!). My son asks questions which I try and answer in an age appropriate way and when he asks if he can read these books I tell him “when you’re able to read for yourself you can read whatever you want!”. I let him pick out the books at bedtime – if it’s his 2 year old brother’s picture book that he wants to look at I let him and never tell him that’s baby-ish. My mum is my biggest reading inspiration. She used to read to me on the potty, while I was eating lunch, in the mornings, in the afternoons, in the evenings. Even now, she always has a few books on the go. Books can be funny, sad, happy, unsettling, mysterious and eye-opening. They can open new worlds of imagination. They can be used as topics of conversations, they can be used to educate, encourage empathy and can help children to understand their own emotions before they have the vocabulary to express themselves. They can only do all of these things if we give our children access to them.

Let children read comics, short books, long books, books that are too young for them, books that are slightly beyond them. Let kids read poetry, magazines, fairy tales. Just let them read for reading is learning and learning is life.

BOOK REVIEW 

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine – written by William AE Ford, Illustrations by Marcelo Simonetti

TIMOTHY MEAN AND THE TIME MACHINE.png

If you are stuck for World Book Day Costumes (and even if you’re not!) I highly recommend Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by the lovely William AE Ford. I was lucky enough to be sent an e-copy by author William and my son enjoyed it so much not only did I want to write a review but I’ve just bought 2 paperback copies – one for the house and one for my 4 year old’s nursery!

The mischievous Timothy Mean is the main character and is a bit bored one day so he builds a time machine out of carboard and glue. He then travels in time and causes mayhem with his pranks! He visits, dinosaurs, Vikings, space, the future and even sneaks in to the classroom when his parents were children. My son LOVED pretending to press an imaginary button on the sofa to make the time machine go and did this so vigorously and with so much enthusiasm I thought the button might break and we’d get stuck in the future with the teacher robots! We loved the rhyming rhythm as the book took us to a variety of places on different the days of the week and the pictures by Marcelo Simonetti are STUNNING!!! This book is brilliant for sparking children’s (and adults’!) imaginations and instigated A LOT of questions from my son. “What do dinosaurs eat? Why do the pirates have swords? Where are the teachers? What do robots eat? What is the dragon doing? What is the moon made of?….”

About the Author
William was born in Britain and now lives in Oslo. His favourite books as a child were The Hobbit and Lord of the rings. He loves the magical worlds and adventures created by Tolkien. The idea for Timothy Mean came from watching his children play and how they use their toys and imagination to role play. He often makes up story’s for his children at bedtime and has been writing for about 7 years.

Of course, I had to ask the question “If you could travel anywhere in time where would you go and why?”
William answered “If I could travel anywhere in time it would be to 1966 to see England win the World Cup!”

If you could go back in time where would you go? Would love to hear your comments!!

Baby’s Books…

…He’s still a baby if he’s turned one right? Well, think they’ll always be my babies no matter how old! Anyway, my youngest turned one and in spite of everyone in the house having winter lergies, we had a wonderful day of fish and chips and a visit to the aquarium. I think my son and his huge appetite would have tried to eat the fish there too, given half the chance!

He got a couple of books for his birthday – doesn’t matter how young children are. Reading is a great way to encourage their language and vocabulary. Personally for me, more importantly it’s a great way to bond and the happy shrieks and giggles we get from reading George’s favourites are priceless memories.

So what better way to celebrate the special day than a list of his top 5 books? (Certainly a much better way than eating cake out of the dustpan the second Daddy’s back was turned! 🤢)

1. Charlie Chick – by Nick Denchfield<<
pop-up book given to my eldest a couple of Easter's ago by a close friend. It's about a hungry little chick. George gets the giggles whenever the pop up beak tries to "peck" him. Very simple sentences and so much fun. I've also just seen apparently there are a series of books such as Charlie Learns to Fly and Charlie Chick Goes to School.

2. Toddle Waddle by Julia Donaldson<<
eviewed this before but it's still one of our favourites. A fantastic book that introduces children to noises. Beautifully illustrated and lots of fun.

3. Where’s Mr Lion? – by Ingela Arrhenius<
eorge loves this serious of lift the flap books. It was one of the first books I read to him. The flaps are made of felt and are so easy for little fingers to grab but not so easy for them to tear. We have Where’s Mr Lion? and Where’s Mrs Hen? Very colourful and really grab their attention!

4. Maisy’s Colours– by Lucy Cousins
A bright book, George was kindly given for his birthday, featuring Maisy Mouse. Teaches little ones colours and gives examples of each one. George has recently learned to point at objects that aren’t just food related and has great fun pointing at random things in the book.

5. Pop-Up Peekaboo! Bedtime- by DK (publishers)

Another birthday book, this one is full of peekaboo surprises. Have to be a bit careful that George doesn’t grab things too hard (my eldest has Woof! Woof! from this series and ripped the dog’s head off when he was about the same age as George). Such a sweet series particularly this bedtime book!

What’s your little one’s current favourite bedtime story? Would love to hear from you!

Party like it’s Friday….

Well I promised the book review of Kitchen Disco (by Clares Foges and Al Murphy) and what a book it is! It arrived on Friday and without exaggeration we have read it about 8 times already. It’s great for around 6/7 and under with so much colour, fantastic rhyming and a good beat. It almost feels like you’re at a party when you read it. It tells you to “Dance like you don’t care!” (Though my 3 year old keeps insisting “I do care Mummy!” – not sure if he means his dancing or mine! 😂)
It’s all about the party fruit have when everyone’s asleep. So “Swing your hips, shake your pips and let’s get all excited!” Such an enjoyable book that my son loves doing the moves to.

There’s also a website attached with a video  (link below) though if I’m honest the book is fun enough without it.

Kitchen Disco

The modern world….

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

Groucho Marx

Apparantly if we read, then kids read (well according to this article I found). It also says it doesnt matter if it’s on an e-reader or not. However, I remember my parents reading lots and books being all over the house. Almost every Saturday morning I’d go to the library with my Dad and we would spend hours there choosing books. I loved it and being an only child with not much else to do I would go through book after book (even at meal times if I could get awayI’ve got rid of most of my books in favour of an e-reader (mine’s a Kindle). Wasn’t sure about it at first and still miss turning the pages of a proper book. However, I’ve actually grown to love it for the following reasons:

1. Space saving 
2. Great for travelling 
3. I read books I would never otherwise have read! It comes up with suggestions of books to try, which leads to finding out about authors I’ve never heard. Now I’ve got hundreds of books all at the click of a button.

However, it makes me worry. 

1. My kids may never see the covers of the book I’m reading and ask about it.
2. When they’re old enough, they can’t just pick one I’ve read off a shelf (one of my favourite activities growing up was looking through my Father’s old penguin books- he seemed quite into Sci-fi and short stories)
3. They may think I’m just looking at another computer screen. I hope not and my intention is to talk about the books I’m reading.
4. Will they still enjoy books just as much even if they’re on an e-reader?
There are loads of children’s’ books in the house so it’s a worry for another day but the article really made me think about how my children will perceive books in the future. Would love to hear your thoughts on the article too and if your children are older with e-readers.

Here’s the link: Forbes Article

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

Boo!

I know it’s not until next week but with all the pumpkins, skeletons and witches about it’s hard not to get into the Halloween “spirit” (see what I did there?!)
Hope you enjoy this Halloween Rhyme!

Witching For Beginners 
By Kirsten Allen 26.10.17

No one believes me,
When I say I’m a new witch 
And that it was my broomstick,
That knocked my sister in the ditch.

I couldn’t find a prince to turn into a frog
But I found a magic potion in the bathroom,
So tried it on the dog.
Instead of turning into a creature, from the murky pond,
Our poor, brown, furry, four-legged friend, 
Turned an orange shade of blond.

And I then I tried to tell Mum that it was my untrained super witch powers,
That accidentally whacked the heads off all her best most favourite flowers.

I’m new to this whole witching thing,
So I am at a loss,
And really don’t know the right spell
To make her stop being so cross!

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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

Autumn book reviews….

So yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to read some Autumny type books to pre-schoolers at Sandhurst Library. Today I’m enjoying reviewing some of them! I took Cedric the Squirrel along and the children enjoyed cuddles with him. Here he is snuggled up with his leaves, conkers and a great book!


1. The Wild Woods – by Simon James

A beautifully illustrated and engaging story (Oliver loves this one!) about a little girl, going for a walk with her Grandad. Jess  decides she wants to take a squirrel home. She also has some very logical ideas on what to feed him and where he can sleep. Can she convince Grandad it’s a good idea?…

2. Pumpkin Soup – Helen Cooper

A squirrel, a duck and a bagpipe playing cat all live together in harmony making pumpkin soup. Each has their own job to do. One day, the duck decides he wants to do something different and it doesn’t go down well at all! This would be a great one perhaps for reception classes as it shows what the cat and squirrel think has happened to the duck after he’s waddled off in a huff. Children can have so much fun guessing and using their imaginations before the end is given away. Beautiful illustrations too. 

3. The Big Snuggle-Up – by Brian Patten

Personally, I loved reading this story. A scarecrow and various creatures all need shelter from the snow. Such a gentle beautiful book and so good for repetition. The children could “help out” with the story. Just wonderful! Would make a great soothing bedtime story.

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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