When I was in Toowoomba I laid all my books out when I was getting ready for my book visit at Toowoomba Grammar School and I got a little emotional looking at them. They all look so beautiful together and I am so proud of them. Max & George was published in France and South Korea, Fearless with Dad was published in China and South Korea. I love showing kids the books in other languages and occasionally a student is able to read them to me!
Cori was a hit amongst our boys. The boys loved listening to her read her books and talk to them about some of her favourite books. As a school, we were lucky enough to have Cori for three days and she visited all classes from Prep to Year 3. One of the activities that Cori did with our boys was to write a continuing story. At each classroom she visited, she added to the story. We are planning to read this story on assembly to the whole school. Also, before leaving our school Cori gifted us a copy of her new book, ‘Twelve Days of Kindness’. It is one of the go-to books at lunchtime, where I will often see two or more boys sitting together and reading and discussing the book. We hope to have Cori come back to our school in the near future.
Toowoomba Grammar School
Thanks so much for the kind words Michelle – I had such a great time with the TWGS boys. They were so super smart and fun!
It is the Sunday night before book week begins: the sewing machines have been dusted off for another year and all over Australia the book week costumes are ready to roll. This year’s theme is great because it is super open to interpretation. My son, for example, has invented his own character, Super Chicken, and I would never crush his creativity with rules about characters in books… who knows, maybe Super Chicken will be in a book one day! I wish all the amazing and dedicated librarians a wonderful week – I know how much effort they put in and how much planning goes into making it a fabulous week for the kids. For book week, I am sharing an image from my fourth book, Twelve Days of Kindness. Let’s all practice being a little kinder, a little gentler and a little more patient with each other.
How is it possible that it is December already? It feels like this year flew by. I’ve been a bit quiet on the site because… life. But I am back! I am going to start up an Instagram page soon too. I am super happy with this resource that Teach Starter made of All I Want for Christmas is Rain. It is a super teacher’s resource.
I have been really humbled with all the recent love I have received for All I Want for Christmas is Rain. Thanks to everyone who has contacted me – let’s all hope for rain this holiday season.
I was so thrilled and shocked when I found out that All I Want for Christmas is Rain was shortlisted for the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year awards in the Early Childhood category – I still feel like being shortlisted was a big award in itself. Congratulations to the winner in my category Go Home Cheeky Animals (Johanna Bell, Dion Beasley). The CBCA has published its judges’ report on the shortlisted books and the winners and honour books. Congratulations to all shortlisted books, winning books and honour books. I am so lucky to have been in such talented company.
The awards ceremony in Hobart was a wonderful experience. I am so glad I went! It was an experience I will never forget! Here are a few photos from the ceremony. It was so great to accept the shortlist certificate with Megan Forward (with me in the middle photo). The venue for the ceremony, Government House, was lovely. Thanks to Government House and Her Excellency Kate Warner AC for hosting the awards ceremony. Thanks to the CBCA for organising the event.
I am thrilled to be able to present to you a guest blog written by fabulous Families Magazine Contributor Louise Lavery. Thanks for your insights Louise!
Louise Lavery is a content writer and the online content manager for Families Magazine & Families Online – a resource for parents with children aged 0-13. Families Magazine is the Clever Resource for Thinking Parents.
Promoting literacy development in babies and toddlers
It’s possible to promote the development of literacy in babies and toddlers. Here are some great ways you can start the process today.
Literacy as a life-long process instead of a one-off goal
The media often seems to lament the death of the written word for our children. According to the news, the days of children reading novels are long gone only to have been replaced with the beeping and blooping of screens and games. We hear all of these negative messages about decreased attention spans and what it means for our children’s literacy. The development of literacy becomes a point of stress for many parents, particularly with the perceived looming threat of NAPLAN, down the road, and we often fall into the trap of giving up before we start.
It’s too hard. I don’t know what to do. Leave it for their prep teachers. That’s what kindy is for. Sound familiar?
It’s possible to promote the development of literacy in babies and toddlers as a natural part of their growth. Just like rolling, walking and talking. Literacy development at a young age will act at the building blocks to ensure your child is able to read, write, interpret and analyse right alongside their classmates.
Strategies for developing literacy in babies and toddlers
Flashcards NOT required! Promoting literacy in babies and toddlers can be a natural process that’s enjoyable for the whole family. No chores, achievement charts or rewards required.
In my previous life I was a secondary English teacher.
When asked by parents of high school children how to improve writing and spelling, my number one answer was always “Reading”. A child who reads will understand words, concepts, punctuation and grammar in context. Patterns of speech will be familiar to them and they will have positive associations with books and texts.
Reading to your child is not only an excellent way to promote literacy in babies and toddlers but also a beautiful addition to your day. Take ten minutes whenever you can to read with your child and watch the magic unfold.
Get pens, crayons and pencils in your children’s hands whenever possible. Even the marks that little ones make can serve to further the development of literacy in babies and toddlers. Guide them to grip loosely to help make accurate marks. A lot of work done in kindergarten and prep will focus on how they are holding writing implements to prepare them for school. Making sure this is a part of daily practice as a tiny tot will go a long way towards promoting this as a more natural skill.
Literacy in babies and toddlers
This is not outside of the realm of possibility for a parent from a non-educational background. Ensuring our children are literate means they will be able to be active citizens who understand the world around them. Putting small measures in place when they are tiny will create habits to last a lifetime.
I was recently asked to put together some words on why I wrote All I Want for Christmas is Rain (published 2016 by New Frontier and illustrated by Megan Forward) – I thought I would share it here:
“New Frontier (my publisher for my second book, Fearless with Dad), asked me to write a Christmas book. My instant reaction was, ‘I don’t want to write a book about Santa, presents and commercialism’. Around the time that I was asked to write a Christmas book, there was a lot in the news about the drought affecting Australian farmers, and particularly Queensland farmers. My professional work at that time also exposed me to issues regarding farmers and the drought. So, the drought was on my mind. The themes of the book were starting to fall into place: drought, farmers, non-commercialism. My first two books had featured male characters and so it was time for me to feature a female character: Jane (which conveniently rhymes with ‘rain’). I wanted the central character in this book to be a girl because, of course, women are farmers. Another theme had fallen into place – feminism. And finally, I wanted the book to be quintessentially Australian, but not in a stereotypical cultural-cringe way; I wanted this book to resonate with Australian farmers. And so I had my themes.
I decided quite quickly that I wanted a female character who lived on a drought stricken farm to use her Santa visit to ask him for rain – this is, essentially, what the book is about. I liked the selflessness of this act – I liked the idea of a child not caring about presents on Christmas morning, but instead understanding that the one thing her family needs more than anything is rain. And I wanted to challenge myself and write the book in rhyme (a first for me). The first draft of the book was written very quickly – in a night. The book as it is now is not that much different to my first draft. Fortunately for me, my publisher New Frontier loved the manuscript and they wanted to publish it. Megan Forward was chosen as the illustrator and I was very excited by this choice when I looked at her portfolio of work. One thing that I was adamant about during the project was that the book had to look ‘right’ or it would fail. The illustrations needed to be beautiful, genuine and full of heart – not ‘Aussie’ in that Expo ‘88 way. In preparation for the visuals of the book, my family and I did a farm stay at Prestbury Farm, in the Felton Valley near Toowoomba. Although this property or area is not in drought, it was still great to be able to take photos of an actual working cattle farm. I met with Megan and took her these photos. We discussed the aesthetics of the book for about 2 hours and it was a very useful and productive meeting. I am forever grateful to my publisher New Frontier for allowing me such unfettered access to Megan. Megan also did her own research and visited a property that was actually in drought, and these images formed her work on the illustrations. The illustrations move me every time I look at them – Megan did a spectacular job. I was incredibly shocked when I learned that All I Want for Christmas is Rain had been shortlisted for Early Childhood Book of the Year by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. I am still in shock!
I am very proud of this book and I have received feedback on the book that has moved me to tears – that feedback has meant more to me than anything else. The book is dedicated to Australian farmers and it thanks them for feeding Australia. I have always had massive respect for Australian farmers and all the challenges they face – this book is my thank you to them. More than anything, I hope that the book resonates with farmers and that it has made them smile. If I achieved that, then my job is done!”
Australian Book Week is coming – the best time of the year! Book Week 2017 is 19 – 26 August… and you know what that means! It’s time to dust off that sewing machine and heat up that glue gun and get your craft on! It is Book Week costume time and time is ticking (mental note: I need to help my son make his costume…). Here is a great list from Families Magazine to get some inspo for the ‘Escape to Everywhere’ theme. I love this theme – it reminds me of the Reading Rainbow theme song from the 1980s, especially the ‘I can go anywhere / I can be anything’ part. I absolutely loved that show!
I am so excited for the Book Week bookings that I have coming up: two at the Kenmore District Kindergarten and one at John Paul College. I am also doing sessions at the Ipswich Story Festival. I can’t wait to meet lots of book-loving kids, teachers and librarians and talk about books and writing and escaping to everywhere in books!
Remember during Book Week to thank your school librarian – in my experience, school librarians really make this a special week for kids. I love librarians!
I am also very excited to be attending the CBCA Book of the Year Awards in Hobart on 18 August 2017. I am so honoured to have been shortlisted. Congratulations and best wishes to all short listed authors and illustrators. I hope to meet lots of authors and illustrators in Hobart.
I am truly honoured and over-the-moon happy that All I Want for Christmas is Rain is on the Children’s Book Council of Australia Early Childhood Book of the Year 2017 Short List. I am so proud of this book and, in a way, it is my thank you to Australia for my life here. Australia is my adopted home and I love it. It is, of course, written for all of the people who live on the land who have experienced drought. I have been very humbled and moved by the feedback I have received. The book is dedicated to the farmers of Australia and I want to thank you again for feeding Australia.
Thank you to Megan Forward for her perfect illustrations; they absolutely exceeded my expectations. From the very beginning, I knew that if the illustrations didn’t look right, the book would fail – I am so fortunate to have been able to work with Megan on this book because her illustrations completely hit the mark. Thank you to New Frontier – I love working with you! Thank you for supporting Australian authors and illustrators and for publishing the most beautiful children’s picture books available today.
I am so happy to have been short listed – it is an amazing feeling! Thank you to the CBCA for your recognition of this story.
I was thrilled to learn that ‘All I Want for Christmas is Rain’, illustrated by Megan Forward and published by New Frontier Publishing, is a 2017 Children’s Book Council of Australia 2017 Notable Book in the Early Childhood category.
I was in some very talented company and I am truly humbled by this. I am very proud of the book.
Thank you Children’s Book Council of Australia – this means a lot to me.
3 weeks ago
This is happening tomorrow 📣📣📣 The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is reading my book Twelve Days of Kindness, on her channel Storytime with Fergie and Friends.
New Frontier Publishing UK Fiona Burrows Illustration ...
1 month ago
Author goals levelled UP ⬆️! This awesome girl dressed up as Jane from my book All I Want for Christmas is Rain for Book Week 2020! This is a dream come true for an author! ❤👏 New Frontier Publishing Australia Megan Forward Author Illustrator Educator Children's Book Council of Australia ...
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