Friday, October 20, 2017

Respond to Literature - 3 Book Response Templates

by Susan Stephenson,

In most curricula there is an emphasis on asking children to respond to literature. One way to do this is to write a book review, and I have suggestions for kids who want to do that in my article How Do Kids Write a Book Review.

But a conventional book review is not the only way for kids to think about and reflect on something they’ve read. I have created three templates, each of which guides children’s response to a book. These templates are PDFs which are free for you to download and use if you are a parent, teacher or librarian who works with children.

The first is colour, and is a comic panel format with a little character asking kids questions that guide their response to a book.

The second is virtually the same, but in black and white and no character, so kids can completely design their own response.

The third is colour and has more emphasis on connections kids can make to text.

You can read more about them, and download them, at my website in Free PDFs, Book Response Templates.

While you’re there, check out all the free PDFs I offer to parents, teachers and librarians who work with kids. You might also be interested in Posters: Helping Kids Select Books.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Updated List: Children’s Picture Books about Babies

by Susan Stephenson,

Recently I have updated my list of Children’s Picture Books about Babies, and embedded it below. Please note: these are books ABOUT babies. They are not specifically books FOR babies which might tend to be board books, or very simple books with one picture and word to a page.

In this list you will find picture books that might be useful to add to a collection about family life, who am I?, change, the past and the present etc. You’ll also find great gift choices and read-alouds that are thoughtful and fun.

You can find other picture book lists via my five Listly pages, or check out all my book reviews on Pinterest.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Creative Prompt for Kids - Start with a Line

by Susan Stephenson,

I really enjoy challenging kids to respond to prompts. Their creativity is amazing and something to be celebrated. Today I have a new prompt. It asks kids to start with the concept of some kind of line, and use that as the spark for any kind of creativity. Remember, the important thing is that kids create SOMETHING, so deviating from my suggestions is wonderful!

Below this you will see the list of all my creative prompts so far.

***How many lines can you see in your home? Classroom? What if those lines became something else?

***Name as many different lines as you can e.g. straight, curvy ….

***Invent a board game that uses two parallel lines to show a journey or pathway. Divide up your lines into “stepping stones” so players can move along the path with markers to hold their place, and use dice-throws to go forwards or backwards.

***Check out this tutorial on drawing lines and transforming them. What can you do to transform a line?

***Can you think of a story where a line is a very important clue to solving a mystery?

***What is the opposite of a line? Create an art work based on this idea.

***Draw a straight line. Add another, and another. What can you draw using only straight lines?

***Can you create an art work using paper, string and paint?

***Find a simple biscuit/cookie recipe or ask someone to recommend one. Once you’ve cooked them, let them cool. Make some icing and draw lines and swirls to decorate them.

***Draw a squiggly line. Ask your friend to turn your squiggle into something else.

***Take two pencils and use a rubber band to bond them together. Draw a pathway with those two pencils. Where will it go? What happens when you get there?

***Imagine a line drawn in front of you. You decide to follow it. Where will it lead you? What happens? How do you escape or resolve a problem?

***Google “Follow the Line children’s picture book” and browse some pages from Laura Ljungkvist’s books. Use one of her ideas to create something new of your own.

***Artist Geoff Slater paints “using one continuous line with a beginning and an ending. Although it changes colour, the line never touches, or crosses itself.” What are you inspired to create like this?

***What line from a song can you use for inspiration to create something you would like?

***Your story must start or finish with this line: “ I learnt a lesson that day that I will never forget.”

***Draw some lines on the playground with chalk. What game can you invent?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Children’s Book Review, I Just Ate My Friend

Reviewed by Susan Stephenson,

I Just Ate My Friend is a children’s picture book created by Heidi McKinnon and published by Allen and Unwin (2017.) $Au 24.99 HB

From the publisher:

This beautiful, innovative picture book from an enormously talented creator will make you laugh out loud. The search for a true friend is something everyone can relate to - from the very young to the very old.

I just ate my friend. He was a good friend. But now he is gone. Would you be my friend?

A hilarious story about the search for friendship and belonging... and maybe a little bit about the importance of impulse control... from an amazing new creator.

After many, many hours of reading to kids, you develop a strong sense of what is going to work as a read-aloud. This one will! Let’s start with the title - can’t you just imagine the Kinder-Year 2 set wanting to know more? Next comes the front cover: those BIG eyes, that “oops” expression. By now, they will be clamouring to have you read it. The great thing is, the invitation to play continues. Inside we see the same little guy from the cover that realised he had just eaten his friend, quite distressed that his friend is now gone.

And then we witness the search for a new friend, a search which doesn’t go well, and continues with the same very clever graphic illustration. The strong colours and large images contribute so much to making this a great picture book to share with kids. They will love looking at all the strange creatures, they will adore joining in with a ROAR, and finally, they will roll around laughing over the very clever twist at the end.

I award I Just Ate My Friend the coveted Book Chook Feather of Approval and highly recommend it for homes, public libraries and schools. I know for sure I’ll be keeping watch for McKinnon’s next books.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Posters: Helping Kids Select Books

by Susan Stephenson,

One of the things librarians and teachers strive for is to give children the tools that will help them make their own choices about what they want to read for pleasure. 

We discuss all sorts of strategies with kids. These can include intensive lessons about how to use catalogues, the internet, and the Dewey system. Strategies can also be simpler or more casual - things like asking advice from friends or a librarian, checking out aspects of a physical book such as the font, illustrations and blurb, skimming to get an idea of what a book is about, reading book reviews, even starting a book club with friends.

I’ve put together some ideas to discuss with kids when focusing on strategies for book selection. These are in the form of two PDFs so each can be printed as an A4 poster. The first poster is for older kids, and is in the form of an infographic that asks What to Read Next? It's a visual list of several strategies. It isn’t exhaustive, but, printed out, it may be useful as a discussion starter or reminder. The second is very simple, is in a comic format, and is more suited to younger kids.

If you are a parent, teacher or librarian who works with kids, you can read more and grab either or both of the Book Selection Posters from my website in my article, Tips for Helping Children Select Books. ‎

*** Many thanks to librarians Cate, Rebecca and their students for input and feedback about the posters.

You might also like to check out other PDFs I’ve created.
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