Tag archives: picture books

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Some fabulous picture books

SloughIt was lovely to see this girl immersed in her picture book during a library visit last week. And what a fantastic time it is for picture books. These have particularly delighted, impressed, moved and/or intrigued me in recent months. (Not all are new, just newish discoveries for me.)

A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alamagna
Quiet by Katie Alizadeh
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
Welcome by Barroux
Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith
Baking with Dad by Aurora Cacciapuoti
The Cloud by Hannah Cumming
King of the Sky by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin
The Pond by Nicola Davies and Cathy Fisher
If I Had a Dinosaur by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow
The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon and Vivianne Schwarz
The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty
The Everywhere Bear by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb
The Boy Who Lost His Bumble by Trudi Esberger
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Here I Am by Patti Kim and Sonia Sánchez
15 Things Not to Do with a Granny by Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling
Zeki Can Swim by Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson
The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield
My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner
One Cheetah One Cherry by Jackie Morris
Ossiri and the Bala Mengro by Katharine Quarmby and Richard O’Neill
The Journey by Francesca Sanna
Mi and Museum City by Linda Sarah
How to Find Gold by Viviane Schwarz
A Rainbow in My Pocket by Ali Seidabadi and Hoda Haddadi
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
How to Hide a Lion at School by Helen Stephens
There’s a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzie Stewart
Sun by Sam Usher

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Marvellous Imaginations: Extending Thinking through Picture Books

As ever it was great to be at the NCRCL/IBBY national conference at the weekend. I’m a huge fan of picture books and all they offer, and make sure they feature highly on lots of my training courses training courses, so I loved the fact that the day was all about them.

klausThis is Klaus Flugge, long-standing champion of innovative picture books, with IBBY’s John Dunne and a cake in honour of Andersen Press’s 40th birthday.

Picture book expert Martin Salisbury was the first speaker. He talked compellingly about the importance of visual thinking. He celebrated the increasing blurring of the lines between writing and illustration and championed today’s pioneering breed of picture book makers who help readers see and understand the world in exciting new ways. He showed us some fabulous illustrated texts – I was delighted that one of these was The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head by Daisy Hirst – and threw in some very pertinent quotes. Here’s Saul Steinberg: ‘Drawing is a way of reasoning on paper.’ This is Corbusier: ‘I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.’

Lecturer Vivienne Smith told us picture books can and should be play. She drew out the parallels between them. Play in early years education is freely chosen and self-directed, spontaneous, whole-hearted, creative and imaginative, explorative, and a context in which learning happens. Exploration and playfulness are certainly not embraced in current discourse around reading, yet they are how children learn. Practitioners should aim to create playful readers, to combat the impression children can now get all too easily, that reading is just about getting the words right. Children need playful books that playfully challenge their thinking and help them learn they can make a difference. ‘Playful reading animates texts; roots texts in the imagination; allows texts to become significant and useful to the reader. Play gives texts an afterlife.’

We were then privileged to hear an inspiring panel of speakers discuss the power of picture books to develop children’s thinking, understanding and empathy. Miranda McKearney of Empathy Lab, Nicky Parker of Amnesty International, Harriet Goodman from Philosophy for Children and the chair, author Sita Brahmachari extolled picture books for providing a platform for raising questions and helping children to explore abstract ideas and concepts, as well as difficult issues and emotions. Picture books can fuel a sense of social justice and teach children that more unites than divides us. Mirror by Jeannie Baker and There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins, both of which I love and use a lot, were held up as just two examples. Picture books can create compassionate and critical thinkers who grasp the meaning of fairness and will be better able to stand up against bigotry and violence. Wonderful stuff!

Parallel session followed, and I was inspired again by the one I attended on how an international collection of silent picture books (or books without borders, to use Sita Brahmachari’s excellent phrase for wordless picture books) has been used to enormous effect with migrant children in Lampadusa and has galvanised children in a village in southern France. How moving to see the picture books the French children made for the children in Lampadusa being handed over. The IBBY Silent Books project aims to promote books as a tool for integration. Lovely to hear some of the ways in which that aim is being fulfilled.

Lunch next, and a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues, and to talk to some inspiring publishers. Then we heard lots of very positive NCRCL and IBBY news. The IBBY international congress in New Zealand sounded amazing.

It was good after this to listen to two illustrators talk about their craft. Laura Carlin and Carol Thompson were very interesting on the huge amount of thought and creativity they put into their books, so that they give enjoyment and provoke thinking and understanding.

Next Louise John Shepherd and Charlotte Hacking from CLPE explained the Power of Pictures project. This is helping teachers discover good picture book creators and learn how to read picture books, particularly interpreting the pictures. It is giving them confidence to use them and providing ideas for exploring them with their pupils. I frequently talk about the value of picture books in terms of inference and critical thinking, so was pleased to hear these benefits highlighted. I really liked this quote too, from Perry Nodelman: ‘The words tell us what the pictures don’t show, and the pictures show us what the words don’t tell us.’

I used to be a volunteer with the Reader Organisation, so was very pleased Jane Davies, its founder, was speaking. After telling everyone about the brilliant shared reading approach, and a wonderful project with looked after children, she outlined the latest Reader initiative, a fabulous story barn in Liverpool, ‘a place where reading helps imagination run wild’. I really want to visit it.

The conference drew to an end with a brief speech from Nicholas John Frith, winner of the inaugural Klaus Flugge prize for the most exciting newcomer to picture books illustration, and then that amazing cake. What a day!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Picture books and graphic novels at KS2&3 – some great authors, illustrators and titles

IMG_2811Picture books and graphic novels have been something of a theme for me this week. Lovely, because I’m a huge fan, and a strong believer in their importance and value with children and young people in key stage 2 and beyond. In the words of a wise 11 year-old: ‘You can never be too old for picture books.’ On Wednesday I spoke at the Babcock Schools Library Service based in Devon conference on reading for pleasure, and was followed by the Etherington brothers, who were very entertaining about how they produce their graphic novels and how they get students excited about the medium. Very interesting to hear that their books are equally popular with boys and girls, but that they like them for different reasons: girls for the characters, boys for the explosions. Then yesterday I was delighted to give a course on using graphic novels and picture books at key stages 2 and 3. The training room at Westminster Schools Library Service was jammed with great book displays. We had fabulous discussions about the role of illustrated books in terms of reading skills and reading enjoyment and in supporting learning generally. We explored dozens of titles and ways to use and promote them. I loved all the ideas for bringing reading alive and changing attitudes to reading. These authors, illustrators and titles come strongly recommended.  (There are lots more excellent suggestions here.)

Chris van Allsburg, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and other titles
David Almond, Bird, Mouth, Snake, Wolf
Jeannie Baker, Mirror
Barroux, Line of Fire
Andrea Beatty, Rosie Revere Engineer
Aaron Becker, Journey
Cece Bell, El Deafo
Raymond Briggs, Ethel and Ernest
Fanny Britt, Jane, the Fox and Me
Anthony Browne, Voices in the Park and other titles
Emily Carroll, Through the Woods
Toni S Daniel, Superman/Wonder Woman Vol.1: Power Couple      
Neil Gaiman, Coraline, Graveyard Book, Wolves in the Walls
Sarah Garland, Azzi in Between
Emily Gravett, Meerkat Mail, Rabbit Problem and other titles
Armin Greder, The Island      
Mini Grey, Hermelin the Detective Mouse and other titles
Isobel Harrop, The Isobel Journal      
Libby Hathorn, Way Home
Eric Heuvel, A Family Secret
Anthony Horowitz, all the graphic novel adaptations
Virginia Ironside, The Huge Book of Worries
Ben Morley, The Silence Seeker
Mal Peet, Mysterious Traveler
Levi Pinfold, Black Dog    
Andrew Rae, Moonhead and the Music Machine
Rick Riordan, Heroes of Olympus: Lost Hero     
Michael Rosen, Sad Book
Joe Sacco, Palestine    
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis Volume 1 and Volume 2
John Scieszka, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, The Frog Prince Continued
Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck, The Marvels
Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen, The Dark
Art Spiegelman, Complete Maus  
Shaun Tan, The Arrival and other titles
Colin Thompson, How to Love Forever, Paperbag Prince and other titles
Alvaro F. Villa, Flood
Helne Ward, Varmints
David Wiesner, Flotsam, Tuesday
Marcia Williams, Archie’s War, My Secret War Diary and other titles
G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel Vol.1: No Normal 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Children’s and young people’s reading: recent news and views

dog readingLots of serious news and views to come, but I couldn’t resist starting with a story about a dog that’s learnt to read.

New OECD data tells us that young people in England have lowest literacy levels in developed world. As a trainer who specialises in children’s and young people’s reading, I am always keen to explore ways to make reading more accessible, attractive and worthwhile. Digital reading surely has a big part to play.

I felt very privileged to attend this fascinating debate on children’s reading in the digital age. Well worth watching, to find out how good use of technology has the power to bridge the alarming literacy gaps in the UK.

The National Literacy Trust reported in December that e-books make a particular difference to boys’ reading. The report prompted a BBC exploration of the place of e-books in schools.

A new survey by Booktrust found that families prefer printed books and lots of parents have qualms about digital reading. Chief executive Diana Gerald points out its benefits, when used in partnership with printed books.

I would completely agree with this, and we are immensely lucky in this country to have wonderful children’s books at our disposal.

Michael Rosen is fascinating on what children learn from picture books and how.

Here’s the Canadian Paediatric Society on why it’s never too early to start reading with children.

A recent study found that toddlers could be ready to begin reading lessons at 3. Without doubt we should encourage a love of books from babyhood onwards, but let’s make sure that’s what the emphasis is about, not reading lessons. I was very interested to read parent Sally Marks lamenting the focus on phonics drilling at home. ‘Let’s leave phonics to schools and curl up with a good book instead.’

If we want to ensure children feel positively about reading, we must of course read to them, and not just when they are very young. Do check out this inspirational TED talk by teacher Rebecca Bellingham on why it matters.

I also strongly recommend a great series of vlogs by author Phil Earle for Booktrust. I so agree with him that children need to be able to choose books that give them sense of achievement.

Like many others, I have a particular concern about comprehension. Lots of teachers on courses tell me about children who are excellent at decoding, but do not understand what they are reading. In which case, what’s the point? Here’s a useful blog about how to use questioning to support comprehension.

Study after study has proved that children and young people who enjoy reading read more and are better at it. Hardly surprising! It’s instructive to read this teenager’s view that students need to enjoy the books their GCSE books.

And here’s another valuable article from the Guardian children’s book site: Children’s books: a middle class ghetto?

Finally, on a much lighter note, the results of a poll about heroes and villains in children’s literature. I’m delighted to see Pooh and Paddington among the heroes. Cruella de Vil and Mrs Coulter are definitely my favourite villains.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Great picture books for young children about reading, books and libraries

A plea on the invaluable School Librarians Network for suggestions of picture books for EYFS and key stage 1 children that feature reading, books or libraries got me hunting my shelves. I love stories on these themes, and use them a lot on courses and in workshops. It was great to be reminded of books I had forgotten by other librarians too. These all come recommended, as read-alouds and for children to enjoy by themsleves. (Sorry, not all are in the photo.)

IMG_2433Kate Banks, The Bear in the Book
Pascal Biet, A Cultivated Wolf
Jane Blatt, Books Always Everywhere
Richard Byrne, This Book Just Ate My Dog
Emma Chichester Clark, Bears Don’t Read
Lauren Child, But Excuse Me That is My Book and Wolves
Katie Cleminson, Otto the Book Bear
Gillian Hibbs, Tilly’s at Home Holiday
Michelle Hudson, Library Lion
Mick Inkpen, This is My Book
Oliver Jeffers, The Incredible Book Eating Boy
Marni McGee, Winston the Book Wolf
Emily MacKenzie, Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar
Anna McQuinn, Lulu Loves Stories, Lulu Loves the Library and Lulu Reads to Zeki
Wendy Meddour, How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel
Judy Sierra, Wild About Books
Lane Smith, It’s a Book
Jessica Spanyol, Carlo and the Really Nice Librarian
Louise Yates, Dog Loves Books