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Tag Archives: grandparents

Intelligent reading – Comprehension in young children

Reading – we all recognise it as a core skill. By ‘intelligent reading’, I mean reading with a level of comprehension commensurate with the child’s experience of the world they inhabit. Fortunately, reading to children is now encouraged  as being supportive of  reading literacy and as a sound foundation for future learning.

Not that long ago, children were seen as passive recipients of the eager parent’s input via the quality time spent in ‘read to me’ and ‘bedtime story’ sessions.

I always felt sure my children were taking in much more than the professional opinion allowed.

Recently, I borrowed a copy of Dr. Virginia Lowe’s very excellent book, “Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two children tell” (Routlege 2007) based on the record of her own two children’s responses to books from birth to adolescence. Dr. Lowe’s book vindicates what I felt all along as a parent! This book should be set reading for students of primary, early childhood and remedial teaching, child and family psychology and for anyone with an interest in literacy or children’s literature!

Her children had a smorgasbord of stories proffered continuously, both Dr Lowe and her husband being librarians who were passionate advocates of children’s literature.  The children’s reactions to and responses concerning elements of story and  illustrations provide a wonderfully insightful peek into the psyche of the child. Both Lowe children clearly had a blessed and privileged childhood, but being ‘read to’ is within the reach of most children. Public libraries and school libraries are accessible to most families. Even if parental work commitments make  a nightly ‘reading’ impossible, there are weekends and visits to grandparents when  a ‘storytelling’ session can be included in the agenda.

There are other options.

Storytelling sessions are held regularly in many public libraries and are ‘free’.

And online  resources such as “Ripple Reader” and “A Story Before Bed” provide a way for even absent grandparents and parents to read to their children. In the USA and Israel, ‘bedtime stories’ are part of official early education policy. Programmes like “Reach Out and Read” and “Read to Me” do a monumental job in promoting literacy and the power of  storytime to be a deeply meaningful and bonding time in families.Virginia-Lowe-Stories-Pictures-and-reality-cover12517427738

How not to do a Book Launch?!

When Jenny Stubbs, Festival Coordinator Extraordinaire, told me I had a slot to launch “All in the Woods” I was ecstatic! It was my first book to be published in the UK and a launch venue at the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature, Woodlands, was almost too good to be true. Jenny facilitated a link to Aleesah Darlison who agreed to MC. BRILLIANT! What could go wrong?

The Ipswich Festival is always an exciting event! It is held at Woodlands, a stunning, heritage listed venue set amongst rural fields, magnificent trees and rolling hills – what a setting for a launch! The lead up to the day, Tuesday, 13th September 2011, was a real buzz! Then the unthinkable happened… The weekend before, my throat started to get that irritating little scratch and that niggly cough that sometime precedes worse. Sunday night it started to hit! Laryngitis!

Friends, good friends can be the saving of such worst case scenarios. I spoke (whilst I still had a voice) to Tara Hale, who designed the promo poster, would she be Guest Artist “Pink” the possum [cousin of “Ink” the animal hero of my book]. Next I contacted  Nooroa Te Hira, he has worked as a tour guide so I knew he would ace a reading of my book. Then I rang Christian Bocquee and asked would he help with nitty grittys like directing teachers and students to seats, distributing prizes and general moral support! Bless them, they all ‘volunteered’ unstintingly!

Result? Fun, fun, fun!  We had a ball, the book launch was a total success! The author having to use copious amounts of sign language but, hey, she has 5 kids so she speaks the  lingo with hands and fingers! 🙂

You can see some of the fun in the gallery below.

And the book, which was illustrated by wonderful watercolourist Linda Gunn

? It had been a truly international effort – written by an Aussie, illustrated by an American and published by a Brit! The icing on the cake was a nomination for the OPSO Award!

Here is a recent review by Kathy Schneider!

Where can you get it? Here!

“All in the Woods” first review through and first from the USA

“All in the Woods” by J.R.Poulter, illustrated by Linda S. Gunn, Pixiefoot Press, 2011 UK  ISBN 978-0-9560363-5-3  [release  – 1st August]

Everyone in Pete’s family is moving or adjusting to a move, it seems. Change brings challenges, not least of which are the family’s nosey, new neighbours. Everyone says what they think, but are they right? Things are not always as they seem…  and who is the mysterious little visitor who changes everything? A story that bridges generations, told with humour  and an underlying plea for the preservation of wildlife habitats.

REVIEW by Janice Phelps Williams, USA

“With sensitive and humorous prose, J.R. McRae tells a story of family life, love, and acceptance with beautiful illustrations by Linda Gunn. When Pete finds a furry hero, Ink, to solve his dinnertime woes, a nosey neighbor jumps to conclusions that enlarge as Pete’s grandpa comes to visit. When Mrs. Allan’s mother-in-law, Nanny, and Pete’s grandpa take off for an early-morning drive, the assumptions increase until Ink and Grandpa solve the mystery. Perfect for young readers, this book speaks of a boy and his grandpa, a mother defending her son from gossip, and the surprise of love at any age.”  ~Janice Phelps Williams, author, illustrator www.janicephelps.com

Promotional poster, by Tara Hale, for “All in the Woods”, Pixiefoot Press, 2011