Wednesday, April 17, 2019

6 Great Books for Teachers, Parents & Grandparents who love children's books

Followers of this blog know that I write about all aspects of language, literacy and children's literature. I often review literature to be read by or shared with children. But in this post, I want to share some of the great books that I receive that I'm sure adults and lovers of kids' books will enjoy. There might even be a great present here for a teacher, parent or grandparent you know.

1. Flights of Fancy: Stories, pictures and inspiration from ten Children's Laureates 

This wonderful book from Walker Books profiles the inspirational work of 10 well-known British writers of children's literature. With household names like Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Anthony Brown, Michael Rosen, Julia Donaldson and Michael Morpurgo this is a remarkable group.

These well-known storytellers through words and pictures, are the first 10 people to have been appointed in Britain as Children's Laureate. This is a two year appointment that recognises outstanding achievement in children's literature. What I love about the book is that each chapter offers a little of the background and work of each person, and a unique twist each time on what they share. For example, Qentin blake shares some unusual large scale "splatter creatures" and talks about his experimentation with images.

Above: Anthony Browne's Shirley Hughes
On the other hand, Anne Fine shares much about her home library and her love of bookplates. Michael Morpurgo offers an insight into his writing processes,  Michael Rosen plays with words to say great things about poetry (no surprise there), Anthony Browne draws some of the other laureates, and so on. This is a wonderful feast of insights into writing and illustration by giants in the field.

2. 'Encyclopedia of Grannies' by Eric Veillé

Now this might just be written for children, but I doubt that any grandmother will be able to put it down without laughing. This  clever French writer illustrator, gives us an insight into just how diverse 'grannies' are. Did you know there are Grannies in ski suits, some who love nature, surfboard riding Australian grannies, young grannies and old ones? Every grannie has a nickname like 'Mimi', 'Abuela', 'G-ma', 'Meemaw' and more! It's amazing what grannies do with their time - talking, opening oysters, getting names muddled, tempting us with cream buns and more.

Grannies seem to know a lot of things that will surprise you (and maybe some grannies). Their wisdom and sayings are priceless! Some grannies knit cardigans for people, covers for cat tails, warmers for camel humps and even gloves for snowmen. Then of course, there is much to learn about the moods of grannies. And we mustn't forget about the travel of grannies and much, much more. A great book for grannies to enjoy alone or with someone on their knee!

3. 'Poe: Stories and Poems' by Gareth Hinds (graphic novel)

Any adult who loves poetry will love this graphic novel, and you'll look cool with your teenage grandchildren or students! Hind has taken some of the best-known works from Edgar Allan Poe and transformed them into illustrated works. Gareth Hind is well-known for his own work with graphic novels and this book won't disappoint. While Poe's work might seem challenging to some, Hind's treatment of the poems and stories might well get some teenagers (and maybe adults) across the line to love these works.

In “The Cask of Amontillado,” a man exacts revenge on a disloyal friend at carnival, luring him into catacombs below the city. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” a prince shielding himself from plague hosts a doomed party inside his abbey stronghold. A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, faced with a swinging blade and swarming rats, can’t see his tormentors in “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a milky eye and a deafening heartbeat reveal the effects of conscience and creeping madness. Alongside these tales are visual interpretations of three poems — “The Raven,” “The Bells,” and Poe’s poignant elegy to lost love, “Annabel Lee.” The seven concise graphic narratives, keyed to thematic icons, amplify and honor the timeless legacy of a master of gothic horror.

Some might be offended by a few word changes, but these are limited and do little more than shorten some sentences and occasionally connect others. The majority of the text used within the graphic novel format is verbatim, but the illustrations alone will make it come to life. Adults will enjoy the book and will have some fun discussing it with their students, children or grandchildren.

4. 'The Book that Made Me' Ed Judith Ridge

This is the book for the would-be writers (just about everyone!). It is an edited book that contains 32 personal stories from children’s and young adult authors as they explore the books, stories, and experiences that changed them as readers. The authors include Shaun Tan, Simon French, Jaclyn Moriarty, Ursula Dubosarky, Catherine Johnson, Julia Lawrinson and Jared Thomas.

What was the book that made them fall in love, or made them understand something for the first time? What was the book that made them feel challenged in ways they never knew they could be, emotionally, intellectually, or politically? What book made them readers, or made them writers, or made them laugh, think, or cry?

This one looks a bit more like a text book, but the short chapters are rich in experiences and insights into each author's life as well as their formative literary experiences.

5. 'Five on Brexit Island' by Bruno Vincent

I bought my copy of 'Five on BREXIT Island' last year when in London. I just couldn't resist. Only the fear of excess baggage made me leave some of the other titles on the shelves. This is of course Enid Blyton with a serious twist. Obviously, Enid Blyton for grown-ups or thoughtful teenagers. In a way, this book in the series has been made even better by the 12 months of political chaos in Britain over the exit from the EU.

The story starts on the night of the referendum. The Five are gathered relaxing on Kirrin Island. Julian has politics on his mind. He steps forward and clears his throat.

"There's been a lot of scaremongering going on," he said, "about the potential consequences of this vote: about subsidies, about people's livelihoods being threatened, about the economy and about hope in the future." He implores the gathering to fight for the values of the Island. For of course, "... Britain is great, and Kirrin Island is great too - and they are better - together!"

Hopefully, this will whet your appetite.

Other titles include 'Five go on a strategy away day', 'Five go parenting', 'Five give up the booze' and one for the ages, 'Five go gluten free'.

6. 'Raising Readers: How to nurture a child's love of books' by Megan Daley

Some kids refuse to read, others won't stop - not even at the dinner table! Either way, many parents question the best way to support their child's literacy journey. When can you start reading to your child? How do you find that special book to inspire a reluctant reader? How can you tell if a book is age appropriate? What can you do to keep your tween reading into their adolescent years?

Teacher librarian Megan Daley has fifteen years of experience and shares many of her in sights. Her opening chapter has some great advice on "raising a reader" in the years 0 to 5. Later chapters have good advice on the nature of reading, where technology fits, getting the most of out of a library and setting up the library or a classroom. There also excellent chapters on a balanced diet of varied reading genres (historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, plays, poetry, novels and more). As well she tackles multimodal and digital reading and books that reflect cultural diversity. 

You'll find lots of practical tips, suggested reading lists and things as practical as how to run book-themed activities. The book is a great resource for parents and educators.


  







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