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This is a blog for talking about great children’s books.  All reviews posted are my own views about books I have read and enjoyed.  Many of these books I have used in the classroom.

I have been teaching for more than 20 years, and children’s literature is my passion.  Too often, I see great books bypassed for the classroom, because teachers are busy people, and they just do not have the time to read everything.  Book lists for classrooms need to be kept fresh and current.  That doesn’t mean we need to race to the latest in popular literature.  Very few of the books I review will have vampires, zombies or even a series attached to them.  Kids will find those books on their own.

I have two sons, neither of whom are voracious readers.  One has the view that if its not true – what’s the point?  And yet two of his favourite books are ‘Swallows and Amazons’ – by Arthur Ransome, and ‘Tomorrow When the War Began’ – by John Marsden.  At the moment he is reading something scientific – and that’s great, after all he won the physic prize in year 12, so I can’t complain.  My younger son is 14, and like Charlie Joe Jackson, is an avid avoider of books, unless you count ‘Bud, Not Buddy’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘That Was Then, This is Now’ as books that he loves.

Since I have sons, and since some of the most successful book avoiders I have taught are boys, I make no apology for there being a boy focus in my listings – but I do hope there is something there for everyone to enjoy.

It’s up to the adults around kids to find them books of quality – something timeless and yet resonating with their own lives.  Some people might regards ‘good books’ as difficult, or boring.  In my opinion, there is nothing more boring or difficult to read than a book which is poorly written, or formulaic to the point of yawn drawing dullness.

Just as young musicians must have quality instruments to be able to hear the tone quality, sports gear that helps not hinders, and access to opportunities to wonder and think about their place in the world, they must have access to great literature to learn to love reading – especially those reluctant readers…after all, they may only read a few books in their lives…we might as well make them good ones.

Good reading everyone!


4 responses to “About

  1. Hi there, have just followed your blog and am excited to receive your updates! I have three kids and have suddenly found myself reading more and more children’s and young adult fiction, forever on the search for the next book to put in front of my boys in particular. One loves only funny stories, the other only stories that could be real (i.e. no fantasy or sci fi which is rather unusual i suppose). And BOTH have this inherent belief that reading should be immediately enjoyable/fun if you’re going to go to all that trouble. That means I read a lot “out loud”, as this is more enjoyable and relaxing for them than doing it themselves – until of course they get hooked, and steal the book to go off and finish it alone (an effective little ploy). Anyway, I’m always on the lookout for new recommendations. I have just begun including my own reviews of children’s books on my blog too – I never bothered previously, but have recently become much more interested in discussing these books so thought I might begin (I also include a kid’s review of the same book, if they’ll will give me one!).

    • Hi Nadine,

      Welcome. This blogging thing is very new to me, and I am slowly finding my way around…Hopefully this page will gradually develop into something useful for parents, children and teachers. I look forward to hearing what books your boys are enjoying as well.


  2. Hi Nadine, Thanks for your comment. I look forward to reading your blog. I am also hoping to start including some kid reviews of the books I review – after all, that’s who the books are for! I am so glad you are reading regularly to your boys – I still read to my younger son – who is 14. It’s often the way I get him started into a book. If I’m lucky, he sneaks it away to finish, but since he is a confirmed RR (reluctant reader) that doesn’t happen all that often. I think we stop reading to children far too soon, once they can read for themselves.
    Read-alouds at school are one of my favourite times, and my Year 8 boys love and demand it (I do teach girls as well – they just don’t seem quite so dependent on the read-alouds). Sometimes I read a whole book, sometimes just taster chapters. Sometimes just extracts I really love…It has got to the point where children are bringing bits of books they love for me to share with the the others. Fantastic! A personal goal of mine is to include more NZ books on this blog, so please do recommend any you love and think should be here!

  3. Hi Megan, yes, I have to say that I find hearing the eldest boy describe the book in his own words quite interesting. As much as anything for what is omitted in his reviews – it seems the things that leave an impression aren’t always the things I would have expected. It takes quite a lot of self-control not to interfere and prompt him; but, exactly as you point out, these books are for their benefit after all so let them have their say!

    Reading aloud has become a bit of an obsession of late – I was “converted” by Daniel Pennac in his fantastic (perspective-changing) “The Rights of the Reader” which I was a godsend when C entered Reading Recovery at age 8. Took all the pressure away. When I first started reading aloud the slow progress we made used to frustrate me no end, but now I’m used to it. we Find a rhythm and pass as little or as long as they’re willing to sit… longer and longer all the time which is nice. I can now even read in the car! So no need for ipads on long journeys…

    PS you must be a fabulous teacher! I still remember being read the BFG in primary school.. how I couldn’t WAIT for mat time at the end of the day…

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