Category Archives: Reading

World Read Aloud Day March 6 2013 : Week 3 – a snapshot of my reading life


A snapshot of my reading life :


I want and need to read lots of books so that I am familiar with as many authors and genres as possible.

The more I read the more I can recommend titles that will match my students interests.

This pile represents the connections I have made with other librarians, teachers, bloggers and publishers. Every one of these titles was purchased as a result of an interaction or connection with another person.

Many of the books above were preorders based on enthusiastic endorsements from others. I use Twitter as a valuable source of intelligence regarding forthcoming publications. Other peoples enthusiasm for stories is contagious.

I read everyday. My reading takes many forms:

  • social networks – Twitter, Facebook
  • blogs – from librarians, teachers, publishers, authors and educators
  • websites – professional journals e.g. SLJ, book reviews
  • email
  • curated sites –, learnist, pinterest
  • magazines – I read so I can add articles to our Library Catalogue that match inquiry topics
  • non-fiction – I have hundreds of books covering all of my interests from cooking, quilting, scrapbooking, travel, history, biography, but lots of topics that I feel we need at home for homework and reference, despite our reliance on the internet.
  • fiction – print, ebooks (on my ipad at night so I don’t disturb my husband) and audio books (so I can ‘read’ even when I am doing chores – it stops me feeling resentful and makes the time go quicker)
  • Picture books that I read aloud to children as part of my work

I would like to say that piles of new books like the one above are rare. My credit card will testify to the contrary, I buy books every week. I love new books. Every book is the possibility of a match made in heaven between an author, a story and one of my students.

I can’t imagine a life without reading. The greatest thing that comes from reading is sharing.


World Read Aloud Day 2013 : Week 3 : Part 1 Reflections on my reading life…..


Being part of the World Read Aloud Day has really made me reflect on my whole life of reading. I had never sat down and considered what a huge and positive influence, growing up in a house with books and alongside passionate readers had really done for me until I started thinking about what the opposite means for a small number of my students.

This isn’t a snapshot but a movie…
I think life was simpler in the 60’s and 70’s – by that I mean there were no devices or computers and in my house no television for many years. When friends came over after school and it was apparent that we didn’t have TV I would feel embarrassed, now I understand why my parents thought it unnecessary. When my family finally succumbed and bought a television, black and white children’s programmes were only available for an hour per day (Lassie) and aside from Doctor Who and Coronation Street on a Friday night, and on Sunday nights, Disneyland (with dinner on a tray on knees) we followed fantastic historical dramas from the BBC (Fall of Eagles, Edward the 7th). If we ever stayed at my Nana’s on a Saturday night she would let us watch Bonanza in the afternoon – a real treat. If you wanted entertainment you had to make it yourself – there wasn’t anything available to watch for hours on end. I remember playing outside for a big part of every day, riding my bike everywhere, playing without adult supervision and spending most of my free time reading.

If I ever found myself without a fiction book I would read anything else that was available, often my mother’s copy of the Australian or NZ Women’s Weekly (my Mum is Australian and so we had both the Australian and NZ versions each week which was regarded as pretty extravagant by our local newsagent). As I have mentioned in another post my parents bought a lot of books and firmly believed in the value of an excellent collection of non-fiction, so if I had finished all the fiction I had taken at my weekly Public Library visit I would have to read the atlas, the encyclopedia, or the Time-Life book sets on Ancient Civilisations or famous artists. I would often re-read books I had read many times before. Some of my favourites were the Princess Tina and Pink annuals I had been given at Christmas but I worked my way through classics like White Fang and mysteries by Wilkie Collins. My parents must have heard me say from time to time that I was bored, but I was never truly bored as long as I had something to read.

I remember going through phases of liking a particular genre or author and would then read everything avidly but strictly in order or publication. I still read that way today especially with series, and am probably quite anal about reading in order. I did work my way through the public library collection of fairy tales from many lands – this must have been a shelf from the 398.2s in the children’s department. When these were exhausted I graduated to a Young Adult card and earned extra privileges: I could now borrow from the childrens, YA or adult section. In my mid teens I devoured every book of short stories I could get my hands on from the adult section. I vividly remember reading a thick omnibus edition of Jewish Short Stories, I found it fascinating. I have zero recollection of the child/teen appropriate titles and authors from the YA section. I wonder if the collection was poor, or whether I just read so many titles that they have all blurred with time? I certainly feel envious looking at the YA and Teen books available to my daughter and our older students today. On the other hand I read a lot of classics without thinking it was strange or special. These days it takes a special kind of reader to embrace anything smacking of ‘classic’ and most teenagers I meet and suggest these to can’t believe I would expect them to consider something so ridiculously old fashioned.

I don’t remember my parents discussing my reading with me or even talking about the books I was selecting – I was pretty much left to my own devices to choose what I wanted to read, it was just assumed that I would read whenever there was an opportunity. My teachers never had to raise any issues around my reading or writing so my parents didn’t have any cause to intervene. My only regret is that my reading life would have been even richer if I had someone at home to share my enthusiasm with. Thank goodness for my wonderful high school English teachers, who were happy to discuss books for hours on end. How I loved those lessons where we pored over a set text and discussed it – this was the best part of school. The Librarians at the Public Library were reserved and aloof and didn’t talk with the young patrons. I can’t remember them recommending anything to me, but I was probably too scared to ask for help.

Now I feel I have come full circle – it is my turn to help children find books they will love. I find it easy to read and recommend the sorts of books that appeal to 9-12 year old boys and find myself wanting to help reluctant readers struggling well below their reading age. This week one of my successes was a boy who had taken a year to read one book – Harry Potter and the half blood prince. In our summer holidays he read the whole Ulysses Moore series and book one of the Infinity ring. Yesterday he ran up to me saying how much he had loved Gods and warriors by Michele Paver and was halfway through it and how glad he was that book two of the Infinity ring was waiting for him on the hold shelf because he was sure he would finish the Paver book that night. I found myself high-fiving him and punching the air as I felt genuinely excited along with him.

So why do I find that my biggest challenge in readers advisory work is relating to the earnest, serious girls who are reading well above their age/year level and meeting their needs consistently? – I can’t help but think that this is the girl reader I must have been at the same age? Why do I feel slightly more self conscious, awkward and sometimes ineffective with this group? Does part of me subconsciously feel that these girls, like me, will always find something to read and don’t need as much help as the others? I now read widely across a wide range of genres and year levels, but is my personal ‘reading gap’ reading better ‘quality’ or more literary fiction, finding great things and sharing more with that cohort of girls?

I think so.

My inner book geek needs re-nurturing.

I am prescribing myself a reading diet of more Hattie Big Sky and slightly less Percy Jackson.

Snapshot (picture) to come….


World Read Aloud Day March 6th 2013 : Week 1


Apologies dear readers…but this is a retrospective post as I join the World Read Aloud Day blogging challenge!

Reading aloud is an important tool for every parent, teacher and librarian. However, reading aloud is more than a tool, it’s a key to unlock a child’s imagination and a powerful weapon to combat disinterest in reading.

Many adults mistakenly believe that once a child has mastered the basic elements of independent reading, then they no longer need to read to their children. However in giving this up too early we miss, not only a much needed opportunity for one-on-one time and closeness with our children, but also an opportunity to share and model reading with our children.

When I observe my students and ask them about their reading habits, two things are apparent: my keenest and most accomplished readers and those reading at a level beyond their years, almost all have a parent that still reads to them, if not every night but often; however, those struggling with reading and those below the expected levels for their age, most often don’t have stories read to them at all (outside of school or in a library session). Interestingly, the children that are used to listening to stories and sharing books with others are most likely to sit and enjoy hearing more stories in their school and library sessions, even if they have heard them many times before, while those that aren’t read to often seem to be more easily distracted, fidget and interrupt at inappropriate times in the story much to the dismay of their classmates – they quite simply have not had the opportunity to learn to listen.

When parents come to me with concerns about their child’s lack of reading progress I always talk about modeling and reading aloud. Reading aloud helps a child to read. It is understandable that an adult might feel nervous or that they aren’t doing a brilliant job at reading aloud, but like everything it takes a little practice. Reading aloud, using the punctuation to guide the flow of the story, exploring new vocabulary, using expression in their voice and answering questions about the story all help a child understand the mechanics of how to actually read a book (not just the words on the page). Many children can recognise and understand the words, but it takes time to understand how the words and sentences and paragraphs fit together, and flow. Reading aloud aids a child’s ability to write creatively, they learn that a story is more than just words threaded together in sentences.

How will I celebrate World Read Aloud Day on March 6?

I will read aloud to every class that visits my library. Our library will host extra read aloud sessions at lunchtime that day (I am going to encourage some of my teachers that I love hearing read out loud to volunteer their time for this!) I will be encouraging teachers to set aside time in their classes that day for reading aloud if they have not planned this already. I will be printing posters and displaying them in as many places as I can advertising WRAD 2013.

Information and resources about World read Aloud Day:

For information about the World Read Aloud Blogging Challenge click here:

Resources on the importance of reading aloud:

There are many, many more resources available via the internet.


Does this book make my story look fat?

As much as children judge books by their covers they also decide whether they want to read titles by seeing and feeling the thickness of the book and looking at the size of the font. Some kids find the sheer size of titles overwhelming and daunting. The ‘problems’ with large thick books are these: if hardcover, then the book weighs a ton, if paperback,  then after a few weeks of being pulled in and out of backpacks the covers end up dog eared and the spines weak. The thickness of the book often means that to hold it open and read comfortably you have to press it reasonably flat, thereby causing the pages to ultimately fall out of the cover. If the book is printed in a smaller font then you end up with text so small that it makes it exhausting to read. No matter how great and wonderful the story, for a reluctant reader the size is going to be off-putting.

I really identified with the students that turn up their noses at big fat books today, when I decided to buy a copy of Eragon by Christopher Paolini.

alt=eragon, eldest, brisingir, inheritance

My children haven’t read this book and neither have I. I should be familiar with the size of it as at least two of my teachers are always recommending this book to their students. They have read and loved it and I wanted to see what I thought of it and whether it is the sort of fantasy book I would be happy to recommend to students (I really believe that in order to recommend books you have to be totally familiar with them and reading them is the only way!) This book and it’s sequels are perennially popular in my school library. Copies of the first book especially, are always out on loan and due to the size of the book they can never be returned by the due date (all our copies are out at the moment and we usually have at least two reserves for book 1…resulting in the need for me to buy my own!)

Happily browsing in the book store I glanced down and saw the copies of Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr and Inheritance. Unfortunately they were the variety I dislike – smaller sized paperback but still very thick, with thin covers and a teeny weeny font size. The book store didn’t have it, but I believe there is also a deluxe edition of three of these books in one volume. Surely this would be much too big to handle? This is where given a of choice between print and digital I will opt for buying the ebook version every single time. With an ebook I can make the text larger as necessary, if I find myself unable to put the book down I can read late into the night with a backlit screen without annoying my husband. If I need a break from reading it, I can bookmark the page and come back to it later without worrying about the overdue date at the library. For my family I find it easiest to buy children’s ebooks from the Kindle store -that way we can share the Kindle account between our devices.

I want to love these stories and I am sure I will when I read them!

My school is looking at how we will provide ebooks in our library and I have been looking at popular titles and their availability in epub format. Let’s just say that these 4 books are at the top of my list! In the meantime if you are considering a book for your child that is on the hefty side – consider buying the ebook instead. There may be a greater chance of it being finished without pressure.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog where I hope to share the excitement I feel for the wonderful children’s books I work with each day. “100 great books before lunch” refers to the joke I share with my colleagues….I always have a list of titles I would love to buy for my students that is far in excess of my budget…”I could buy 100 great books before lunch” is something I feel, if not say, on a daily basis. There are so many great books being written and published for children of all ages these days, that there isn’t any excuse for them not to be reading at every opportunity!

Happy reading 🙂