Tag Archives: Literacy

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 – scoop.it, 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 2 – Now and then!


World Read Aloud Day is nearly here – March 6th.  This week as part of the World Read Aloud  Day blogging challenge, along with many other blogging teachers and librarians, I’m answering the following questions as I would have when I was 10 and then again as I would answer today …

1. I think everyone in the world should read…

When I was 10: It’s a tie…King of the wind by Marguerite Henry and Katie John by Mary Calhoun – both these books were bought for me from the Scholastic Book Club. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, I usually borrowed heavily and enthusiastically from the Town Public Library. I still have these books today, they were so precious then, I don’t think I could ever bear to part with them as I read them over and over again.

Now: More! everyone should read more of everything…. But a specific title, that is so difficult there are so many titles I love and it depends on the target audience…but at this particular moment in time I would pick, drum roll please…The one and only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate and Wonder by R.J. Palacio. These books really do change lives by encouraging empathy in readers – empathy and kindness are often ‘missing’ in many people today.

2. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be

When I was 10: The male teacher who read us Stig of the Dump. I still remember that story even though I have forgotten everything important about this teacher including his name..(actually he wore very cool plaid flare pants, had enormous sideburns, and wore thick framed glasses – he wasn’t retro, he was original…this was the 1970’s!)

Now: There are two male teachers in my school that have the power to mesmerize their students whenever they read aloud and I could happily listen to them read for longer than their library session allows.

3. When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is…

When I was 10: Toad from the Wind and the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I have vague memories of reading this to my brother and a collection of soft toys.

Now: I am rediscovering my read aloud ‘mojo’….which is what happens when you switch from Corporate Information Specialist (researching Mergers & Acquisitions) to Stay at Home Mum, lately reinvented as a children’s Librarian. However if I can do it then anyone can! So any parent who thinks they can’t read aloud should try it. I don’t have a favourite character yet.

4. The genre that takes up the most room on my bookshelf (or e-reader) is...

When I was 10: I would love to say I had the ability to predict how we would be reading today but the concept of an e-reader would have seemed impossible outside of an episode of Doctor Who or Star Trek (both of which were screening in black and white during this same time period)….but on my shelf with the books like those pictured below were animal stories, a much loved book of children’s bible stories and the Reader’s Digest big omnibus of fairy tales. Although I had very few children’s books my parents had a big collection of literature classics, all the Time-Life and Reader’s Digest sets – all of which I loved looking at and reading from when I was very small.

Now: Fantasy, realistic fiction, scandinavian noir and masses of non-fiction mainly biography, travel and history. My e-reader (Kindle app on an iPad is full of scandinavian noir..read avidly before beaching Junior Librarian…now it is full of children’s books from all genres!)

5. The last book I wish I’d written or inspired me to write my own story is..

I am not a great writer which is pretty obvious, but if any book could inspire me to write….

When I was 10 (or possibly 11 or 12): I am Rosemarie by Marietta D. Moskin. I had never read a story about the holocaust or life in a concentration camp (and had yet to read the Diary of Anne Frank or I am David) when this book was listed in another Scholastic Book Club selection. This story really opened my eyes and I re-read it many times even into my twenties. I am gratified to see it has been reprinted over the years. Memo to self – get a copy for school library.

Now: The Book Whisperer: awakening the inner reader in every child by Donalyn Miller. I am trying to work out how I can inspire more of the teachers throughout each year level in my school to create a reading culture that permeates every aspect of our students day (and life). I have bought a copy of this book and it’s currently circulating (albeit slowly…) around the campus and I have also encouraged teachers to either buy their own copy or request the epub version via Overdrive from their local public library or borrow the print copies from there also. There aren’t many professional texts that can make a middle aged Librarian cry – but this was one of them!



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.