Thursday, 23 July 2015

Fun, laughter, mischief tied together in my two new books!

As most of my readers know by now, one of my goals in life is to help parents improve the literacy skills of their children by providing uniquely fun and imaginative books for them to read together. As I stood beside my former colleague and dear friend Sue LaFlamme and listened to her present the opening speech for my double book launch I realised two things. She really gets me and understands my dreams. I felt so honoured by her wonderful words of praise for both myself and my books, that I wanted to share her speech with all my readers that could not make it on that memorable morning here in Canberra.
So, without any further ado, I give you Sue :-
It is with great pleasure that I introduce a fabulous person and author, Sandra Bennett, to you today.
I have known Sandy for more than a decade and I have observed some wonderful things about her:
– she is fun
– she loves to laugh
– she enjoys good mischief
– she has a great sense of humour
– she understands lots of special things about other people and particularly about kids, (big and small)
Most importantly she knows how good a fabulous well planned, researched, well-written and well-read book can be. So, I’m extremely lucky today because I am able to suggest that you dive into the pages of two new books. These are called “Emma the Eager Emu” and “Alien Shenanigans/”

The two books are completely different, cleverly illustrating that Sandra Bennett is an adaptable author, knowing that her reading audiences love to read a range of genres and books that emphasise different things.

I think that your toughest decision today will be which one to read first, Emma the Eager Emu or Alien Shenanigans? Flip a coin! Heads. So, it’s Emma the Eager Emu.
Actually, I’m not going to read it to you, but I’ll introduce Emma to you through my eyes. First of all, Emu’s are such big birds, that have big dreams. I’ll tell you now, Emma is the same. She dreams big – of something I always wanted to do as a child – and that is to fly. Emma is extraordinary. She has intellect, persistence and the strongest of desires to make dreams real. Emma sets about this. as her creator – Sandra Bennett, sets about tasks – she plans, imagines, deliberates, investigates and keeps on going!
In the end I think you’ll discover Emma’s amazing feat. I can’t tell you more, except that you will really enjoy reading this book. I will add that the illustrations are an absolute delight. Gourmet! Emma the Eager Emu will be well loved and recommended.
Now I turn to “Alien Shenanigans.” It has a certain unknown mystery about it. Dad da daa! Are there truly such things as aliens? If so, or not (as the case may be) we can imagine that there are! We can also imagine a melody of mishaps around mischievous full of beans kids, especially when they come into contact with an observant, witty, lovable alien.
I wonder what your favourite part of Alien Shenanigans will be? Will it be foods that fly, the giggles, the serious investigations or the extreme science experiments?
My favourite part is the driving force behind the story – the kids. Sandra Bennett knows that without these characters – the kids – books, life and the universe would be somewhere less special, adventurous, creative and imaginative. True!
So, without further so ons, I’ll introduce the lovely, clever and fun Sandra Bennett and her two new reads: “Emma the Eager Emu” and “Alien Shenanigans.”
Thank you so much Sue for your faith in me and my books. The time you spent reading and preparing your speech was very much appreciated. I hope the kids in your class enjoyed both books.
Hands up, who believes in aliens? Could there really be lovable, mischievous aliens hiding out there somewhere?

For helpful tips and tricks to improve your child’s reading come and join in the discussion by joining my facebook group Raising Awesome Readers.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Importance of Reading Aloud.

The one main take home message I gained from having a stall at our community fair the other month came from discussions with parents as they looked at my books. I realised that parents still don’t understand the importance of reading aloud to their child no matter the age. This has also been confirmed during my days working in the gift shop at Cullen Bay Darwin and selling my books during the book launch there as well.
“What age is this book appropriate for?
“My child is only in kindergarten, she can’t read that herself yet.”
Time and time again it has become obvious that parents are still not getting the importance of shared reading aloud with their children.
Teachers can only do so much in the classroom when it comes to teaching reading, the fundamental Cullen Bay book aunchbuilding blocks of language have to be established in the family home. Reading together from birth stimulates the brain and enables significant connections to be made that develop the foundations for literacy.
Reading out loud to a child during the early pre-school years not only gives you a wonderful opportunity to snuggle with your children and show them how much you love them, it also allows you time to demonstrate a number of pre-reading language skills.
Picture books like “Emma the Eager Emu” provide a wealth of opportunities.
1. You model reading with great enthusiasm and expression.
2. Reading alliteration helps teach that language is made up of individual sounds not just words and syllables.
3. Repetition increases familiarity and produces opportunities for guessing what might happen next?
4. Vibrant illustrations allow for discussions and further language learning.
5. The more often you read, the more they will make the pre-reading connections such as which way up the book should be, front to back, words flow left to right and top to bottom to tell the story.
6. They will also realise the significance of the pictures in the story telling too. A picture truly can be worth a thousand words.
7. Increases empathy and understanding of the world around them.
8. Extends their vocabulary.
Once children reach that early independent reading level, parents seem to think their child needs to do it all alone. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Books like Gingerbread Aliens and Alien Shenanigans might be early independent chapter books but they are still excellent resources for sharing reading out loud together. Your 6 – 10 year old still needs you!
1. They still need to hear modeled reading out loud for expression.
2. It can be fun to share a humorous chapter book with your child.
3. It opens opportunities for discussion when you read together.
4. It provides opportunities to discuss any words they may have difficulty reading or understanding.
5. You can determine through questions whether they have comprehended what they have read.
6. If you read a book just above their level of ability, you extend their comprehension and vocabulary.
7. It builds wonderful memories of special time spent together reading and sharing no matter their age.
If you enjoyed reading this post and are interested in joining a discussion on helping parents, grandparents and other carers with encouraging children to read, please come and join us in my new group forum Raising Awesome Readers I’d be happy to see you there, I look forward to more people becoming involved in our chats and spreading the word on the importance of reading aloud.