One of the units of study I have lectured in at university this year has been Children’s Literature, with a particular focus on using children’s literature in the classroom. All of my students for this unit are teachers in training, all of them eager to gather ideas for incorporating literature in their future classrooms.
It has been a rewarding time for me as it has renewed my enthusiasm for reading children’s literature. When I was a classroom teacher, and earlier in my career when I was a teacher/librarian, I would regard the reading of children’s books as a professional requirement. I am a voracious reader, so this was no hardship. After one little forgettable incident, I resolved never to read a book to a class without having read it privately first. I still believe this to be a wise policy for any classroom teacher or children’s librarian.
In recent months I have read a wide variety of picture books, chapter books for emerging readers, novels for older readers and non-fiction for various year levels. Sadly, I haven’t had time to review any of them here. In time I hope to regularly get back to reviewing the books I read. In the meantime, if it has been some time since reading a children’s book, why not borrow a few from your local library? Many of the titles published in the last decade are fine examples of excellent writing; some are just as challenging to read as adult books. And often far more interesting and captivating.
If you read a good book that you’d like to recommend – children’s or other – write about it in the comments section. I’d like to know, and so would my readers, I’m sure.
Good reading – and writing.
I should take a photo of the rain pouring down outside, and the large puddle of water in our driveway. It is freezing out there, so I’ll just stay in my nice warm office and write about it instead. Take the easy option – quite a reasonable motto in this situation. Looking out of my window is not easy, what with all the raindrops pouring down the glass. So that eliminates taking a photo through the window too. Never mind.
Where I live in rural South Australia, rain is something to celebrate as we don’t often get downpours like we’ve had over the last 36 hours. Here in SA we often say that we are the driest state in the driest continent. It’s a claim which probably isn’t completely accurate, but we say it all the same. I don’t mind cold, wet winter’s days. It gives me a perfect excuse not to go out and weed the garden, or mow the grass, or chop the firewood, or fix that gutter, or… I think you get my point.
Instead, I like to stoke up the fire, make a good cup of tea and settle down with a good book. Or even an average book. Truth be told, I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like to these days. My writing takes up a good part of the day, my church involvement takes up some of every day, and now my lecturing position is further cutting into each day. Relaxing with a good book is becoming a luxury but it’s something I need to make sure I do. Taking time out to relax is important.
Writing prompt: what do you like to do on cold, rainy days?
Good writing – and reading.
Regular readers of this site must be wondering whether I’ve dropped off the planet.
Both of my readers.
In reality, this site still continues to chug along with a steady readership despite not having new articles posted regularly. It must have something to do with the content written and posted here over the last six years. I missed writing anything for this site’s 6th birthday on March 6th. Happy Birthday!
Over recent months I have still been writing and very busy on writing type activities. Late last year I was offered a lecturing position at the university where I recently achieved my Master of Arts degree. This has meant a great deal of time in writing and preparing the lectures. My lectures are designed to help students new to tertiary studies on how to research a topic and then turn this into an academic essay. I am pleased that this is going really well.
More recently I have been asked to lecture in children’s literature to student teachers studying at the same university. This is an area I am very passionate about and have significant qualifications in this area. Not only do I write children’s stories, I have 35 years of classroom experience in using children’s literature to enhance student development. Furthermore, about a quarter of that time was spent as a teacher librarian. I’m really looking forward to teaching this extra unit in second semester.
Another thing I have been doing recently is getting back to reading more books. Over recent years the amount of reading I have done has shifted from books to more online material. I plan to redress that imbalance in the coming year or so; there are so many great books that I haven’t read yet – or wish to reread.
Another pressure upon my time for writing here since January has been my church life. Our pastor resigned unexpectedly in January and as one of the Eldership team it has been my responsibility to see that programmes still continue to move along. This has involved some preaching – a sermon takes many hours to write and prepare – a few extra meetings, and writing material, including devotional style editorials, for our weekly newsletter.
I trust I’ll find time to add new articles here on a regular basis in the coming weeks and months.
I am a confessed book lover.
Most writers are, I’ve found. If you want to be a good writer you are also a reader. That’s a given.
I am also slightly addicted to buying and collecting books. When I married – that was over 40 years ago – combining my library with my wife’s library created a big problem. She is also a bookaholic, and a hoarder of books like me. In our first year of marriage I built two large bookcases. Problem solved – for the time being. Then came along the children and they soon had their books too and their own bookcases. When they left home the problem was slightly improved; part of my library is now in my daughter’s home in Clare and a few are in my son’s home in Sydney. It’s alright; I’ve read most of those books.
About 5 years ago I bought another 4 bookshelves from a well known furniture chain from Scandinavia. I had fun assembling them and stocking them with books. You see, the problem had grown to a critical stage: there were large piles of books everywhere. Problem solved – or so I thought. Over recent months the situation has reached another crisis point: not enough room on the shelves for new and recently acquired books.
My office has been in need of a drastic makeover for several years. The situation would make any bomb site look tidy in comparison. Time for action, so over several hot days recently – it was too unpleasant working in the garden – I attacked ground zero.
My technique is simple: sort and chuck. (Some unkind people might have suggested ‘slash and burn’ would have been more effective.) I progressively sorted through every item on the shelves. Some items didn’t belong – like dozens of computer disks. It’s a BOOK shelf – not a storage cupboard. Some books were obsolete and went straight into our recycling bin. I don’t need a copy of a guide to Microsoft Windows 95 or Word for Windows 6 for Dummies or even a 1998 Melbourne street directory. I have a more current version of the directory and don’t need another, and the computer books are now many years obsolete.
The trouble was that I have trouble throwing away books. I can give them away, I can let people borrow semi-permanently, I can even sell to a second hand book dealer – but throw away! Never!
I have to be ruthless and dispose of any book I will no longer read. Some I want to read again – maybe, so I might keep a few. Over the next year the culling will continue until I have enough room on the shelves for the books I want to read again, or I need to use as reference tools.
Now… what about that huge pile of magazines?
Good reading, and good writing.
I have just read my 4000th book.
It was Asterix & Obelix’s Birthday: The Golden Book.
Yes, I know there are derogatory names for people like me. I don’t care. I’ve kept a complete list of books and magazines that I have read since 1st September, 1966 when I was still in high school. For the first few years I only recorded the names and authors of books I had finished reading. In more recent years I have also recorded the issue number of magazines that I have read cover to cover. I read most of the magazines I buy in their entirety. I figure that I’ve paid good money for those magazines, so I’m going to get good value for my expenditure. Quirky, yes. Odd, maybe. That’s just me; no apologies will be forthcoming.
Significantly the 4000th book was the latest in one of my favourite series of books – the Asterix comics. I started buying this series in the early 1970s and my children grew up knowing them thoroughly. Every time a new title was published there was severe competition in our family to read it first. They claim that their general knowledge of the history and times of the Roman Empire was largely formed by reading the Asterix books. It is quite a possibility that they also learned to read using these books. I was a teacher librarian at the time so I made sure the school had a good supply of the titles, my family often reading them first.
One of the saddest days of my teaching career was when my entire collection of Asterix books was damaged due to fire in an adjacent classroom. It brought me to tears. The books were rescued, cleaned of soot and are in reasonable condition despite the fire. But even today I still get slightly sooty hands reading them. It was a delight to recently find a title I didn’t have in my library.
Good reading, good writing.