Happy birthday, Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl, the master storyteller, was born on this day in 1916. Known for his irreverent and often dark humour, he is the creator of such well-known characters as Charlie Bucket, Sophie, James Trotter, Danny, George Kranky and Matilda Wormwood (Characters, n.d.). His books were published across three decades, beginning with James and the Giant Peach in 1961 through to The Minpins in 1991, a year after his death. They have been hugely popular, remaining in print since their initial publication. His long-time collaboration with the fabulous illustrator, Quentin Blake, has shaped how the world sees the characters in his books. Roald Dahl also wrote screenplays, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and short stories for adults, many of which were filmed as part of the Tales of the Unexpected TV series (which I remember watching when they were screened in the UK). But Roald Dahl was much more than a writer; he was also “a spy, an ace fighter pilot, a chocolate historian and a medical inventor” (About Roald Dahl, n.d.).

The wonderful world of Roald Dahl

I enjoy reading Roald Dahl’s work to children. They love the characters, with their crazy names and personality traits, and the humour that runs through every story. There is also a sense of fairness and justice in the books. The mean, nasty adults (and there are many scattered through the pages) always get their comeuppance, often at the hands of the children. And there are so many memorable words and quotes that children (and adults) just love. For example, in Revolting Rhymes (highly recommended, although not for the faint-hearted!), Red Riding Hood “whips a pistol from her knickers” (Dahl, 1982) and shoots the wolf, whilst poor Jack is beaten by his mother for exchanging their cow for magic beans, “using (and nothing could be meaner) the handle of a vacuum cleaner” (Dahl, 1982). The recently published Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary contains words used in the books, including bogrotting, horrigust and plussy! It’s wondercrump!

 UK stamps featuring characters created by Roald Dahl and drawn by Quentin Blake

Each year, Roald Dahl Day is held in schools and libraries to celebrate his birth. A range of activities are organised as part of this, including hosting a Roald Dahl Day party, dressing up as your favourite character, reading a Roald Dahl story or making dream jars or marvellous medicine at school or at home (Roald Dahl HQ, 2017). As part of the celebrations, Puffin Virtually Live broadcasts a themed event live to children around the world and last year this included a draw-along with Quentin Blake and a message from the cast of The BFG (Puffin Virtually Live, n.d.). You can follow all the festivities at Roald Dahl HQ on Twitter.

Celebrations wouldn’t be complete without some scrumptious chocolate cake; just ask Bruce Bogtrotter!

For further fun, you can visit the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, the village in Berkshire in which he lived for almost 40 years. It has three interactive galleries and is suitable for children aged 6 to 12. Nearby, in Aylesbury, is the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery. This has hands-on exhibits inspired by his stories, including the mini- beasts living in the Giant Peach.

  The splendiferous Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre!

Roald Dahl died in 1990, at the age of 74 (About Roald Dahl, n.d.). He left behind a wealth of stories and characters loved by children (and their parents and grandparents). But his legacy also continues to live on in the charity established in his name. Shortly after his death, his widow, Felicity, set up the Roald Dahl Foundation, which has since been renamed Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity. It helps support seriously ill children and their families through providing Roald Dahl nurses and offering financial grants for those experiencing hardship. Through his stories and his charity, Roald Dahl is still bringing joy to children throughout the world.

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Celebrate reading

During September, several events will be held to celebrate reading. These help to raise the profile of reading (and libraries) within the community. They allow people to “discover and rediscover the joy of reading” (The Reading Hour, n.d.), whilst encouraging the “anytime, anywhere” (The Reading Hour, n.d.) philosophy, which makes reading visible in society in all its forms.

The Australian Reading Hour will be held on September 14th. The aim of the event is to encourage people of all ages to read any time during the day for 60 minutes. In previous years (it has been running since 2012), it has been held mainly in public and school libraries. However this year, publishers, booksellers and authors have come on board and it is hoped this will expand the scheme and shift the focus from child readers to reading for all ages. If you are not working in a library service or bookshop, you can host your own event for family, friends or colleagues in your home or at your workplace.

Spend an hour reading by yourself…

Boy Reading

Image by sof_sof_0000: CC0 1.0

or reading with someone else…

or reading a newspaper on a bench!

Reading Side By Side

The Reading Bench by David Hodgson: CC BY 2.0

Last week, on September 6th, it was National Read a Book Day in the UK and the US. Other similar events in America include National Reading Day on January 23rd and Read Across America Day on March 2nd, Dr Seuss’ birthday. All these events place the spotlight on reading, encouraging adults and children to dive into books. Because, as Dr Seuss said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”!

Children’s cat-alogues

Having written several posts about dogs, I thought it was only fair to our feline friends that I create some booklists about cats. To segue into these, I’ve decided to explore library cat-alogues for children. A bit corny, I know, but it’s the best I can come up with!

Ahh, the good old days when you had to thumb through thousands of cards to find the one you wanted-and you couldn’t do it from home!

Card Catalogue

Card Catolog by Gregg Richards: CC BY 2.0

Since the introduction of online public access catalogues (OPACs), which replaced the card cataloguing system, it has become easier to search for resources in a library collection. OPACs are much more user-friendly, allowing customers to enter different search terms and to refine their search using facets (such as Format, Publication Date and Location). However, many public library catalogues do not differentiate between adults and children. The same format, with the same results and resource pages, is presented to both groups. This makes accessing the library catalogue more difficult for children for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is usually too much text and too many options presented on a page. For example, the results page for a search may contain multiple facets, whilst a resource page may include information about the publication or details of the format. This is often overwhelming for children as well as being largely irrelevant to their search for a resource. Browsing, which is the preferred method by which children choose books, is not easily facilitated by most OPACs. Finally, children usually need instruction on how to navigate the catalogue, especially in terms of refining their search using facets. This is because OPACs generally are not intuitive interfaces for children in the way that a tablet is.

The results page of an OPAC with multiple facets

OPAC Results Page

Screenshot captured by the author

I have discovered a number of OPACs that have been designed for children. These take into consideration the characteristics of young library users in terms of their level of cognitive and linguistic development and their preferred method of choosing resources. One of the best that I’ve seen is Georgia’s PINES Kids’ Catalog.

The home page of PINES Kids’ Catalog

PINES Kids Catalog

Screenshot captured by the author

As well as being attractive and appealing to children, this OPAC has a clean layout with minimal text. There is also the option of browsing using categories, which have picture cues for early readers.

The results page of PINES Kids’ Catalog

PINES Results Page

Screenshot captured by the author

With only one facet (Age Group), the results page of PINES Kids’ Catalog is less overwhelming for children. The information for each resource is the same as is found on the individual resource page. Again, this is relevant and meaningful for children, with minimal text, resource images and icons representing different formats.

Another online catalogue that has been created for children is the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL), which “promotes tolerance and respect for diverse cultures by providing access to the best of children’s literature from around the world” (International Children’s Digital Library, n.d.). This is a great resource for material in a range of languages and can be useful when working with bi-lingual children.

The home page of ICDL’s catalogue

ICDL Home Page

Screenshot captured by author

Like PINES Kids’ Catalog, the ICDL home page has a simple layout with options to browse using the central carousel or to search using the different facets, all of which are represented by simple images. I like the idea of refining by colour, as this recognises one of the ways in which children select books: “I’d like one with a blue cover”!

Softlink, which developed the Oliver library software used in school libraries, has recently released Orbit, an interface designed for younger students. It allows children to customise the background, theme and avatar of their home page. There is a simple search facility, which uses either keywords or browsing buttons. There are also book carousels and slideshows to highlight resources in the collection.

The results page of Orbit library interface

Orbit Results Page

Screenshot captured by the author

The results page for the Orbit library interface is easy for children to read and navigate. The only facet is Type, with picture cues for each category.   More information is contained on the resource page, including a summary and a suitability age (which I don’t necessarily agree with, but that’s an issue for another post!).

It’s good to see there are library catalogues available that have been designed to meet children’s search habits and developmental stages. If we want children to become enthusiastic library users, then we must provide them with OPACs that engage them and motivate them to explore the library collection. Hopefully children’s catalogues will be embraced by the public library sector, resulting in a new generation of avid library users.

Dogs in children’s literature

After collecting picture books and more picture books about dogs, I decided to find seven junior fiction books to complete the set. In this list, I haven’t included well-known stories, such as The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith and The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. Instead I have chosen more recent books with dogs at the heart of them.

Children's Books About Dogs

Dear Hound
Written and illustrated by Jill Murphy

Dear Hound

Alfie is a young deerhound. He loves his boy Charlie, and cheese, and he’s very good at digging holes. But poor Alfie has got lost and he’s scared-of thunderstorms and being hungry and never seeing Charlie again…

Meanwhile, Charlie doesn’t know what to do-but one thing is for sure: he’ll never stop looking for his dear hound.

Can Alfie ever find his way back to Charlie-and his great big squashy beanbag in the kitchen?

Books about dogs often have the ‘lost dog trying to get home’ storyline and Dear Hound falls into this category. Alfie the deerhound becomes lost in the woods after getting a fright. Fortunately he is befriended by two foxes, Fixit and Sunset, who help him to survive in the wild for several months. Meanwhile Alfie’s boy, Charlie, is desperately searching for him and refuses to give up hope of finding him. This is a wonderful story about the bond between dog and human. I also have a dear hound called Alfie, which makes this book extra special for me.

Although Jill Murphy is best known for The Worst Witch series, she has written and illustrated a number of picture books, including those about the Large family (such as Peace at Last). I love her illustrations, which always have an expressive quality to them.

Best Mate
Written by Michael Morpurgo and illustrated by Michael Foreman

Best Mate

For Best Mate, being rescued from drowning as a young puppy is only the start of his adventures. From unwanted burden to favourite companion, and from pet to champion race dog, this remarkable greyhound proves that it’s not just cats who have more than one life. Cast aside, kidnapped, adopted or living rough on the streets, Best Mate can always find a way to survive. But will he ever find a real home?

This book, which has the alternative title, Born to Run, reminds me of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Like Beauty, this is a touching tale of the ups and downs experienced by a pet. The story follows a greyhound though his life from abandoned puppy (rescued by Patrick and named Best Mate) to champion racer (renamed Brighteyes by Becky) to Joe’s companion (renamed Paddywack). It also tackles issues around greyhound racing, particularly once a dog is no longer winning. A highly recommended read.

Michael Morpurgo, the third British Children’s Laureate, has written many memorable children’s books. These often explore the topic of war and conflict (Private Peaceful and A Medal for Leroy) or have animals at the heart of the story (The Last Wolf and The Fox and the Ghost King). War Horse and Shadow (about a sniffer dog working with the army in Afghanistan) combine both of these themes.

Good Dog McTavish
Written by Meg Rosoff and illustrated by Grace Easton

Good Dog McTavish

The Peachey family are always late, they never agree, the house is always a mess…and everything’s going to the dogs.

Enter McTavish, a rescue dog with a difference-he’s on a mission to rescue them!

This was a really enjoyable read! The Peachey family have been in disarray since Ma Peachey resigned from being a mother and took up yoga! Betty, the youngest and most sensible Peachey, decides the family needs a dog and so they head to CHUM (Cuddles Home for Unclaimed Mutts) to find one. McTavish is chosen and taken home, where he proceeds to whip the Peacheys into shape, using Plan A, B and C. As he says, “with a little more work and a consistent routine, they [will] turn out to be a most satisfactory family after all”.

Meg Rosoff has won numerous awards for her junior and young adult fiction. Her first book, How I Live Now, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and has been turned into a radio adaption and a film.

Just a Dog
Written by Michael Gerard Bauer

Just A Dog

Mr Mosely isn’t a pedigreed dog, but he is just the dog Corey and his family want: he is loyal, protective and loving. And he is much more than that. He might well be the one thing that holds them all together.

This book reminded me of Marley and Me by John Grogan. A bitter-sweet story with some funny moments, it is about a much loved family pet. Corey recounts his memories of Mr Mosely, starting with his arrival at their house. Each chapter consists of something significant about him: what he looked like, how he was named and what he was afraid of. We follow Mr Mosely through his life with the Ingrams. Like Marley and Me, you will need a box of tissues to hand when you read the last few chapters.

The Sniff books are also about life with a dog. Written by Ian Whybrow and illustrated by Tony Ross, they are brilliant. I would have included Sniff on my list, but I couldn’t get a copy from any of my local libraries. The antics that Sniff gets up to are hysterical. In fact, I was laughing so much at the incident involving a Christmas tree and an army of plastic soldiers, I was unable to continue reading out loud to my niece. If you can get your hands on any of the books (Sniff Bounces Back, Nice One Sniff and Sniff the Wonderdog), read them. You won’t regret it!

Stick Dog
Written by Tom Watson and illustrated by Ethan Long

Stick Dog

Introducing everyone’s new best friend: Stick Dog!

Join this loveable wet-nosed hero and his hilarious friends as they go on an epic quest for the perfect burger.

I really enjoyed this book. It is a light, easy and funny read. Stick Dog is a stray, who lives in a pipe under the highway. He has a comfy couch cushion to sleep on and some tennis balls and frisbees to play with. And he has four friends: Poo-Poo (so named because he is a poodle), Karen (a dachshund), Stripes (a dalmatian) and Mutt (yep, a mutt!). The story is basically about the dogs’ search for a burger, which of course isn’t as straightforward as it might have been!

There are seven books in the Stick Dog series. Tom Watson has also written a number of books based around Stick Cat. Both will appeal to children who have enjoyed reading  Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

One Dog and his Boy
Written by Eva Ibbotson and illustrated by Sharon Rentta

One Dog And His Boy

Hal’s parents refuse to let him have a dog-until they discover the Easy Pets Dog Agency. They don’t tell Hal that the clever puppy he chooses is not his for life, but only for the weekend.

Hal and Fleck must find a way to be together.

I have loved this book since the moment I started reading it some years ago. It is a beautiful story about a boy who longs for a dog. However, his parents won’t let him have one until they discover The Easy Pets Dog Agency. There you can hire a dog for any occasion, so Hal’s parents decide to rent one for the weekend… but they don’t tell Hal that the dog will be going back. Hal chooses Fleck, a “Tottenham Terrier” and the two bond during their time together. When Fleck is taken back to the agency, both pine for the other. Hal makes plans to get Fleck back and they run away together, accompanied by a girl and four of the dogs from Easy Pets. And that’s when the adventures begin…

I have a fondness for Eva Ibbotson’s books. They fall into two categories: funny, magical, supernatural stories about ghosts and witches (such as The Great Ghost Rescue and The Beasts of Clawstone Castle) and historical stories (such as The Dragonfly Pool and The Star of Kazan). Both types are highly recommended. She also wrote adult historical romances, which were later repackaged for young adult readers (Pauli, 2010).

A Dog’s Life
Written by Ann M Martin and illustrated by Antonia Miller (cover)

A Dog's Life

My name is Squirrel. I was born in a wheelbarrow.

There were five of us puppies in the beginning, but only my brother and I survived. So we set off on our own to see the world.

Life as a stray has been hard-but filled with adventure!

I’ve been adopted and I’ve been abandoned. I lost my brother, but found new friends. I’ve been in scrapes, but I always survived.

This is the story of my life.

This book is exactly as it is described in a Kirkus review: “heart-wrenching as well as heart-warming” (Kirkus, 2010). It is a touching, uplifting story about a stray called Squirrel. Like Best Mate, she shares her life with different humans, but always ends up back on the road or in the woods, either alone or with her friend, Moon. Some people show her kindness; others don’t. But through it all, the quality of her character shines through. I absolutely loved this book, even though, at times, it was hard to read. This was because of the emotions evoked by what happens to Squirrel. This book is definitely one of my favourite children’s books (along with One Dog and His Boy).

Ann M Martin is well-known as the author of the Baby-Sitter’s Club. She has also written another dog book: How To Look for a Lost Dog. That one is currently on my to-read list.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of books about dogs. Maybe you’ve been inspired to seek some of them out and read them. If you have, let me know what you think of them in the comments below.

This post (and the two about picture books) are for Ellie, who has always loved dogs, especially Harry and George.

All images taken by the author. All quotes taken from the blurb and contents of the book.

Children’s Book Week

Children’s Book Week, which begins today in Australia, is a celebration of Australian children’s literature and the authors and illustrators who create it. It is organised by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA), which works to “bring words, images and stories into the hearts and minds of children and adults” (Children’s Book Council of Australia, n.d.). The theme for 2017 is Escape to Everywhere, which I think is magical.

Storytelling sessions are often held during Children’s Book Week

School and public libraries organise activities and displays to celebrate books and reading during Children’s Book Week. The Book Chook, Madison’s Library and Book Week For Beginners all offer suggestions for this year’s theme, which can be used as starting points for future celebrations. These include creating posters, bookmarks, postcards and book trailers. Dressing-up as your favourite book character is another popular whole school activity. Public libraries often organise storytelling sessions and writing or colouring-in competitions for children and young adults.

Face painting can be part of the Children’s Book Week celebrations

Each year, the day before the start of Children’s Book Week, the winners of the CBCA Book of the Year awards are announced. The aim of these is to:

promote quality literature for young Australians
support and encourage a wide range of Australian writers and illustrators of  children’s books
celebrate contributions to Australian children’s literature

(Children’s Book Council of Australia, n.d.)

These are the winners for 2017 in each of the five categories:

CBCA Book of the Year-Older Readers
Books for young people aged 13 to 18 (secondary school level)

One Would Think the Deep, written by Claire Zorn

Sam has always had things going on in his head that no one else understands, even his mum. And now she’s dead, it’s worse than ever.

With nothing but his skateboard and a few belongings in a garbage bag, Sam goes to live with the strangers his mum cut ties with seven years ago: Aunty Lorraine and his cousins Shane and Minty.

Despite the suspicion and hostility emanating from their fibro shack, Sam reverts to his childhood habit of following Minty around and is soon surfing with Minty to cut through the static fuzz in his head. But as the days slowly meld into one another, and ghosts from the past reappear, Sam has to make the ultimate decision…will he sink or will he swim.

(Synopsis by UQP)

CBCA Book of the Year-Younger Readers
Books for children aged 8 to 12 (upper primary school level)

Rockhopping, written and illustrated by Trace Balla

Join Clancy and Uncle Egg on a rambling, rockhopping adventure in Gariwerd (the Grampians), to find the source of the Glenelg River. A story about following your flow, and the unexpected places you may go.

(Synopsis by Allen & Unwin)

CBCA Book of the Year-Early Childhood
Books for early readers (preschool and lower primary school level)

Go Home, Cheeky Animals, written by Johanna Bell and illustrated by Dion Beasley

At Canteen Creek where we live, there are cheeky dogs everywhere. But when the cheeky goats, donkeys, buffaloes and camels make mischief in the camp, the dogs just lie there-until those pesky animals really go too far. Then the cheeky camp dogs roar into action!

(Synopsis by Allen & Unwin)

CBCA Picture Book of the Year
Books “in which the text and illustrations achieve artistic and literary unity and the story, theme or concept is enhanced and unified through the illustrations” (Children’s Book Council of Australia, n.d.)

Home in the Rain, written and illustrated by Bob Graham

Francie’s going to have a new baby sister very soon. But what will her name be? Francie has so many ideas! On a long drive home with Mum, in the pouring rain, maybe they’ll find one that’s just right… From multi-award winning author-illustrator Bob Graham comes a tender, touching story of family life, perfect for sharing when a new baby is on the way. A beautifully observed celebration of the way inspiration can, and often does, happen in the most ordinary and unlikely of places.

(Synopsis by Walker Books)

The Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Books “which have the prime purpose of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style” (Children’s Book Council of Australia, n.d.)

Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks, written by Gina M Newton

This book brings together 55 national parks, selected across all Australian states and territories, and over 120 animals. It is divided into seven sections according to habitat (woodlands and grasslands; forests; rainforests; arid zones; mountains; wetlands and waterways; coasts, oceans and islands), each including a number of national parks and a selection of the fish, reptiles, frogs, birds and mammals that inhabit them. At the end of the book is a section on ‘little critters’-beetles, spiders, butterflies, grasshoppers, bugs and so on.

(Synopsis by NLA Publishing)

So hurry into your local library to borrow these winners and share them with the children in your life!

Dressing up as your favourite book character can be grrrr-eat fun!

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Radarsmum1967: CC BY 2.0

If you are in Australia, enjoy Children’s Book Week. Otherwise, celebrate children’s literature and reading wherever you are!

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More picture books about dogs

I had so much fun finding and reading picture books about dogs, that I’m back with another seven stories. These celebrate the joys and sorrows of sharing your life with a dog. Most are funny, whilst one will break your heart. Welcome to the world of dogs!

More Picture Books About Dogs

My Dog Bigsy
Written and illustrated by Alison Lester

My Dog Bigsy

Meet my dog Bigsy. He’s only small, but everyone knows he’s the boss.

Squawk, neigh, quack, moo, baa, oink, cluck, purr, ruff ruff ruff!

What a lot of noise! And all because of Bigsy!

I particularly like the illustrations in this book about life on an Australian farm. Alison Lester has used a collage effect alongside her expressive images of Bigsy and the various animals and birds he meets each morning. A map on the endpapers allows the reader to follow his route to and from his house. It’s a great book for younger children, because of the rhythm of the pages, with the noises of both Bigsy and the creatures he encounters. There are also opportunities to engage in counting; how many cockies are flying away or how many ducks are complaining or how many eggs have been laid by the hens.

Along with Boori Monty Pryor, Alison Lester was the inaugural Australian Children’s Laureate in 2012 and 2013. She has written and illustrated over 25 children’s books, many of which celebrate the landscape and wildlife of Australia.

Pig the Pug
Written and illustrated by Aaron Blabey

Pig The Pug

Pig was a Pug and I’m sorry to say,
He was greedy and selfish in most every way…

This is the first book in a series about a bad-tempered, greedy and selfish pug. Pig lives with Trevor, the sweet-natured dachshund. In this story, he refuses to share his toys. But, in the tradition of the cautionary tale, Pig gets his comeuppance. He climbs onto the top of the pile of toys, which wobbles, causing him to fall out of the window. He soon discovers that “pigs cannot fly”!

Aaron Blabey is hugely popular with children and has created three other books about Pig and Trevor: Pig the Fibber, Pig the Winner and Pig the Elf. Like Pig the Pug, they each contain a lesson for the little fella (and for the reader); not to lie, not to win at any cost and not to be greedy.

Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy
Written and illustrated by Lynley Dodd

Hairy Maclary From Donaldson's Dairy

Hairy Maclary goes off for a walk with a few of his friends-and comes up against something that gives them all a nasty surprise!

Like Pig the Pug, this is the first book in a series. Unlike Pig the Pug, Hairy Maclary is cute and sweet and fun-loving! In this story, we are also introduced to his friends, who feature in several other books (Hairy Maclary’s Bone and Hairy Maclary and Friends). I was once fortunate to know a “Hercules Morse” who was almost “as big as a horse”, so these books always remind me of him. Check out Hairy Maclary’s website-it’s pretty good, with games, information about the characters in the series and even everything you need for a Hairy Maclary birthday party! Like any self-respecting celebrity, he also has a Facebook page!

Dame Lynley Dodd has written and illustrated more books than you can poke a stick at! Her rhyming is impeccable and she uses gorgeous vocabulary (such as ‘cacophony’ and ‘caterwaul’). Children love the characters in her stories; not just Hairy Maclary, but Slinky Malinki the black Siamese cat and Zachary Quack the fluffy duckling.

Dr Dog
Written and illustrated by Babette Cole

Dr Dog

Both pet and personal physician to the Gumboyle family, Dr Dog is always on hand with the perfect diagnosis and remedy for every complaint.

So, whether it’s tickly tonsils, itchy nits or unspeakable tummy troubles, hear some common-sense advice from Dr. Dog-the canine consultant that no home should be without!

I love Dr Dog and so have the children I have read it to. The book is full of information about good health, such as when Kurt Gumboyle has a “wicked cough” and Dr Dog tells him, “It’s not good to smoke”. He then explains, using simple illustrations, how this damages our lungs. Dr Dog also gives his patients advice. He tells Kev Gumboyle, who has nits, to “never swap combs and brushes with anyone”. But my favourite bit is when Baby Gumboyle catches worms, which “are breeding in his tubes”! The advice Dr Dog gives is hilarious: “Never scratch your bum and suck your thumb”! The book has resulted in both a sequel, A Dose of Dr Dog, and a TV series.

Earlier this year, I was really sad to hear that Babette Cole had died. She was an outrageous, irreverent children’s author and illustrator. She subverted many of the traditional fairy tales (Princess Smartypants and Prince Cinders) and tackled difficult topics with humour (Mummy Laid an Egg! and Hair in Funny Places). She will be much missed by those who loved her work.

Smelly Louie
Written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner

Smelly Louie

Nobody smells quite like Louie…

I love the illustrations in this book. Louie has his own smell, which gets washed away when he has a bath. He goes in search of it, finding lots of different smells on the way. He rolls in “sticky sludge” and “the pongy pond” before finally he smells right again. He returns home, with grey and green and yellow clouds emanating from him. Unfortunately he doesn’t stay that way for very long… This story will be familiar to any owner whose dog has rolled in sticky, smelly duck poo! It also has a similar theme to Lynley Dodd’s Schnitzel Von Krumm’s Basketwork, in which the dog with the very low tum is given a new basket, but “something was wrong with the smell and the fit”.

Catherine Rayner has created more than 10 children’s books, all of which feature animals as the main characters. She also illustrated the fabulous Olga da Polga by Michael Bond, a particular favourite of mine.

Looking For Rex
Written by Jan Ormerod and illustrated by Carol Thompson

Looking For Rex

The children are sure that Gramps would never feel lonely if he had a dog of his own. They say the dog should be called Rex, but what would Rex look like? So they play ‘Looking for Rex’, and pretend to see Rex, but whenever they think they find Rex…it is never really the right Rex. Where is he?

This is a book full of dogs, including on the back inside cover. Everyone thinks Gramps should get a dog and call him Rex. So they all start looking for him when they are out and about. Children will have fun searching for Rex in the pictures as they read the book. The story is particularly touching when Gramps imagines life with Rex; only to decide that he is too old to take care of a dog and “that Rex is not for him”. Then he discovers his family have got a dog and they would like Gramps to help them look after him. This, of course, is the perfect solution! I love the last page, which is wordless, but says so much. There are four small pictures of Gramps and Rex sitting next to each other; in these, Rex slowly gets bigger and bigger, and closer and closer to Gramps.

Jan Ormerod is best known as both a writer and illustrator of children’s books. Now over 30 years old, her Sunshine and Moonlight are classics; simple, beautiful books without words.

Harry and Hopper
Written by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Harry And Hopper

Harry and his dog Hopper have done everything together, ever since Hopper was a jumpy little puppy. But one day the unthinkable happens. When Harry comes home from school, Hopper isn’t there to greet him. Hopper will never be there again, but Harry is not ready to let go.

Harry loves Hopper (what a great name for a dog!) and they do everything together. Then there is an accident and Hopper dies. Harry is devastated and refuses to accept that he will never see his beloved dog again. He sleeps on the sofa, because the bed feels empty without Hopper. “Harry lay curled up, longing for the feel of Hopper, the smell of Hopper, the bark of Hopper”. But the next night, Hopper wakes him up and they play together. Over the following two nights, Hopper comes to Harry, but each time, he is less solid and warm. Finally he is “as wispy as winter fog, as cold as winter air”. Harry carries him into his bedroom and says, “Goodbye, Hopper”. I can’t read this book to children, because I end up crying. It is a simply beautiful book, both in terms of words and pictures, which will resonate with anyone who has loved and lost a dog.

I am a huge fan of Margaret Wild’s work, which I am sure will feature on many lists that I compile. She has written a series of three books about The Pocket Dogs, which are illustrated by Stephen Michael King. He also wrote and illustrated Mutt Dog, another brilliant dog book, which my niece loved when she was small. That’s another four picture books about dogs to check out. See I told you it was hard to stick to just seven!

I could do several more posts on picture books about dogs. But I’m going to stop now and direct you to your local library. There you can search in the catalogue for ‘dogs’ and ‘picture books’. I’m sure you’ll find lots more fabulous books, such as the Spot and Kipper series. There I go again…

 All images taken by the author. All quotes taken from the blurb and contents of the book.

Picture books about dogs

Following on from last week’s post about story dogs, I have gathered together some picture books about man’s best friend. However, because there are loads of brilliant books out there, it was really hard to limit the list to just seven. So I have decided to share more with you next week, because you can never have enough books about dogs!

Picture Books About Dogs

Let’s Get a Pup!
Written and illustrated by Bob Graham

Let's Get A Pup!

At the Rescue Centre, there are dogs of all shapes and sizes. Kate knows which one she wants, though, the moment she sees him. He’s small and he’s cute and he gets all excited. To Kate, Dave is everything a dog could be.

But then she sees Rosy…

I love Bob Graham’s books. His writing is very lyrical and his illustrations are filled with wonderful details. This story begins with the line; “The end of Kate’s bed was a lonely place.” Tiger the cat has died and Kate wants to get a pup. She heads down to the rescue centre with her parents, where they find all kinds of dogs. Walking down the row of cages, they see Dave, who is full of life. When he is let out, “Dave climbed right over the top of Kate, who briefly wore him like a hat”! The family decide to take him. Then they see Rosy and it is love at first sight. But they can’t adopt two dogs, because, as Mum says, “We would take them all if we could, but what can we do?” That point in the story always brings a lump to my throat. But thankfully there is a happy ending when the family return the next day for Rosy. Yay!

Dave and Rosy, along with Kate and her parents, return in the sequel, “The Trouble With Dogs…” Said Dad. In this book, the family call in the man from Pup Breakers to try to train a certain little tearaway!

Harry the Dirty Dog
Written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

Harry The Dirty Dog

Harry is a white dog with black spots who loves everything…except baths.

So one day before bath time, Harry runs away. He plays outside all day long, digging and sliding in everything from garden soil to pavement tar. By the time he returns home, Harry is so dirty he looks like a black dog with white spots. His family doesn’t even recognize him!

It’s hard to believe this book is over 50 years old! Like all good classics, it has stood the test of time and its humour is still loved by children today. Harry the white dog with black spots hates having a bath. So he buries the scrubbing brush and runs away. He spends the day getting dirtier and dirtier until he returns home as a black dog with white spots. His family don’t recognise him, even when he shows them his tricks. Finally he bites the bullet, digs up the scrubbing brush and jumps into the bath. Soon he is Harry the white dog with black spots again.

Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham collaborated on another three Harry books: No Roses for Harry!, Harry and the Lady Next Door, and Harry by the Sea.

Little White Dogs Can’t Jump
Written by Bruce Whatley and illustrated by Rosie Smith

Little White Dogs Can't Jump

My dog, Smudge, has got really short legs.

Which makes it very difficult for him to jump.

Smudge and his family have a problem to solve-Smudge’s legs are so short that he can’t jump into the car. One of the children in the family devises a series of ingenious ways of getting Smudge into the car, but none of them work.

Who can solve the problem?

In this very funny story, Smudge can’t get into the family car. As a bulldog, his legs are just too short. One of the children tries different ways of solving the problem. Unfortunately none of her ingenious ideas are successful and by the end, “Smudge can’t jump, is afraid of small spaces, hates heights, is scared of loud noises and moving at great speed”! Then Mum steps in and comes up with a simple solution: a new car!

This book features the star of The Ugliest Dog in the World, which, of course, he isn’t!

Some Dogs Do
Written and illustrated by Jez Alborough

Some Dogs Do

All dogs walk and jump and run, but dogs don’t fly-it can’t be done…Or can it?

Whenever I’ve read this to children at storytime, they have been entranced by this book. The writing has a lovely rhythm, making it easy to read (and predict), and the illustrations are gorgeous. The story explores different emotions. When Sid is happy, he discovers he can fly. He tells his friends at school about this, but they don’t believe him and say he is lying. They go outside and ask him to show them how he flies. But Sid has lost his happy feeling and can no longer do it. After school and back at home, he feels sad. “He did the things he always did, but something wasn’t right with Sid”. Then Dad shares a secret with him; he can fly. The book ends with the question; “Do dogs fly? Is it true?” And the answer; “Some dogs don’t. and some dogs do”.

This uplifting book is from the creator of the BearDuck and Bobo books. Be sure to check them out as well.

Pom Pom, Where Are You?
Written by Natalie Jane Prior and illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

Pom Pom Where Are You?

Pom Pom lives with his family in a tall building in Paris. He longs to see more of the world, and one day his wish comes true…

Described as “an energetic and joyous story about a little dog with a big sense of adventure”, this book was created by the team who brought us Lucy’s Book. Pom Pom, who is small and cute (a little like Dave in Let’s Get a Pup!), lives in Paris with Henriette. One day, he seizes the chance “to see more of the world”, slipping his collar and running off with some other dogs. His adventures take him to the different landmarks around the city: Pont Neuf, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Tuileries Gardens and the Eiffel Tower. He is taken in by a kind man and his family. But the next day, he “smelled something that reminded him of home”. Hitching a ride on the baguette bicycle, Pom Pom is finally reunited with Henriette.

I love Paris, so this book was a joy for me to read. Once again, Cheryl Orsini’s illustrations  add extra details to Natalie Jane Prior’s words. They work so well together, as all good picture books should!

Dogs
Written and illustrated by Emily Gravett

Dogs

Gorgeous canines of every shape, size and colour are bounding through the irresistible Dogs by Emily Gravett. Can you choose one dog to love best of all?

With playful pencil and watercolour illustrations to delight children and adults alike, everyone will love to bark along with the Chihuahua and tickle the Dalmatian’s tummy. Emily Gravett has created another wonderfully satisfying book- with a twist in the tail.

(Synopsis by Pan Macmillan)

Starting with a Scottish terrier and ending with a pointer, different breeds pose on the endpapers of this fabulous book. Children (and adults) can have fun finding these in the illustrations. With each double-page spread beginning with “I love…”, the text explores the theme of opposites: big and small, hairy and bald, and slow and fast. The last page has a twist, which is a delight.

Emily Gravett’s books are always enjoyable, with beautiful illustrations. Check out Wolves, Meerkat Mail and The Rabbit Problem. Plus her groovy website!

Daisy All-Sorts
Written and illustrated by Pamela Allen

Daisy All-Sorts

Daisy was an ordinary dog living an ordinary life with Stanley.

Now she is an EXTRAORDINARY dog living an EXTRAORDINARY life-and all because of three lovely liquorice lollies…

This book always reminds me of when my niece was small. She loved the story and used to re-enact it with her toy puppy and trike. So I had to include it in this list. Plus it is brilliant, with a great combination of evocative pictures and rhythmical text. It isn’t rhyming, but Pamela Allen has such a way with words that it makes the book a joy to read out loud. Daisy develops a taste for liquorice all-sorts after Bella gives her some during her morning walk with Stanley (who looks like a bearded Where’s Wally!). The next day, she tries her hardest to get some more: dancing, singing, barking, bouncing and begging. But Bella doesn’t have any. Daisy won’t leave without her sweets, so poor Stanley has to carry her home on his bicycle. In the morning, Daisy rushes to see Bella with Stanley in tow. Bella hands a paper bag to Stanley, saying “For Daisy when you get home”. What is in the bag? Yes, that’s right: lovely liquorice all-sorts!

Pamela Allen has been writing and illustrating children’s picture books for more than 35 years. Those that feature dogs in them include Black Dog and Our Daft Dog Danny.

I hope you enjoy reading and sharing these wonderful stories. See you next week with another list of picture books about dogs.

All images taken by the author. All quotes taken from the blurb and contents of the book.

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Story dogs

I included The Detective Dog (written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie) on my list of picture books about libraries. It is a wonderful story about Nell, who goes into Peter’s school every Monday and listens to the children reading. I recently came across a book about another Story Dog: Madeline Finn and the Library Dog (written and illustrated by Lisa Papp). Unfortunately I was unable to borrow it from my local library service, so I can’t provide a review of it. However, here is the blurb:

Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. But she DOES want a gold star from her teacher. But, stars are for good readers. Stars are for understanding words, and for saying them out loud.

Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn’t so bad; when Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn’t mind. As it turns out, it’s fine to read when you’re not afraid of making mistakes. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it’s okay to go slow. And to keep trying.

(Synopsis from Peachtree Publishers)

These two books have inspired today’s post, which is all about reading dogs and the benefits they have for emergent readers.

Reading to a captive audience!

Reading to dogs has become increasingly popular since the idea was first introduced in the US in 1999 through the READ program. Since then, a number of organisations have been set up around the world including Bark and Read in the UK and Story Dogs in  Australia. The aim of these programs is to promote a love of reading through helping children to “develop literacy skills and build confidence” (The Kennel Club, 2017). Dogs are chosen for their calm temperament and their handlers are trained to support emergent readers. They speak through the dog to ask the child questions about the book, words or pictures (Story Dogs, 2017). In some programs, the dogs are taught to ‘read’ flash cards with commands such as ‘Sit’ and ‘Paw’ on them (Stroud, 2012). The reading sessions take place in public libraries or schools with the children sitting near their dog so they are able to interact with them (Pets As Therapy, 2015). The reading dogs initiative may occur alongside other therapeutic programs supporting emotional and social development (Stroud, 2012).

Reading to a dog is sooooo relaxing

Reading To A Dog

Georgetown PAWS To Read 2017 by Allen County (IN) Public Library: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Reading to a dog has been shown to be beneficial in a number of ways. Being with a dog has a calming effect on children (The Kennel Club, 2017), providing comfort and encouraging positive behaviours (Pets As Therapy, 2015). There is evidence that children’s blood pressure and stress levels are lower when reading out loud to a dog (Stroud, 2012). Many talk to their canine friend about themselves and their worries, which helps them to develop their emotional intelligence (The Kennel Club, 2017). Dogs are also non-judgemental listeners (The Kennel Club, 2017), who don’t point out mistakes or criticise reading attempts. In addition, because they are told they are teaching the dog to read, children feel more in control of the reading process (Stroud, 2012). This means that they are more likely to have a go at difficult words, thereby improving their literacy skills and increasing their confidence as readers (Story Dogs, 2017). In a pilot scheme at a primary school in the UK, 60% of children improved their reading age by 3 months in a 6 week period (The Kennel Club, 2017). In another study, Year 2 students showed improved attitudes towards reading after undertaking a program in which they read to dogs. This then positively affected their motivation to read (Scienmag, 2017).

These reading programs are often targeted at struggling readers. However, I believe they need to be offered to all children, because of the emotional benefits associated with reading (and being) with dogs. Confident readers may not be anxious about reading out loud, but they may still be stressed by school or home life. Reading to a dog may help them with these worries.

Story dogs love to look at the pictures

Therapy Dog

Norman West Therapy Dogs by Pioneer Library System: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Programs that promote reading to dogs have a positive effect on readers because they encourage the ‘virtuous circle’ in which the more you read, the better you become at reading (Johnson, 2017). I would also add that the better you are at reading, the more you read. This improves your academic skills and life chances. However, if you struggle with reading, you tend to avoid it, which negatively impacts on your learning and future outcomes (Johnson, 2017). It is so important to remember that “learning to read is often less about intellectual limitation than about overcoming fears” (Story Dogs, 2017). This is where story dogs come in; they help children to gain confidence in their ability to read and to learn to enjoy the wonders of the written word.

If you are able to, open the doors of your library to this service. If you aren’t, read to your dog (or someone else’s!). Because “set within a language-rich literacy environment, there appears to be little to lose and much to gain” (Johnson, 2017) about these dog-centred programs.

Picture books about books

Having gathered together picture books about libraries and reading, I thought it was time to look at those that put the spotlight on books themselves. The seven that I’ve chosen include several that focus on the relationship between a child and their favourite book, something that all readers can identify with.

Picture Books About Books

The Children Who Loved Books
Written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas

The Children Who Loved Books

Angus and Lucy love books. They have hundreds of them. Then one day, all the books are taken away, and Angus and Lucy discover they need books more than they ever imagined.

Angus and Lucy don’t have much, but they do have lots of books, enough to fill the caravan they live in with their parents. However, one day, when the books pour out of the door and windows, they have to go. The family then discovers that “because there was more space in their home, there was a lot more space between them all”. When Lucy comes home with a library book, they begin to read it together long into the night. The next morning, they head out together to the library.

This is “a warm and moving celebration of books and the way in which they bring us all together”. Beautifully illustrated, it conveys the joy that comes from sharing and reading books.

It’s a Book
Written and illustrated by Lane Smith

It's A Book

Can it text? Blog? Scroll? Wi-fi? Tweet?

No…it’s a book.

In this hilarious book from the illustrator of Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (highly recommended), the printed word meets new technology. Monkey is reading a book when Jackass begins to ask questions: “How do you scroll down?”, “Can it text?”, “Tweet?”, “Wi-Fi?” In response to “Where’s your mouse?”, a tiny mouse appears from under the monkey’s hat. Then Jackass starts reading the book. He can’t put it down and tells Monkey, “Don’t worry, I’ll charge it up when I’m done!”

The message in this story is not about books being ‘better’ than computers. It’s about books offering something that can’t be found in computers; the experience of getting lost in the printed word and in the turning of the page.

But Excuse Me That is My Book
Based on characters created by Lauren Child

But Excuse Me That Is My Book

Charlie has this little sister Lola. She really loves books. At the moment there is one book that is extra special. Lola says, “Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies is my favourite book and I really need it. Now. Now. Now. Now!”

Lola has a favourite book, which she wants to borrow again when she goes to the library with her brother. But it isn’t there. Charlie tries to find another one for her to read by asking questions and making suggestions. Each time, Lola finds something wrong with the book. Finally Charlie offers her Cheetahs and Chimpanzees, which turns out to be “probably the most best book in the whole wide world”.

This book, based on the TV series, Charlie and Lola, clearly shows the relationship a reader has with their favourite book. Lola only wants Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies; nothing else will do. However, with perseverance from Charlie, she opens up to an alternative, which quickly becomes her new favourite. This reminds us that, through thoughtful questioning and listening to a reader, we can help children to consider other books, thereby broadening their reading experience.

Lucy’s Book
Written by Natalie Jane Prior and illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

Lucy's Book

Lucy loves to read, but there is one special book that she borrows from the library over and over again.

The book is shared with her friends, dropped in the ocean, flown to China and even made into a banana sandwich.

But what will Lucy do when her favourite book goes missing?

Lucy is introduced to a book by her local librarian. It quickly becomes her favourite book and is recommended and shared with her friends. Lucy borrows and re-reads the book several times through the story until one day she is told that it is no longer available in the library. Everyone searches for a copy for her without success. Then the book is found at a Friends of the Library sale and Lucy is reunited with her favourite book.

This is another story about a favourite book, although, unlike Lola’s, this one is shared with other children. It demonstrates the love of a book and the desire to pass that love  on to others. We follow the journey of the book through the hands of many children, each experiencing it in different ways. The story also shows the role of the librarian (the images of the character in the book are based on Megan Daley, a teacher-librarian who writes the blog, Children’s Books Daily) in matching the book to the reader and initiating the relationship between the two.

Again!
Written and illustrated by Emily Gravatt

Again!

It’s nearly Cedric the dragon’s bedtime-there’s just time for his mum to read him his favourite book. Unfortunately for her, Cedric likes the story so much that he wants to hear it again…and again…and again… A cross dragon is a fiery dragon, and Cedric ends up burning a hole right through the book!

(Synopsis from Pan Macmillan)

Cedric loves hearing the story about the red dragon. He loves it so much he wants his mum to read it again and again and again. Each time she changes the words, shortening the story. But still Cedric wants to hear it again. When she falls asleep, he sees red, which is a bit of a problem, because Cedric is a dragon. Soon there is a flaming hole in the book (and the blurb-hence the synopsis from the publisher’s website!).

This is another fabulous story about a favourite book from the wonderful Emily Gravatt. Many adults will sympathise with Cedric’s mum, having experienced repeated demands for more of the same story. Thankfully these are not usually accompanied by fire and flames!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
Written by William Joyce and illustrated by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm

The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr Morris Lessmore

Morris Lessmore loved words. He loved stories. He loved books. But every story has its upsets.

Everything in Morris Lessmore’s life, including his own story, is scattered to the winds.

But the power of story will save the day.

Morris Lessmore loves books. But one day, the wind blows him and everything he knows far away from home. Thankfully he encounters a lady who sends him a book. This then leads him to a building filled with books. Morris lives amongst them, reading and caring for them. He shares them with others; “sometimes it was a favorite that everyone loved, and other times he found a lonely little volume whose tale was seldom told”. As Morris says, “Everyone’s story matters”. Years pass and, as Morris grows older, the books care for him. Then one day, it is time for him to leave and he says goodbye to the books, pointing to his heart and telling them, “I’ll carry you all in here”. Shortly afterwards, a little girl arrives and begins to read…

This is a touching story about the role that books play in the life of a reader. The friendships that develop between them will be familiar to those who have books they love. This is the same theme that plays out in the ‘favourite book’ stories in this post. The book has also been made into an Academy Award winning short film.

The Treasure Box
Written by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

The Treasure Box

When the enemy bombed the library, everything burned.

As war rages, Peter and his father flee their home, taking with them a treasure box that holds something more precious than jewels. They journey through mud and rain and long cold nights, and soon their survival becomes more important than any possessions they carry.

But as the years go by, Peter never forgets the treasure box, and one day he returns to find it…

The treasure in the title is a book that has been saved after a library is destroyed by war. It is carried in a box by a father and his son as they flee their homeland. This is “a book about our people, about us” and is “rarer than rubies, more splendid than silver, greater than gold”. After his father dies, the boy buries the box, returning for it many years later as a young man.

Because of the themes of war and displacement, this moving story is suitable for older children. It is “a haunting and beautiful tale of the power of words, the importance of stories and the resilience of the human spirit”. I love the work of Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood, both of whom have received numerous awards for their work in children’s literature.

These seven picture books show the relationships readers have with books and the different ways in which they interact with them. They can help us introduce children to the joys of reading and growing to love a book.

All images taken by the author. All quotes taken from the blurb and contents of the book.

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Libraries and reading: Part II

In Libraries and reading: Part I, I considered how public and school libraries provide for readers through decisions made around collection development. Following on from this, I would like to explore the ways in which libraries promote reading for children through events, activities and displays. As the previous post highlighted, there is a difference between the two sectors in terms of the driving force behind decision-making. In school libraries, the focus is on education and reading is promoted as a way to learn and develop skills. Recreation is highlighted in public libraries, with an emphasis placed on reading for pleasure.

School libraries are very good at promoting reading, with many using a range of strategies to encourage their students to engage in this activity. Special events are one way of placing the spotlight on reading. These include World Book Day, which often involves children coming to school dressed up as characters from their favourite books. In Australia, Book Week occurs in August each year and coincides with the Children’s Book Council of Australia book awards. Book character parades and reading and voting on shortlisted books are part of the celebrations in schools across the country during this week. Other events for promoting reading include author and illustrator visits and book fairs. The teacher-librarian, Barbara Braxton, has a extensive list of examples in her post on library events. (Her blog, 500 Hats, is an excellent resource for teacher-librarians and children’s librarians and is well worth bookmarking for future reference.)

You’re a wizard, Harry! Dressing up for World Book Day

World Book Day

World Book Day-Being Harry Potter by Iain Cameron: CC BY 2.0

There are also a number of ongoing activities that can be used to promote reading. These include book clubs, which can be tailored to the interests and needs of the children. Again, Barbara Braxton has a post entitled The FIRST Book Club, which includes suggestions for monthly activities for a group meeting in the library. Golden tickets can be hidden in books that are seldom borrowed, prompting children to search beyond popular titles. Genre passports can be used to encourage students to explore the breadth of the fiction collection, helping them to discover what they enjoy reading. I have set up a Pinterest board to curate ideas for promoting reading. This can be used as a starting point for planning library activities.

Displays are another way of promoting reading. Like events and activities, these expose children to new formats, genres, authors, illustrators, subjects… They can be based around particular topics, celebrations and authors’ birthdays (such as Eric Carle, Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl). Students can be involved in creating the displays by including their reviews and recommendations of books (Braxton, 2015). There are a couple of posts on the 500 Hats blog that offer useful advice for setting up library displays for children: The Landscaper’s Hat and Tricks of the Trade. I also have a Pinterest board entitled Library Displays, containing inspiring pins from a variety of libraries.

Public libraries tend to use fewer approaches to promoting reading for their younger users. Most offer storytime sessions, some of which are tailored to different age groups. These may also be bi-lingual, either incorporating a community language or sign language. Some libraries have loyalty schemes (such as The ReadUp Program), with children collecting stamps for each library visit and then receiving a certificate once they reach a certain amount. Public libraries are particularly known for their summer reading programs (such as the UK’s Summer Reading Challenge and the Summer Reading Club in Australia), which encourage children to continue reading through the school holidays. Awards and prizes are often offered as part of these. However, the public sector could learn a great deal from school libraries, which are very creative in the ways in which they promote reading amongst their students.

Everyone is welcome at storytime…even bears and ninja turtles!

I hope that this post has provided you with some ideas for promoting reading (for pleasure) amongst the children you work with. I would also recommended reading The Reader Leader’s Hat by Barbara Braxton for ways of “growing readers” (Braxton, 2014). Please share any activities you have used to encourage children to read in the comments below.