Sunday 11 December 2016

Story for their Stocking Campaign

Last week, the Arts Council launched it's “Story for Their Stocking” Christmas campaign, urging parents to choose a book as a stocking filler and to take some time to read and share stories with their children during the Christmas holidays.

I always loved the smell of a new book and the nice little collection under our tree on Christmas morning. After the 5 am start, all that toy chaos, the turkey dinner & trifle, it was lovely to just wind down in front of the fire with that new book or annual. 

Perfect Christmas memories!

Read more about the 'Story for their Stocking' Campaign here

New research published by iReach on the reading habits of Irish parents found the following: 
  • One in every two parents want to spend more time reading to their children  
  • Of the parents who read to their children, 14 minutes is the average time spent reading with them a day. One in two parents spend anything up to 30 minutes reading to them while one in 10 read to their children for 30 minutes or more.  
  • Two in five parents do not spend any time reading to their children  
  • On average parents spend 124 minutes of uninterrupted time with their children each day 

Saturday 10 December 2016

Rosita and the Night of the Radishes

Written and illustrated by Dorothy Thurgood Manning
33 Loretta Kids Books 2016
Reviewed copy kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Back of book:
Young Rosita competes in Oaxaca, Mexico's radish carving contest which is held every December 23rd. She hopes to win first prize and use the money to help her family's failing farm. This tale of magic realism is geared for children ages 3 to 8.

This post includes affiliate links. 

Monday 10 October 2016

World Mental Health Day 2016

This post includes affiliate links, see my policy here

Observed on October 10th every year, World Mental Health Day promotes global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. 
Any one of us, irrespective of age, gender or background can be affected by mental health problems at some point in our life. 1 in 10 children between the age of 5 and 16 suffer from a diagnosed mental health problem*. From an early age, we can help children to identify & express their feelings and below are some books I've used and recommend. 

How Are You Feeling Today? A dip-in book, helping children to recognise & deal with a range of emotions.Understanding & recognising feelings is an important life skill for every child and this book is a lovely introduction.
Click here to read more about this book
The Colour Thief: A family's story of depression:An honest and touching story describing parental depression.Beautiful portrait illustrations and concrete language make this book a supportive tool for families or professionals.
Click here to see more about this book

Meh! A story about Depression A wordless picture book sharing a child's perspective of depression. 
  Read more about this book

What to Do When You Worry Too Much : a supportive work book for children experiencing anxiety
Click here to read more about this book

Peter & Lisa: A Mental Illness Children's Story : The story of two adults affected by mental illness. Includes simple, clear language & descriptions about depression, bi-polar disorder & recovery. 
Click here to read more about this book

This year's World Mental Health Day theme is Psychological First Aid 'Humane, supportive & practical assistance to fellow human beings who recently suffered a serious stressor' (WHO). 

When Something Terrible Happens  is a supportive work book to help children cope with grief or loss.
Click here to read more about this book

Check out my  Feelings/Emotions Page for a more comprehensive list of books.

Related links:

Monday 26 September 2016

Sing the Planets...

...An "I'll Remember That" Book
Author and illustrator: Bonnie Ferrante
Single Drop Publishing 2014
Reviewed copy kindly sent by the author in exchange for an honest review.
This post includes affiliate links.
Read my policy here

Back of book:
Here is an active way to learn the order of the planets and have fun doing it. Children learn quicker and retain information longer, the more different learning styles are involved. This book uses music, rhyme, singing, pictures and movement to help students learn the order of the planets, the meanings of their names, their position, and their classification.....

Additional text describes how the author, a teacher for 33 years, effectively used this strategy with several classes.

Sunday 4 September 2016

Feelings: Inside My Heart and In My Head

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Text by Libby Walden
Illustrations by Richard Jones
Caterpillar Books (an imprint of the Little Tiger Group) 2016
Reviewed copy kindly provided by The Reading Zone & Caterpillar Books in exchange for an honest review on Reading Zone's School Zone

Back of Book:
What you feel is who you are...
Explore the world of emotions with this stunning peep-through book. The lyrical text and enchanting illustrations bring each emotion to life to help children understand the universal and unique nature of feelings.

Missus B says...
Children need to learn how to identify and recognise their own feelings, figure out how to manage them, express what's happening, adapt their emotions to their environment and along with this, develop empathy for others.This understanding and expression of feelings is often described as 'emotional literacy.' Communicating about feelings is an important life skill and one that supports mental health and well being.

So, as becoming emotionally literate involves a whole LOT of learning- any book that supports this is always welcome on my shelf!  'Feelings:Inside my heart and in my head' offers a lovely opportunity for reflecting on & talking about emotions.

Monday 29 August 2016

Wilderness: An Interactive Atlas of Animals

Post includes affiliate links. Policy available here
Text : Hannah Pang
Illustrations: Jenny Wren
360 Degrees (an imprint of Caterpillar Books) 2016
Reviewed copy kindly sent by & Caterpillar Books in exchange for an honest review on Reading Zone's School Zone

Back of book:
Welcome to a world of animals.
Embark on a journey to all four corners of the Earth and discover how animals survive and adapt to their environments.
From the tiny but tough leaf cutter ant to the majestic and mighty blue whale, there is so much to explore in this interactive atlas of animals, packed with facts and flaps to bring the natural world to life. 

Did you know that the the southern elephant seal weighs six times more than a polar bear.....or that at birth, a joey kangaroo is smaller than a cherry!?

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Why I prefer not to categorize by age

Generally, I prefer not to categorize books into age brackets.

Why? Surely it makes it easier for people to find suitable books?

In part that could be true, but it also means that children may miss out on wonderful reading experiences because they (or their adult people) have dismissed a book due to an age recommendation.

My eight year old niece has happily watched and listened as I have read books with my two year old son. Drawn to the attractive illustrations, the simplicity of the story and the shared family time, the eight year old has valued the reading experience as much as the two year old.

In my work, either at a group story time or during one-to-one work, I often find that the simplest of books can lead to complex discussions among children. 

Wherever I am working, I like to have a book shelf with a broad range of books catering to mixed abilities and interests. This means that the book corner includes everyone and children can simply enjoy books for what they are and how they are feeling on a particular day.

It's accepted among the group  that, no matter how old you are, you can enjoy any type of  book- lift-the-flaps, comics, board books, wordless books, fairy-tales, fantasy or chapter books. This makes the library corner a truly inclusive, community space. And the lack of categories makes tidy up time a whole lot easier!

Some words of wisdom from C.S. Lewis.....

The neat sorting out of books into age ranges, so dear to publishers, has only a very sketchy relation with the habits of any real readers. Those of us who are blamed when old for reading childish books were blamed when children for reading books too old for us. No reader worth his salt trots along in obedience to a time-table.CS Lewis (1952)

Happy Reading,

Missus B x

You may also be interested in some of the information on No to Age

Thursday 18 August 2016

Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards-shortlist!

Irish Blogger Awards
Click HERE to vote for me

Delighted to share that I've been shortlisted in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016. Whoop!  My blog has been listed in two categories- 'Books & Literature', 'Arts & Culture'.

I would be delighted if you could vote for me-20% of votes come from the public and the remaining 80% is down to the judges.

In order to ensure that votes are genuine, there's a sign up page. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Voting closes on Tues 23rd.Please vote in 'Books & Literature' and if you're feeling generous, cast a second vote in 'Arts & Culture'

Thanks & Happy Reading!

Missus B

Vote for me by clicking this LINK

Sunday 14 August 2016

Read Aloud 15 Minutes

Twitter recently introduced me to the Read Aloud 15 Minutes Campaign.While it's a U.S. initiative, it has a universal message worth sharing. Basically it highlights how 15 minutes of reading aloud is one of the most important activities a parent or carer can undertake with a child. Given that a whopping 85% of brain development happens before the age of five*, exposure to books can certainly have a significant, life-long impact. 

Now, my little moomin recently turned two and we would be doing VERY well to get 15 minutes on the trot, but as the image above reassuringly shows, your 15 minutes could be spread out and need not always involve 'reading' per se. Pointing ,talking about pictures, counting,singing or simply gazing at the images and turning the pages are all important building blocks to reading.

The process of early literacy development involves exploration, interaction, repetition and some of the below skills:

Book Handling Behaviours- picking up, chewing, handling, manipulating, learning to turn pages.

Looking and Recognizing Behaviours -gazing at pictures, connecting with images, pointing or laughing at familiar things.

Picture and Story Comprehension Behaviours-showing an understanding of pictures and events e.g. imitating sounds & actions or talking about an event in the story.

Story-Reading Behaviours-imitating reading (babbling or making up their own words), pointing at  words and making a connection between text and the story itself. 

So, no matter how young your child is, every positive interaction shared at story time can help lay the foundations for language, reading and writing development. 

So make those 15 minutes a part of your daily routine and consider it to be a long-term investment :) 

Check out some more tips here, from the Literacy Association of Ireland

Happy Reading,
Missus B

Related links:
*The Science of Early Childhood Development, Harvard University
Early Literacy Newsletter article from Maine State Library wonders 'Early Literacy'

Sunday 7 August 2016

Using Props at Story Time

Goldilocks & the Three Bears Mask Set
This post includes affiliate links. See my policy here
Using props and puppets is a wonderful way of adding a new dimension to story time. I have vivid memories of my teacher using felt boards- somehow this visual element seemed to make her stories come alive. A simple tool but mesmerizing all the same!

For the child who needs that little bit of extra encouragement to listen,visual aids can be an appealing and simple way of drawing them in. 
The Very Hungry Caterpillar [Board Book]is a classic favourite and one of those 'read it again' stories. To add a multi-sensory element, sometimes I use a basket of fruit, passing around pieces during the read-a-loud.This makes for an enriching and engaging story time, giving opportunities for seeing, touching, smelling and tasting. It naturally leads to reflection and discussion- how long might it take a caterpillar to eat through a strawberry in comparison to an apple?!

Puppets, or using toys in a puppet-like manner can help a child relate to a story and it's characters. Sometimes simply holding a related character helps listeners to feel more connected. 
Bringing some drama to Goldilocks and the Three Bears...the story comes to life and children have a concrete experience of small, medium and large.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Ladybird First Favourite Tales
Some props are simple to make and depending on the age of your child, they may enjoy making or gathering their own. My laminated DIY 'Feelings Puppets' frequently come out at story time. When we talk about the characters or feelings within a story, they offer a visual tool for children who need extra support in understanding & recognising feelings. 

How are you feeling today? 
See my review of this book here
When children have access to story time props or puppets,  it supports many aspects of development e.g. fine motor skills, socialisation, memory/retelling skills, sensory learning, self confidence, role-play and of course language. 

Children will enjoy being involved in the making of 'Story Boxes' or 'Story Bags'.... figurines, musical instruments, clothing, puppets,household items, nature objects- if it's connected to a story it can be added to the collection. 

Keeping it simple though, sometimes just one prop or visual tool can be a valuable vehicle for enhancing the play, imagination and story experience for your child. Think about any book...there's bound to be something you can use as a prop! 

If you'd prefer to use some ready made story time props, check out the affiliate links below.

Happy Reading,

Missus B

Friday 29 July 2016

Who's Hiding?

This post includes affiliate links.
See my disclosure here
Concept & Illustration by Agnese Baruzzi
Templar Publishing 2015
Reviewed copy from my personal library.

Back of Book:

It's time for a game of hide and seek!

Try to guess who is hiding, then fold back the page to find out!

Just as Mother Nature manages to captivate us with her camouflage, so too does Agnese Baruzzi in this beautifully illustrated book. 

Thursday 28 July 2016

Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016: Hello Longlist-thanks for having me

I've been longlisted in : 'Books & Literature Blog' & 'Arts & Culture Blog'
The Long & Short of it......
Apparently I'm not too bad at this bloggy business. The nice folks on the judging team have granted me bragging rights and permission to post the above happy green image.

Am delighted to have been longlisted in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016. Here's hoping I make the shortie list, but if not, I'm happy & honoured to be grouped amongst a bunch of busy, wonderful and interesting Irish bloggers. 

Good luck to all (and me in particular :p)

Happy Reading,

Missus B xx

Thursday 23 June 2016

Tree: Seasons come, Seasons Go

This post includes affiliate links.
Please see my disclosure here
Text by Patricia Hegarty
Illustrations by Britta Teckentrup

Little Tiger Kids 2015

Reviewed copy from my personal library.

Back of book:
A timeless tale of new beginnings...
Peek through the holes in the tree to find a busy world of nature at work through rain and shine, wind and snow. Each season of the year is brought to life by Britta Teckentrup's beautiful artwork.

Oh this book is a delicious peek-a-boo feast. When I spotted it in the book shop, I immediately knew it wouldn't be staying on the shelf. The hardback cover has a cut out piece with a wide-eyed Owl peeping out from a tree. My toddler son was immediately drawn to this, and couldn't resist introducing himself to the Owl by poking his finger into the 'tree hole' on the cover.
Mr Owl peeps out from every page within the book

Sunday 12 June 2016

Art Parts : A Child's Introduction to the Elements of Art

This review includes affiliate links
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Author: Kim Bogren Owen  
Illustrations by: T.J. Matteo, Maddie Oatman, Abigail Whiteing, Stephanie Hausladen Hamilton, Darin Grassman, Timothy Wigington, Kaila Spencer, Kay Kron and Zachari Owen

Words Reflected 2016

Reviewed copy kindly sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

'Art Parts' introduces children to the elements of art - lines, shapes, colour, texture, space and feelings. The book is  a mix of drawings by children, samples to demonstrate art elements and blank pages which invite children to express their own artistic ideas.

Sunday 22 May 2016

Hello Roara!

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Please read my disclosure

Story by Tamara Forge
Created by Josh & Marley Dechant
Josh Dechant 2015
Reviewed copy kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Roara!
is the rhyming story  of a big, friendly dinosaur who's confused as to why the other creatures flee when she smiles and wags her tail. Roara doesn't realise that her carnivore teeth, boulder-breaking tail wags and booming voice are, just a tad, intimidating. Thankfully, a brave little shrew has a word in her ear and Roara then realizes that, a gentle voice and a better mannered tail are the keys to success.
Hello Roara! Book Review
Introducing Roara, the tyrannosaurus rex 

Tuesday 10 May 2016

temporarily closed to new review requests

At the moment, I am closed to new review requests.

Over the Summer months I am am catching up on a little pile of books I have agreed to work on/would like to share.

Thanks for visiting & please do contact me after the summer period with your review request.

Best wishes, Missus B.


Saturday 7 May 2016

Peter & Lisa: A Mental Illness Children's Story

This post includes 
affiliate links. Please read my 

Authors: Charles Katz, Linda Baron Katz.
Illustrator:  Mitchi Suico

Page Publishing, Inc. 2014

Reviewed copy: PDF version emailed by L. Katz in exchange  for an honest review. Paperback version also available.

Peter and Lisa: A Mental Illness Children's Story
is about two adults who are affected by mental illness. In the introduction page mental illness is described in  a simple, child-friendly way. 
The clear and matter of fact language is easy for young children to grasp and the introduction importantly points out that  'Children will not only love the story but will learn from a topic that should be taught by everyone.'  

See below for more from Missus B....

Tuesday 29 March 2016

The Not So Wise Owl

This post includes affiliate links. See my disclosure here
Author: Robert James Parfett
Illustrator: Sarah-Leigh Wills
Graphics: Simon Hopkins  2015

Review request from 'Authors Large & Small' and RJ Parfett.
Reviewed copy kindly sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Back of Book:
"The other oak dwellers at first
 couldn't see what was wrong with
the funny old owl in the tree."

Find out what has happened to poor Owl in this amusing tale of life in an oak tree. Will Owl ever be wise again?

Imagine you're a woodland creature in a've got a serious problem (let's face it, Mother Nature isn't always in a good mood.) So, what do you do? Who can you turn to for some wisdom and advice?