THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG:
To encourage parents
and teachers to read to children (and to educate picture book writers and
illustrators about including cognitive elements in their work). The act of reading
out loud is not enough. When reading a picture book, or even a middle grade
book, we are given a fantastic opportunity to develop an interactive experience
with our children.
What is an interactive
experience does not require any devices. It does require constant interfacing
between the adult and the child/children.
When reading to
children, you want to deliver the book in a manner that invites the children to
participate as active listeners and engages responses from them that grow their
Passive listening is
all very well, but the story is soon over, and an opportunity has been lost to
use ‘story time’ as a guided exploration of another world, or some subject. I
totally understand how often the bedtime story has to be delivered promptly and
that there is no time for discussion. I firmly believe however, when possible,
an extended period devoted to reading and delving into the text, benefits the
child, and is enjoyed by both the adult and the child.
We will be looking at two picture books in this blog.
Since my picture book collection is still in storage, while
necessary house repairs take place, I visited our local library.
As an illustrator, the cover illustrations draw my
attention. If the cover is appealing, then I will peek inside and see what
treasure I can uncover between the pages.
So, what are we reading today?
Two Little Monkeys
Written by Mem Fox
Illustrated by Jill
Published by Puffin
Books, Penguin Group, Australia, 2012
appear to be done in pencil and watercolour.
This book will appeal to young children (toddlers).
It is a rhyming story, with a strong rhythm, which reminded
me a lot of the old nursery rhyme, ‘Two Little Dickie Birds, sitting on a wall,
one name Peter, the other name Paul.’
Because of the tight rhythm and neat rhyming, there is a
natural cadence when the story is read. Reading picture books, structured in
this manner, is fundamental for young brain development. Skills learnt reading
books like ‘Two Little Monkeys’ include:
- Rhyme recognition and generation – do the words ‘Cheeky’ and ‘Chee’ rhyme? What else rhymes with ‘Cheeky’ and ‘Chee’?
- Rhythm development – the ability to clap or tap in time or even to generate new verses in accordance with the rhyming and rhythm patterns laid out in the story.
- Memory development – the story is catchy, due to the rhyme and rhythm, and some children will learn the story off by heart.
- Sequencing – memorising the story will help children learn to remember the story in order. “What comes after this line if the last word must rhyme with ‘tree’?”
- Vocabulary development – marvellous words like ‘prowling’, ‘scramble’, ‘tremble’, and ‘leap’ are used. Most two and three old year children love learning new, ‘big’ or ‘grown-up’ words, and they learn to use these through understanding the context of the story.
lessons that can be learned from this story include:
- Stranger danger message – Cheeky and Chee realise that there is someone approaching who does not have their best interests at heart, and from whom they flee. This story can be used by parents and teachers as a springboard for a discussion about this very serious subject.
- Clues – If the children analyse the illustrations, they may find that danger lurks from the very first page. Children need to be made aware that vital information can be concealed on a page, and that they need to look for it.
For the aspiring
illustrators, one major lesson stood out:
- Limited colour palette – Jill Barton kept the
colour palette very simple. She did not use every colour available. Cohesion
between the illustrations is maintained throughout the entire book. The palette
is very neutral, but beautiful, red berries are introduced for the exciting conclusion
of the story.
Mem Fox has written many delightful children’s picture books
and is Australian. Jill Barton has also illustrated numerous picture books and
lives in the United Kingdom.
illustrated by Emily Gravett
Published by Two
Hoots, Pan Macmillan, United Kingdom, 2010
The illustrations were
created using pencil, watercolour and coloured pencils.
chameleons, so I could not pass by this picture book!
story is perfect for young children. Although a quick read (the word count is
only 51 words!), there is so much scope for discussion.
Gravett introduces colour and texture to children in this story, and yet, the
book is not about colour and texture. She cleverly utilises them to drive the
simple, yet profound, storyline.
short, Chameleon is lonely. He tries to make friends with a host of other
creatures and solitary objects.
we have all be raised to believe, chameleons change colour to camouflage with
their surroundings, and this is what Chameleon does, but still he is lonely,
until…DRUMROLL, please…he finally meets another chameleon!
satisfactory ending in no way negates the need for me to point out that
chameleons do not actually change colour to match their surroundings.
according to my internet research, chameleons change colour as a response to
mood, temperature, health, communication, and light.
to be learnt from this lovely book:
- Colour identification – kids love colour and
this book is great way to check that they know their colours.
- Pattern and texture discussion – chat about the
patterns and textures shown in the illustrations.
- Science – explain that chameleons do change
colour, and but teach them when they actually do.
- Emotional and social lesson – that we are not
alone. Even if we do not fit in with everyone else, there is someone out there
who we will get along with. We just need to keep our eyes open.
- May this be a lesson to me and other verbose
children’s authors, that picture books can be written with just 51 words!
- Keep illustrations super simple. Although Emily
Gravett utilises props for her protagonist, she did not illustrate the
I have been trying to blog twice a month, but time is not on my side, so I am
returning to once-monthly blogs. I will be alternating months between
illustration-themed blogs, and picture book reviews with cognitive insights. Please
join me this time next month for another an illustration blog, where I will be
discussing my recent experience opening a Redbubble store, from which my
illustrations can be purchased on a wide range of products.