Book Advent Tree for Christmas

I’m starting the Christmas posts a wee bit early because this is an idea you’ll need to prepare by December 1st. I saw this idea on My Little Bookcase and thought it was just brilliant. It’s a great way to count down the days until Christmas and encourage reading in your little one.

Image from My Little Bookcase

The idea is to collect 24 Christmas/holiday themed books, wrap them in green paper and stack them from largest to smallest to look like a Christmas tree. Place the stack on a brown-paper-covered box and top with a star or angel. Each night your children get to open a book and you can then read it together. A much healthier advent idea than chocolate! And if you’re anything like me, I love to read my kids Christmas stories in the lead up to Christmas.

If you don’t have 24 Christmas themed books, don’t worry. My Little Bookcase has some great, non-expensive ideas, such as scouring op shops or even borrowing some from the library (just be wary of due dates when placing your books in the stack. you don’t want your library book to be at number 24 if it’s due back on the 10th).

Some of our Christmas favourites:

– An Aussie Night Before Christmas

– The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas

– Elmo’s Christmas Colours (board book)

– Santa’s Busy Christmas (board book)

– Born in a Stable (board book)

– The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

And I just picked up a new one today I just know my kids will love as they adore the Hairy Maclarey books. It’s called Slinky Malinki’s Christmas Crackers.

Pop on over to My Little Bookcase to see some of their other book advent ideas, like matchbox treat boxes disguised as mini books (my favourite treat idea was to put a dollar in each one and by the end have enough money to buy a new book) or for older kids a page a day bookmark.


Bedtime Stories

Online magazine Australian Women Online has a fantastic section for parents whose children love stories. The section is called ‘Bedtime Stories’ and features brand new stories from Australian authors for you to read to your child completely free. The stories are also printable, making them convenient to read at bedtime. Each month they have a different theme and a new story is posted each Monday.

The theme for November is ‘flowers’ and the latest story published (which went live this morning) just happens to be a rhyming story by me called ‘The Flower Show Fiasco’ about a flower show that goes horribly wrong. I hope you and your children enjoy it!


A Pirate Ditty

It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day today. Here’s a fun little rhyming story about pirates to share with your little ones.


Pirate, pirate on the sea,

With his parrot Barnaby.


Pirate, pirate hoists the sail,

Ties a rope onto the rail.

Pirate, pirate climbs the mast,

Sees some dolphins swimming past.


Pirate, pirate in a storm,

Stays in cabin to keep warm.

Pirate, pirate swabs the deck,

Fixes mast because it’s wrecked.


Pirate, pirate pulls ashore,

Paddles rowboat with an oar.

Pirate, pirate looks at map,

Watches out for jungle trap.


Pirate, pirate starts to dig,

Finds the treasure, does a jig.

Pirate, pirate pulls up chest,

Wipes his brow and has a rest.


Pirate, pirate trudges back,

Carries treasure in a sack.

Pirate, pirate back at sea,

With his parrot Barnaby.


Pirate, pirate lights the light,

Sails off into the night.

Celebrate Book Week

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post (illness and general busy-ness are to blame), but being book week this week it’s the perfect opportunity to jump back in!

Ideas for celebrating book week with your little one:

– Snuggle under a blanket and read a book together. Maybe there’s a book you loved as a child that you can share.

– Read some popular children’s classics you’ve always wanted to read to your child, but haven’t got around to reading to them yet. Books like Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, Possum Magic, My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes or The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

– Take a trip to your local library. Most libraries have a time during the week when someone reads to children and provides activities. Or just spend an hour looking at books with your child (and picking a few to take home).

– Check out your local area for special book week events. Some bookstores and libraries may be running book week specific activities.

– Encourage your child to dress up as his/her favourite book characters.

– Try to make a point of reading at least one book a day to your child, even if it isn’t your usual routine.

– Have a look at the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards shortlist for some great new books that have come out in the last year.

Have you got anything special planned for book week?

5 Steps to Promoting a Love of Books in Your Child

For the first Monday Munchkins post, I want to talk about promoting a love of reading and books in your child.

Why is this Important?

When your child starts school having a love of books and reading, or even just a familiarity with books, will help give your child a head start and make learning to read easier and more enjoyable. A love of books doesn’t just help your child to read, but it flows over into other areas of Literacy, such as spelling and writing. Most school subjects require reading, and beyond that, in adult life reading is an important skill to have (yes, even in physical professions). Reading is a life skill, so it is important to give your child the best head start you can.

The Five Steps

1. Read to Your Child from an Early Age. Start right from the start. Even as an infant your child loves the sound of your voice, and most children’s story books have a lovely rhythmic sound when read aloud. Show your child the pictures and let them touch the pages. There are lots of fantastic board books out there with colourful illustrations and even touch and feel books with different textures. Let them handle the book themselves (cloth books are good if your child likes to chew).

2. Read to Your Child Every Day. Or at least try to. Most children love being read to. Try to make it a habit, like a story before bed at bedtime. Yes, it can be frustrating when your child keeps picking the same book over and over again (I’ll admit to hiding books because I was at the stage where I could recite the entire book without even looking at it), but think of it this way: your child is learning through repetition. Every time you read that same book he/she learns more about the words – what they mean and how they work.  And when they sit there on their own reciting the words from memory, it is a step towards them learning to read for themselves. Introduce them to new books too. Go to the library if you can’t afford to keep buying new books or just for a bit of variety. For reluctant book lovers, pick books that appeal to your child’s interests or pick books with an enthralling storyline or great rhythm/rhymes or are just plain silly.

3. Fill Your Home with books. As a teacher I can tell when a child starting school has come from a home filled with books and one who hasn’t. Have a bookshelf full of children’s books that your children can access whenever you want to. If your children are a little tough on books, or like to love their books to death, have a bookshelf of second hand books or tough board books that they can easily access, and keep you favourite/special books on a higher shelf that you can all read together when you get them down.

4. Be a Good Role Model. Show your children that you like to read too. Yes, children can be extremely distracting when you are trying to read, and you usually do most of your reading after they’re in bed, but if they’re happy eating a snack or watching Dora, sit down at the table with them, or on the couch and read a chapter of your book. My oldest often sits next to me and looks at the cover (he can already recognise who Harry Potter is) or asks me what my book is about or points out words/letters he recognises in the text. Sometimes he will even get a book of his own and sit next to me to look at it while I read my book.

5. Interact with Your Child When Reading. Ask your child questions about the book as you read. Ask what they think will happen next or how they think the character is feeling. Point out parts of the illustration. Relate the story to the child’s world (eg: Does our dog do that? You like to eat spaghetti, don’t you?). This way the child becomes more involved in the story. As they get older and if the book is familiar, let them say the words they know.

How many of these do you do in your home? Do you do anything extra to promote a love of reading in your child? And don’t worry if you’re not doing any of this stuff yet, you can always start now.