Dark Origins – Old Mother Hubbard

Old Mother Hubbard is a popular nursery rhyme but the words are not very child friendly. It is rather long so I am only sharing the first three verses here:

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone:
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

She went to the baker’s
To buy him some bread;
When she came back
The dog was dead!

She went to the undertaker’s
To buy him a coffin;
When she came back
The dog was laughing.

As with most nursery rhymes, it is not possible to peg down its exact origins but I am going to share with you two quite different proposed origins, one being much darker than the other.

Old Mother Hubbard is purported to refer to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and his failure to obtain an annulment from the Pope of King Henry VIII of England’s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The cupboard represents the Catholic Church, the dog represents King Henry VIII, and the bone, the coveted annulment.

Thomas Wolsey (1475 to 1530) was a cardinal and a statesman, Henry VIII’s lord chancellor and one of the last clergymen to play a dominant role in English political life.

Henry was desperate for a male heir and Catherine produced a daughter, Mary. He argued that his marriage to Catherine was not lawful and requested that Wolsey use his influence in Rome to get a papal annulment so that he could remarry.

However, Catherine’s nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, dominated the Pope at the time and Wolsey failed in his mission. This failure led to him being arrested in November 1530 and accused of treason. He died on 29 November 1530 on his way south to face trial.

Thomas Wolsey at Tudor court
Thomas Wolsey significantly enhanced Henry’s already strong sense of his sovereignty. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The other popular belief is that Old Mother Hubbard from the nursery rhyme was a retired housekeeper called Miss Sarah Catherine Martin. Miss Martin wrote and illustrated the poem in 1804, but whether or not it was about her own life is unknown. She worked as a housekeeper at Kitley House, the estate of Sir Henry Bastard in Yealmpton, and when she retired she occupied a lovely thatched stone and cob cottage nearby. The area abounds with legends about Sarah and Prince William Henry, a friend of Sir Bastard and a visitor to his estate.

Old Mother Hubbard's Cottage in Yealmpton, Devon
Picture Credit: Old Mother Hubbard’s Cottage which is now a Chinese restaurant in Yealmpton. https://www.picturesofengland.com/England/Devon/Yealmpton/Old_Mother_Hubbard’s_Cottage

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

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Growing Bookworms – Are their benefits to repetitive reading?

“As adults, we know that you might read a complex book and, if you read it again, it allows you to absorb all the different elements over time. It’s true for children too. Not only do children love having the familiarity of their favourite books but the repetition is so valuable.”

DR ELIZABETH WESTRUPP

When my boys were young, they liked to have the same book read to them over and over again. With Greg it was the Farmyard Tales about Poppy and Sam and their dog called Rusty.

Greg was about two and a half years old when he went through this repetitive reading stage. Every afternoon when I got home from work, he would ask me to read Farmyard Tales to him. It was fortunate for me as I was pregnant at the time and busy working on a big transaction; Greg’s love of these books enabled me to rest a lot more than I would have been able to if he’d wanted to play outside.

You can find out more about Poppy and Sam here:

Michael went into this book reading stage later. He was about five years old when he decided he loved The Enchanted Wood series by Enid Blyton. I read this book to him so many times I learned sections of it off by heart. Michael also loved the Famous Five series also by Enid Blyton. Thankfully, I was smart enough to get the audio books of the whole series and so I didn’t have to read these to him repetitively. He liked Five go off in a caravan the best and his listening to this story nearly drove me mad eventually.

Five Go Off in a Caravan - Wikipedia

Back to today’s question: Is repetitive reading good for children?

According to a number of child psychologists repetitive reading does have some important benefits, in particular, children take longer to encode information that older children and adults and they forget faster. Repetitive reading helps young children to remember patterns, new and unusual words, and connect key concepts in the story. In other words, repetition helps develop better comprehension.

Repetitive reading also helps children learn to see things from a different perspective and undergo a different learning experience if you add some new nuances into your reading of the same story. It also helps make reading a story for the 20th time more fun.

Two other benefits of repetitive reading are as follows:

1. Children develop language fluency through repetition. It also helps them to learn sequencing and understanding the two concepts of timing and placing in a story;

2. Repetitive reading also helps develop confidence when a child knows the story and is able to remember what happens next. It also enables the child to re-tell the story to peers or a younger sibling.

Some books that are fun to read over and over again to children are the Dr Seuss books. I always find those books a lot of fun to read, even though I have read them many times, including to my own younger siblings.

I’m going to end off with a great quote from Dr Seuss:

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Growing Bookworms: Handwriting skills for children, Part 2

Last month, I discussed the reasons why handwriting is still important for both children and adults. You can read that post here: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/06/09/raising-bookworms-handwriting-skills-for-children-part-1/

Today, I am going to focus on strategies to improve handwriting.

The age of the child determines the best strategies for improving handwriting.

For a beginner writer in the early grades, the following strategies are useful to help children practice their handwriting and gain confidence with writing:

Make handwriting fun

There are a few ways you can make practicing handwriting more fun. You can give your child a fun or special pencil to use to practice writing. A stripped one or a pencil covered in flowers or cars. You can also play simple games that involve writing like hangman, word puzzles and anagrams.

I started writing the Sir Chocolate series of books with Michael to help him improve his handwriting. He used to write out the stories as we made them up. He tried very hard to write nicely in these little books we created.

Develop fine motor skills

Developing your child’s fine motor skills by drawing and painting, playing with play dough, cutting, threading, sand play, lego and building blocks are all great ways of encouraging children to manipulate small objects.

Correct pencil grip

Make sure your child is holding the pencil in a pincer grip and also using both hands to control the paper.

Here is a fun video song to help children with the correct pencil grip:

The correct equipment

Some children struggle to hold a regular pencil and do better with a shorter, smaller, or kid-sized pencil. Give your child an eraser so that s/he is confident and not afraid of making mistakes.

Use writing everywhere

You can practice handwriting in lots of fun places. You can write in the sand on the beach or on a foggy window or mirror. You can write in chalk on the driveway and you can even write on fondant with an edible ink pen.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Dark Origins – Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Do you know the nursery rhyme Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush?

I remember it from when I was a girl. The girls used to hold hands and dance in a circle singing the lyrics and doing the actions.

These are the first two stanzas of the most modern version:

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash our face,
Wash our face,
Wash our face.
This is the way we wash our face
On a cold and frosty morning.

The rhyme was first recorded by James Orchard Halliwell, an English Shakespearean scholar, antiquarian, and a collection of English nursery rhymes and fairy tales, as an English children’s game in the mid-nineteenth century.

The song and associated game are traditional in England and different versions are found in Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

R.S. Duncan, a prison governor at HM Prison Wakefield in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England suggested that the nursery rhyme was about female Victorian prisoners exercising in the yard at Wakefield. A mulberry tree grew in the yard and women inmates would dance around the tree with their children and sing the song. The tree died in May 2019.

About the Victorian prison system

The Victorian prison system was created by men for men. Accommodation for women was usually an after thought and the penal system designed for them as generally a modified version of the men’s prison.

Women convicts were considered to need saving twice, firstly from their criminality and secondly from their deviance from expected female behaviour.

To this end, instead of being subjected to hard labour, women progressed through several disciplinary stages intended to put them on the path to reform. The stages were separate confinement for four months (men had to endure nine months of separate confinement), associated labour and, finally, a transfer to a female-only institution.

Prison authorities had to deal with pregnant and postpartum women. Lying-in wards and nurseries had to be created and the regulations relating to exercise, communication, and dietary provision had to be modified for such women.

 The rhyme refers to Victorian female prisoners at HMP Wakefield who would exercise around a mulberry tree
Picture credit: https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/8356830/historic-stories-behind-nursery-rhymes/

Another possible interpretation of the rhyme is that it references Britain’s struggle to produce silk. Silkworms eat mulberry leaves and during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Britain tried to emulate the success of the Chinese silk production industry. Britain’s cold winters with frost proved to be to harsh for the mulberry trees to thrive and this hampered the development of a successful silk production industry.

The lyrics: “Here we go round the mulberry bush / On a cold and frosty morning” are thought to be a joke about the difficulties experienced by the industry.

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

I am a South African writer specialising in historical, paranormal and horror novels and short stories. I am an avid reader in these genres and my writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, the Bronte sisters, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough. 

I was educated at the University of South Africa where I achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. I was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000. 

I have worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and have written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. I have won several awards over my twenty year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

I have been published a number of anthologies and have two published YA books, While the Bombs Fell and Through the Nethergate. I have recently published my first adult novel called A Ghost and His Gold which is partly set in South Africa during the Second Anglo Boer War.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing bookworms: The importance of historical fiction for kids

When I was in high school, history was an unpopular subject. It was so unpopular, in fact, that when the time came for the Grade 9’s to chose their subjects for Grade’s 10 to 12, the school paired history with typing, home economics and business economics so that the girls who chose this less academic combination were compelled to take history. This was how I ended up in a history class with mainly girls who hated the subject. I loved history and I took it through choice. My other subjects were maths, accountancy, and science. In South Africa, English and Afrikaans were compulsory subjects at the time.

I never really understood why my peers didn’t like history as it was a subject always loved. I’ve said it here before, however, that I was a very wide reader from a very young age and I read a lot of books set in the past. Among my favourite books by a South African author, were the collections of short stories by Herman Charles Bosman. This is what Wikipedia has to say about Herman Charles Bosman:

Herman Charles Bosman (5 February 1905 – 14 October 1951) is widely regarded as South Africa’s greatest short-story writer. He studied the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain and developed a style emphasizing the use of satire. His English-language works utilize primarily Afrikaner characters and highlight the many contradictions in Afrikaner society during the first half of the twentieth century.

On reflection, I realised that I have acquired a love of history because all the books I had read allowed me to include the facts and dates I learned into the fascinating backdrop I had acquired of life at the time. I could visualise the homes, lives, and loves of the Afrikaner people I learned about during the sections on the Great Trek and the Boers wars though my reading of Charles Bosman’s works. I also read books by South African Boer War veteran, Deneys Reitz.

My learning of international history including the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution (including the Luddite uprisings), and the Tudor period were coloured by my reading of certain books, in particular, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and Shirley and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I found it easy to remember my history because I entwined it with my understanding of life at the times as presented by these great novels.

I was delighted when I discovered that history is a popular subject at the college for boys my sons both attend. Gregory chose to take history to matric (along with IT, maths, advanced maths and science which shows that its mixes well with any subject combination) and Michael looks set to follow in his footsteps.

I am bowled over by their history curriculum and the amazing why they learn about the past through source documents, cartoons, and many other interactive and interesting modes compared to my school days of rote learning. My sons are also taught history from the perspective of how historical events have influenced the present which makes this subject a lot more useful. It helps them to see how people’s actions and reactions have set the path for the future and resulted in both the good and bad in society we see today.

I believe it is vital for kids to understand history in an expansive and wide context so that they can value the freedoms and benefits their forefathers fought and die to leave as their legacy. For example, what young girl would not value her vote if she knew about the suffering and hardships of the suffragettes who paved the way for the achievement of this equality for women.

I wonder how many British children know that compulsory education for children aged 5 to 14 years was only introduced in 1918. How many American children know that compulsory education laws were only passed by 1900 and then only in 32 states, with the other states following by 1930. 1930! That’s less than 100 years ago.

Modern children are so fortunate to have an education and the opportunities for self improvement that come with it. It isn’t equal for all yet, but there are lots of people who believe passionately in educating children and who work really hard to implement change and improvements in education.

Understanding and learning about real people in a historical context makes their passions, sufferings and beliefs so much more compelling. It is difficult to hold on to prejudice if you’ve read novels like I am David by Anne Holm, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Patton.

Historical books also teach children interesting information about how people survived in the past. I’ve always remembered the chapter from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder when Pa cleaned his gun and made bullets. There is also a chapter about how Ma made butter and coloured it yellow. Little House on the Prairie has a scene when Ma is helping Pa build their new log cabin and a log falls on her foot. The difficulties and dangers of life on the frontier were illustrated; there was no help to be had for an injury or if the family fell ill.

I learned a lot about the limitations of medical knowledge in the mid to late 1800s through my reading of the What Katy Did series by Susan Coolidge. I will never forget Katy falling out of the swing or Amy contracting, and nearly dying from, Roman fever. Such scenes induce great feelings of empathy and compassion in the reader.

It is for all these compelling reasons that I wrote While the Bombs Fell, a fictionalised biography of my mom’s life as a young girl growing up in a small English town during World War II. I wanted to capture and preserve her memories of life for ordinary people living through this extraordinary time so that others, children in particular, could read it and remember how life was during that time.

What are your thoughts about historical fiction for both children and adults? Do you see value in learning about history in through a good story?

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Growing Bookworms – Digital versus print books for children

I have been giving some thought lately to book marketing, especially the marketing of books aimed at children. While selling more books is obviously of interest to me as a writer of children’s books, I am also interested in the most advantageous ways of imparting information to, and developing a love of learning and reading in young children. This duel interest led me to an investigation of electronic books and the pros and cons of children reading using an electronic platform like a computer or an app on a tablet.

I wanted to know, firstly, if children were interested in reading ebooks.

The answer to that first question was a resounding yes, children are definitely interested in reading ebooks. Modern children are surrounded by technology and it is becoming more and more central to their lives. Lately, not only do children use cell phones and tablets to communicate with each other, and as a source of entertainment and research for school projects, they are using it to do their school lessons and virtually visit with relatives and friends.

Since the advent of the pandemic, many children are seeing their parents working on-line at home and using Zoom to engage with their colleagues instead of face-to-face meetings, so it is hardly surprising that children are interested in ebooks. It is a natural progression.

Ebooks for children are also easily accessible, cheap, have a narrator who reads the story, and have interactive features such as animated pictures, music, sound effects, and links on the screen that connect to games or additional information about the story or pictures. I must admit, I have noticed this link feature in non-fiction books I have read recently and I also like it. I can click on the link and find out more about the source of a picture or listen to a YouTube video about a specific aspect of the book.

My second investigation looked at the pros and cons of ebooks for children.

The pros

  1. children learn early literacy skills from good quality ebooks that include relevant interactive features such as a dictionary, words that are highlighted when the narrator reads them, and games and pictures that help explain the story;
  2. children interact longer with their parents when reading an ebook together;
  3. children can read an ebook over and over again on their own which improves literacy and fluency;
  4. children can read an ebook independently which may encourage them to read more often; and
  5. ebooks are cheap and accessible.

The cons

  1. parents often feel they should reduce their children’s screen time and have a resistance to ebooks;
  2. parents think their children can have the book read to them by the narrator and spend less time reading to [and bonding with] their children;
  3. parents get distracted by the interactive features and end up focusing on them instead of the story itself;
  4. children learn less about the story from an ebook, in particular they do not remember the order of events as well as they do when reading a paper book; and
  5. the interactive features in an ebook may be distracting to the child.

My overarching takeaway from the above which is a summary of all the articles I read on this subject is that, as with paper books, children benefit the most from ebooks when they read them with a parent or caregiver who spends time taking to the child about the story. This is exactly the same benefit that a child receives from reading a paper book with a parent.

The general view is that parents either take the view that their input is not required for ebooks due to the narrator who reads the story to the child, or the parents get distracted away from the detail of the story by the interactive features and so the wrong information dominates the parent/child engagement.

In homes where the parents do not spend time reading with/to their children, it is believed that ebooks can play a bigger role in assisting children to learn to read as it provides a way of achieving the reading of a story without parental input.

I’ve always read to both my boys. I read with Gregory until he was 6 1/2 years old and wanted to read on his own and I read with Michael every day until he was 12. Some evenings I still read with Michael [his book] and we often sit and read our own books together. It is still a pleasant time and reading separate books at the same time means I don’t have to suffer through Rick Riordan books all year round.

If you are interested in finding free digital children’s books for primary students, you can find three recommended websites here: https://learningattheprimarypond.com/blog/3-websites-with-free-digital-childrens-books-for-primary-students/

https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk/reading/free-ebooks/

I have not attempted to download any of the free ebooks from Oxford Owl but these are the book series I used to teach my sons to read. I had the paper copies.

What are your thoughts on ebooks for children? Have you tried them? Let me know in the comments.

If you have spare Easter eggs you can learn how to make a fun Easter chick here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bod4B029_xw

OR you can download the instructions here: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/how-to-make-baby-chick-using-an-easter-egg/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Growing Bookworms – “Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”

Children need to learn to read and write. This is an undebatable fact. Well, it’s undebatable from a parents point of view, it is very debatable from a teenagers point of view. I have had a number of conversations with children, including my younger son, about the necessity of reading.

“Why do I need to read when I can watch a movie?”

“Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”

The simple answer, is that despite our moving to a more visual and electronic platform, everything in our modern lives is still underpinned by the written word. It is merely it’s shape and form that has changed.

Every movie and most television shows are based on screenplays which are written by writers, or even groups of writers. Many movies and television series are adapted from books. If there were no books, our choices of visual media would be much more limited. Screenplays would be written, but without creativity and a knowledge of writing, a screenplay could not exist. In my experience, the range of creative writing and English literacy skills our children learn is far more expansive than what I learned at school. Their curriculum now includes visual literacy and film study as well as the traditional grammar, poetry, comprehension and creative writing I studied. These are changes that accommodate our changing times.

As for computer games, I soon realised that the computer games my children play are not the Pacman or Donkey Kong style games from my childhood, but are sophisticated stories with themes and plots. My sons have learned all about Greek and Norse mythology from computer games, as well as how to plan a war or battle with supply lines and build an entire society form a little creature that whistles to a race that can fly to the moon. When they were younger, they learned about farming. They planted crops, water and feed them and eventually harvested them.

Picture of Pacman Doodle from Google

The knowledge and skills they have gained from computer games are not inferior or worthless. The games of strategy have taught them useful survival and planning techniques. The most interesting thing for me about their games is that they require reading. There are pop up notifications continuously as the game progresses. The characters also speak and interact and their thoughts and plans are often set out in words exactly like subtitles. I have also discovered that my children Google information about their games and look up how to do things. This also requires reading.

I point this out to them. If you couldn’t read, you wouldn’t be able to play this game. If people didn’t write, there would be no script for the game you are playing. Because our lives are more visual now does not mean that these skills are not longer necessary. There are vital to engage in this virtual world. In this context, my sons understand the importance of reading. I have linked it to their world.

We no longer write letters, but we spend all day long on email. Writing an email requires good communication skills or you will not achieve the desired outcome.

We no longer draft lengthily reports but precise power point presentations with succinct bullet points. If you have prepared such presentations you will know that their preparation requires more thought and careful word choice than the long and wordy documents we produced in the past. Preparing a good presentation requires an ability to summarise and pick pertinent points out of a larger feedback document.

Even those of us who work mainly with figures – the number crunches of the world – have to be able to write and communicate effectively. A complex spreadsheet and lines of figures must be reduced to a written interpretive document and then to a concise bulleted presentation. They are meaningless without interpretation and communication to others.

As a parent of two teenage boys I have learned to put my personal prejudices [or literary snobbery] aside when it comes to learning to read. There is nothing wrong with graphic novels. In fact, a lot of our adult humour and political sarcasm is shared through cartoons and memes. This makes visual literacy essential – Ha! The teachers are right after all.

I have decided that if my sons see little benefit to reading Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne or The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and prefer to read five volumes of the Minecraft Combat Handbook, that is actually okay.

Picture from Amazon US

And having achieved this peace of mind, I even celebrated it with a cake!

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Dark Origins – Hansel and Gretel

Most people are familiar with the story of Hansel and Gretel, a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in their Grimm’s Fairy Tales in 1812.

In summary, the story goes as follows:

Hansel and Gretel are a brother and sister whose starving parents decide to abandon them in the forest. Hansel overhears his parents plotting and drops pebbles on the path so that he and Gretel can find their way home later. The family’s plight does not improve and a short while later the mother [or stepmother depending on the version] persuades the father to take the children into the forest again and leave them there. This time, Hansel drops a trail of breadcrumbs but the birds eat them and the two children become lost in the forest.

The starving children come across a gingerbread house and they begin to break off bits and eat it. The house, however, is a trap set by a wicked witch who captures the children, enslaves Gretel and locks Hansel in a cage. She sets about fattening Hansel up so that she can eat him.

Gretel saves Hansel by shoving the witch into the oven which she has heated up in order to cook Hansel. The pair escape and manage to find their way home with the witch’s treasure. In the meantime, their mother [or stepmother] has died and their father is a broken man having abandoned his beloved children. The family live happily ever after.

Hansel and Gretel - Wikipedia
Picture from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hansel_and_Gretel

The real history behind this already rather grim story, is even more grim.

The true story of Hansel and Gretel may have its roots in the great flood and great famine of 1314. 1314 was a year of continuous rain and this continued throughout 1315 and 1316. The wet conditions resulted in crops rotting in the ground, harvests failing and livestock drowning or starving. Food prices increased dramatically as a result of severe food shortages.

The great famine is estimated to have effected 400,000 square miles of Europe, 30 million people and to have resulted in the deaths of up to 25 percent of the population in certain areas.

The famine was so bad that during the winter of 1315/1316, the peasants resorted to eating the seed grain they had stored for planting in the spring. People resorted to begging, stealing and even murder in their quest for food. Parents abandoned their children to fend for themselves and their were rumours of cannibalism. An Irish chronicler wrote that people “were so destroyed by hunger that they extracted bodies of the dead from cemeteries and dug out the flesh from the skulls and ate it, and women ate their children out of hunger.”

In the story of Hansel and Gretel, the pair are taken into the forest by their father and abandoned. They are taken in by an old woman living in a cottage. When the old woman starts to heat the oven, the children realise she is planning to roast and eat them. Gretel tricks the woman into opening the oven and pushes her inside.

It is interesting to note that this time of famine coincided with the end of the medieval warm weather period and the beginning of the little ice age. The changing climate with its cooler and wetter summers and earlier autumn storms damaged the harvests. Given the strange wet and cool summer South African is experiencing, coupled with severe cold in the northern hemisphere, this really is food for thought.

Another grim early tale along the lines of Hansel and Gretel is a Romanian story called The Little Boy and the Wicked Stepmother. You can read this story here: http://www.planetofbirds.com/the-story-of-the-little-boy-and-the-wicked-step-mother

The story of Hansel and Gretel was the inspiration for my recent twisted fairy tale Covid-19 cake which featured a gingerbread house and a witch who is trying to keep children out after they are declared to be vectors for the virus.

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle has published nine children’s books under the name of Robbie Cheadle. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Her supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – Does speed reading matter for kids

When I was ten years old, I was one of a handful of kids in my grade who were selected to attend a speed reading programme. We attended a separate class where we were given a machine with a screen that displayed a page of text. There was a solid covering which moved down the page, covering the text as it descended. I remember having to read quite quickly to finish reading a sentence before it disappeared. The speed with which the covering moved could be increased or decreased by twisting a knob on the side of the reading machine. This was under the control of the reading teacher.

Speed reading suited me and with practice I became a very quick reader. Some of the kids never took to the exercises and gave up quite quickly. I was keen to learn to read faster. Faster meant more books in a day or week. By the following year I was reading 14 children’s books a week and making two trips a week to the local library on my bicycle. I bribed my younger sister into giving me her three library cards. I had four of my own.

I am still a fast reader and can read an average book in a week. I only read for leisure for approximately one hour a day. I rarely read one book at a time and usually have at least two physical books on the go and one audio book. If I get a little tired of one book, I switch over to the other which makes it harder to measure the speed with which I read. Of course, the most important thing with reading is comprehension, there is no point in reading fast if you don’t comprehend the story.

I like to believe I do understand and remember everything I read (unless it is testing my oldest son on his chemistry – that is so deadly boring for me I never remember a single word afterwards). Has my ability to read quicker helped me in my working life. I think it has, I can read and summarise contracts and documents a lot faster than many other people.

This brings me to the benefits of teaching children to speed read.

The way I understand the learning to read process is that young children first learn to recognise and assign sounds to specific letters. Those letters become words that the young reader must decode in order to read. Practice enables the child to recognise words and their reading becomes more accurate and automatic. Once the brain no longer has to focus entirely on decoding words, it is able to focus on comprehension. This is why reading teachers concentrate on reading fluency which is a combination of rate, accuracy and expression. It is, therefore, obvious that rate is not the only factor, but it is important. The quicker a child develops reading fluency, the faster they will achieve good comprehension of the reading material.

Neither of my sons have had the opportunity to learn speed reading. I assume this is because this type of learner extension is no longer provided by schools. It could be because speed reading is not considered to be particularly necessary as one contributor out of three to effective reading. My oldest son reads very quickly and with excellent comprehension. He reads his complex school set works in a short period. His comprehension is good and he scores high marks on language comprehension tests. He would probably be a good candidate for speed reading as he would enjoy the challenge and not lose out on comprehension by reading faster.

Michael, on the other hand, is a slow reader, but he is now quite fluent and accurate. I always start Michael reading his school set works at the beginning of the holidays or school term so that he has lots of time to read the book at his own comfortable pace. I often buy him the audio book too, so that he can listen to the story again after he has read it. Michael also usually scores well on comprehension tests. Michael is motivated by interest and often finds his school set works boring. Trying to get him to read quicker would certainly backfire as he would have to sacrifice comprehension for speed. Slow and steady works well for him.

Possibly the answer is the same as always, you need to understand your child and appreciate their strengths and weaknesses when accessing the best approach for teaching them to read.

Have you done a speed reading programme? Did they offer this at your school or your children’s schools? Do you think it helps to practice reading faster? Let me know in the comments.

If your interested in teaching yourself to speed read, you can learn more about it by watching this YouTube video:

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Growing Bookworms – Teaching your child to count and read numbers

The festive period has drawn to a close and children are back at school and parents back at work. Many of us are starting off the year with on-line learning and this can be quite challenging, especially for young learners.

Learning to read letters and numbers are vitally important as these form the basis of a learner’s future reading and numeracy skills.

There are lots of fun ways to incorporate teaching children to recognise numbers into daily tasks and family leisure activities.

One of the numbers activities my boys liked the best was singing counting songs such as One, Two, Buckle My Shoe or 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I Caught A Fish Alive. You can download a poster which illustrates the words and read or sing them with your child. You can also clap your hands or stamp your feet as you sing to reinforce the quantities.

Learning Center Activities for "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" | Nursery songs,  Nursery rhymes preschool, Nursery rhymes songs
Picture from Pinterest: Learning Center Activities for “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” – Bobbie Wilson – Google Books

Alternatively, you can download a video which sings the song and displays the numbers.

Another activity my children loved was playing Snakes and Ladders. This game comes in various forms including the traditional 2D board, dice and markers and a 3D version where the snakes swallow the counters and they slide down to the end of the snake.

According to Wikepedia the object of the game of Snakes and Ladders is to navigate one’s game piece, according to die rolls, from the start (bottom square) to the finish (top square), helped by climbing ladders but hindered by falling down snakes. The game is a simple race based on sheer luck, and it is popular with young children.

Snakes & Ladders Board Game Traditional Children Games X 1 Gift UK SELLER  for sale online | eBay
Picture from ebay.co.uk

This game exposes children to the concepts of addition and subtraction. Each square on the board is numbered from 1 to 100 and each player needs to roll the dice and move their counter the number of spaces reflected on the dice. This is a wonderful way of teaching number recognition and counting, for example, if your child’s counter is on 6 and s/he rolls a 5, you can help them count 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. You can reinforce the concept by saying if you’re on 6 and you add another 5 spaces, you will end on 11.

Some other benefits to playing board games are as follows:

They boost language skills;

The sharpen your child’s focus;

They teach teamwork;

They help to soothe anxiety; and

They teach children to be good losers.

Another great way to teach children how to count and recongise numbers are join-the-numbers pictures. These are available from simple pictures to complex ones.

Preschool Cat Connect the Dots Worksheet

You can find more join-the-numbers worksheets here: https://www.daycareworksheets.com/preschool-connect-the-dots-worksheets/.

Have you used any of these methods to teach children to count and read numbers? Which one was their favourite method? Tell me in the comments.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.