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.


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

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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.


The Santa Claus Stories: Where the legend begins

The Santa Claus Stories of L. Frank Baum

I love reading origin stories, which set the groundwork for all like stories which come after. Although the legend grows and changes down through the years with each retelling. The legend of Santa Claus is one that I hold near and dear to my heart, and I truly enjoyed allowing The Santa Claus Stories of L. Frank Baum take me back to where it all began.

Did you ever wonder where Santa Claus comes from, or how he got to be Santa Claus? Ever wonder how he came to deliver toys to children all around the world? Or why he only delivers one night out of the year? Or why he wears red? Or why he comes down the chimney? Or where his magic comes from? The Santa Claus Stories of L. Frank Baum answer those questions and more. And I’m guessing that not many people today are aware that Santa Claus was in attendance for Princess Ozma’s birthday party in the land of Oz, along with Dorothy and Toto, the scarecrow, the lion man, the tin man, and many other of Baum’s colorful and memorable characters.

The literary value of classic stories such as these is beyond my abilities to describe. Although I feel unqualified to rate classic gems, such as this one, these stories left me with a good feeling inside. Here is born the true spirit of Christmas and you can see the origins of the Santa Claus legend offered here in many contemporary Santa Claus stories. In Baum’s telling, his reindeer don’t fly, but they do wear bells, and magic is in the air, as Santa toils to make all of the toys for the children year round by himself. Over the years things have changed a bit, but I think the magic is still in our hearts, if we look for it.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


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.


The joy of nursery rhymes: Twinkle, twinkle little bat

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are”

Do you remember the words of this nursery rhyme? It has always been one of my favourites and the first one I remember hearing as a child. There was something about it that captured my imagination. Today, the words of this nursery rhyme are imprinted on my brain and remind me of the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, one of my favourite childhood books.

When I was 9 years old, Alice in Wonderland was my favourite book [it still is a favourite and I have a number of different copies of it]. The words of Lewis Carroll’s adaption of Twinkle twinkle little star stayed with me and is still the version I think of first.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE BAT: A Singable Poem with Pictures and a Play on a  Classic | Film alice in wonderland, Parody songs, Alice in wonderland

I had difficult babies. They were both real ‘howlers’. Gregory cried so much I gave all my baby stuff away when he was three months old and the promised reprieve from the endless crying didn’t happen. It turned out he was a ‘six-monther’. Terence had to work hard to convince me to have another baby and then Michael turned out to be a howler too. His health issues were even more challenging and he was in hospital numerous times during his first two years of life.

But, I digress … back to nursery rhymes. I used to recite nursery rhymes to my kids while I carried them around. They howled and I recited. It kept both of us sane.

Both of my sons have good vocabularies and literacy skills and both are musical. Reading up on the useful benefits of nursery rhymes for children, I think all the reciting I did may have helped enhance these skills.

The five major benefits of nursery rhymes are as follows:

They help develop language and literacy skills:

Vintage Nursery Rhyme Print Mary Mary Quite Contrary & Fairies... | Vintage  nursery, Nursery rhymes, Children's book illustration
Remember this one – this is how I learned the word contrary. It was applied to me a lot when I was a kid.

The help develop phonemic awareness – children hear the words said and learn to pronounce them. A lot of nursery rhymes include unusual and funny words and phrases.

Pin by Charmaine Cretin on rhymes | Hey diddle diddle, Nursery rhymes, Nursery  rhymes poems

Nursery rhymes help build word memory and articulation. They are full of rhyming words and include words and groups of sounds you don’t encounter in everyday speech.

WEE WILLIE WINKIE". OLD SCOTTISH NURSERY RHYME | Nursery rhymes, Nursery  rhymes lyrics, Childrens poems

Nursery rhymes help develop creativity in children by encouraging them to imagine the scene in their heads. Just think of this one:

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

BY EDWARD LEAR
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
    What a beautiful Pussy you are,
         You are,
         You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”

II
Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
   But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
             His nose,
             His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.

III
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
             The moon,
             The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)

Finally, nursery rhymes teach children to listen, a very important life skill.

I am finishing off this post with a video of a recital of the poem Television by Roald Dahl. It is hilarious and epitomizes my thoughts about children and the modern trend of television and video/TV games.

About Robb,ie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  1. Two short stories in Spellbound, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  2. Two short stories in Spirits of the West, A Wordcrafter Western Paranormal Anthology edited by Kaye Lynne Booth;
  3. Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  4. Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  5. Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  6. Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books



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Chapter books versus short stories for children

I was having a conversation with my sister recently. Her younger son has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia and he finds reading difficult. He is an incredibly bright young man and I believe he is frustrated by his reading barrier. I experienced this same frustration with my younger son, Michael, who has an auditory processing learning barrier.

Our conversation led to a discussion about books and the fact that her son avoids reading as much as possible. He becomes difficult and even rude in an attempt to escape the hardship of having to try to read.

I recall similar behaviour by my son, so I am deeply sympathetic. It is incredibly difficult to remain patient and kind when your child is going against you at every turn.

I gave my sister some advice based on my own experience with teaching Michael to read. I advised her to try tandem reading, which I wrote about previously here: https://writingtoberead.com/2019/02/13/alternating-reading-with-your-child/, combined with short stories and not chapter books.

Chapter books are wonderful, but they are longer and more complex, they have more characters and often include sub-plots. When a child is struggling to read due to a reading barrier, it makes their reading slower. They also have to expend a lot of energy and focus on understanding and interpreting each word. The result of this is that it is much more difficult for the child to follow the greater story as they are distracted by the word-by-word struggle. If the child can’t appreciate the story, he or she doesn’t learn to love the written word and enjoy the delights of reading. The storyline disappears in the battle to conquer each sentence.

My advice to Hayley was to chose age appropriate books which encompass a short story within each chapter and to read the story in tandem with her son with the goal of finishing one complete story every night.

I discovered that the child doesn’t have to read a huge amount to benefit. I started off with Michael reading a paragraph but even a few sentence was fine if he struggled. When he’d read a bit, I took over and finished that page and the next one. This helped the story to progress and engaged him in the plot.

He then had another turn. At the end of the story, we had achieved something great together. We had read and enjoyed a whole story. There is a great sense of accomplishment in that and Michael could remember the details of the story because I kept it moving along. He developed a love of reading.

He still likes to be read to, but at 15 years old, I am not always a fan of the books he’s interested in, so I buy him audio books. As a result, Michael enjoys and appreciates reading and books and has a good vocabulary.

Some examples of books with a story per chapter are as follows:

The Humphrey the Hamster book series by Betty G. Birney: https://www.amazon.com/Betty-G-Birney/e/B001ILME1S

More Adventures According to Humphrey (Humphrey the Hamster) Kindle Edition

The Milly-Molly-Mandy books by Joyce Lankester Brisley: https://www.amazon.com/Milly-Molly-Mandy-Storybook-Joyce-Lankester-Brisley/dp/0753474719

Milly-Molly-Mandy's Adventures (The World of Milly-Molly-Mandy Book 1) Kindle Edition

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers: https://www.amazon.com/P-L-Travers/e/B000APNNWW

Mary Poppins: The Original Story (Mary Poppins series Book 1) by [P. L. Travers]

About Robb,ie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  1. Two short stories in Spellbound, a forthcoming collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  2. Two short stories in the forthcoming Spirits of the West, A Wordcrafter Western Paranormal Anthology edited by Kaye Lynne Booth;
  3. Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  4. Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  5. Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  6. Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

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.


The great Roald Dahl

September 13 is the birthday of Roald Dahl, children’s writer extraordinaire. Of course, Roald Dahl also wrote for adults and I have read and enjoyed a number of his adult stories, including my favourite, Lamb to the Slaughter.

I believe he is best known, however, for his children’s books which are filled with his unusual imagery, imagination and his wacky sense of humour. Roald Dahl is guaranteed to appeal to the most reluctant child reader and his books are a terrific way to get them engaged in a good story which will entertain you as the parent too.

My favourite Roald Dahl book is The Witches, but today, I am going to focus on Michael’s and Gregory’s favourite Roald Dahl books.

Michael’s favourite – James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach is all about a young English lad who is orphaned at an early age due to an escaped rhinoceros from the zoo eating both his parents. James is sent to live with his Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge, who are the most horrible pair imaginable and treat him very badly.

One afternoon when James has been banished from the house by his selfish and mean aunts, he meets an old man in the garden who gives him a packet of magic green wriggly things which he says will change James’ life. Unfortunately, James drops the bag and all the wriggly magical things escape into the ground under an old peach tree.

The next morning, when James wakes up, there is a peach growing on the tree. It grows and it grows and James soon becomes embroiled in an amazing adventure.

I enjoyed this book because it features a number of human sized insects: Miss Spider, Miss Ladybird, the Old-Green-Grasshopper, the Earthworm, the Glowworm, and my personal favourite, the Centipede. This book teaches youngsters all about these amazing creatures and goes a long way towards demystifying them and making them seem really interesting and appealing. This is a refreshing change from the usual disdain that insects are treated with and they use their special talents, like the ability to spin thread, to save the day.

You can purchase James and the Giant Peach here: https://www.amazon.com/James-Giant-Peach-Colour-Roald-ebook/dp/B01LOHTSAU

James and the Giant Peach (Colour Edition)

Gregory’s favourite – George’s Marvellous Medicine

I say this is Gregory’s favourite Roald Dahl book, but it is more accurate to say its my mother’s favourite. My mother loves this story and has listened to it many times with both Gregory and Michael.

George’s Grandma lives with his family and a more tyrannical and awful old lady you will never find in the whole of England. Grandma is set in her ways, takes nasty medication and spends her time complaining, grousing, grouching, grumbling and griping.

One day, George’s parents go out leaving him in charge of looking after Grandma, including administering her medication. George decides to make her his own medicine as the old one isn’t doing the trick. Anything he makes could only be an improvement. All sorts of amazing things go into George’s medicine and when he gives it to the old woman, it has the most marvelous and amazing impact on her.

This is a story filled with vivid imagination and fun.

You can purchase George’s Marvellous Medicine here:

https://www.amazon.com/Georges-Marvellous-Medicine-Roald-Dahl-ebook/dp/B002VISNF8

George's Marvellous Medicine

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of Roald Dahl’s most famous books for children and has been made into a movie twice. My personal favourite of the two movies is the older musical with Gene Wilder.

Here is my favourite song from this movie:

The oompa loompa violet beauregarde song

If you would like to find out more about Roald Dahl, you can do so on the official Roald Dahl website here: https://www.roalddahl.com/home/teachers

And on his fan site here: https://www.roalddahlfans.com/

Official quotes from Roald Dahl Books

Jeremy Trevathan... stay home & read on Twitter | Children book quotes, Roald  dahl quotes, Library quotes
Roald Dahl Day 2019: 10 quotes by Roald Dahl that'll take you down memory  lane; lesser-known facts about the author and more - books - Hindustan Times
76+ Roald Dahl Quotes (Pictures) | Imagine Forest
Quotes about Reading roald dahl (23 quotes)

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  1. Two short stories in Spellbound, a forthcoming collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  2. Two short stories in the forthcoming Spirits of the West, A Wordcrafter Western Paranormal Anthology edited by Kaye Lynne Booth;
  3. Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  4. Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  5. Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  6. Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

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.


Introducing non-fiction to children

In our modern world, sources of information assail us from every direction. An internet search turns up dozens, and sometimes even hundreds, of links to information on every conceivable topic. Television provides documentaries on historical events, scientific topics and numerous programmes that cover every aspect of nature. A visit to a grocery store exposes children to newspapers and magazines which share articles on a wide variety of political, social and other topics, not to mention the headlines of newspapers that glare at us from street light and other poles as we travel from home to school and other places during our day.

High school learners are provided with numerous texts and sources of additional information on each and every topic they cover in nearly all of their subjects.

The quantities of information available are huge and not all of it is factually accurate. There is a lot of inaccurate and even total fake information out there.

It is, therefore, vital for children to learn to filter text and identify the important facts and information, in other words, to summarise it. It is also important for children to know they should check information to more than one source in order to ensure it is factually accurate.

Providing children with non-fiction books is an excellent way of ensuring they get accurate and reliable information and, if you select good non-fiction books, they are also appealing and exciting for children.

Here are four tips for choosing non-fiction books:

  1. Books with large clear photographs are attractive to children and help them contextualize the content of the book;
  2. Look for books that present the facts succinctly and without becoming bogged down in to much unnecessary detail. After reading the content to or with your child, summarise the main message/s about that topic or on a particular page;
  3. For very young children, ensure that the content is simple and fairly repetitive with only a few new vocabulary items so as not to overwhelm them; and
  4. Look for books that provide additional information for adults at the back. This is helpful for expanding on a given topic with your child and answering any questions.

A few great ways of encouraging an interest in non-fiction reading by children are as follows:

  1. When you are doing something that provokes questions like why is the sky blue or why do bees sting, take the time to look up the answer to this question with your child and show them how to use internet sources and books to find the answers to their questions;
  2. Integrate non-fiction with play. I did this with my children by showing them how to read recipes when we were baking, using ideas from books when building and constructing with lego or blocks and even with marshmallows and reading to them about mountains, hills, lakes and rivers when we were playing in a sandpit or on the beach. We used sand for lots of fun activities like building forts and a pirate island. I used these opportunities to follow up with a non-fiction story about pirates and soldiers. I did the same thing when we visited any places that lent themselves to learning more about a specific topic like mining or farming; and
  3. Make your own non-fiction materials and demonstrate various learning points. I build a mountain out of paper mache and showed my children how water carries seeds down into the valleys, Michael and I made a sword and a roman helmet out of paper mache and learned about the Roman Empire and we made a sheep out of cardboard and cotton wool and learned how animals help to distribute seeds.
An airplane Greg and I built in the sand at the beach
Gregory learning about prehistoric mining at Grime’s Graves in Norfolk, England

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  1. Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  2. Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  3. Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  4. Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

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 read

Growing bookworks Jan 2020

Growing Bookworms

When my son, Gregory, was a small lad, he was eager to learn how to read as quickly as possible. He became positively frustrated because he was not able to read. Our local protocol is that children only start learning the alphabet in grade 0 (reception) and learning to read in grade 1 (the year they turn 7). Greg was only 5 when his inability to read became a problem for him.

I decided to start trying to teach Greg to read myself, after all how hard could it be … I’d been reading since I was 5 years old and I have two degrees and a great deal of determination. Well, it turned out to be a little more difficult and complex than I anticipated. We did get there in the end, but I am sure the path to success would have been easier if I have followed a few simple steps up front.

The four main steps in teaching a child to read are as follows:

  1. Making them aware of the written word all around them;
  2. Teaching your child about the different sounds – phonemic awareness;
  3. Teaching your child, the letters of the alphabet and the sounds related to each letter phonics;
  4. Demonstrating to your child how the different sounds fit together to form words.

Awareness of the written word

Pointing out word usage in your immediate environment helps your children understand the purpose of words and reading, and their usefulness in society. When I drove my children around, I always pointed out road and other signs to my boys. I also pointed out newspaper sellers who sold newspapers that people read and always took them into bookstores so they could see the books. We also had lots of books at home which I read to my sons every day, sometimes for up to two hours. I can remember taking two-year-old Greg with me to the obstetrician and my sitting and read to him for between 2 and ½ and 3 hours. Last time I visited, the receptionist still remembered my son as “the boy who sat and listened to stories for three hours.”

As a result of my efforts, my boys came to appreciate the purpose of reading and writing as an important communication tool. This led to both demonstrating a keen interest in learning how to read.

Awareness of sounds

There are lots of different ways to help your children become aware of sounds. The methods my boys and I enjoyed the most were singing nursery rhymes and songs and playing “Eye spy” in the car.

There are other fun games you can play with your child including the following:

  1. Making up songs and poems using different rhyming words;
  2. Listening games where children close their eyes and identify a sound such as crumpling paper;
  3. Playing with words to see if you child can identify the error, for example saying let’s stay instead of let’s play;
  4. Play dancing, clapping and stamping games;
  5. Reading rhymes and sentences that use alliteration and assonance.

Phonics

This is a method of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) and the symbols that represent them (letter groups).

You can find some great step-by-step information on teaching children phonics here: https://www.theschoolrun.com/phonics-teaching-step-by-step

There are lots of fun YouTube videos to help you teach children Phonics.

Blending sounds

Children need to be familiar with the blending of sounds to form words before they can read. One of the best ways of demonstrating the blending of sounds is by reading repetitive books and rhyming books.

My boys loved the Poppy and Sam Farmyard Tales books and the Dr Seuss books. I read these to them repeatedly until they could point out the words and say them because they had memorised the books.

You can purchase the Poppy and Sam Farmyard Tales books here: Amazon US

You can purchase the Dr Seuss books here: Amazon US

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Other methods I used to familiarise my children with words and sounds were letting them listen to audio books, they loved the Roald Dahl books and listened to these repeatedly. I think I still know most of them off by heart.

Michael was a sickly boy and was off school for over 40 days per year during his first years of schooling. During these long periods of convalescence at home, he listened to a huge array of audio books including many of E Nesbit’s books including The Railway Children and Five Children and It. He also listened to all the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton and even some non-fiction books about Romans, Vikings and mythology.

My oldest son is an enthusiastic and copious reader and recently read 1984 by George Orwell. He has Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton next on his list.

Michael isn’t as fast or advanced a reader as Greg, but he still reads every day and enjoys reading. I think my efforts to instil a love of reading in them have played a bit role in their attitudes towards reading.

Did you teach your children to read? What methods did you use?

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. I also have three short stories in Death Among Us, a collection of short murder mystery stories by 10 different authors and edited by Stephen Bentley. These short stories are all published under Robbie Cheadle.

I have recently published a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

***Just a note here, since Robbie is so modest. She has five stories of dark fiction coming out in anthologies during October in 2019. “The Siren Witch”, “A Death Without Honour”, and “The Path to Atonement” will appear in Dan Alatorre’s Nightmareland  horror anthology, and “Missed Signs” and “The Last of the Lavender” will be featured in the WordCrafter paranormal anthology, Whispers in the Dark.



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.