Growing Bookworms – The importance of colour when illustrating children’s books #childrensfiction #readingcommunity #growingbookworms

Many children’s picture books make use of brightly coloured cartoon style illustrations. Children are attracted to  bright colors such as red, yellow, green, blue, and pink. These colors create a sense of energy and playfulness and also emanate happiness. Colour impacts on children’s moods, behaviour, and educational performance.

Part of the reason children prefer bright colours is because saturated colours are easier for young, developing eyes to see. Bright colors and contrasting colors stand out more in a child’s field of vision than feinter shades.

Colour effects the way the brain functions and can be used by illustrators to encourage pattern recognition, memory, and the ability of young readers to absorb new information.

Here are a few examples of colours and how they can be used for learning:

RED – a powerful and attention-grabbing colour, red stimulates alertness and excitement. It encourages creativity and can also increase appetite.

BLUE – provides a sense of comfort by exuding calmness, loyalty, peace, serenity, and security.

YELLOW – encourages positive feelings and improves concentration by promoting creativity, clarity, and optimism.

GREEN – symbolises nature and the natural world. Green relieves stress and provides a sense of healing. It also represents balance, growth, tranquillity, cleanliness and calmness.

ORANGE – like red, orange is an energetic colour that promotes alertness. Orange creates a sense of passion, warmth, excitement and encourages communication.

PINK –   symbolises love, romance, nurture, warmth, calmness, and imagination.

It is also important for illustrators, or writers engaging an illustrator, to note that colours can also overstimulate children, instead of inspiring them, so a balance of bright and neutral colours is required for illustrations.

I illustrate my own children’s books and I try to apply these principles in my own work. This is a collage of a selection of my fondant and cake art illustrations.

My illustrations have proved popular with children so I think I am getting the colour coding right.

These are some examples of famous children’s books and illustrators:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Amazon US

What do you think? Do you like bright colours? Have you written a children’s book and illustrated it yourself or engaged an illustrator? Let me know in the comments.

About Robbie Cheadle

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

The eight 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 and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

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

Robbie has two 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 Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

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

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

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.


Growing Bookworms – Activities to teach children critical thinking skills

What are critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking is the ability to analyse facts and form a judgement.

In order to develop critical thinking skills, the following characteristics need to be fostered:

  1. An attitude of open mindedness, respect for evidence and reasoning, and the ability to see things from different perspectives and points of view;
  2. The ability to make a statement or decision based on supporting evidence;
  3. The ability to use reasoning skills to come to a logical conclusion. In other words, the ability to infer an outcome based on the facts and arguments presented;
  4. The ability to analyse information to assess its truthfulness. In other words, an ability to determine what is believable based on the facts and circumstances, and what is not.

Critical thinking skills help children learn how to work independently and solve problems.

Activities for teaching children critical thinking skills

  1. Creating art – when you express yourself using an artform, music or drawing or painting, you show an emotion or thought without using words and this encourages critical thinking.
  2. Games and puzzles – these activities help children learn to formulate strategies and understand how to approach a game with a plan of action.
  3. Reading books – while readings books, ask the child about the activities, thoughts, and emotions of the characters in the stories. Let them volunteer how they think a character will react to a certain situation and ask them how they think the story will end. This teaches the child to consider various options and outcomes and come up with theories.
  4. Real problems – modern children are exposed much younger to the problems of the world such as drought, hunger, and global warming. Discuss these issues with your child and help them consider possible solutions. The ability to find solutions to problems is a great skill and also encourages positivity and a sense of control. It is encouraging to think there are potential solutions to big issues.
  5. Building blocks – playing with lego and building blocks helps children to sift through endless possibilities, decide on one, and implement it. If it fails, they can try again.

My blogging friend, Norah Colvin, ex-teacher and developer of Readilearn Early Childhood Teaching Resources, recently shared an excellent post called Teaching thinking in the early years with itc thinkdrive. This post offers teachers some excellent resources for teaching critical thinking skills. You can read Norah’s post here: https://www.readilearn.com.au/teaching-thinking-in-the-early-years-with-itc-thinkdrive/

About Robbie Cheadle

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

The eight 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 and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

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

Robbie has two 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 Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

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

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

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.


Growing Bookworms – Interactive books for children – Part 2: Digital books

Last month, I discussed physical interactive books for children and their benefits. You can read this post here:

This month, I am sharing the pros and cons of digital interactive books for children.

Firstly, what is an interactive eBook?

An interactive eBook is an ebook that has elements with which the reader can directly interact. This type of ebook has a lot of touchpoints where the reader can interact with videos, audio recordings, links and other content.

I read several articles about the benefits of eBooks for children and the experts believe that reading print books to toddlers and small children results in a better reading experience for the child. Research shows that children and parents/caregivers interact more frequently with one another when they are reading a paperback book and turning pages, and the quality of their interactions are better. This translates into better language development, literacy and bonding with caregivers.

The above being said, there are benefits to eBooks. Enabling children to learn new words and improve their fine motor schools are two of the more obvious benefits. The ability to engage with the storyline and possibly make choices, teaches children to weigh up options and improves their decision making abilities.

For reluctant readers, animated sounds, actions and special effects in books makes them more interesting and helps develop an interest in books and reading.

For economically disadvantaged children or children in settings that do not allow for borrowing books from public libraries, eBooks are a cheaper option. Parents can accumulate a digital library for their children at a fraction of the cost of a physical book. eBooks are also a more environmental friendly option as they do not use as many natural resources.

Children whose parents work long or unusual hours and can’t read to their children, benefit from having stories read to them by a digital reader. eBooks also provide for parents to read to their children when they are not in the same location. Parents and children can synch their ipads or iphones so they can interact on their screen in real time while holding an audio conversation. This is beneficial for parents whose jobs involve travel.

The down side of eBooks in this context is that to many sounds, actions and special effects can distract the child from the story as they don’t focus on it, but rather on the interactive features. There is a concern among experts that many eBooks available commercially are targeted towards amusement and emphasis multimedia, colours, sounds and other interactions and do not encourage literacy and language development. Studies have concluded that multimedia elements that enhance an understanding of the text benefit children, while those that draw the child’s attention away from the story, are non-beneficial.

If you are interested in having a look at what is available for children in the eBook line, Amazon does stock them. Here is a link to one such book called Another Monster at the End of This Book…Starring Grover & Elmo! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B7S5FDG. There are a number of interesting reviews for this particular book.

What do you think about eBooks? Have you tried them? Do you think they are the future of children’s books?

About Robbie Cheadle

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

The eight 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 and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

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

Robbie has two 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 Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

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

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

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.


Growing bookworms – Interactive books for children Part 1

Interactive books for children are those books that allow for active participation from, and interaction by, the child as part of the reading process. There are two categories of interactive books for children: those that incorporate modern technology and provide for digital participation by children, and those that are not digital.

Today, I’m going to chat about the non-digital interactive books for children. There are a myriad of non-digital interactive books for children, aimed at a variety of different age groups.

Touch and feel books are aimed at very young children. They are wonderful for helping children to associate their sense of touch with a word or words. For example, a picture of a duck could include soft, fluffy feathers and a picture of a tree could have rough bark. Most touch and feel books are very simple and only teach one word at a time. I had a few books like this for my sons when they were babies and very young toddlers and they loved them.

Interactive books for older toddlers and pre-school children include pull-tabs, flaps, pull-downs, and pop-up books. Pop up books work by literally popping up a 3-D picture when the child turns the page. These were hugely successful with my boys but I did have to teach them not to pull on the pop-ups and break them. I also had to teach them not to pull tabs, flaps, and pull-downs too hard, but they learned quickly and my instruction ensured they treated their physical books with respect.

This is a link to a pop-up Alice in Wonderland book on Amazon US. It’s not the same as the one I had for my sons but it looks equally fun: https://www.amazon.com/Alices-Adventures-Wonderland-Pop-up-Adaptation/dp/0689847432

Colouring books speak for themselves and allow children to colour in the pictures that relate to the stories. There are also sticker books that allow the child to dress the characters.

Usborne has an amazing selection of sticker books. You can find out more about them here: Amazon US Usborne sticker books

Hidden object books are those that hide various objects within pictures for the child to discover. These books are available for a variety of age groups, and my boys loved the Where’s Wally books.

This is the blurb of the Where’s Wally Amazing Adventures and Activities 8 Books Bag Collection Set: https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Activities-Collection-Fntastic-Hollywood/dp/9123888113

Where’s Wally?:
The original book which kick-started the worldwide Wally phenomenon! Search for Wally and his friends as they hike round the world.

Where’s Wally Now?:
Wally and his friends travel through time in this second best-selling classic adventure. Search for them as they visit the Stone Age, Ancient Egypt, the Vikings …

The Fantastic Journey:
Hidden in every intricately-detailed scene are Wally and his friends – so let the hunt begin! Search for them in the land of the unfriendly giants, the watery world of the deep-sea divers.

Where’s Wally? In Hollywood:
Wally visits the land where dreams are made in this classic activity book! He meets directors and actors, walks through the crowds of extras, and sees behind the scenes.

Where’s Wally? In Outer Space:
Play tangle line teasers, find your way out of a space race maze, unscramble muddled up words, crack alien codes, match and spot the differences in busy picture puzzles.

Where’s Wally? At Sea:
Untangle fishing lines; solve a boat race riddle; match seaside silhouettes; track down pirate treasure on a map; join up words in a message in a bottle.

Where’s Wally? Across Lands:
Scale castle walls and ancient Aztec temples as you complete games, crack written riddles, get creative by drawing your own Egyptian city and doodling inside speech bubbles.

Where’s Wally? Takes Flight:
Work your way out of a busy airport runway maze; match up dragons to their race day medals; solve birdy word searches and visual snap; colour in a nighttime dragon scene.

My sons both spent hours pawing through these books.

The last type of interactive book I’m mentioning in this post are game books. These are middle school children’s books where each section ends with a decision. The child makes a choice and is directed to the next section on a specific page. I managed to obtain a big pile of the Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a girl, and I absolutely loved them.

This is the link to the Choose Your Own Adventure series on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Alices-Adventures-Wonderland-Pop-up-Adaptation/dp/0689847432

What Amazon says: Widely commended for its appeal to reluctant readers, Choose Your Own Adventure is the 4th bestselling book series for children of all time. Written in the second-person, the reader is the hero of the story, and at the bottom of each page, there is a decision point: If you go in search of the yeti, turn to page 11. If you think it is safest to stay put and call for help, turn to page 25. By reading and choosing, kids become more engaged, making the Choose Your Own Adventure series a stealth reading program for reluctant readers.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

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

The eight 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 two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two 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 Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

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. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – Two books that help inform young teenagers

Current world events are bewildering for young teenagers who are faced with a barrage of information about pollution, climate change, war, politics, religion, and other important issues. It is difficult for teenagers with their limited experience and knowledge of the world to unravel and cope with all these challenging messages.

Today, I am sharing a few books for this age group that contain strong messages about political and other themes encased in an entertaining and engaging storyline.

Fattipuffs and Thinifers by Andre Maurois

This is a book about segregation, in this cased based on the size of people, war, and negotiation and is a entertaining and enlightening read.

A brief summary about this book from Wikepedia:

Fattipuffs and Thinifers “concerns the imaginary underground land of the fat and congenial Fattypuffs and the thin and irritable Thinifers, which is visited by the Double brothers, the plump Edmund and the thin Terry. Fattypuffs and Thinifers do not mix, and their respective countries are on the verge of war when Edmund and Terry make their visit.” You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fattypuffs_and_Thinifers

My review of Fattipuffs and Thinifers

Fattypuffs and Thinifers is a wonderful book about two brothers, one fat and one thin, who discover a hidden world beneath the surface of the earth. This subterranean society is segregated based on the physical weight of its inhabitants. Larger people are Fattypuffs and live separately to the Thinifers, who are workaholics who “eat to live not live to eat”. The two nations are hostile towards each other and are verging on a war. The two brothers from the surface are separated when they arrive in this country and set off on individual adventures. Edmund is a Fattypuff and sails away on a ship to Fattyport. He has a lovely time, resting on the deck in a large arm chair and eating all kinds of tasty food. Terry, on the other hand, sets off on a ship to Thiniville and gets to know some of the Thinifers who exercise and work relentlessly while eating very little. The tension between the two nations is on the increase and war seems inevitable when the two brothers come up with a clever plan to resolve the situation. This book is suitable for readers aged 10 to 13 years old.

Purchase Fattipuffs and Thinifers

Amazon US

I Am David by Anne Holm

David’s entire twelve-year life has been spent in a grisly prison camp in Eastern Europe. He knows nothing of the outside world. But when he is given the chance to escape, he seizes it. With his vengeful enemies hot on his heels, David struggles to cope in this strange new world, where his only resources are a compass, a few crusts of bread, his two aching feet, and some vague advice to seek refuge in Denmark. Is that enough to survive?

David’s extraordinary odyssey is dramatically chronicled in Anne Holm’s classic about the meaning of freedom and the power of hope.

My review of I Am David

I have been trying to work out in my mind which of the many children’s books I love, is my absolute favourite. This morning I was reading an extract from I am David to a group of children. It was the scene where David saves the little Italian girl from the fire and I realised that I am David is my absolute favourite children’s books. This book has such a beautiful storyline and is so well written, you become completely pulled into the story and David’s search to find his mother. I would highly recommend it for children of 12 and above.

Quotes from I Am David

“The sun glistened on a drop of water as it fell from his hand to his knee. David wiped it off, but it left no tidemark: there was no more dirt to rub away. He took a deep breath and shivered. He was David. Everything else was washed away, the camp, its smell, its touch–and now he was David, his own master, free–free as long as he could remain so.”

“And his eyes frighten me, too. They’re the eyes of an old man, an old man who’s seen so much in life that he no longer cares to go on living. They’re not even desperate… just quiet and expectant, and very, very lonely, as if he were quite alone of his own free choice.”

“Johannes had once said that violence and cruelty were just a stupid person’s way of making himself felt, because it was easer to use your hands to strike a blow than to use your brain to find a logical and just solution to the problem.”

Purchase I Am David

Amazon US

Have you read either of these books? Did they make an impression on you? Let me know in the comments.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

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

The eight 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 two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two 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 Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

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. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms: Toys that help develop fine motor skills in children

It is important for children to develop good fine motor skills so they can perform important tasks such as feeding themselves, grasping objects, drawing, cutting, and writing. Successful achievement of these skills increases children’s confidence.

These are a few examples of toys that help children develop fine motor skills:

Threading beads

Threading beads on a string is an excellent activity for small children. Large beads with thick stings and large holes are best for younger children. Sets with smaller beads, strings and holes are available for older children. Children love making necklaces and bracelets for themselves, parents and other caregivers.

Lacing cards

Lacing involves threading a string or shoelace through a board. It is the same action that is used to thread shoelaces in a shoe. Parents and caregivers can create their own board using cardboard and scissors or a paper punch. Alternatively, you can purchase lacing kits.

Building blocks

Building blocks have many benefits other than improved fine motor skills. Among these are increased attention span, working with other children i.e. team work, gross motor skills, science concepts (such as gravity, weight, stability and balance), spatial development, early maths and number concepts, and language development. Lego is a more advanced form of building with blocks.

Drawing and painting tools

Drawing and painting is a wonderful and fun way of allowing children to develop their fine motor skills. There are a variety of different instruments for drawing and painting, including wax crayons, oil pastels, paints of all sorts, coloured pens and pencils, ect.

Drawing has the added benefit of teaching children how to hold a tool or instrument to make shapes and drawings on a surface.

Puzzles

Puzzle come in all sorts of shapes and sizes from shape sorters for very young children to large, complex puzzles for older children. There are also a variety of colourful peg boards that are available for children.

I had all of these toys for my children and I used to sit and do activities with them in the afternoons. I also used to get the boys to cut out shapes and stick them on paper to make interesting designs. Michael struggled with cutting and it was one of the first indicators I identified of his auditory processing barrier.

Did you do any of these activities with your children? If yes, do you think they helped your child with learning to write? Let me know if the comments.

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

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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.


Growing Bookworms – Setting learning goals with your child

Just like adults, children benefit by setting learning goals for the year or even the term. Goals give all of us something positive and definite to work towards and we feel a sense of achievement when we meet our goals.

At the beginning of the school year, parents should sit down with their child and plan some goals for the year. This goal setting process should include identifying the specific areas the child needs to work on and the setting of realistic and achievable goals in order to measure progress in those areas. If your child is struggling with maths, for example, there is no point in setting a goal of achieving a distinction in the first term of the new school year. A reasonable goal would be an increase of 5% for each term, which will allow the child to improve his/her understanding of the subject and gradually build on their successes. By setting achievable goals your child will be motivated to work towards them. Unrealistic goals are demotivating and set the child up for failure.

It is also better to set goals that are unrelated to specific grades and performance measures as this destresses the goal setting process for your child. Goals that shift your child’s learning objectives and focus from passing tests and exams to a greater understanding of the topic and appreciation of the value of the subject matter result in a better attitude towards learning. In this way, a child that dislikes a particular subject because of anxiety issues can learn to enjoy the learning process involved in tackling the subject and learning material. A positive attitude makes all the difference to a successful learning outcome.

Parents need to be sensitive when discussing areas of academic weakness with their child and ensure they do not compare one child in a family unfavourably to another. Children are all different and have their own talents which may differ dramatically. It undermines a child’s self confidence if they feel their performance is being measured against that of a sibling. Comparing children can also make them both feel that their parents love is conditional on good grades and academic performance thereby increasing anxiety and stress even in strong academics.

Goal setting should always focus on the future and not reflect negatively on the past. If the child has had a bad term and failed a subject, the goal should set out positive steps to improve performance and not focus on a bad result that can’t be changed. Ask your child how they can use the learning experience of the difficult test or exam to do better next time.

Goals don’t have to be academic in nature. A child that is exceptionally shy can set goals to try and participate more in class activities and discussions. A child that is not sporty can set a goal to play a non-competitive sport for a term. After all, learning is not only about academics, it is also about learning to be a good citizen and contributing positively to society.

What do you think? Have you ever set goals with your child? Let me know in the comments.

This morning, I came across an excellent post by Bella from Thoughts ‘n Life blog about goal setting. It offers some good advice which you can read here: https://thoughtsnlifeblog.com/2022/05/09/setting-the-right-priorities/

Thinking about goals setting and keeping children focused and positive brought to mind this song from the movie Annie:

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

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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.


Growing bookworms – Audio books that teach children about music

Peter and the Wolf

Picture credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_the_Wolf

When I was a little girl in the pre-preparatory school, one of my favourite music lessons was when our teacher played the audio book of Peter and the Wolf. I loved the story about Peter who needed to protect his pets from a hungry wolf. Most of all, I loved the sounds of the musical instruments that accompanied the story. Each character in the story has its own musical instrument and each sound is perfectly suited to the character. Our teacher used this story to teach us about the different musical instruments, which family of instrument it belonged to, and the sound it made.

Peter is played by the violin (string instrument family), the bird is played by the flute (woodwind family), the duck is played by the oboe (woodwind family), the cat is played by the clarinet (woodwind family), the grandfather is played by the bassoon (woodwind family), the wolf is played by the French horn (brass family), and the hunters are played by the timpani (percussion family). I have never forgotten the names, sound, or family of any of these instruments. In fact, I loved the cat (clarinet) so much, I literally forced Greg to play this instrument for two years. I took advantage of his devotion to me and the fact he always liked to please me. I came to realise this wasn’t fair of me and allowed him to give it up in grade 6. Greg never took to the clarinet.

The purposes of Peter and the Wolf, created by Sergei Prokofiev, are as follows:

  1. the teach children how to identify a variety of musical instruments, instrument families and instrumental themes;
  2. the demonstrate how music can convey different emotions; and
  3. to extend a story through the use of movement, story sequencing, and musical art.

Peter and the Wolf is approximately 30 minutes long and you can listen to it here:

Sparky’s Magic Piano

My parents noticed my enthusiasm for music and my Dad bought me a Sparky record when I was about 9 years old. I listened to this record over and over again.

There were four stories on the record, as follows:

  1. Sparky and the Talking Train;
  2. Sparky’s Magic Piano;
  3. Sparky’s Magic Eco; and
  4. Sparky’s Magic Baton.

Of these four, two had a strong musical theme, namely, Sparky’s Magic Piano and Sparky’s Magic Baton.

In Sparky’s Magic Piano, the most famous of the Sparky stories, Sparky is a young boy who does not like practicing the piano. One day, when he is frustrated with practicing, the piano talks to Sparky and tells him he will show him how wonderful it is to play the piano well. Sparky then proceeds to amaze his mother and piano teacher, and then the larger world with his amazing piano playing.

Wikipedia says that these are the piano works which appear in Sparky’s Magic Piano in the order in which they appear in the story:

You can listen to the version of Sparky’s Magic Piano I loved here:

Do you know either of these stories? Let me know in the comments.

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

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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.


Growing Bookworms – Letting Go!

I’m going to start today’s post with a short, hopefully amusing, story about my taking my oldest son to get his university access card last week. By way of background, the relevant entrance for this task is on a busy street with no parking. The area is also not a good one, so hanging about on the street in front of the entrance is not particularly appealing. Another thing to note is there have been a spate of kidnappings of older teens and young men recently in South Africa.

“I think that Greg should go on his own to fetch his University card,” I say to Terence. “He won’t want his mother with him. I will embarrass him.”

“No,” Terence says with authority, “Parents go with.”

Hmmm, I think. You attended this university thirty years ago, things might have changed.

There is no arguing with this man who is over the moon that his son has achieved a scholarship to study a BSc Computer Science at “his” university. Thirty years has disappeared in a trice and Terence is back in full University mode. You’d think he was going and not Greg.

At 8.30am on the appointed morning, a determined Terence drops Greg and I off on the street in front of the entrance, waves cheerfully, and heads off to work, which is fortunately close by.

We go to security. Greg calls a number and is granted access. I call the same number and am not allowed in. I notice a few other parents outside the security gate.

“You just go on your own,” I say. “I’ll wait for you here.”

Off Greg goes and I am stuck standing on the street in this undesirable area. There are two security guards and a few other waiting mom’s so I don’t panic. One lady is very nice and makes conversation while we wait.

Ten minutes later, Greg texts me: I don’t know where to go.

I message back: Come back to the gate and the security guard will tell you where to go. I saw her telling another boy.

Greg does not come back to the gate. There is complete cyber silence

Another ten minutes pass and he texts: I’ve found it and I’m waiting in the queue.

Happiness! He’s doing this on his own [as he should] and I’m confident we’ve come early and he won’t take long. I feel an idiot waiting outside the barred gate like an unwelcome guest. Other arriving students stare at me suspiciously.

The time drags. One hour passes and my back is aching. I don’t like standing here on the street. I feel agitated. I text Greg: How much longer?

He replies: I’m getting on a bus and going somewhere else.

I text him: where are you going?

He replies: I don’t know.

Complete cyber silence.

I text him – no reply.

I call him – no reply.

I decide he has been enticed into a bus by kidnappers and is on his way to Nigeria to be forced into male prostitution.

I have a panic attack and call him six times.

No reply.

I phone Terence at work and tell him our son has potentially been kidnapped.

Terence knows me. He doesn’t say anything. He gets into his white car and charges to the rescue.

Terence arrives and I jump into the car and burst into tears.

Greg sends a text: I’m getting my card.

I tell Terence that the kidnappers are responding to messages on Greg’s phone so they can throw us off the scent and cross the border.

Terence is undecided: Should he take me to the closest mental institution or try to find Greg.

Greg texts: I’m finished. Can you fetch me from Alpha Campus.

***

It was very funny. Afterwards. Of course, I broke a major rule of “letting your child go.” Stay in the moment rather than imagining the worse-case scenario. Catch yourself if you are catastrophizing a situation.

Letting go is more about letting go of our own fears and anxieties as parents. It is adjusting to the idea that you are no longer in control of your child and they are now making their own choices and decisions. It also means they are responsible for any fallout from those decisions.

I blame my anxiety about my children on their collective 32 operations, chronic health problems, and the two home invasions I have been involved in. I have trust and anxiety issues, but I still need to get a grip and accept that my son is now an adult. Even Michael, needs some freedom and to be given wings.

Some other advice to parents who struggle to let go is as follows:

  1. Stop trying to raise a “happy” child. Accept that making decisions and choices is going to result in mistakes and the resultant misery these bring. People need these experiences to grow and learn.
  2. Empower your child over time by giving them some power of less important decisions as they get older. If they refuse to study for an important test, let them fail. You can’t shelter your child from all the difficulties in life and they need to learn to prioritize.
  3. Set boundaries and follow through on punishments if your child fails to comply. If you tell him/her to be home by 10pm and he gets home at 11pm, ground him. He needs to learn about consequences for actions.
  4. Have respect for your child and his/her ability to handle situations as they grow up. Have faith in the values and ethics you have instilled in them.

Did you struggle to let go when it come to your children? Let me know in the comments.

To round this post off, I am sharing a poem I wrote about letting go. It is included in my book, Behind Closed Doors.

He walks away by Robbie Cheadle

From the first day

he took a tentative step

on uncertain chubby legs

attached to adventurous feet

he moved away from her

embracing with enthusiasm

the mysterious outside world

She watched over him tenderly

as he learned about life

discovered the joy of friendship

and the heartbreak of loss

embarked on his academic journey

exploiting his strengths and

overcoming his weaknesses

and during all this time

mom was always enough

her smile healed all wounds

her kiss cured all pain

but she knew in her heart

that this investment of hers

was ultimately for another

a nameless faceless other

who would eventually take her place

she was preparing him to leave

and find his place in this world

His independence draws ever closer

her smile no longer enough

as he jostles for position

in the heartless world of men

her kiss no longer wanted

as he seeks the lips of the other

It’s heart wrenching to let go

knowing he must suffer pain

before he finds his enduring love

encounter setbacks and loss

before success and satisfaction

but it’s the duty of a mother

to set her son loose

to fly alone

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

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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.


Growing Bookworms: Books to help children cope with change

Welcome to the first post of 2022 in the Growing Bookworms series.

A lot of people and children face change at the beginning of a new calendar year. In the Southern Hemisphere, children change grades and sometimes schools. Parents often change jobs and this can trigger changes to homes, schools, cities, and even countries.

Adults are better equipped to cope with change because they have more experience of life than children. Adults have already transitioned from junior school to high school and then often on to a tertiary education institution. Most adults have looked for, and gained, employment and have moved from their parents home to their own dwelling. Some adults have moved jobs and homes numerous times. As a result of the many life changes most adults have faced, they have learned strategies to help them cope with the anxieties and concerns that arise from major life changes.

Children often have not faced big changes in their lives before and can be frightened and intimidated by anticipated changes to their routines and friendships. Most children thrive on predictability and repetition.

Reading books to children about child characters who have faced and successfully managed big life changes can be reassuring and give some context to change. Books can also be conversation starters for children and enable them to verbalise their worries and anxieties.

The following three books are popular chapter books for children that centre around successful adaption to change.

The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden :illustrated Edition by [Frances Hodgson Burnett]

What Amazon says

When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.

The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary’s only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. With the help of two unexpected companions, Mary discovers a way in—and becomes determined to bring the garden back to life.

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Garden-Frances-Hodgson-Burnett-ebook/dp/B09Q3QQ4NQ

A short extract relevant to change:

“When she opened her eyes in the morning it was because a young housemaid had come into her room to light the fire and was kneeling on the hearth-rug raking out the cinders noisily. Mary lay and watched her for a few moments and then began to look about the room. She had never seen a room at all like it and thought it curious and gloomy. The walls were covered with tapestry with a forest scene embroidered on it. There were fantastically dressed people under the trees and in the distance there was a glimpse of the turrets of a castle. There were hunters and horses and dogs and ladies. Mary felt as if she were in the forest with them. Out of a deep window she could see a great climbing stretch of land which seemed to have no trees on it, and to look rather like an endless, dull, purplish sea.

“What is that?” she said, pointing out of the window.

Martha, the young housemaid, who had just risen to her feet, looked and pointed also. “That there?” she said.

“Yes.”

“That’s th’ moor,” with a good-natured grin. “Does tha’ like it?”

“No,” answered Mary. “I hate it.”

“That’s because tha’rt not used to it,” Martha said, going back to her hearth. “Tha’ thinks it’s too big an’ bare now. But tha’ will like it.”

“Do you?” inquired Mary.

“Aye, that I do,” answered Martha, cheerfully polishing away at the grate. “I just love it. It’s none bare. It’s covered wi’ growin’ things as smells sweet. It’s fair lovely in spring an’ summer when th’ gorse an’ broom an’ heather’s in flower. It smells o’ honey an’ there’s such a lot o’ fresh air—an’ th’ sky looks so high an’ th’ bees an’ skylarks makes such a nice noise hummin’ an’ singin’. Eh! I wouldn’t live away from th’ moor for anythin’.”

Mary listened to her with a grave, puzzled expression. The native servants she had been used to in India were not in the least like this. They were obsequious and servile and did not presume to talk to their masters as if they were their equals. They made salaams and called them “protector of the poor” and names of that sort. Indian servants were commanded to do things, not asked. It was not the custom to say “please” and “thank you” and Mary had always slapped her Ayah in the face when she was angry. She wondered a little what this girl would do if one slapped her in the face. She was a round, rosy, good-natured-looking creature, but she had a sturdy way which made Mistress Mary wonder if she might not even slap back—if the person who slapped her was only a little girl.”

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

The Railway Children Illustrated by [E. Nesbit]

What Goodreads says

In this much-loved children’s classic first published in 1906, the comfortable lives of three well-mannered siblings are greatly altered when, one evening, two men arrive at the house and take their father away. With the family’s fortunes considerably reduced in his absence, the children and their mother are forced to live in a simple country cottage near a railway station. There the young trio—Roberta, Peter, and young Phyllis—befriend the porter and station master.

The youngsters’ days are filled with adventure and excitement, including their successful attempt to avert a horrible train disaster; but the mysterious disappearance of their father continues to haunt them.

The solution to that painful puzzle and many other details and events of the children’s lives come to vivid life in this perennial favorite, a story that has captivated generations of readers and, more recently, delighted television and movie audiences. In this inexpensive, unabridged edition, it will charm a whole new audience of young readers with its warmth and appeal.

Amazon Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09Q3GZSRF

A short extract relevant to change:

This is a short reading of a paragraph pertinent to change in this delightful children’s book:

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie (Little House, #3)

What Amazon says

The adventures continue for Laura Ingalls and her family as they leave their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin and set out for the big skies of the Kansas Territory. They travel for many days in their covered wagon until they find the best spot to build their house. Soon they are planting and plowing, hunting wild ducks and turkeys, and gathering grass for their cows. Just when they begin to feel settled, they are caught in the middle of a dangerous conflict.

The nine Little House books are inspired by Laura’s own childhood and have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America’s frontier history and as heartwarming, unforgettable stories.

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Little-House-Prairie-Ingalls-Wilder-ebook/dp/B01C2LYEOC

Reading of Chapter 1 of Little House on the Prairie by Jennie

Jennie has been teaching pre-school for over thirty years. You can find her blog here: https://jenniefitzkee.com/2022/01/08/the-morning-after-the-snow-memories-of-a-classic-childrens-book/

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

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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.