When you know you’re raising a reader
My two year old grand-daughter was playing in the bedroom when things became worryingly quiet. I sneaked a peek round the door and she had tucked her teddy’s into bed and was ‘reading’ them her favourite bed-time story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
She even turned the book round so they can see the pictures just as I do. How sweet was that?
Sweetness apart, grand-daughter is showing some pretty impressive pre-reading skills.
- She understands how a book works: she holds in the right way up (even when she shows the book to her audience), she starts at the beginning and turns the pages correctly.
- She remembers the story and can retell it. It doesn’t matter that she’s not actually reading the words, she’s using ‘book language’ rather than ‘spoken language.’
- Best of all, she’s motivated by books. Learning to read is hard work and a child who enjoys books is more likely to keep trying. ‘Wanting’ to read is half of the battle.
It was so rewarding to see all those repeat reads I’ve done of The Very Hungry Caterpillar were paying off. Grand-daughter is nailing it.
I’m starting a series of posts about helping your child learn to love reading. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
How are you raising your little reader?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day.
March 20th 1969: the day that Eric Carle published The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s a truly classic book and one of our favourites. In honour of this, March 20th is now officially “Very Hungry Caterpillar Day.”
A staggering 38 million copies of the book have sold worldwide and it’s been translated into over 60 languages. There are board book editions, popup book editions, editions with cloth caterpillars and ones with holes through the pages inviting little fingers to explore. And they all have Eric Carle’s distinctive collage style of illustration that children find so appealing.
What better way to celebrate Very Hungry Caterpillar Day 2017 than to hear the story told by my three year old grandson? I should warn you he does get distracted by a siren passing on the road outside but you also get his awesome comments 🙂 You can tell we’ve read this book a LOT.
Celebrate your own Very Hungry Caterpillar Day by downloading colouring pages from the Eric Carle website. Or have a run to the shop to collect a feast of the things the caterpillar ate?
Picture books about Pancakes
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is almost upon us. 28th February is the day people all over the UK try tossing those eggy, milky mixtures. It’s a strange ritual. My kids found it hilarious because I’m pretty hopeless at throwing and catching. And yes, some of my culinary wonders have ended up splattered on my cooker and worktops. So to get you in the mood for throwing your cooking around your kitchen, here are some picture books about pancakes.
Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle
Jack wakes up and wants a pancake but his mother doesn’t have the ingredients. So starts an incredibly detailed description of Jack as he cuts the wheat and grinds it into flour (I told you this was detailed), collects eggs from the hen, milks the cow and churns some butter. He then makes jam, lights a fire and finally gets round to cooking the pancakes.
This is the same style as our favourite The Very Hungry Caterpillar but not quite as catchy. However, it is a great way to explain (in glorious technicolour) how to make a pancake. Although I’d recommend you buy the ingredients from the supermarket and use your cooker.
Mr Wolf’s Pancakes by Jan Fearnley
Another story about someone waking up wanting to eat pancakes. Unsure how to do it, an uncharacteristically pleasant Mr Wolfe asks lots of his neighbours to help him but they refuse – very rudely. Even more rudely, once Mr Wolf has made the pancakes, they come round to ask him to share them. The twist in this tale is that Mr Wolf decides to share. But is Mr Wolfe as pleasant and polite as it seems? Nope. Once they’re in his kitchen, he eats the neighbours!
This is a tale with lots of opportunity to talk about good/bad behaviour and sharing – as well as making pancakes.
Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book by Lotta Nieminen
This is such an unusual book you really need to watch the video to appreciate it. By a series of flaps and wheels, readers mix and cook their pancakes. I ordered a copy of this book to share with the grandchildren but it hasn’t arrived as I write this. I’ll update you all when we’ve road-tested this book.
Hey Pancakes by Tamson Weston
I’ve included this last book because I love the illustrations. They are so colourful and bright and full of movement – true homage to the humble pancake. It also has the recipe for Grandma’s Pancakes at the end for good measure.
Have a great pancake day.
Planning my picture book video.
I like watching book videos. I can
waste spend hours on YouTube (in the name of research, you understand). There is such a vast range of styles and variation in quality, from professional movie standard productions down to the most basic, obviously home-made, pan-around-a-stock-picture efforts. I love them all.
I always intended on having a video for Better Buckle Up and Things Evie Eats and creating a video for a picture book is easier than creating one for a text-only book because you already have the visuals sorted. But I had a limited budget to work with, so I had to do a lot of planning to get the job I wanted at a price I could afford.
1) Teaser type trailer v complete reading?
The video for Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson is worthy of a Disney movie. It hints at the story but doesn’t tell it completely, just like a film trailer. This is some seriously nice animation but it’s way above my pay grade.
However, I decided on a complete reading of the books rather than a teaser type with excerpts. As a new author, it’s important that people get a feel for your books before they buy, that way parents can be sure what they’re getting. The full reading video can also be used to entertain children on car journeys etc.
One of the arguments against putting the whole book out is that, if people can read the book online, there is no need for them buy. However, my experience is that 1. children read a book they like multiple times and 2. picture books for children sell best in hard copy, so getting them hooked on a story might actually lead to more sales.
2) To see the person reading, or not to see the person reading?
My next dilemma in planning my picture book video was, did I want it to be a ‘story-time’ type video like Eric Carle in this reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
Or did I want to just see the book, like this Usborne Alphabet Picture Book?
I tested several videos out with my grandchildren and found the ones they requested to watch most featured only the book. This surprised me, but they seemed to focus on the story more and were less distracted by the person reading it.
Rather than film myself turning the pages of the book, I decided I could use the file I created in Adobe InDesign to turn the pages digitally. I then used Camtasia, a screen capture software to record me reading the book and turning the pages at the appropriate place.
3) My voice or a voice over?
This was a real dilemma. I never like my Northern accent and paying for a voice-over artist on Fiverr wasn’t too expensive. I spent a long time listening to the various readers but, after recording the page turning, I decided I didn’t sound as bad as I thought. Twenty years of living in Wales has obviously mellowed my voice. And doesn’t Eric Carle’s accent makes the reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar special? So, I went with me.
4) Intro and Outro?
Up until this point the trailer had cost me very little but I wanted the videos to have an Intro and Outro to give them a more professional look. I worked with PlainSightVFX, the people who did the illustrations for Better Buckle Up, and they used the idea from my website to come up with a graphic. The great thing about this is that I can use them on any video I make in the future. This will keep my branding recognizable too.
Wanna see it? Course you do.
5) Music: the food of love?
The finishing touch was the soundtrack. Music copyright is as big a minefield as photo copyright and again I wanted something to go over the Intro and Outro that was unique to me. The answer was to commission my own piece. I sent several pieces of music in a style I liked as a starting point. They also took the animations I’d had done so it fitted exactly. After all, there’s nothing worse than a soundtrack cutting off or fading out mid-phrase. I’m very excited about it all and the finished videos will be available very soon.
So what do you think about book videos? Love ’em or hate ’em?
… Day 22 May #AtoZfavbooks challenge.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Who hasn’t read this classic children’s book? A no-brainer choice for Day 22 of the May #AtoZfavbooks challenge.
There are so many editions of this story. Books with pop-ups, books with finger puppets and bean-bag toys, books with touchy-feely bits along with the ‘eaten’ holes in the page. There have been games based on the book, it’s been used in a campaign to promote healthy eating and every year, on the first day of spring, we have a Very Hungry Caterpillar Day with folks dressing up to celebrate the book. Yes, it’s that well loved.
So, on the off-chance that you haven’t come across this book (or that you just forgot), the story goes: after hatching from his egg, the ever-hungry caterpillar eats his way through increasing amounts of food until he builds himself a cocoon, emerging as a beautiful butterfly.
As well as teaching children the life-cycle of a butterfly, you get the opportunity to practice counting to five and even very young children enjoy the award-winning, bright illustrations.
I love listening to authors read their books, so here is Eric himself to tell the story. Take it away, Eric.
It’s not hard to see why this has been such a popular book. A must-have for every child’s bookshelf.
P.S. Read this book? (Of course, you have) Let me know in the comments below.
P.P.S. Don’t forget to share your favourite book title starting with the letter V in the comments below or post them on facebook or twitter with the hashtag #AtoZfavbooks so I can find them.