Friday, 23 October 2020

Reading to premature babies for brain development

Reading to premature babies every day supports development, not only in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), but also going into early infancy and childhood. Babies enjoy hearing their parent’s voice over any other sound, but what’s more important is that it’s an activity that parents can do every day for their baby during a time where many can feel helpless in an intense and stressful environment. International children’s book author, Michelle Worthington, is mother to three premature babies and knows what it’s like to go through NICU not being able to touch or take home your baby. Sometimes premmie baby may be sleepy or lethargic due to medications or illness. If the baby is awake and making eye contact with you, that’s the best time to read to them. Reading is also linked to improved language and writing abilities at school age, so it’s never too early to start. 

Support Life's Little Treasures Foundation

https://lifeslittletreasures.org.au/

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Why kids need authors as much as they need sporting stars

Our role models play an important role in shaping our dreams and ambitions. For many kids, the under-representation of the arts as a viable employment pathway, together with a lack of exposure to creative business owners from across diverse fields, makes it difficult for children who aren’t into sport to see themselves reflected in the people living their dream. Author and illustrator visits to schools play a large part in inspiring young children to not only believe in themselves, but to dare to expand their possibilities and take forward action on what they dream of doing. Until people in power respect the contributions and invest in the arts, the non-sporty kids will continue to miss out on finding their own heroes

Book Week is 17 -23 October

Thursday, 15 October 2020

How to write a book for today’s children

Aspiring picture book authors are often already aware of the basics of writing stories for children but forget that what captivates modern children may not be the same as when they themselves were young. Today, there are many different formats of children's books, specific regulations around how to work with illustrators. Aspiring authors need to create stories that today’s children will enjoy by finding the right topic, language, and pace. International award-winning children’s author, Michelle Worthington, helps writers to find their own unique voice and to give them the why-for and know how to get published. 
It’s not as easy as you might think. 

Book Week is 17 - 23 October 2020

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Easy hacks for amazing Book Week costumes

Book Week is often the highlight of the school year for children. It's a week full of excitement, imagination, and of course, amazing costumes. In a world full of technology, it's a fantastic way to capture the attention of young minds, showing them how to explore the universe of books. But for parents, the problem of finding the perfect Book Week character costume can be exhausting. Some books that fit with this year’s theme Curious Creatures, Wild Minds, lend themself to easier costume ideas. A magnifying glass for the Wild Minds of Enola or Sherlock Holmes and Curious Creatures can wear their pjs to school from Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas. A red ribbon for Matilda, feelers for Glitch or wearing all orange for The Lorax, it only takes a bit of imagination for kids to have fun and celebrate books, because that’s what it’s all about. 

Book Week is 17 - 23 October 2020

https://cbca.org.au/cbca-book-week

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Reading to babies from birth to fight post-natal depression

Postnatal depression is a common and debilitating condition that affects one in seven women following the birth of their baby. Unlike the baby blues which passes on its own, postnatal depression can be long-lasting and affect your ability to cope with managing a new baby. Children’s Author, Michelle Worthington, says that spending five minutes a day reading to her baby helped with the feelings of helplessness, fostered communication and established trust. Reading was a practical and manageable way for her to begin to bond with her baby. It’s important to seek help early, so that you can reduce these negative impacts of postnatal depression on you and your family.

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Book Review: All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

 


It's 2.23am. I have just finished reading All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton and my first thoughts are, 'What. Just. Happened?' 

After not responding to knocks at doors, scrapes on knees and fire alarms at dinner time, I thought it was safer to finish reading it after the boys had gone to bed. My head was filled with white butterflies, white bones, hope, hate, love, life and death. Just as I became Eli Bell in Boy Swallows Universe,  growing up as a too smart kid in a shut your mouth Brisbane suburb, so was I Molly Hook, head full of words and infallibly optimistic, no matter what life threw at me. Only Trent Dalton can make you loose yourself in a book like that. 

I hate snot. The hardest page of the book for me to read wasn't when the gravedigger's daughter hid with her mother's bones in an open grave, got the beating or saw the rape, it was page 173. It was also the most incredibly moving and mind blowing piece of descriptive writing that I have ever read in my life. In that moment, snot was poetic and graceful. Only Trent Dalton can create characters like that.

The same suffocating pang that squeezed the tears from my eyes when I relived my childhood in Boy Swallows Universe were shed for Molly and Violet Hook. I talked to oceans instead of skies. I spat out pills instead of seeds. I had the monsters in my bed, after I had fed and cared for them all day until they became twisted by drink and darkness. I have carried all I owned and owned all I carried. Only Trent Dalton can see inside my soul like that. 

Now, as I check on my sleeping children under the dark sky, I speak softly to it. 'Please don't let anything happen to me so my kids don't end up like a character in a Trent Dalton novel.' 

When the blue sky returns, I will ask politely if one day I could write a book as honest and beautiful as a Trent Dalton novel, and I wouldn't even care if it lied.

Highly recommended. 

Friday, 2 October 2020

Guest Blog - Leo's Story by Megan Firster

 




Everyone who knows me is aware of my love for and connection to Queensland’s only children’s hospice. I wear my hummingbird tattoo proudly, in memory of my beautiful boy but also as a living tribute to the place that supported him and our family throughout some of the happiest and darkest times. 

So, of course, when it was put to Hummingbird House families to create a picture that could possibly be used as a token for the Coles fundraising campaign I jumped at the chance. We did have a logistical issue with the brief though. We were asked to create a hummingbird that represented our child, perhaps by using their hand and footprints, but of course my child wasn’t here to squish his little hand into the paint. To trace around his perfect foot with a felt pen. After some discussion regarding the brief we were supported to do as much of the picture digitally as we needed to to include Leo in the way we wished to.

After some assessment we realised Leo’s best footprint was one that was taken by Leo’s kindy teacher as part of my last mother’s day gift, and his best handprints were the ones taken by a caring staff member, at Hummingbird House after his passing. Leo liked to curl his fingers into the palm of his hand so they were the first really nice ones we had. 

Leo’s prints were monochrome, so my son Sam, who is my tech support for everything, coloured Leo’s prints digitally to make it look like he had applied the paint to the paper directly. I printed a bunch of them and we all sat down as a family to paint and draw hummingbird bodies in between the handprint wings. Frances, my daughter, is the artist in my family and her hummingbird came more and more to life with every brushstroke. I can’t tell you how elated I was that our picture was chosen, and how proud I am that Leo is continuing on in a way that not only helps raise money for the house, but also represents the bereaved families that are a part of this special service. 

 

 

Nobody likes to talk about children that have passed or will pass before their time. It’s a sad subject, but one that is so real and so raw for the families that use this place as a sanctuary. It is so important that this facility remains, and keeps providing all the wonderful services it provides, and to do that fundraisers like the Coles one are so very important. 

For many families Hummingbird House gives them air – allows them to take a breath when they are living a life that allows no time and space for one. For other families it is a place to remember their child or to make memories with them in their final days. We were blessed to be able to appreciate all of these aspects of the house. We had so many wonderful family memories, laughs over home cooked meals and time engaging with other families going through similar trials and challenges. Hummingbird House was also the place where Leo had his last bath. Devoured his last mouthful of chocolate mousse. Enjoyed his last swim. Was wrapped in my arms for his last cuddle. 

Hummingbird House is a unique space for families of palliative children. There’s no other place in Queensland that offers the range of services that they do and they need your help. Please go to Coles between the 16th of September and the 13th of October and buy a token. I promise it will make all the difference to a family just like ours.

To find out more about this year's fundraiser, visit: http://hummingbirdhouse.org.au/home/2020-coles-hummingbird-house-campaign/

 


 

 

 

 

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Ask Adam and Michelle About Pirates

Is imagination an endangered species?

Modern children are very good at mimicry and mirroring instruction, but with the current curriculum’s focus on learning outcomes more so than learning pathways, are they losing the ability to think independently and inventively? The important role that imagination plays in creating engagement is being lost and forced literacy ignores the essence of critical and creative thinking: the need for questioning, exploration, and extended discussion around issues that are important to children. Without imagination, are our children equipped to be the leaders of tomorrow?

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Putting the 'home' into home reading

With lockdowns and restrictions continuing across the country, it can feel as if we’ve had enough 'family time'. But are we actually spending quality time with our children or just going through the motions of home learning? When we sit to share a book, we’re creating a space to be together, to be available for our child and not distracted by anything else that's going on around us. The agreement to share a book allows us to tune in to what really catches their attention, their emotions, their sense of humour, even what they don't particularly respond to. We can, through the book sharing experience, get to know our children better. Taking only five minutes a day to share a book with your child can go a long way towards facilitating and nurturing your relationship and improving their mental health, as well as your own.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Kids, change, and the power of picture books

 Kids, change, and the power of picture books


Picture Books can be great tools for you to use to help your child understand change and new or frightening events, and also the strong emotions that can go along with them. When children are able to think about the text and make connections between the new information presented in the story and their store of background experiences, it allows them to be active and thoughtful about their own anxiety. Children can use picture books to make connections between familiar knowledge and incoming information in order to make predictions and inferences about characters, their motives and actions, as well as story events in order to learn that change is a natural and normal part of life. 

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Reading to Your Child Doesn't Have to be at Bedtime

 Reading to your child doesn’t have to be at bedtime

It only takes 3 to 5 minutes a day to significantly improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills. Introduce young children to the value of books by incorporating one book a day into playtime instead of the bedtime routine.
 Often when we wait until the end of the day, both parent and child are too tired to actively engage. Reading while playing builds a foundation of communication and word structure for your child by helping them to become familiar with common sounds, words and language that you use throughout the day. The time of day doesn’t matter, it’s the connection that counts.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Reading is Reading, No Matter the Medium

Reading is reading, no matter the medium

Waging a war to get your child to read can never be won; the only true victory happens when you lay down your arms and befriend the fact that for some children, reading is like having to eat their vegetables...they only do it because a parent says it’s good for them or a teacher makes them do it before they can move on to something 'fun'. The more we treat reading like a chore or homework, the more children are going to become disengaged from the true purpose of books; to give the gift of another world, a new friend or a mirror to celebrate what makes us all truly unique. Fun online reading games, reading apps and read along with animations on YouTube videos all have their place in modern literacy. Books have always come in all shapes and sizes, so reading is reading, no matter the medium.

Monday, 10 August 2020

Ask Adam and Michelle About Kings and Queens

Reading Picture Books to Improve Children's Mental Health


Studies show that when we read, the brain does not make a real distinction between reading about an experience and actually living it. Whether reading or experiencing it, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Children can show a significant increase in mental health from reading picture books as evidence suggests that the comprehension process stimulated by predicting, relating and questioning that occurs with young readers provides guidelines about how to talk about issues they feel strongly about and an opportunity to share their own views about what is happening in the world around them. It is not just the words or pictures we are sharing; it's a lifeline for their mental health. 

Friday, 17 July 2020

Reconnecting with books embraces the old and the new

Studies show that no previous generation has had to adapt to the amount of technological, economical and global change that our kids will have to do in their lifetime - they’ve come to rely on technology for communication, companionship and self-regulation. Books often come second to the immediate, individualised and integrated programming of the internet. If I had a choice between reading a book or internet when I was their age, I would have chosen internet, and I love books. The lure of technology comes from smart marketing, inadequate arts funding from the government, and a lack of imagination and foresight required to embrace what could be an amazing partnership between the new and the old. Connection with our kids is what's missing, and that's where we’re failing them - not the other way around.