Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Cleo Stories by Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood

Back to school is a busy time of year in a bookshop.

As the teachers are planning their term lessons and families are getting back into school routines, everyone suddenly becomes concerned about whether their children are reading enough.

We are inundated with requests for early readers, simple chapter books and 'quality' literature for primary kids. And although I'm the first to love a well-written, beautifully realised story with gorgeous illustrations, I understand that not everyone has the same taste as me (i.e. 9 yr olds will always think differently!)

As a former early childhood teacher I also know that reading should be fun.

If the child does not like the book, they will not read it or even more tragically, they come to see reading as a chore not a pleasure. It saddens me to see how many kids get turned off reading by well-meaning adults.

If your child wants to read all 84 books, plus bumper editions of Beast Quest, then let them. They're reading, they're engaged & they're keen to read more. Or if they decide that reading every single Rainbow Magic story is important to them, let them.

Part of learning to read is repetition and practice.

Huge series like these have formulaic storylines that work because they allow for lots of repetitive reading practice. They give your emerging reader confidence.

The other key to reading success is you.

Children should see you reading (& enjoying it) and any chance you get to read aloud with them, do it. This is when you can get the books that you like to read or the books that you'd like them to be reading. You will only enjoy the reading aloud experience if you are reading books that you also like.

My primary school librarian continued to read aloud to my year until Year 6. These were magic times and she introduced me to books I would never have picked up by myself...To Climb A Lonely Hill, The Hobbit, Ash Road were some of the more memorable ones.

Never underestimate the power of the read aloud.

Which leads me to my book review for today.

The Cleo Stories is a lovely little hardbook picture book presented as an early reader (much like the Ruby Red Shoes books). There are two chapters inside titled The Necklace and The Present.

The front and end papers are covered with a detailed neighbourhood map (I love a book with a map or a family tree!)
Both stories relate an incident of importance to young Cleo - birthday party envy and anxiety. They show Cleo problem-solving and experiencing delayed gratification as Cleo learns that the true art of giving begins with listening.

The themes centre around belonging, giving & respect.

Blackwood's illustrations are gorgeous as always with lots of things to spot through windows & in the background.

The Cleo Stories are read aloud gold!

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