Thursday, 16 June 2011

Great Australian books for the pre-school set

Image from here
We have been frequenting the library regularly in recent months. Although we have a small library of children's books at home, the ritual of going to the library is one that we all love (and it lets me escape the kid's *favourite* books every day {Going on a Bear Hunt anyone?}, for a little while anyway).

I am a bit of Nazi about the books that the kid's can borrow from the library. Being a trained Speech Pathologist, I am acutely aware of the importance of reading to your children for language and literacy development. I encourage my children to read books that help them grow their vocabulary, sentence structure and understanding of rhyme and rhythm. Of course, they don't know that! They just think Mummy really needs to like the pictures before the book can come home!

Here is a list of five great books for language development for the pre-school set (they are all endorsed by Speech Pathology Australia, so don't just take my word for it):

1. The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky
This gorgeous book is based on a Tibetan story and features a little rabbit who finds out that some things aren't as scary as they seem. The language used is fabulously repetitive and rhythmic. It introduces some new words of all types – adjectives, verbs and nouns - which offers to expand your child's vocabulary. It allows your kids to 'read along' with you, encouraging them to rhyme word pairs. And all the while they will fall in love with the main character who, despite his size, is brave (a great role model!).

2. Clancy the Courageous Cow written and illustrated by Lachie Hume
The author wrote the first draft of this book when he was about 12. It is a fun story of a cow who is different from other cows, who teaches us all about understanding and getting along. This book will stretch your child's vocabulary (especially wrestling terms!) and language skills. This book is on high rotation at Casa 4. All the kids love Clancy, the beltless belted Galloway!

3. Annie’s Chair written and illustrated by Deborah Niland
This delightful book explores the concept of 'mine'. The author uses simple language and repetition to teach us about sharing and the art of compromise. The book clearly portrays emotions and offers you the opportunity to teach your child about what to do when things don't go your way.

4. A Giraffe in the Bath by Mem Fox & Olivia Rawson, and illustrated by Kerry Argent
This book is packed full of lovable characters and uses rhyme, rhythm and repetition to gently support language development and phonological awareness (pre-reading skills) while trying to make you laugh.  It is funny and the catchy language and vocabulary are bound to be as popular at your house as it is at ours.

5. Is Your Grandmother a Goanna? by Pamela Allen
We do love Pamela Allen at our place and this book is one of her best. It is fun and clever and absolutely designed to be read aloud! The fun characters, sound effects, rhyme and repetition (a definite pattern developing with my recommendations!) are all great for language development. And the kids have to use their own voices to pitch in at each of the stations, giving them the opportunity to think and participate. Don't forget to chat about the journey as you are taking it.

I could go on, of course, but I won't. Instead, I will hand over to you for your suggestions for books that are designed for the pre-school set that have great words for language development. Do you have any? (They don't have to be Australian, I just thought I would give our Aussies a plug).


ANB said...

I love The Terrible Plop but E is a bit small to enjoy it so far.

A few good language books are:

* Ten Sleepy Sheep by Phyllis Root: a beautifully lyrical bedtime book.
* Anything by Lynley Dodd - the Hairy Maclarys, Slinky Malinkis etc.
* What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson - a fun, rhythmic, farm yard poem.
* Shhh Little Mouse by Pamela Allen - not a huge number of words but those there are evocative and onomatopoeia-ic (if that is a word!)

Alice Becomes said...

Love this post! Love Pamela Allan and Mem Fox but I haven't heard of the others. I like the look of The Terrible Plop - what a great title!

I have read lots of books to M1, ever since he was a newborn and as a result, he loves books and reading. I think he has a pretty good grasp on language for his 3 years. Poor M2, I have not read to him nearly as much and I still can not get him to sit down with us for a story. He is only 18mths but M1 would sit and listen to entire Dr Seuss books at the same age so I do think the reading from a (very) young age has made a big difference. I'm interested to know, as a speech pathologist, how you feel about Dr Seuss? I love the way he plays with words and breaks language rules but I have heard different opinions on this. Gill xo

Jacki said...

Great list, I'll have to check them out! We still love The Green Sheep at our place!

Anonymous said...

We're big into reading here too. But I can't say we've seen these ones. Great - some newbies to check out. Thanks for sharing :)

Maxabella said...

Aside from Green Sheep, which has been on high rotation since 2004, our all time fave Aussie story is "What will we get for Grandma?" I couldn't tell you why it's so popular, but it has an enduring appeal that seems (sadly) never-ending. x

Miss Pink said...

What say you to Dr Suess? We are big Suess fans here, so much so that Bluey borrowed a couple of books from his school library that we own. I asked him why when we own them and he said "Because i just really like this story mum."
Also we love Pamela Allen, Mem Fox, Graham Base. I do indeed look for good morals to the story, a lesson to be learned something we can talk about further with for Bluey, and wonderful pictures and things to point out for Greenie.
I wonder does your speech pathologist background make you want to smash your TV with lots of kids shows? I cannot stand many American kids shows because they teach incorrect English for our region. Or those shows where they jabber on in jibberish.

Anonymous said...

I'm hopeless, I love books for their stories and definitely only borrow library books where mummy likes the pictures!
Love your list, and will definitely check them out next time at the library.
We love Lynley Dodd and Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy. Not sure if she is Aussie, now that I think of it I wonder if she's a kiwi? I loved Hairy Maclary as a kid, and we all love him now. LOVE. Never get sick of reading him and his tribe of misfit hounds.

Photographer Mum said...

Thanks for this list, we are in need of some new stories to read at the moment. We love "Where is the Green Sheep" and all the Hairy Maclary books too. Think we'll have to try some of these suggestions out.

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

I love Pamela Allen. And The Gruffalo. And Robert The Rose Horse. Harry the Dirty Dog. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Hairy McLairy (oh how I love HM). Lots, now that I come to think of it.

Jodie Ansted said...

Gosh, we haven't read any of them...and we're big Pamela Allen fans here! Will have to take the 4yo to the library soon.

Abbie said...

I totally agree with reading to children.
It is important and hopefully they will grow to love to read on their own.

Thank you for your suggestions.

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

I don't know any of those books. I'll have to seek them out at the library.
So many books here too, the bookshelves are very firm when wedging in more. My favourites are the Aussie ones, Mulga Bill's Bicycle, Olga the Brolga, Edwina the Emu. Anything Pamela Allen is tip top too.

Quill and Ink Handmade said...

We've managed to amass a nice little collection of children's books over the years. I'm waiting for my two to be old enough to read Aussie favourites, The Magic Pudding, and Ginger Megs, but for now, our our favourites are:
We're going on a bear hunt, by Michael Rosen
Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel
Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina
The tiger that came to tea, by Judith Kerr
Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, by Judith Viorst.

Oh my! Love picture books!
Great post, as always x

Petra said...

We discoverd "The Plop" in the local library and loved it. I was going to buy it but we already got a mini library at home and am trying to cut back on my book spending (which never seems to work!).

Some of our favourite pre-school books are:
- all Julia Donaldson books
- all Littel Red Train books by Benedict Blathwayt (great train books for boys and they read beautifully)
- The Night Pirates by Peter Harris
- That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell

River said...

I wish I'd known more about speech development and stuff when mine were little. They all spoke clearly early on though and by the time they were five I was wishing they'd shut up occasionally.

Jen said...

We love visiting the library and reading books at our place, lucky for us the Scholastic publisher has a factory outlet shop near our place!
Some of our favs is one called The Bus to the Zoo, Mary Murphy
& Mutt Dog, Steven King
We also just borrowed Imagine by Alison Lester and really enjoyed it.
You could go on and on with kids books, I love reading them too!

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