Reading on the Run

This week I wanted to share with you some of the new ways you can access new stories and writers from your phone.

As a self-published author I have published my book wide, which means I make them available on all platforms for reading. Recently my niece published some fan-fiction, and when I went to read it I realised there is a whole reading world out there I knew very little about—a reading world where all you need is a phone.

When I started investigating reading apps, I was introduced to a whole new way of reading and writing. At first I thought to myself, this isn’t real fiction—writing your story in a serialised format. Then I remembered my English studies, and that some of our most revered writers started their careers writing serialised stories for newspapers; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens and George Elliot began their writing careers in this way. So let’s have a look at what’s around in the modern day writing world.

By the Book Ap Providers

Google Play

If you have the Google Play Ap on your phone, games are not the only thing you can purchase from your phone. There are a number of books available for purchase from the play store. You do need to purchase the whole book, but it is another way to access books by popular and self-published authors while you are on the run.

Ebooks from Library

One of my biggest surprises during the covid lockdown was finding out that my local library had a great catalogue of well known ebooks, but it also has the facility to recommend new books. So if you have a favourite non-traditionally published writer then try recommending them to your library. If they add your book then you can read for free. You will need to have a library membership, and download the ap they use for reading and lending, but it’s a great way to read on the run.

Serialised Reading Aps

If you have some spare time on a train as you commute, or while you’re waiting for appointments, or just while you’re catching a coffee break, then reading apps with serialised stories may be just the thing for you, especially as most publish in 1-2 thousand words a chapter. There are a lot around, but I have looked at three of the most popular in the writing community.


Wattpad is the first ap I accessed, and I found a great mixture of both free and paid works of fiction and non-fiction. There is a great range of stories available, and it is easy to add stories to your library.

Like all story apps, quality is variable, but there is plenty to choose from and to add to your reading list. For me there is a pretty good fantasy offering, and I do like reading some of the fan-fiction available.

You can find Wattpad at, and you can download the ap from Googleplay and The Apple Store.


Like Wattpad, Webnovel is another reading ap that can be downloaded from Googleplay and The Apple Store,, and I stumbled upon it as a platform to publish my works, and I am in negotiations with them.

Webnovel’s strength is in their fantasy and romance offering, including steamy romances. One of the things I really like about this ap is the asian fantasy and manga style stories translated from asian writers.

You do have to pay for most of the offerings on Webnovel, and many reviewers do not like the pay system, but there are some great reads on here and well worth your time to get to know how it works.


If romance is more your your thing, then Raddishfiction is a great ap for you to download from your ap store Once again you will have to pay for most offering on this site, but there are many quality, non-traditionally published writers publishing their offerings on this ap.

Paetron is a website where people can support writers (or other creative individuals) with a small monthly subscription. Most writers put out a story or a chapter a month for their small subscription, so if you find a writer you like check out Paetron and see if you can follow them and contribute a little each month for new works, some of which are not available elsewhere.

I hope this blog has got you at least a little excited about the new ways of accessing your favourite reads using only your phone.

Reading Creatively

While I was posting books out today I thought parents must be going mad having to teach from home again—they must surely be running out of activity ideas. So I decided to write an extra post about things you can do at home to inspire your children about the books they are reading.

image from

As some parts of Australia go into lockdown again and children are working from home, my Bookbubble book sales have increased. While I was posting books out today I thought parents must be going mad having to teach from home again—they must surely be running out of activity ideas. So I decided to write an extra post about things you can do at home to inspire your children about the books they are reading.

This is not a post about how to get your children to read, I have done a few of those, but how to inspire your children about the books they are reading in a different way.

New Readers

New readers and teens were the two most difficult group to find activities for. For new readers, learning to read is hard, and they are not always ready for the more fun, comprehension activities. Some, I am sure, will be able to skip to the advance readers and middle grade section. Here are couple of the more fun ideas I found to make learning to read and understanding books fun.

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Silly Voices – Make up silly voices when you or they read. You can do the whole book in a silly voice, or make one up for each of the characters.

image from

Wanted Poster – Make a wanted poster for the bad guy in the book. Depending on the level of skill, you can print a wanted frame from from the internet (I found some here) and help with the description, or you can set your child to do their own from scratch.


Advanced Readers and Middle Grade

There were so many activities for this group I did not know where to start, so I grouped them into two types of activities; Knowing Your Main Character and Settings. Depending on your Middle Grader’s access to social media, they may be able to do some of the Teens activities.

Knowing Your Main Character

Draw a picture of a main character as a baby, teen, adult and elderly person. Describe what they are doing in each image.

Expressions – choose a scene your main character is in and take photos of your face with the expressions you image the character making throughout the scene.

3 Wishes – Imagine a genie dropped into the book in the middle, what 3 wishes would the main characters wish for and why.


Copywrite Jim Simpson

Map – draw a map of where the book is set. Include all the points where key events take place.

Tourist Guide – with a tourist guide for where the book is set. Include all the main points of interest.



These were the activities that most inspired me when I found them, I hope they inspire your teens to dig deeper into the books they have to read.

For the Techie Kids

Create a Facebook Page – create a dummy Facebook page for the main character and add a few posts of recent activities.

Dating the Bad Guy – Create a social media dating profile for the villain of the piece, include a description of their ideal date,

Meme or advert – create a meme or advert they believe will either get other kids to read the book, or enraptures what the book is about.

Linkedin Profile – imagine you are one of the book’s characters and you are looking for a job. Create a dummy linked in profile for them.

For the Music Buffs

Movie Music – Imagine your book is now a movie, what music would be the theme for song for each character.

Make a Playlist – Choose a character in the book and make a playlist for them. Chose a song they would listen to for each scene in the book.

For the Fashionista

Movie Costumes – Choose a character and make a costume scrapbook. Find an outfit for each scene that character is in.

For the Artists

Superhero – choose a character from the book and turn them into a superhero.

Cover challenge – Imagine the book has no cover, design the book cover.

For the Writers

Origin Story – Write an origin story for one or more of the books characters.

This was a fun blog to research and I hope it gave you some cool ideas for activities, and I hope even more that it may have stopped you from going a little mad. If you have any other activity ideas please feel free to add them to the bottom of the post you never know, you may have the ideal solution for someone else.

Looking for some good kids reads – try here for a great range

Where I looked – there are some more great ideas here, so please visit.

2nd grade fun reading activities

Teens love to know

23 Fun reading Activities for kids

Picture Book Present

Nothing I love more than a browse in a bookshop for a gift. The gift I was choosing today was for a three year old, and the venue was one of my favourite local bookstores, Berkelouw Books. As I browsed I thought what a great blog this would make. So today my blog is about my shopping experience.

Why Berkelouw?

I buy books in many different places, for many different reasons. Berkelouw is my go to shop for gift books because they they do not limit their selection to books from wholesale providers, in fact they have often found a hard to find book for me and brought it in. They believe in old fashion service.

This means they are not the cheapest place to buy books, but I would rate them the best place to buy books nearby.

My books search

The Cover – Circle by Marc Barnett and John Klassen

I am a cover person. Especially when shopping for a picture book, I make my initial decision on whether to not to even pick a book up by the cover. When faced with the selection in the picture, my first choice was Circle by Marc Barnett and John Klassen. 

The book did not disappoint either. A great story about friendship, fears and tolerance. I loved both the story and the illustrations. But I did not buy it. 

Oh, if the book were for me, then it would be in my collection, but the book was for a three year old for a present, and I think perhaps this book is one children would need to choose for themselves. I cannot see a lot of excitement coming from opening it as a gift.

So I continued my search.

Titles – The Magic Bookshop by Natalie Jane Prior and Cheryl Orsini

An interesting title can also induce me to pick up a book, and I was drawn to The Magic Bookshop by Natalie Jane Prior and Cheryl Orsini. Why, simply because it had two of my favourite things in the title – magic and bookshop.

Beautifiully illustrated, this story really drew me in. I mean the idea of a child spending an afternoon in their grandfather’s bookshop able to read anything they choose. I was sold.

I reluctantly replaced the book after reading only the first two pages. Too many words for a three year old. I really enjoyed what I read of the story line, but I could not imagine a three year old interested in it. This one is perhaps targeted at older children.

A Good Old Learning Book – P is for Pterodactyl The Worst Alphabet Book Ever

Learning books are great. Raj Halder and Chris Carpenter have written a great books poking fun at the oddities of the English language. I mean C is for Czar and K is for Knight.

The illustrations by Maria Tina Beddia are beautifully done, and this book was a joy to read.

I nearly had my wallet out, a funny book is always a winner, but I stopped. For a 3 year old learning the sounds of the letters of the alphabet in their journey towards reading is hard enough, perhaps this book is better suited once they have learnt that lesson.

A Book for a Laugh – A Stack of Alpacas by Matt Cosgrove

I know I like to find different books for people to read, but when you are buying present for someone you want them to be excited when they open the gift, and you want them to love it afterwards.

Some of the books I have reviewed, especially by independent authors, would have fitted the bill, but I was not organised enough to buy these books online.

In the end I went a Matt Cosgrove book. His love of Alpacas continues with a A Stack of Alpacas, and we have a chance to see Uncle Macca look after some young alpacas with hilarious results.

Written in rhyme, there is lots of mayhem and fun for children to love, it is beautifully illustrations, and in my mind, the perfect book to gift to a three year old.

I have not included any links to buy the books I reviewed this week, an dI have no affiliation to Berkelouw books. Odd, I know, as I do need to fund the page. The reason this blog stands alone is because I would like to encourage you all to spend some time looking round bookstores near you to find something new and different to read yourself, our purchase for someone else.

It can be a fun way to spend a quick half an hour, or even longer. If you are worried you might end up spending too much money, one of the reasons why I do not do it too often, then move the activity to your local library. But you do not have to actually spend anything, just go, have a look, it might surprise you how much fun you can have.

Tired of the Same Old Book Selection?

There are alternatives if you have time.

Serendipity is my word for today. I planned to write a blog about ways to find new and exciting books some time ago. This week, as I planned what I would write in my head, I had two conversations that in the end helped me shape today’s offering.

The first was with a mum asking where I find such interesting books to review as she could never find anything like them in the local book shop.

My second arose while at a craft class when one lady said to me I know what my children like, but I can only find one or two series like that in the shops, then I am stuck.

While many of the authors featured on the shelves of local book stores are great, they are only the tip of the iceberg, I explained. ‘Where do I find the rest of the iceberg?’ was her quick response.

The Time Factor

After these two conversations lamenting the fact that most book shops have the same books by the same authors, I came to the conclusion we might all be our own worst enemies.

While we are quite happy to nip into a book shop in the local mall to quickly pick up something for ourselves or our children to read. Some people even branch out and look for the free and cheap reads online. What we rarely ever do is take some time browse and search for something new.

I was spoilt when I lived in the UK. They have large bookshops you can lose yourself in for hours, with selections we in Australia can only dream of. However, if we take some time, we can actually go places in the real world and online where we can browse through some interesting and different books.

In the Real World

Book Festivals and Book Fairs

One way to find new authors to read is go on line and find out if there are any book fairs in your local area. These will feature many established writers, but many emerging and self-published writers will also attend. A quick internet search showed me there is an event on in Sydney next weekend called Books by the Bridge

Specialist Shops

Another way to get a better selection of books you are interest in is to look on line for specialist bookshops in your area. Taking my own advice I decided to do a quick search of good children’s bookshops in Sydney and came up with the Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft, and Abbey’s Bookshop in the city. I now have two shops to add to my list.

Second Hand Shops

Another great way to find a variety of books is to go to second hand book stores. All right, some a pretty bad, but sometimes you can find one that is well worth your time. I love second hand book shopping when on holiday. I have been in may average stores, but one I really loved was Boobooks in Armidale NSW. I also had fun browsing through the book collection in Terrace Collectables in Kiama. One I cannot wait to visit is Hard to Find Books in New Zealand. I hope to get there on my visit home this year. A quick search on the internet will find you some gems I am sure.

Finding Books on the Internet

The great this about all these places are you can find heaps of different books and actually pick one up, read a little, and see if you like it. What if you do not have the time or ability to travel, well there is always the internet.

I am sure I heard a collective gasp as you read that. Who has time to look for books on the minefield that is the internet? You could get sucked in and not come out for days. Also, how do you know if you will actually like a book you find on the internet, especially if you buy a paperback version? With all these indie and self-published authors how do I know the quality is good? The good news is I have some hints and tips.

Some of you may know last year I delved into the world of self-publishing last year, and as I learnt the trick to promoting your material on line, I also found some great places people can find books, and try books.

Using Tools on Online Booksites

The good news is some of you may already be buying books by indie and self-published authors. They are widely available on Amazon, Booktopia and in fact all the traditional stores you purchase from. In most cases the only way to tell if they are self-published is that they will not be promoted by a traditional publishing house like Harper Collins or Scholastic etc. One way to check out some of these authors is to look at the recommended and promoted books on these sights.

Try searching for an author or book you like, scroll down tot he also like options and you will find a range of other books in the same genre. Have a look at a few of these. It should only take a few moments, and you might actually find something new and different to read.

Free, Cheap and Review Book Sites

When buying through many of these online bookshops you get a chance to read and excerpt to see if you like the book, but if you are a little braver and have something you can download a digital version of a book too, you can really test out some of these new authors.

Many authors load free or cheap books and short stories on to websites such as,, and, and the app readercoin. The idea is readers will maybe sign up to a newsletter or a facebook page and read more of your work. For a reader it is a great, cheap way to find new books.

Join Groups and Newsletters and Follow Authors

Following authors you like, signing up to their newsletters or doing book groups on facebook may seem like a pain just to try a new book, but if you think about it, it is a no cost way to keep up to date with new and cheap reads in your favourite genres.

One of my reviews next month will be from a book I found by joining the facebook group YA Fantasy Books. Also, some of the newsletters I receive have updates not only on the author I originally followed, but also details of new books by other similar authors. The self-publishing community is very supportive in that way.

Review and Promotion Groups

Two other tools I use to find books are and Bookbub. If you sign up to Goodreads you can track books you are reading and write review, but it will also recommend similar books for you to read. You can join reader groups and get recommendations, or you can just browse and read other reader reviews.

Bookbub sends you out newsletter at frequencies you set in areas you are interested in. These are new releases by big names, as well as some of the better selling indie authors.

Independent Publisher Sites

The final way to find some different books is to find independent publisher sites. I found the Della Mortkia Series on, but there are other sites such as xlibris and pegasus publisher to name a couple, where you can find new authors to read. These sites sell books directly to customers and have some really interesting reads.

If you avoid your bookstore in the mall, take some time and think outside of the box, might just find some new and exciting reading options for you and your children.

My Top 10 For Christmas

Books for Christmas

Looking for a Christmas gift to inspire young readers? Hopefully you will find something here from the books I thought were really outstanding this year. It was difficult compiling this year’s list because, although I enjoyed reading the books I reviewed, I wanted to give you options that really would inspire your children to read.

10. Three for One Cheat

I am going to cheat a little here because three of the books I would most like to recommend I have not got reviews for, but I am going to include them anyway: Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend, Warcross by Marie Lu and Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. My reasons for including these?

The Mortal Engines movie by Peter Jackson is coming out soon and I think there are a lot of children out there who might be inspired to read the books of the movie. I reviewed Fever Crumb, the prequel and I know these books are great reads for 10-16 year olds. Also, I lost Sam to this book for a couple of days, so I know it is engaging.

Warcross is a great 14+ read, and what I loved about this book (apart from the fact I could not put it down) was how the story was interlinked with computer gaming and takes the whole idea to the next level. I believe a lot of children will be drawn to this idea, and they may just pick up a book instead of a controller.

And Wundersmith? well I loved Nevermoor, and this book is even better, if that is possible. If you children love Harry Potter then the truely will love Wundersmith. I would suggest from 9-14ish, and rendering Nevermoor first.


9. Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

What is not to love about Pig? In fact any of the Pig books would be great gifts for your pre-school children. Miraculously, buying Pig books is also buying a gift for yourself as you are likely to enjoy reading them as much as your children enjoy listening.

8. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I have to admit I have not actually read this book. However, Sam gave it a great review, and given he has read it three times and seen the movie, I am guessing it appeals to pre-teen and teen boys.


7. Zombie Boy by K.S. Hall

This was one of my surprises this year. I loved this story. The zombie element really appeals to per-teen boys, and the will even get to read a really good story of bravery and friendship.


6. Firstlife by Gena Showather

This is one for the 16+ girls. A love triangle with a different take on the afterlife, this book was hard to put down. Book two of the series is already in my bag for my Christmas read.


5. Swim Season by Marianne Sciucco

For the 12+ girls I have this great book about friendship and dealing with life and everything it throws at you.


4. What is Behind the Door of Room 32 by B.C.R. Fegan

This was another surprise for me. I loved this beautifully illustrated picture book that has a different perspective on teaching counting. You and your children will love the rhymes and images.


3. Sweet Adversity by Sheryl Gwyther

My top three books for the year are pretty interchangeable. I loved Sweet Adversity because it had a spunky female character, a great story line and a historical setting. Such a great read for 10+ girls and boys alike.


2. Koala Bare by Jackie French

I adore this book. I just loved Matt Shanks illustrations, and the whole tale about letting a koala be just himself. Treat yourself to a great book, and maybe you can also sometimes share it with your children.


1. The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad

Another book with a strong female lead, a great sense of humour and set in Rome. I loved this quirky mystery story with a twist, and hopefully so will your 10+ children.


I am sure there are a great many more books out there for you to buy, perhaps you have some recommendations of your own and I would love it if you shared them with us.

What Makes a Good Early Reader Book

What Makes a Good Early Reader Book?

This blog was initially going to be about a Julia Donaldson written early reader, and moving your children on from picture books to independent reading. As I sat down to write it last weekend I kept coming back to one of the most frequently asked questions I get asked when I do a book stall – “what makes a good early reader book?” I always answer any book you can get your child to read is a good book, but last week I decided to look into what experts say makes a good early reader, and to look through some of my more popular books and see if they made the grade.

Assessment Criteria:

The most readable of the article I found was one from scholastic – 5 Early Reader Books That Rock. Another interesting read was The Independent’s 11 Best Early Reader Books. From these and other articles I came up with my 3 criteria to assess my six books against.

  1. Word Repetition – repeating words in early reader books basically does what you would expect, it drills the word into a child’s mind, and the more repetition the more that learning will be reinforced. That is why not only reading the words in the book again and again is good, but why children are also encouraged to read the book itself again and again. Of course the more repetition, the more boring the story is. So that brings us criteria 2 and 3.
  2. Interest Factor –  Children have to be interested in the book and its subject, and the story itself has to be interesting. Otherwise they will only read the book once and the repetition factor will not kick in.
  3. Great characters – In a short early reader book it is difficult to develop much of a plot line, so having a character or character’s children can engage with is an important part of keeping them loving in the book so they can get that repetition going.

Choosing the Books to Review:

  1. Tyrannosaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson – simply because I was going to review this book anyway.
  2. Goosebumps – Night of the Living Monsters – Goosebumps are some of my best sellers, and younger children have bought this book because their older siblings have been buying from the Goosebump series, and they want to be be like them.
  3. Marvel Avengers – The New Team (Scholastic Level Reader) – because they are popular, and were mentioned in one of the articled I read.
  4. Maxx Rumble Footy – Crunched by Micheal Wagner – I sell a lot of these books over the internet and via the bookstall, mainly to boys. They all love a book about sport.
  5. Dottie and the Dog Show by Teddy Slater – (Scholastic Level Reader) – girls Love Books about animals and any reader with a dog is popular.
  6. Lego Legends of China – The Legend Begins – this is more in the form of a graphic novel, which interested me, and also Lego TV series books are always great sellers.


How did they rate?:






Interest Level





Excellent – uses a repeating rhyme that not only reuses words, but similar sounds Initially I thought on dinosaur loving boys would  like this, but the ugly duckling story reworked will appeal to many There are scary characters and loveable characters, someone for everyone to connect with Julia Donaldson shows why she is a world leader in children’s literature.
Not really, or not obvious to me. I believe even early readers who loved the movie would find it difficult to read, therefore their interest would drop. Same characters as the movie. Tells the movie story in a very goosebump book way. I would purchase for a reluctant reader rather than for someone learning to read.
New and Avengers are repeated often. Very low level readers, one sentence per page. Children who love superheroes will love this. It tells you all about the Avenger’s individual powers Well known characters, and lots of describing words. Lots to talk about with your children when you re reading – who do they like the best, what ability would they like? With the Avengers a popular group of superheroes at the moment I can see why these books sell, and they are not bad in terms of an early learning book.
There is repetition of words and concepts in this book Sporty boys would be engaged, in fact I was engaged. Maxx builds everything up into an inflated truth, and children will enjoy that alone. Funny and with action sporting kids will be able to identify with. Love Maxx as the cheeky boy, and he has some real villains on the other team I did not expect to enjoy this book so much, I can see why children really enjoy this series.
As you would expect from a scholastic reader, there is very good word and concept repetition. Started slow, a girl and her dog, but the story has a twist, which I did not expect. Lots to talk about when you re reading it. Sam’s dog Dottie is the real hero of the book, but she has some really interesting friends friends with some cool skills. A fun book. I wish reviewer Sam had been sent home with books like this – it would have made reading time much more interesting.
Once again the repetition is not obvious, but some of the key words are highlighted. I am pretty sure you would need to enjoy the China series to really get into the story line, but I was not a bad read anyway. I did like the characters – the bad guy was not really so bad and the hero also had flaws. Not sure children would pick up on that, but makes it more interesting for parents if they have to hear it read a few times. This would not be my first choice as a reader, and some children are put off by the graphic novel format, but would be good to trick children into reading as it does not look and feel like n early reader.


What did I learn?:

Not all early readers are the same, so when you are buying it pays to think about what you are really looking for. If it is just something so children will read then yes, anything they are interested in will do. However, if you are purchasing a book to develop their reading skills then you need something they will read again and again, that you will not mind reading again and again, and that you can talk to them about to reinforce their learning.

I have not included any links to specific books with this blog because the idea is to give you some skills to look around for books yourself. I have a selection of early readers on The Bookbubble, and there are good selections on the the scholastic websites, as well as on Booktopia and The Bookdepository. Happy hunting.

Oh No! My Reluctant Reader is Starting High School

Reluctant Readers and High School

In Australia many parents are going through the process of choosing High Schools for their children, so this has been a hot topic for many of us. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, one of the concerns of some parents is how their child who is a reluctant reader will fare with the increased reading requirements as their children step up a level. They worry that if their child has not developed reasonable comprehension and vocabulary levels they will struggle in their new learning environment.

I have written before on strategies for turning reluctant readers into readers, and not surprisingly when I started to research this subject I found many more sites giving advice on what books will get teenagers motivated, and more of the same sort of information about how to develop reading skills altered for an older age group. The only one I have shared with this blog is one from Random House which I found really interesting to read, and I hope you do too, and it covers most of the strategies of other sites.

While searching for information for this blog I was actually quite disappointed because I could not find anything new to pass on the my readers. Then I stumbled across and article that really made me think and question some of my ideals. The article talked about technology tools to help children who struggle with reading get through high school. I though it would be about reading eggs and comprehension tools, but it was not. It was about dictation software, thesaurus software to decode complex texts and text to word software. My first reaction while I was reading was amazement. Although I advocate listening to stories as a way of developing comprehension, the though of listening to text books so you can learn seemed almost like cheating to me. And an app to take technical or advanced language and turn it into plain English, well really that is cheating isn’t it?

What really got me thinking though was the dictation software for children who have difficulty writing. At the moment I am working with my son to improve his writing because, well, no one could read it. We are going to occupational therapy to help with some physical issues that prevent him from get words on paper, although when you put him in front of a keyboard that changes. So is a keyboard cheating? When I spoke to him to ask if he would use dictation software he thought for a while, then said he would prefer to write or use a keyboard, but if he could not get what he wanted to say out, yes he would use dictation tools because after all it about getting out what is in your head.

Out of the mouths of babes (although he really is a little old to be called a baby). Unfortunately I have not been able to find the exact article again to share with you because I closed it down before thinking through the new concepts. But once I did start thinking, I questioned my views on what is education is really about. It is about teaching new concepts and ideas and checking that people understand those new concepts and ideas. In the distant past, before we could all read and write, this was all done verbally. In fact the great teachers in Greece only taught through debate. So is it wrong if we now learn thought listening? Is it wrong of we show we understand that learning through speaking? We now live in a society where learning is accelerated, and children are asked to understand concepts we would not learn until university. While we are changing our views of what can be learnt when, maybe we can also adjust our views of the how we learn as well.

I have put a link to one article below (not the original article, but another I found to be interesting), but why not do a search for articles on assistive technology and think about how that might help your reluctant reader get through high school?


Random House Booklet on Reluctant Readers

Assistive Technology for Reading


Why I Love Second Hand Book Sales

An Hour of Your Time Can Produce Gold

I love a new book. I love to be the first one to open a book and to read it til the end. Even if I buy a book for both my husband and I to read it is only with great reluctance that I will let him read it first. So it will come as no surprise to you that I never really liked second hand book sales, well until recently.

My first foray was with a friend when she went to the local Lifeline sale. I was amazed by the number of people coming out with bags full of books. I thought to myself there really cannot be that many books there that I would want to read, not second hand…..

Fast forward to an hour later when I emerge with a box of books. It started with a Leon Uris book I wanted to re-read  which I found and it spiraled from there. I now enjoy spending a good hour or so in local second hand book stalls, stores and sales, and I am never disappointed.

I am at home in New Zealand at the moment and my brother was talking about a local book sale. I was not going to go as I did not have much weight allowance left, and books eat up weight very quickly. However, on a wet afternoon I decided an hour or so would be a little fun, and I am pleased I did because I found some real gems, and I have 5 examples of why spending an hour of your time can do wonders for building your children’s reading library. not ;east because I spent NZ$2.5o to get the quality books I am going to tell you about, one of which I found on one the ABLE website selling for US$37. Each still have a number of reads left in them, and would be a  great addition to a reading library apart from the savings buying second hand provides.

      1. My personal favourite,

        Calling All Puppies Written and Illustrated by Winifred Martin

        This is a picture book from the 1950’s about two Wire-haired Fox Terrier puppies and their puppy friends – Cocker spaniels, Scottie, Pekingese and others. Illustrated with charming full page colour portraits and dozens of black and white text drawings by the author/artist it is the most adorable book for dog lovers. This is truly a lovely story with beautiful illustrations.

      2. A great read by and author commissioned to write some of the Frozen Books,

        Jitterbug Jam: A Monster Tale by Barbara Jean Hicks and Alexis Deacon

        This reverse monster under the bed tale is well written and superbly illustrated and touchingly funny. Children will just love it, and parents will love reading it to them. If you want to know a little more  you can read the goodreads blurb here.

      3. A timeless tale,

        The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter

        Any Beatrix Potter book is a find, and when the cheapest new online price I could find was $5, and secondhand price 99c, 50 cents to buy this lovely tale written and illustrated as only Beatrix Potter did is a steal. The book tells of Squirrel Nutkin when he goes to the Island to gather nuts with his brother Twinkleberry, and their cousins. I bought this book not only because of the author, but I loved the line on the first page that tells us this is a Tale about a Tail. Priceless in so many ways!

      4. A tween book not for the faint-hearted,

        Dangerous Spaces by Margaret Mahy

        Margaret Mahy had a unique view of the world, writing books that took children into places they could only ever imagine. In this story an ordinary girl blurs the boundaries between reality and imagination in a spine-tingling way that is relieved by the humorous picture of her everyday life. This is not one one her best loved books, but when you pay 50c you may as well give it a read. I have only just started reading it, but I am already hooked so it was worth my tiny investment. You can read the goodreads review here.

      5. A New Zealand Book Award Finalist,

        The Lies of Harry Wakatipu by Jack Lasenby

        I have to admit I did not buy this for me, but for reviewer Sam. I thought he might like the line on the back cover that states Harry Wakatipu is a legend in his own sleeping bag. This is a collection of fantastic stories told by Harry the Horse, and is written by the man who who edited the reading journals we kiwi kids of my generation grew up on. I just had to have this one because I wanted my son to have a taste of my culture. I will have to wait until I get home to see what he makes of it, but for 50c it was worth a punt. There is a review on goodreads.

These books are why I love second hand book stalls; you can find timeless gems, be taken back to your childhood, try something new, just waste an hour or so on a wet do-nothing day, and for such a small you might just find something you or your children will love.

Why are Young Adult Books So Popular with Adult Readers?

Why I and Thousands of Others Love Reading Children’s and Young Adult Books

For many years children’s books have been seen as something less than adult literature. Then along came Harry Potter and suddenly reading children’s literature became cool.

Recently I read a post on why we suddenly love young adult literature in The Atlantic. They suggest it is because we are all children at heart and so we can identify with children’s literature. We came of age, so we like coming of age books. They also suggest it is because we like the escapism of young adult books. But having now been blogging and talking to children and their parents about books for over two years I have a different theory.

Adults who read love reading. They will look forward to a new book and to the down time they get when they are reading. Many children are not natural readers. Most are still developing reading skills, and many children take a lot of effort to even get started on a book. If this were not so then I and others would not have written so much on how to get children to read.

Just think about it. When I was growing up we had a couple of hours of children’s tv a day, maybe a movie in the holidays and outside play to keep us from reading. Children today have so much more to keep them entertained outside of books. They have music, sports and dance and other after school activities. They have great movies to watch, many of which actually come from great books, and they have computer games on numerous devices.

So while writers of adult literature have a captive and active audience, those who write books for children and young adults have to work really hard to even get a child to pick up the book they have written. To keep children engaged they need to be able to create characters and and plot lines that are engaging but do not use too many words. They need to be fast paced and well written.

As an adult who loves reading I do really enjoy adult fiction and a story that is developed slowly and a plot that has many strands. But I am a working mum and I am taxi for after school activities as well as running a house. When I get to read at the end of the day I am often too tired to read those types of books, and I have to say Young Adult fiction is often my go to read because I can read quality fiction without too much effort. I save the grown up books for days when I have more energy and want to indulge myself.

So when you are looking for books for your young adults to read why not test run some yourself? It will almost be like when you used to read to them. You can have a conversation with your children about what you liked or disliked about the book and who their favourite character was, and it may just get them interested in reading again.



It is not all about fiction

It is Not All About Fiction or Why Children Should Read Non-fiction.

A few times recently I have had mums say to me that their children won’t read, and it worries them. I talk to them for a while and find that their children are actually reading, they are just not reading fiction. They will sit down with books on mythology, or football or animals. For some reason this is not considered reading or developing those reading skills they will need in high school. I have always encouraged reviewer Sam to read whatever he likes, thinking that reading anything is reading, but this week I thought I might delve a bit deeper and find out is reading non-fiction really that good for reading development?

As always, I am not an expert in the field, just an interested mum, and my research is internet based. This blog is a snapshot of what I learned, but I have put what I considered to be the most helpful links below, but you will find many more pages writing about non-fiction reading for children on the internet if you wish to read further.

Why Children Like Non-Fiction

I am sure there are as many reasons for this as there are children, but in the main they boil down to three main ones; they can read on a subject they are interested in, they don’t have to read a book end to end just the bits that interest them, and there are images that assist with understanding. Often finding something children are interested in is the key to getting them to sit down with a book, and even if children do not really like reading they will like something, and if there is a book on it they will at least sit down to read for a bit. Most children will only read the bits of a non-fiction book that interest them, and these books are designed for people to pick and choose bits and pieces of information. This puts the child, not the author, in control of how they approach the book. Finally there are few non-fiction books that do not have images and diagrams that help with understanding, so the text is broken up and not so confronting.

How Non-Fiction helps with your child’s reading development

For the main much of early reading is aimed at building children’s vocabulary and their understanding of words. Reading anything, including non-fiction book, will achieve this goal. This includes all those book on things like how to play cricket, the Star Wars Character encyclopaedia, Dinosaur books, books on Space, the 100 Worst……. However, reading non-fiction takes a step beyond building a word base and word comprehension. Non-fiction adds to a child’s store of information in general, so when they get older and are asked to think critically about things they have more of an information base to pull from.

Helping Your Child Use Non-Fiction Books

While a fiction books is read from end to end, there are elements of non-fiction that if you help your child understand the subject and they can use the books more effectively to find what they want. Things like Tables of Content and indexes help them find specific bits of information. Section heading and sub headings help you drill down into a specific area. Captions, maps and diagrams can help develop deeper understanding. Bold and italics show highlight important ideas. If your child can learn these things early on then they will be developing skills that they will use when they get to high school.


Of course it is wonderful if your child reads a range of books, but if all they want to read is non-fiction then at least you will know that they are still developing important language skills and indeed other skills that will help them later in their schooling. And maybe you could do what one friend of mine is thinking of doing to take the stress out of reading. Let them read what they want in term time, then reward them for reading an agreed upon fiction book every holiday period just to keep up their general reading skills.


Key Links


Why Non-Fiction is important to reading and learning

Non-Fiction Text Features and Text Structures