Every year on the 3rd Saturday of August through the following Sunday (20th-26th August for 2016), Australia celebrates Children’s Book Week. During this week, Australian schools and public libraries “celebrates books, and Australian authors and illustrators.” The theme for this year is Australia! Story Country and I am going to share with you 7 titles we love about Australia.
Prior to our trip to Australia last December, we decided to introduce C to Australia with books. In fact pre- and post- trip reading helps little children to learn more for from holidays. Pre-trip reading helps children to get involved in the trip, anticipate some of the things they are going to see, and makes the trip more meaningful for them. Post-trip reading helps children to recapitulate and relieve the memories and fun times they had as I observed on C.
It wasn’t easy to find age appropriate (board) book that are available in our public library. At 17 month old then, we weren’t expecting her to read but it was more for exposure and introduction for familiarity. While in Australia, we also went on a book spree at KMart and Australia Post. Books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Diary of a Wombat and The Day the Crayons Quit, were AUD$10 at KMart. We also bought many other titles which were on sale at 4 for AUD$16.99. Many of these books feature Australia authors, animals and stories. I have also noticed that the gift shops at the main attraction also has a small collection of related for children at a reasonable price. If you are traveling to Australia, you might like to check them out! Here are the 7 titles:
1. Over in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under by Marianne Berkes
Most books on Australia involve her native animals of some sort. This is a delightful book that introduces the animals and their babies, numbers and some aboriginal art. Once you reach the end of the book, it prompts you to start over and spot a hidden animal on each page. Pretty fun for kids who are able to recognize animals. There is also a couple of pages that provides information on the featured animals and other teaching ideas by the author and illustrator. There is also a song of the same title ‘Over in Australia’, sung to the tune of “Over in the Meadow” for a little music follow up activity.
2. The Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French
This book illustrates the life of a wombat in a unconventional way. There are no full sentences which I found a little difficult to read. But I can also make it up along the way. Illustrations are simple and adorable, which we focused on when reading with C.
3. Possum Magic by Mem Fox
Grandma Possum made little possum (Hush) invisible with her bush magic. While he had lots of fun while being invisible, he longed to see himself again. Possum Magic talks about an adventure that Hush and Grandma Possum embarked as they travel across Australia to find the magic food that will make Hush visible. The book introduces a few Australian cities and animals during the course of their adventure. An easy and delightful read.
4. Somewhere in Australia by Marcello Pennacchio
I love this because it recaps (almost, I think) all the Australian animals we manage to see at Caversham Wildlife Park. Similar to Over in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under, this book introduces the animals,!their babies and numbers in a prose form. I particularly enjoy the rhyming lines, which makes it easy to read. It also briefly touched on the geographical distribution of where the animals can be found in the most subtle and simple way.
5. Waltzing Matilda by Banjo Paterson
This book is based on a popular bush ballad of Australia, written by A.B. Paterson. It illustrates the lyrics, line by line and also provides a score of the tune at the beginning. This book definitely appeals to the music teacher in me as an excellent choice to teach about Music and Australia.
6. Are We There Yet: A Journey Around Australia by Alison Lester
A story about Grace and her family’s adventures traveling around Australia on a road trip, this is a must read for more advanced readers. It is very informative and covers most of the places and highlights of Australia, but barely scratches the surface if you are looking for details of each place. It provides an excellent introduction and leaves the rest of the exploring to you if you are visiting. The book also features some map work which excites the geographer in me!
7. My Country by Dorothea Mackellar
For the literature fanatics, this book documents the physical landscapes of Australia in a collection of poems by Dorothea Mackellar. The poem is accompanied by beautiful watercolour illustrations by Andrew McLean.