For a while, I’ve wanted to featuring interviews on Stories with Everything, to ask others to share their recommendations and talk about their reading experiences with children. They might be educators, carers, writers, illustrators, booksellers, publishers, librarians, parents, uncles, aunties, grandparents…
The brilliant Ruth Callaghan is the first! She is an Early Childhood Teacher and the Room Leader of the Wardong room (Kindergarten) at Keiki Early Learning Hamersley in Perth, WA @keikiearlylearning (Until earlier this year, my daughter was at Keiki Hamersley).
RUTH: I love reading stories. We have a big shopping basket of books which the kids can dip into any time. One of my favourite times is in the middle of the day just before rest time, when we read three or four books together.
Great to get kids joining in:
Do Not Open This Book by Andy Lee. There’s a little monster who says I can’t believe you opened the book, don’t turn the page whatever you do, and all the kids are shouting “Turn the page! Turn the page!”
Great for challenging expectations:
Emily and the Dragon by Lyn Lee and David Cornish is great fun, all about going against stereotypes. Emily goes off into the forest looking for dragons. On her way she makes friends with a lonely witch. When she finds the dragon, the dragon is doing ballet dancing.
Great for learning about boundaries and body safety:
I use a book called My Body What I Say Goes by Jayneen Saunders, all about feeling safe and knowing when you don’t feel safe. It talks about your “body bubble”, your personal space bubble, and I use this idea a lot. Often at mat time, kids will sit all squished on top of each other and annoy each other. So we say “Remember your body bubble, you don’t want to pop it or someone else’s.”
Great for inspiring play:
Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughan. You can extend it so easily when you get outside and start playing. The kids are just naturally drawn to mud and dirt and and sticks and cooking. Play-based learning is awesome!
Great for reading aloud:
Kids love being read to however you do it, but I love getting into it, doing the voices. I read Room on the Broom so many times to my son (now 9) I know it by heart, I’ve got my voice for the dragon. I like Julia Donaldson’s books because they all rhyme and I like their flow. That’s a really good one about kindness and sharing and working together.
I also have an amazing set of ten books by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker all about different vehicles which the kids love. There’s Flashing Fire Engines, Tough Trucks, Daring Diggers… They’ve got lots of rhyme, really colourful pictures and funny little animals driving. These were my son’s books, but I snaffled them and brought them to work.
Great for appreciating our community:
We’ve been doing some intentional teaching about the Emergency Services. I’ve got a really cool book called Thank You, Heroes (by Patricia Hegarty and Michael Emmerson) which came out during the pandemic and it’s all about our local heroes who have supported us through the pandemic. It’s not just the paramedics and health care workers, it’s shop workers, it’s delivery drivers, it’s all carers.
Great for learning about reconciliation:
Finding Our Heart (by Thomas Mayor illustrated by Blak Douglas) is beautiful. It tells the story of Australia, who was here first, and then what happened. It’s so visual, asking the question: how do we find the heart of the nation? There are a few brilliant books about reconciliation. I also want to get Our Home, Our Heartbeat by the rapper Briggs.
Great for bringing issues to life:
We recently got Greta and The Giants by Zoe Tucker illustrated by Zoe Persico, all about Greta Thunberg and her protest against the climate emergency. It’s told in a way that kids understand and they’ve been really into it. Instead of corporations and governments, Greta is standing up to the Giants to stop them destroying the forest. She holds up a sign saying STOP and more and more people join her. Finally the giants notice…
Another book we’ve been enjoying is Goat on a Boat by Nick Dent illustrated by Suzanne Houghton. It’s got great rhyme and it’s a good one for thinking about immigration, about welcoming people who need help.
Thanks so much, Ruth, for chatting to Stories with Everything and sharing these top reads.
More interviews and brilliant recommendations coming soon!
Follow the blog and Instagram @storieswitheverything