2020 — A Year of Books

  • Published on December 11, 2020

2020 A Year of Books on readilearn

Books make wonderful gifts at any time and Christmas is no exception. As a child, I loved nothing more than receiving a new book of my own for birthdays and Christmas. While I borrowed and read many books from the school and local library, there was something very special about having a book of my own to enjoy and treasure.

I loved breathing in the smell of a fresh, new book and feeling the smoothness of its fresh, new covers. But even more than that, I loved its promise of escape and adventure. In a book, I could escape the ordinariness of the everyday and participate in adventures at locations and with friends that I would never meet outside its pages.

If you are looking for a book to gift a special child this year, then I’d love to help you choose. In this post, I list all the lovely books I have reviewed or whose authors I have interviewed for the readilearn blog this year. These are only a small selection of wonderful books that are available.

A year of books on readilearn

In this list, I provide you with a short description of each book and a link to the post where you can find further information, including where to purchase the book.

Picture books

The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree

The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree by Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pederson with illustrations by Tety Swlou.

(reviewed for Multicultural Children’s Book Day)

The story begins with Angelia and Jacob on their first day of school in Ms Zoe’s classroom. During their get-to-know-you activities, Angelia notices something behind Jacob’s ears. At recess, she asks Jacob about them as they sit beneath the palm tree. Jacob explains that they are hearing aids to help him hear better, just as glasses help people see better. Jacob explains how he hears and describes ways in which Angelia can help him hear and understand. Angelia, in turns, explains to other children that Jacob is smart, he just hears and talks differently. As children grow to understand how they can help Jacob join in their games, their circle of friendship grows.


Hayden's Bedtime cover

Hayden’s Bedtime by Wendy Haynes with illustrations by Brett Curzon

What parent of a young child hasn’t had to perform a bedtime ritual to get the child into bed and off to sleep? Hayden’s Dad is no different as he checks every corner, every nook and cranny to ensure there is nothing lurking in the bedroom. All he finds are everyday things like building blocks and smelly socks, toy cars and chewed up gum. When the child is satisfied that all is safe, Dad reads a story and the child settles down for a good night’s sleep.


Little Bilby's Aussie's Easter Egg Hunt

Little Bilby’s Aussie Easter Egg Hunt by Yvonne Mes with illustrations by Jody Pratt

Near bush and scrub and oceanfront, they tiptoe on their Easter hunt . . .

A group of baby bilbies are on an Easter egg hunt. They find all kinds of eggs – a kookaburra’s egg, a turtle’s egg, a cassowary’s egg – before the little bilbies finally find what they’ve been looking for: Easter eggs to share with all their friends.

This colourfully illustrated picture book showcases the diversity of Australia’s egg-laying animals. Each spread reveals an egg in its natural environment and asks the question ‘Whose egg could this be?’. After turning the page, the egg is matched with the animal it belongs to.


Lola and Grandpa by Ashling Kwok and Yvonne Low

Lola and Grandpa by Ashling Kwok with illustrations by Yvonne Low

Lola and Grandpa is the story of a young girl and the tender, loving relationship she shares with her grandpa. When Lola’s grandpa passes away, she struggles to cope. However, as time passes Lola starts to remember all of the special times they shared. She can see her grandpa reflected in all of the things around her and realises that even though he is no longer physically with her, they will always remain connected.


Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas by Lucinda Gifford

Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas by Lucinda Gifford

Whitney and Britney are gorgeous chooks who live with the elegant Dora von Dooze. While she appreciates their eggs, she’d also enjoy their company. Alas, they sleep throughout the day, which makes Dora a little curious.

Dora determines to discover what they get up to each night while she is asleep; and discover she does. But how does she react and what happens when she finds out?  You will have to read the book to find out what surprises await Dora as well as Whitney and Britney.


The Battle by Ashling Kwok

The Battle by Ashling Kwok with illustrations by Cara King

Starting school can be exciting but it can also be a scary experience for some children. The thought of making new friends and settling into an unfamiliar environment can be so overwhelming that many children develop a fear of going to school. The Battle tells of a brave knight who overcomes those fears and realises that school is not such a scary place after all.


Pinney the Winner

Ginnie and Pinney Learn and Grow Series by Penny Harris with illustrations by Winnie Zhou

The series consists of 8 story books, animated videos, teacher resources and finger puppets; aligns with Australian Early Years Learning Framework; and is consistent with social and emotional learning.

The stories feature Ginnie & Pinney and their friends. Their daily social interactions, concerns and decisions pose dilemmas that model positive self-identity and behaviours: selflessness, persistence, sharing, fairness, inclusiveness, responsibility, accepting difference and learning to say sorry.

The series was selected by the Finnish Educational Org.HundrEd, as one of a hundred of the most innovative educational programs for 2020 and was also selected by the Victorian Dept. of Education and Training as a recommended resource for 2020 for their School Readiness Funding program.


Jasper’s Jumbled Up Words © Marg Gibbs

Jasper’s Jumbled Up Words by M J Gibbs with illustrations by Emma Stuart

Jasper’s Jumbled up Words is a gentle story about a young boy who wants to be understood.

‘In Jasper’s head, strange sounds bubble, but in his mouth the words get caught and only babble comes out.’

Jasper soon finds himself confused and upset. Then one day, he surprises everyone.

Jasper’s Jumbled up Words sensitively deals with the difficulties surrounding language development and offers children, parents and care givers hope.


Go Away, Foxy Foxy
© Karen Hendriks

Go Away, Foxy Foxy by Karen Henriks with illustrations by Naomi Greaves

Go Away, Foxy Foxy is a delightful story of three little bunnies who decide to sleep out in a tree house one night. Outside in the dark, Foxy Foxy prowls. He’d like nothing better than to make a feast of those little bunnies. The bunnies show different levels of fear and bravery and use their intelligence, without having to resort to using the Mummy bell, to scare the fox away.

Children will easily identify with the different emotions displayed and will be encouraged to discuss different ways they may respond to the situation and solve the problem.


Butterflies by Diana Harley

Butterflies by Diana Harley with illustrations by Sue-Ellen Yates

This stunning picture book introduces young readers to “doing words” as our imaginations move with the amazing Australian butterflies through our magnificent Australian flora.
Beautifully illustrated and using fonts that depict movement and playfulness, this book will entrance readers young and old.
A page of Facts of Interest about some of the butterflies in the book will spur young readers on to investigate and develop a love of these incredible Australian creatures.


Beetles and Bugs by Diana Harley

Beetles and Bugs by Diana Harley with illustrations by Sue-Ellen Yates

This is a big movement book centred on the little world of fascinating Australian beetles and bugs. With detailed colour pictures and large text, this book introduces young readers to the concepts of place and placement as one follows each creature as they move “up” or “down”, “to and fro”, “higher” or “away” etc.
A page of interesting facts about the creatures in the book will help children identify these amazing animals and develop an understanding of their habitat and their lives.


Underneath the Apple Tree by Diana HarleyUnderneath the Apple Tree by Diana Harley with illustrations by Sue-Ellen Yates

Cloud gazing can be lots of fun, especially when you have found a comfortable spot on the grass under a shady tree, all on a beautiful day!! This book will stir the imagination with its easy rhymes, colourful pictures and happy themes. Keep an eye out for the juicy red apple and the hungry worm as you read!
There is a page of “Cloud Activities” that can be embarked upon in the classroom or at home and two photocopiable pages make great colouring-in projects for children of all abilities.


Skadoodle & Snug's Magnificent Plan Front Cover

Skadoodle and Snug’s Magnificent Plan by Caroline Tuohey with illustrations by Karen Sagovac

Skadoodle & Snug’s Magnificent Plan is a hilarious tale about two neighbouring dogs who decide that they’re just not matched with their owners. The two dogs come up with a perfect plan for a switcheroo, but even the best laid plans can go pear-shaped. Share in the antics of what happens when dogs take matters into their own hands (or paws) … 


Super Nicholas by Michelle Worthington

Super Nicholas by Michelle Worthington with illustrations by Sandra Noa

When a little boy with alternate abilities is born into a family of super heroes, it can be tough to make everyone happy. Nicholas has a heart as big as the sun and he can shine just as bright, even without super strength, super speed or being able to fly. His superpower is kindness and when it comes time to save the day, it’s the most powerful of them all. 


Remembering Mother Nature kids' book 1

Remembering Mother Nature by Stuart French with illustrations by Alvin Adhi

Did you know that Mother Nature’s home — our Planet Earth — is over 4.5 BILLION years old? And she’s been looking after it since day one. That makes her pretty old! It’s only in the last 100 years, though, that she has really begun to feel tired. So, littlies, open your minds, your eyes and your imaginations, for you’re about to learn how to keep our dear Mother Nature awake for billions of years to come!


The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World by Elizabeth Cummings

The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World by Elizabeth Cummings with illustrations by Johanna Roberts

In The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World we meet Audrey and read all about the magic of kindness! She lives in Verityville. She is a lollipop lady – the sweetest lollipop lady in the world! Nothing is too much trouble – she loves to look after everyone who uses her crossing. Always kind, with a friendly smile and a sprinkle of magic, Audrey helps and cares for her community.

It is just one story in the Verityville series in which there are many amazing folk, all going about their daily business, making the town what it is. Their work and their efforts make Verityville a marvellous place to be, full of wonder, friendship and adventure!


All Cats Are On The Autism Spectrum

All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum by Kathy Hoopmann

This updated edition of the bestselling All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome provides an engaging, gentle introduction to autism.

All-new cats take a playful look at the world of autism, and these fun feline friends will strike a chord with all those who are familiar with typical autistic traits, bringing to life common characteristics such as sensory sensitivities, social issues and communication difficulties.


All Dogs Have ADHD

All Dogs Have ADHD by Kathy Hoopmann

This revised edition of All Dogs Have ADHD takes an inspiring and affectionate look at Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), featuring all-new images from the canine world. These charming photographs bring to life a variety of traits that will be instantly recognisable to individuals with ADHD, including being restless and excitable, easily distracted and acting on impulse.


Gorkle by Penny Macoun

Gorkle by Penny Macoun with illustrations by Anam Akram

Gorkle is a gremlin who lives in cyberspace.  He doesn’t like where he lives, it’s a miserable place because there are no bright colours anywhere.  He likes the look of Earth.  He really likes the brightly coloured text messages that humans send to each other, which he tries to keep.

One day, Gorkle is visited by two humans from Earth who are looking for the text messages that Gorkle has been keeping.

What will happen when they all meet?


Junior Fiction

League of Llamas - a gift from Aleesah Darlison and Penguin Books

The League of Llamas a junior fiction series by Aleesah Darlison

The first book in the series is The Golden Llama. The blurb describes it this way:

The LEAGUE OF LLAMAS is on a mission to save the world!

And — if Agent Phillipe Llamar can stop looking at his lluxurious fringe in every mirror he sees and Agent Lloyd LLamanator can resist the temptation to eat everything in his path — they might even succeed.

But first, our bumbling heroes must foil the plans of the evil badger General Bottomburp, solve the mystery of the alluring lady llama in red and find the Llama Republic’s most prized relic: The Golden Llama.

Whatever happens, you’re guaranteed to LOL.


Tell 'em They're Dreaming - an anthology of bush ballads and tales

Tell ‘Em They’re Dreaming

(Norah’s ballad Once Upon a Billabong) is included.

Tell ’em They’re Dreaming is an anthology of Bedtime Ballads and Tall Tales from the Australian Bush.

The 36 poems, stories and ballads were selected from submissions to a competition conducted earlier this year.

The clever prologue by David Perkins Forgetting How the Banjo Works is a fitting introduction to the stories and poems to follow. A tongue-in-cheek poetic tribute to the poetry of one of Australia’s most famous bush balladeers Banjo Paterson, it is fun, funny and perfectly captures the spirit of Australian ballads and the Australian ability to laugh at ourselves.


For teachers

Pete Springer They Call Me Mom

If you are looking for a book to gift a beginning teacher or colleague (or yourself), then you can’t go past They Call Me Mom, a memoir by retired teacher Pete Springer.

Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff. Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model.



Dorktales Storytime Podcast Art

Dorktales Storytime Podcast narrated by Jonathan Cormur

Dorktales Storytime Podcast is classic children’s fairy tales told with a geek-ish twist! Jonathan Cormur is the host (and storyteller) of the family-fun podcast that features geeky-retellings of fairy tale classics and true tales about the Hidden Heroes of History. Think Fractured Fairy Tales meets Big Bang Theory and the History Detectives!

In Dorktales Storytime Podcast, Jonathan is joined by his plucky puppet sidekick, Mr. Reginald T. Hedgehog (or “Mr. Redge,” if you prefer) to tell goofier versions of tales that have delighted kids for generations.

The shows are suitable for preschool and early elementary school ages and are an excellent way to keep kids engaged and learning while having loads of giggles and entertainment.


Other places to find reviews of children’s books

If you would like to read other reviews to help you in your quest for the perfect book, then you will find these blogs and websites of great support:

Dim’s Write Stuff

Kids Book Review

Just Write for Kids


Children’s Books Heal

Note: These are just five of my favourites. There are many other blogs and websites with wonderful reviews and suggestions of books for children.

A gift idea for teachers

gift subscription to early childhood teaching resources for the first three years of school

Remember also, that a readilearn subscription makes a great gift for a beginning or favourite teacher of children in their first three years of school. Email hello@readilearn.com.au for details.

readilearn teaching resources for the first three years of school

While you are here, check out the complete readilearn collection of

over 440 teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.


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    I enjoyed looking at your list, Norah, and I’m honored to be part of it. What I’m more grateful about is meeting a fellow educator who is equally passionate about literacy and making an investment in children. It’s never a waste of time to help others help children as our kids will someday be the ones carrying the torch. I look forward to reading Tell ‘Em They’re Dreaming very soon.

    It’s a pleasure to include you, Pete. I enjoyed reading your book and I know many teachers will benefit from the advice you offer in it.

    I know just what you mean, Debby. Too many books, not enough time. I’m usually too tired by bedtime to read these day. 🙁

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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