First week of February celebrations

  • Published on February 1, 2019

first week of February celebrations Read Aloud Day, Children's Mental Health Week, Chinese New Year

In the first week of February, celebrations include World Read Aloud Day, Children’s Mental Health Week and Chinese New Year.

Readilearn has lessons ready to assist you with each of these celebrations.

World Read Aloud Day

First up is World Read Aloud Day on 1 February—today! The day aims to encourage people everywhere to “read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people“.

Perhaps no one knows better than teachers of young children the importance of reading aloud. Children who come to school having been read to at home have the advantage of more extensive vocabularies and proficiency with language, greater general knowledge and interest in the world around them, and an interest in books and learning. These advantages contribute to success in school and life.

Making time for reading aloud in a busy class program is a priority for teachers of children in their first three years of school. Opportunities occur in every subject area, and it is not difficult to find ways of working a few extra stories into the program. Why not use World Read Aloud Day as an excuse to read a few more books than usual (as if an excuse is needed).

If you are unsure where to start selecting, visit the library and ask the librarian for suggestions, or take the class with you and ask them to each choose a book they’d like to hear.

Jennie Fitzkee - The Importance of Reading Aloud for International Read to Me Day

The guest post by teacher Jennie Fitzkee on the importance of reading aloud is also full of suggestions.

Five of my favourite picture books (of which there are hundreds so impossible to list) are:

  • Koala Lou by Mem Fox
  • Where’s My Teddy by Jez Alborough
  • The Very Blue Thingamajig by Narelle Oliver
  • Circle by Jeannie Baker
  • One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft

Of course, books perfect for reading aloud to young children, are not only picture books. Children love listening to longer stories and using their imaginations to visualise events. They love to experience the development of character and plot that occurs from chapter to chapter and eagerly await each session.

Five of my favourite chapter books (of which there are many so impossible to list) for reading aloud to young children are:

  • The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl
  • Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
  • Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

readilearn read aloud resources

Reading The Iron Man to spark imagination, inspire writing and motivate making nc

Responding to the Iron Man by Ted Hughes suggests reading aloud the introduction to The Iron Man and using it as a stimulus for discussion and writing.

Author Spotlight and Illustrator Spotlight: Any of the books highlighted through these author and illustrator interviews are on the readilearn recommended list, including the chapter books by Rebecca Johnson and Karen Tyrrell.

storytelling with Michael Rosen

While not strictly a read aloud, Storytelling with Michael Rosen’s Chocolate Cake is another great way of engaging children with language and story.

Another resource with great ideas is How to Celebrate World Read Aloud Day By Jacqui Murray at Ask a Tech Teacher:

Children’s Mental Health Week

Next up is Children’s Mental Health Week from 4 – 10 February. The purpose of the week is to encourage children to look after their bodies and their minds. A positive classroom environment that is both welcoming and supportive helps to ensure children stay happy with healthy mental attitudes. A positive classroom supports the development of self-esteem, self-confidence and the development of social skills including getting along with others.

A focus on developing social-emotional skills during mental health week provides opportunities for reading books and engaging children in activities that are conducive to positive attitudes.

readilearn resources promote mental health

Many of readilearn’s Character Development resources support the development of self-esteem, confidence and friendship skills: including:

Self-esteem and confidence

About me modelled writing

About me — Modelled writing

clever children a story about confidence to personalise

The Clever Children

Friendship skills

an alphabet of friendship words to use when teaching friendship skills in early childhood classroom

Busy Bees ABC of friendship

friendship superpower posters is a series of posters to support the development of friendship skills in an early childhood classroom

Friendship superpower posters

extend hand friendship

Extend the hand of friendship

Books to support your teaching around mental health

readilearn guest post by Kathy Hoopmann author

The post by Kathy Hoopmann Teaching children with ASD — ideas for the classroom presents ideas and resources to help teachers when working with children with ASD or other issues.

readilearn interview with Karen Tyrrell author of Rainforest Rescue

The Song Bird Superhero series by Karen Tyrrell is also useful for discussing empowerment, self-confidence and being true to yourself.

Other books with themes relevant to mental health were also featured in the readilearn Author and Illustrator Spotlight series; including:

readilearn Interview with Dimity Powell author of At the End of Holyrood Lane

At the End of Holyrood Lane by Dimity Powell

readilearn interview with Jacqui Halpin author of Parmesan the Reluctant Racehorse

Parmesan the Reluctant Racehorse by Jacqui Halpin

The Forever Kid interview with Elizabeth Mary Cummings

The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Cummings

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year celebrations begin on 5 February, marking the first day of the Chinese calendar. The day is celebrated in China and many Chinese communities around the world. This year 2019 is the year of the Pig.

readilearn resources for celebrating Chinese New Year

Be sure to check out the free resources for celebrating Chinese New year in the readilearn collection; including:

Chinese New Year celebrations

Let’s read about Chinese New Year

celebrating Chinese New Year in the early childhood classroom

Celebrating Chinese New Year in the early childhood classroom

Happy Chinese New Year bookmarks

Happy Chinese New Year bookmarks

readilearn Interview with Sofia Goodsoul author of Nian the Lunar Dragon

And the interview with Sofia Goodsoul about her picture book Nian the Lunar Dragon.

This year, the year of the pig is said to be a year of joy and friendship for everyone. Let’s make it so in our classrooms and beyond.

readilearn: 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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    Excellent post, Norah! Have always ‘celebrated’ the Lunar/Chinese New Year with my kids (we learn about as many cultures as we can). I wasn’t aware of the Children’s Mental Health Week which is SO important. Thank you for sharing this! Will spread the news. Though I’m a bit late for the actual week, it’s never too late to address those needs in children. (Or anyone of any age, for that matter.) 🙂 <3

    Thanks for popping in to read and comment, Sarah. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. Thank you for sharing. You’re right – it is always the right time to address the mental health needs of children, and anyone.

    Yep, readalouds, and songs, and just any storytelling. One of my best validations as a teacher was when I was at a high school graduation and the valedictorian told a story about the storytelling he and his friends had enjoyed in third grade. Stories stick. They are a learning tool as well as being generally enriching and providing a scaffold for further literacy. I thought of you throughout my day yesterday. Hope you enjoyed Readaloud Day too. Do you know Mem Fox’s The Straight Line Wonder? It’s disguised as a math book, but it’s really about…

    I love that the valedictorian talked about the impact of storytelling in year three. You rock Mrs Avery! Stories are fantastic on so many levels. Neil Gaiman says they are part of the human condition. They are what makes us us. I love books that tell things in disguise (but not in a preacherly fashion) and can’t believe there’s a Mem Fox book I didn’t know about. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

    Happy Read Aloud Day, Norah! I agree that literary art belongs to everyone. Not sure what I think of the Year of the Pig…but I really like your book marks with Chinese characters. You’ve assembled a fine collection of your materials and author interviews.

    Hi Charli. I agree – literary art does belong to everyone, from youngest to oldest. One is never too young or too old for read alouds. The year of the pig could be a good one. It’s the last of the twelve years in the Chinese Zodiac. While the pig is often thought to be lazy, not smart and to like eating, it is also considered to be well-behaved, causing no harm to others, and often brings wealth to people. (Maybe that’s why we have piggy banks?) So it could be a good year if no harm to others is done and it brings us all a little wealth. 🙂

    I didn’t know there was a world read aloud day, Norah. What a good idea. My experience of schools in underprivileged areas in South Africa is that the teachers don’t read to the children at all. It is not due to a lack of books but a lack of understanding of English. They teach the children using songs.

    Songs are also a great way of learning, Robbie. Songs add fun to the school day are useful for learning patterns of language too. It would be good if the teachers could add some stories into the mix as well. Perhaps they could read some SA publications – like your books. 🙂 I think it’s wonderful to have a special day for reading aloud, but I also think every day is great for reading aloud.

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

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