readilearn: Wrapping up a year of books – the gift of reading

  • Published on December 1, 2017

parents reading to children, reading is a gift, the importance of reading

The love of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.

Reading is empowering, and a book is a gift that continues to give, long after the occasion has past. It’s effects cannot always be measured.

reading, life-long learning, gift of reading, early childhood education

To help you decide which books to give to whom for Christmas, I thought I’d make your task a little easier by reminding you of the lovely books I shared throughout the year in interviews with their authors and illustrators.

Below you will find a list the books and their authors and illustrators. I also include links to

  • the interview on the blog
  • the interview in the Author or Illustrator Spotlight
  • the creative’s website
  • a place where the book may be purchased.

Many of these authors and illustrators have more than one book, some for readers in other age groups, including adult, so please check out their websites for additional information.

At the conclusion of the post, I list other books read and enjoyed. Sadly, there’s just not enough time for all the interviews I’d love to do.

Of course, the list is not exhaustive. These are just a few suggestions to get you started. Enjoy!

Magic Fish Dreaming poetry for children picture book Helene Magisson June Perkins

Magic Fish Dreaming – a wonderful collection of poems written by June Perkins and illustrated by Helene Magisson. The poems encourage children to wonder and appreciate the world around them.

I had the pleasure of interviewing both June and Helene.

June’s Interview –  SpotlightWebsiteBook

Helene’s interview –  SpotlightWebsiteBook

(Don’t forget Helene’s beautiful version of The Night Before Christmas at this time of the year.)

creative play playing with boxes imagination Chrissy Byers Magic in Boxes

The Magic in Boxes is written and illustrated by Chrissy Byers to inspire children to use their imaginations and play creatively using household junk.

Chrissy’s books are extra special with their use of recycled paper and card in both the hard and soft cover versions of the book.

(Since the interview, Chrissy has a new book out The Magic in Dress-ups.)

Interview –  SpotlightWebsiteBook

maker spaces found objects picture books Cynthia Mackey Katie Schaeffer Pancake Maker

Katie Schaeffer Pancake Maker written by Cynthia Mackey and illustrated by Paula Nasmith is a book about making things from loose parts and found objects. Katie makes a pancake maker that does such a great job she has more than enough pancakes to share with the whole neighbourhood.

Cyntiha’s Interview –  SpotlightWebsiteBook

indigenous picture books Australian stories Gregg Dreise Kookoo Kookaburra

Kookoo Kookaburra written and illustrated by Gregg Dreise is a story about kindness. It demonstrates that if you want to be treated kindly, you need to treat others kindly too.

Interview –  SpotlightWebsiteBook

Muza Ulasowski Illustrator Forest Wonder picture book Australian animals Caroline Tuohey

Caroline Tuohey’s lovely rhyming story Forest Wonder is beautifully illustrated by Muza Ulasowski. The story, about Australian animals enjoying a moon-lit party in the forest, is a celebration of nature, magic and imagination.

Muza’s interview –  SpotlightWebsite – Book (available from Caroline’s website)

Stripes in the Forest written by Aleesah Darlison and illustrated by Shane McGrath, tells a story of the last wild thylacine. Through the story, Aleesah encourages children to think about the plight of endangered animals and consider what they can do to protect them.

Interview –  SpotlightWebsiteBook

Brenda and Susan

The fractured fairy tale Cinderstella, co-written by Brenda Miles and Susan Sweet, is beautifully illustrated by Valeria Docampo. The story challenges stereotypes with its story of Cinderstella who wants more to her life than parties and princes. She wants to be an astronaut and travel in space. The story encourages children to take an interest in STEM topics and follow their dreams.

Interview –  SpotlightBook

picture book Birds of Paradise friendship helping others Birds of Paradise Pamela Wight

Birds of Paradise written by Pamela Wight and illustrated by Shelley Steinle is about two special sparrows Bert and Bessie who realise, that although they are different, they can be friends and even help each other overcome their fears.

Interview –  SpotlightWebsiteBook

Kim Michelle Toft The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas marine ecology marine conservation

The underwater Twelve Days of Christmas written and illustrated by Kim Michelle Toft is an innovation on the original carol. Kim’s beautiful illustrations, painted on silk, take us into an underwater world to marvel at marine life and encourage us to protect the ocean and its inhabitants.

At the back of the book, as with all her books, Kim includes additional information about the creatures and the environment. The book is a wonderful combination of story, art and information.

Interview –  SpotlightWebsiteBook

Junior fiction

While I mostly interview authors or illustrators of picture books, I know some six and seven years olds will be ready to move into chapter books. For this reason I occasionally interview an author of junior fiction.

Rebecca Johnson - Rainforest Camp

Rainforest Camp is book 12 in the Juliet Nearly a Vet series by Rebecca Johnson. The series, for young readers, is about ten-year-old Juliet who, having watched her mother who is a vet, thinks she is nearly a vet. In Rainforest Camp, Juliet uses her knowledge and resourcefulness to “save the day” in a variety of situations.

Interview –  SpotlightWebsiteBook

(Note: Rebecca has Nearly a Vet kits available for sale to Australian customers.)

junior fiction empowering stories resilience STEM bullying

Song Bird Superhero and The Battle of Bug World are the first two books in Karen’s Tyrrell’s Song Bird series. The books have strong messages about empowering children and being resilient.  Along with her others, these books share positive messages of self-belief, resilience, team building, problem solving and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics); each with a good dose of humour included.

Interview #1Interview #2 –  SpotlightWebsiteBook

Guest Post

I also had the pleasure of writing a guest post about these amazing authors and illustrators for Christy Birmingham‘s lovely blog When Women Inspire. Check it out here.

#10 additional suggestions – new publications this year

There are so many wonderful new books to read. These are but a few. If you have other suggestions, please add them in the comments.

I Want to Be in a Book – written and illustrated by Narelle Oliver

Coral Sea Dreaming – written and illustrated by Kim Michelle Toft

The Lion in our Living Room – written by Emma Middleton, illustrated by Briony Stewart

The Fix-It Man – written by Dimity Powell, illustrated by Nicky Johnston

Parmesan the Reluctant Racehorse – written by Jacqui Halpin, illustrated by John Phillips

Turtle Love – written by Renee Hills, illustrated by Anna Jacobson

Getting Home – written by J. R. Poulter, illustrated by Muza Ulasowski

Engilina’s Trains – written by Andrew King, illustrated by Benjamin Johnston

Fox and Moonbeam – written by Aleesah Darlison, illustrated by Narelda Joy

I’m Australian Too – written by Mem Fox, illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh

With #2 left over from last year

They All Saw a Cat – written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel,

Ada Lovelace Poet of Science – written by Diane Stanley, illustrated by Jessie Hartland

I hope you find something here for a young one in your life. Remember the power of books to change lives: the gift of a book may be the catalyst to spark a life-long interest.

Look for interviews with some of these authors and illustrators next year! (Or suggest someone you’d like to see interviewed.)

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    I’m pleased you enjoyed the post, Christy. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    What a lovely post, Norah. Must have taken a bit of time! A wonderful compilation of books, artists, and authors (in case we missed any) and fabulous list for the holidays. Love this round-up! ????

    Thanks, Sarah. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. It all takes me a bit of time, but it’s of my choosing, and I enjoy it. It was a great opportunity to reflect on the year’s interviews. It’s a privilege to interview so many talented people and share their work with others.

    Wonderful post of recommendations through recap Norah. I’ve bookmarked so next time I buy my little niece a book I’ll check your great recommends. 🙂

    There are so many wonderful books to read, Debby. Isn’t it wonderful that children are spoiled for choice. So many more now than when either of us were children; but we still developed a love of reading. 🙂

    Wow! That is amazing, Debby. My parents were very keen readers and we usually received books for Christmas and birthdays, a tradition I maintain. We didn’t receive many others as there were many mouths to feed and not much money, but we did all borrow from the local library, and I borrowed from the school library, too. Once I started earning my own money, I preferred to buy rather than borrow, and although I own more books than I could ever read (including ebooks) I can’t help myself. 🙂
    What switched you onto reading? I’m so thankful you did become a reader and a writer. Imagine the world without your words. On second thoughts – don’t! 🙂

    Lol Norah! But you were blessed to have such access to reading and writing. I moved away from home as a teen and got my own act together. I was a precocious student, very aware and a quick learner with a thirst for knowledge. I began buying books on enlightenment, self-help and the like in my teens, which helped me come out of my shell, and my writing started at a very young age to express myself. I always knew I had to write. Strange as it may sound, I believe I was sent to this life for a reason and it’s proved itself many times over in my family life alone. And so I write. <3

    What a lovely story, Debby. Thank you for sharing. It must have been difficult to leave home, no matter how difficult the home, at a young age. You obviously had a determined spirit and knew there was more to life than what you were experiencing. How wonderful that you turned to the positive messages of self-help and enlightenment books rather than options that others choose with more disastrous consequences. How great for us readers that you have found your calling in writing.

    Your blog is a delight in all respects Norah! Bright and pleasing on the eye and the content is terrific! Happy first day of December. And have a great weekend. 🙂

    What an amazing comment, Susan. Thank you. You’ve made my day. ???? Happy first of December to you too. Have a wonderful month! Best wishes. ❤️

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

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