By DAPHNE LEE
From Tots to Teens, StarMag
WHAT should I read to my kids?" is a question commonly asked by parents and teachers. There are lots of lovely books to choose from, and only you will know your children well enough to choose books that suit their tastes and interests. However, here is a list of storytelling staples. All are well-received when I tell stories at home and in public. You can use them to start your collection of books to read aloud.
I WILL NOT EVER NEVER EAT A TOMATO
Written & illustrated by Lauren Child
Publisher: Orchard Books, 32 pages
THIS is a very funny book about a little boy who "tricks" his fussy-eater sister into eating the very foods she claims to detest. Most children will be able to identify with Lola's aversion to various food items and the storyteller can even use this book to launch a discussion on food and nutrition.
Follow-up Activities: 1. Use Charlie's alternate names for food to encourage your listeners to exercise their own creativity and come up with new names for foods they like and dislike.
2. Create a restaurant menu using these "new" foods.
3. Extend the use of new names to other things and activities. For example, an alternative name for a bed could be "the dream machine" and "singing" could be called "playing throat notes"!
WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT
By Michael Rosen
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Publisher: Walker Books, 40 pages
WE'RE going on a bear hunt, we're going to catch a big one! What a beautiful day! We're not scared!" This opening chant repeats throughout the book making it ideal for an interactive storytelling session. Later on, there's also the repeated "We can't go over it, we can't go under it, we've got to go through it" as the characters come across various obstacles like "long wavy grass" and "a cold snowstorm".
Discard the book and "act" out the story with your listeners!
Follow-up Activities: 1/ What other obstacles might bear-hunters come across? What sorts of sounds would they make when you "go through" them?
2. Think up some new creatures to hunt, and act out how they might react to being hunted and found!
WHY MOSQUITOES BUZZ IN PEOPLE'S EARS
By Verna Aardema
Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dilllon
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 32 pages
THIS West African folktale unfolds at a leisurely pace, and packs in a wealth of detail, in its text and pictures, about the animals it describes. A mosquito so irritates an iguana with her silly story that he blocks her out by stuffing two sticks in his ears. When python calls out to his friend, iguana doesn't respond as he can't hear. This sets off a chain of events that leads to the owl not waking up the sun and leaving the world in darkness.
Follow-up Activities: 1. Aardema's use of onomatopaiea is inventive and it's great fun to make the sounds of the iguana "mek mek"; the snake, going "wasuwusu" through the grass; or the rabbit scurrying off "krik, krik, krik".
2. If you're working with a group, give each child an animal identity and get him to draw his animal or act it out.
3. Older kids can come up with their own stories to explain things. For example, "Why is thunder so loud?" or "Why can you hear the sea in a sea shell?"
By Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Publisher; Macmillan, 32 pages
JULIA Donaldson is a genius at rhymes that just trip off your tongue, and The Gruffalo is very popular with children and adults alike for this very reason, plus the fact that the story is funny and clever, the mouse is a very likeable character, and the gruffalo is fearsome yet charismatic.
Follow-up Activities: 1. When working in a group, get each child to come up with one "fearful" feature - for example "blood-red eyes", "jagged fangs", "fiery breath" - then piece them all together to create their own monster which they can draw.
2. Owl ice cream? Scrambled snake? Have the children come up with other kinds of food made from animals, like sloth lollipops or mousedeer meringue!
3. There is a CD comprising The Gruffalo song as well as other songs based on Donaldson's books and rhymes. It's great for sing-alongs.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
Written & illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Publisher: HarperCollins, 48 pages
CHILDREN love monsters and Maurice Sendak's monsters are very special indeed. They embody the wildness that is part of every child, and Max's anger validates the negative feelings that children feel sometimes. It's important that children know it's okay to be cross, and it's okay to want to be alone, and quite normal to feel belligerent and bossy. Max's need to be where he is loved the most shows that independence and dependence can co-exist, and finding the bowl of hot porridge when he returns reinforce the idea that children are loved despite their naughtiness.
Follow-up Activities: 1. Have your "wild rumpus" - great fun and excellent for blowing off steam!
2. Children can pick their favourite wild thing and/or draw their own monsters
3. Discuss where your listeners imagine "running away" to when they're angry or upset.