An Expedition on Your Bookshelf (and giveaway)

by Deb on July 18, 2010

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Welcome to the July Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.

The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by Science@home is for anyone, because we are all teachers and learners all the time. This month our theme is “English”, including Speaking, Listening, Reading and Viewing. I think our bloggers have covered all of these and there are lots of resources and game ideas, plus a giveaway. Please read through to the end to find links to the other participating blogs.


I love children’s books.  I’m a sucker for Dr Seuss, Mem Fox, Pamela Allen and all the rest.  When we go to the library I choose more than my children do because I love the rhymes, the stories, the actions, but mostly the artwork.  There are so many gorgeous books with beautiful illustrations and different styles.  I love the imagination in kids’ books, the ability to make the fantastic normal and talk with dragons and moon-men and robots.  But the flip side is that the one thing I sometimes find lacking in kids’ books is reality.

This may just be me, the types of books I buy or borrow.  There may be a whole genre of books out there I’m missing.  But I find even non-fiction books rarely have photographs – they still have drawings.  Baby books have simplified cars and boats made of circles and triangles.  ‘Find Things on the Farm’ has careful illustrations with 3 nests and 10 eggs.  So whenever I find a book with beautiful clear photos I grab it, because there’s a lot to be said for reality.  It may not have the perspective or control of a painting, it may be complicated and messy and even confusing, but there is a beauty and dimension in nature different to what we produce.

And what an opportunity to learn!  ‘Red’ is not just a bright primary colour, it has all sorts of shades and variations.  ‘Fish’ is not an oval shape with a triangle on the end, it can be long and lean or round and flat with bright colours and patterns.  ‘Apple’ does not sit squarely and perfectly on a blank page, it hangs from a tree or thumps to the ground and is eaten by insects and furtive mice.  Books are our children’s ticket to the places we cannot take them, and a child who has loved books is a city child who has visited a farm, a country kid who has ridden on a bus, an adventurer who has explored jungles and deserts and frozen wastes.  And real photos are important to lend authenticity to the experience.

So with that in mind I have my first giveaway, actually two.  I have some beautiful books to share with two families to help them find a bit of reality on their bookshelves.  The first set is two baby books by the talented wildlife photographer Steve Parish, using photos of Australian animals.  The second is for older children and is about insect camouflage, they should have lots of fun trying to find the insects or spot the differences!  Entry is open internationally, you just need to be subscribed to Science@home somehow, either through email, RSS or Facebook I’m not fussy.

  • Click on the Facebook Like button up the top of this post.
  • Let me know you have entered in the comments here and which book you prefer. Super important – I currently have more entries than names and there’s no way I can track the others!!!

Winners will be chosen at random and posted on Sunday 25th July, first person drawn will get their first preference and second person will get the other prize.  Winners will be notified by email, so make sure you use a real one 🙂


Visit Science@home to find out more about the Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival. Teach/Learn

Please take the time to visit the other participants and check out their posts on “English.”

  • Monique at Your Cheeky Monkey has written about why her family thinks storytelling is so important, some storytelling ideas, and a few of their favorite books.
  • Julie at Works For Me Homemaking is encouraging sound play with preschoolers and not just for fun. It is an important tool to develop sound awareness skills and enhance early literacy development.
  • Staci from Teaching Money to Kids reminds us that sometimes language and interaction need to be explicitly taught and practiced, and has some ways to teach the language of sharing.
  • Leechbabe from Stuff with Thing asks what happens when your child interprets everything said to them in a very literal way? How do you aid their understanding of the funny things people say?
  • Squiggle Mum was reminded recently that you don’t have to be a literacy specialist to know how to read aloud to a young child.  After all, it ain’t rocket science…
  • Lisa at SMMART Ideas has a LETTER MATCHING activity to help you practice spelling words, or even foreign language vocabulary.
  • Deb from Science@home has a giveaway to help you go on an expedition on your bookshelf.
  • Colin Wee at Super Parents is teaching his kids to argue by learning how to create a reasoned argument for English creative writing and the OREO Acronym.
  • Zoe at Playing By the Book has gone fishing for words in illustrated dictionaries to support her early reader.
  • The Planning Queen from Planning With Kids had her own bookclub when she and her son read the same book.  It was a great experience to have a book discussion with her son where she hadn’t been reading the story “to him”.
  • Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori agrees with Maria Montessori that young children have a natural love of learning. Thanks to matching Montessori sandpaper letters with small objects, her son decided as a toddler that learning to read was just a fun game.
  • Amanda at HomeAge posts that we all know The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but Eric Carle has so much more to offer to young readers, particularly those interested in the natural world. With bright, beautiful artworks and simple, repetitive stories these books are a wonderful way to entice the young “reader”.
  • Miss Carly from Early Childhood Resources has steps and advice in creating a literacy rich environment for children of all ages.
  • Christie at Childhood 101 points out that  the process of sharing stories through oral storytelling is an age old tradition amongst families, but does it have a place in our busy modern day family life?
  • Sarah at Bringing up Baby Bilingual describes her public library’s Writing Buddies program where high school student volunteers lead groups of at-risk fourth and fifth graders through a series of outer-space-themed writing activities.  Writing prompts and resources included in the post!
  • CatWay at Adventures With Kids asks What is phonics all about?  Is this something I should know more about to help my child learn to read and write?
  • Narelle from A Bunch of Keys has some simple suggestions for making your own literacy resources for children at home.  Includes ideas for books with simple rhymes, books with puppets, books about family trips and making felt boards.

Thanks for visiting our carnival, we hope you enjoy some of these posts and have found some interesting blogs.

<!–Beginning of top code–>
<strong>Welcome to the July Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.</strong><BR>
<em>The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by <a href=””>Science@home</a> is for anyone, because we are all teachers and

learners all the time.  This month our theme is <strong>”English”</strong>,

including Speaking, Listening, Reading and Viewing.  I think our bloggers have

covered all of these and there are lots of resources and game ideas, plus a

giveaway.  Please read through to the end to find links to the other

participating blogs.</em><BR>
<p style=”text-align: center;”>***</p>
<!–End top code–!>

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

PlanningQueen July 18, 2010 at 10:54 pm

What a super carnival this month! We read a lot of non fiction at our house. I think there is such value in mixing it up so kids get to understand that you can read about all sorts of things. I love the Steve Parish books. We regularly buy them for presents for birthdays.

Thanks for all the work you put into getting the carnival going Deb!


Deb July 19, 2010 at 9:10 pm

You’re welcome! It is a great carnival this month, I’m finding a new idea to try at every blog.


Zoe @ Playing by the book July 19, 2010 at 3:43 am

Hi Deb,

I so much wanted to be part of this month’s carnival but couldn’t make the deadline… aargh! Anyway, here’s my post that I would have submitted:

I’m really looking forward to reading all the submissions that did make it in time once the children are in bed!
Zoe @ Playing by the book´s latest amazing offering ..Fishing for wordsMy Profile


Staci @ teaching money to kids July 19, 2010 at 5:12 am

I agree with the real pictures idea. And to add to the complaint, there may be good books with picures, but rarely do they have a storyline. They tend to be dictionary style or informational. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they could combine the two.
And we are totally into bugs around here. So we would definitely pick that one if we won.


Deb July 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Yes! I was actually trying to find a fiction book that had photos and couldn’t. It’s obviously much harder to get nature to do what you want than draw it yourself. I remember a book when I was a kid with a little mouse driving toy cars and climbing on blocks but I haven’t seen anything like it now.


Monique July 19, 2010 at 5:20 am

Lovely post thank you!! I agree about the reality thing too – my boys love nature books as much as they love picture storybooks. I would love to enter your giveaway too – I subscribe by email and I just clicked the like button on the post… “Can you Find Me” looks a wonderful book for our household! Thank you 🙂 And ditto for planning queen – thank you so much for all your work for this carnival!
Monique´s latest amazing offering ..The Value of StorytellingMy Profile


Deb Chitwood July 19, 2010 at 10:07 am

From another children’s book lover – great post! My children always responded to photographs in books when they were little. As much as they loved books in general, the books with photographs were often their favorites, especially when they were infants and toddlers.
Deb Chitwood´s latest amazing offering ..Outstanding Blogger AwardMy Profile


Deb July 21, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Photos always win. We’ve found a lot of designed ‘baby books’ lose out, unless they have something cool like flaps to lift.


Petra Mayer July 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

Hi, the books are such a wonderful idea! My children have always responded to books with photos, but I agree with Staci in that they are mostly informative/dictionary type. I’d love to enter the competition and the children would just love the “Find Me” book to add to their growing library. Thanks. 🙂


amandab July 19, 2010 at 11:39 am

I think most of the board books we had for Princess as a baby were all photo books rather than drawn books, but I would say that these are the exception in our collection.

That said, I, like a couple of my sisters, am a scrapbooker, so we have a couple of photo albums created just for Princess with text, and there are nights when these are the books she wants to read in bed. I should, and always intended to make more of these. About time I got started. Personalizing animal stories with photos from trips to the zoo make them a little bit more special, I think. 🙂
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Deb July 21, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I have so many photos I designed for books but never got around to. Lucky for modern computers, we often sit together and click through the photos on the screen.


Marnee July 19, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Love the post and totally agree! In saying that some of our favourites are Steve Parish as well as the Priddy book first 100 series…they are gorgeous and I also love the real photographs.
Being a Steve Parish fan that would be my choice but either would be great 🙂 thanks for the chance


Sarah @ Baby Bilingual July 19, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I love the easy reader nonfiction books published by DK Readers–their illustrations are all photographs, whether they’re books about microbiology or Star Wars characters. The kids I work with at the library respond well to them, probably because they don’t feel as if the books are talking down to them, the way so many other nonfiction easy readers do.

Thanks for hosting this carnival (and for including me!)–it’s wonderful to read all these other writers’ ideas for promoting literacy.


Deb July 21, 2010 at 10:09 pm

I love DK books! With so many teachers in the extended family, we have lots 😀


Catherine July 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I would like it if non-fiction books had better pictures – sometimes children’s craft books have such nice pictures it would be great if some other kids non-fiction were the same. I think especially books for the youngest children.
Catherine´s latest amazing offering ..phonics- parents and learning to readMy Profile


Deb July 21, 2010 at 10:14 pm

So many books seem to have a photo plonked in the middle of a blank page. When I was writing this post I looked through our bookshelf and could only find a couple that had realistic photos that showed scenes. And yet there are so many photos easily searchable now, sure you have to pay for them but it can’t be that much harder than having an illustrator!


Julie July 19, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Love those Steve Parish books. We have the “parents and babies” one. Such gorgeous photos. You are right – there should be more photo-based books, particularly for older children.


Marita July 19, 2010 at 8:33 pm

We have a huge collection of Steve Parish books, I purchased the board books for Heidi when she was little, I think it was the ‘touch and feel’ books with the photos that first got her really into books. Then my sister in law shocked me by carting a bunch of Steve Parish books off to get rid of and I happily snapped them all off her. My girls just love seeing the real animals and wildlife.
Marita´s latest amazing offering ..School Snack Sunday – Jelly SliceMy Profile


Cassie thompson July 19, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Love your blog.
Massive reader here too. We have been eyeing them off. Particularly love that the pictures are real photos rather than drawings.
Cassie thompson´s latest amazing offering ..Personal Calling cardsMy Profile


Meghan July 20, 2010 at 9:50 am

Great blog. I love seeing my daughters have the love of reading that I do.
I have subscribed to your blog and love the can you find me? book.


SMMARTideas July 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm

You are so great to include me and host this blog carnival. It’s fun to read everyone’s ideas. “Can you Find ME?” for sure!


SenseiMattKlein July 20, 2010 at 8:58 pm

This post got me to thinking. I am so glad I discovered books at a young age. It made education a lot easier, knowing how to read and write. I see so many young people now that don’t know how to write–they only know how to text. I would much rather read than watch TV.
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Miss Carly July 22, 2010 at 11:07 am

I am a huge fan of ensuring that there is some reality in the books that I read. I manage to find some extremely well illustrated yet real books. My current favourite is ‘The Magic Rabbit’. Gorgeous. And I may have a little too much fun reading..

I liked and I am happy for any book! 🙂
Miss Carly´s latest amazing offering ..Why We Home EducateMy Profile


Colleen - Sunrise Learning Lab July 22, 2010 at 9:44 pm

All three of the books look great! Steve Parish’s books are neat…
We are lucky to have two of his books, as Grandad and Grandmom brought them back for from their trip to Australia.
Can You Find Me? by Paul Zborowski looks awesome though, as now, Big Bro is 6 and Little Bro is 4 so they would probably love this book! Great giveaway!
We love reading nonfiction here. The boys just love learning about all kinds of animals, so we tend to get lots of nonfiction books about animals.
We also have a series of books called I Wonder Why.
these books are great, as they answer questions for children about all kinds of topics, such as: I Wonder Why the Wind Blows, I Wonder Why Kangaroos Have Pouches, etc.
I found them at a nice consignment store for children…what a find!
Looking forward to next month’s carnival…hope to participate.
🙂 Colleen
Colleen – Sunrise Learning Lab´s latest amazing offering ..Scavenger HuntWanna PlayMy Profile


Christie - Childhood 101 July 22, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I love the illustrations in books too and always hit up the non fiction kids section to find some variation. I do feel that slowly more books are being published with great photos in them as well, which is such a good thing. We really enjoy the Steve Parish books but don’t have either of the titles you are giving away. Fingers crossed 🙂
Christie – Childhood 101´s latest amazing offering ..The ABC of Child Care- Z is for My Profile


Chris (@tessasdad) July 25, 2010 at 12:35 pm

This is my first visit here – very cool blog carnival!

I “liked” your post at the top and would love to win the 2 baby books. 🙂
Chris (@tessasdad)´s latest amazing offering ..Fatherhood Friday- My week in reviewMy Profile


Lora1967 July 25, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I like you on facebook. Any book appropriate for a 3 year old. He loves books.


Julie T July 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I’ve entered 🙂
That camouflage book looks great for my 3.5yr old. She would love it!


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