Back To School Books (review)

For Australian families, the first week or two of school are done and dusted for another year. You’ve sent them off in their big floppy hats and itchy socks to meet friends and learn the mysterious ways of their new teacher. Hopefully they’re starting to settle in!  At Charming HQ, I like to give my kids a reward on Fridays for the first few weeks of term.  It’s exhausting being ‘brave’ (and that’s just me!).  Here are two gorgeous books I’ve come across this week, just perfect for first week rewards or for encouragement as the year goes on.  Check them out!

For little readers, 3-6yrs

What’s In My Lunchbox by Peter Carnavas and Kat Chadwick
New Frontier Publishing RRP: $24.99

kids books, back to schoolRegular readers will know I’m a huge fan of Peter Carnavas. He seems to get it right every time, with deceptively simple stories that tap straight into the junior imagination. In What’s In My Lunchbox? a little boy finds weird and wonderful things waiting for him each time he flips the lid open for snack time.  His first find is an apple – yuck! He doesn’t like apples! He also doesn’t like the fish, or eggs… or bears, or dinosaurs that turn up in his lunchbox!  Finally, when the worst thing he can imagine appears in his lunchbox – his sister! – he realises apples might not be so bad.

My Mr 3 finds this book completely hilarious, having hit the stage where absurdity and illogical combinations of things really tickle his funny bone. But while this one can be read purely as a silly story about crazy creatures, it also speaks to the new schoolie’s trepidation about eating independently and all the other curious things kids face in a new environment. The repetitive language and big clear fonts also makes it handy for early reading development.

For the next stage, 6-12 years

If by David J. Smith and Steve Adams
New Frontier Publishing RRP: $29.99

kids picture books, kids scienceThis is a really original title, combining all the visual elegance of a great picture book with science, history and social analysis appropriate for a wide range of readers. Subtitled ‘A mind-bending new way of looking at big ideas and numbers’, it would make a great transition book for younger readers with advanced abilities. Quite frankly though, I learned a lot myself! In short, the book offers colourful, visual scales that help make sense of complex issues.

For example, if the planets in our solar system were shrunk to the size of balls: Mercury would be a ping pong ball, Venus a tennis ball, Earth a baseball, Mars a golf ball, Jupiter an exercise ball and Saturn a beach ball.  Can you now picture exactly how big Jupiter is compared to Mercury? Is it me, or is that really quite a fascinating mental image?

Or another one, if all the water on the planet was represented by 100 drinks of water on a tray: 97 of the glasses would be filled with salt water, 3 of the glasses would contain fresh water but only 1 of the glasses would equate to the fresh water available to us to drink and wash. My Miss 8 found this one staggering. ‘So that’s why we don’t waste water!!’ she said. Bingo.

David J Smith, a teacher based in Canada, believes that ‘understanding scale helps us realise that we are all a small part of a much bigger society, world and universe’. This book can be read on a few levels as the evocative images sit amongst text boxes and highlighted facts and figures, so capable readers can inspect it all, whilst younger readers can simply enjoy the pictures.

Has your school year started with smiles or tears? Do you have any treats or rituals planned for the start of term? Did you have any idea just how big Jupiter is??

2 comments for “Back To School Books (review)

  1. February 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    What’s in my lunchbox looks great! I think my boys would love it. Me? I need to get my hands and on If!!! I want to go and visit Jupiter 🙂

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