Classic works by Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Thomas Hardy; mindless chick lit that I devour by the sixes or sevens when I'm on holiday; biographies, cookery books, thrillers and Harry Potter. You name it, I love it. But I must admit I have a special place in my heart for children's books. I just can't help myself. The walls in my "shed" are lined with shelves just groaning with children's books - everything from "The Wind in the Willows" and "The Tale of Peter Rabbit", to the wonderfully touching "Goodnight Mr Tom" and "Carrie's War" (set in my part of the world).
My very favourites, though, are picture books. I can't pass a bookshop! They provide a wealth of material that I have been able to draw on to illuminate and breathe life into lessons across the whole curriculum. We all know how well Dr Seuss lends itself to phonics and rhyme, whilst also carrying some serious messages.
My favourites by far are the books of Anthony Browne. For those of you who aren't familiar with his work, his books are intriguing, many-layered and hugely entertaining. The secret of the success of these books is similar to that of the Harry Potter series, or films like Wallace and Gromit - they appeal equally to adults as well as children. For as well as the superficial story that is instantly accessible by children, there are other aspects that are only accessible by adults. They are easy reads, but carry weighty messages. The illustrations (also done beautifully by Anthony Browne) are rich in detail, intricate, deep and carry a wealth of information, but on another level, allow children with little grasp of the language to understand the story and empathise with characters. From "Voices in the Park" to "Into the Forest". From "Hansel and Gretel" to "Willy the Chimp", they are all wonderful. Personally I love "Gorilla" and "The Tunnel", which I have used widely in the classroom.
My purpose in telling you all of this is to draw your attention to two Anthony Browne books that I hope will be useful to you in the coming weeks - "My Dad" and "My Mum". Both flow in a sing-song way, and the illustrations turn up surprises at every turn of the page (the children love looking for the hidden surprises). The end is wonderful - "I love my mum and you know what? SHE LOVES ME! (And she always will)"
I could think of no better book to use for my Mother's Day theme than "My Mum" (and to be honest, I've been waiting for a really good opportunity to use it..). My "My Mum" literacy unit is packed full of differentiated reading and writing activities that are inspired by this wonderful book. It includes a word mat, word wall vocabulary, character descriptions, similes, acrostics, letter-writing, creative writing and instructional writing, as well as a selection of writing paper and a craftivity. You can find it in my TN store - clicking the thumbnail will take you there.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this post - do check out Anthony Browne and you'll understand exactly why I'm so enthused..
Have a great evening.