by Allison Tait | May 23, 2022 | Writing
You might remember I recently interviewed Andrew Daddo about Creativity and Change for Words and Nerds podcast.
Perhaps I’m subconsciously creating an ad hoc series, as I was lucky enough to takeover another episode to chat to the very funny Kerri Sackville about Creativity and Parenting (which we could probably sub-title Creativity and Chaos).
We talk a lot about writing in the midst of chaos, squeezing the words in even as family life roils around us.
You can hear it here.
I documented a lot of the early days of my career as a children’s author right here on this blog, when I was juggling fulltime freelance writing with family and stealing away to write my books.
I think my experience is summed up in this post.
From little kids, big kids grow
Things have changed for me as my kids have grown and my fiction writing has been able to move more into the centre of my working days. One thing that doesn’t change, however, is how much space children take up in your brain.
When they’re little, you spend a lot of time worrying about the eating, sleeping, breathing, whinging end of things. They’re constantly underfoot, demanding attention.
Then they get bigger.
Now they’re not underfoot all the time but that space in the brain that worries about eating and sleeping and breathing, well, it doesn’t switch off. And because they’re more absent there’s a whole lot more ‘what if?’ taking up residence.
And still I write.
One might think that having larger swathes of time would mean hours and hours spent at my computer, but, in truth, my days are not that different.
I still have a million non-writing-related things to do.
I still write fiction, on average, for about an hour a day. It seems to be my natural limit, or perhaps it’s simply been honed into a habit from years and years of fitting my writing in around other people’s lives.
One thing I know about creativity and parenting
The one thing I know for sure is that I’m glad I started when I did. When it was really tough to make it work and it seemed impossible.
If you’ve got little kids and a big dream to write a novel, I see you.
If you’ve only got time to write a paragraph a day, I see you.
If you’ve got one eye on soccer practice, and your mind is far way in a completely different world, I see you.
If it feels like you will never get to The End, I see you.
You can do it.
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.
For full details about Write With Allison Tait, my new online writing community offering Inspiration, Motivation, Information and Connection, go here.
by Allison Tait | Mar 19, 2021 | Reading, Writing, Writing for kids, writing tips for kids, Your Kid's Next Read
“My child hates writing – what can I do?”
“How do I get my kid to love writing?”
Getting kids to write – and to love writing – can be a battle for parents. We know this because these questions (and many more just like them) are posed to authors over and over again.
So much so, that Lucinda Gifford, Australian author and illustrator of picture books and junior fiction books, including the recently published (and very charming) novel The Wolves Of Greycoat Hall has created this post about her experiences in encouraging a love of writing in her own children.
Including the mistakes she’s made – and how she fixed them.
Take it away Lucinda!
Author Lucinda Gifford on encouraging kids to love writing
It’s a joyful moment when you see your child put pen to paper of their own accord. They’re being creative; they’re building worlds; they’re going to soar academically!
So what can you do to inspire and encourage your budding author, without overwhelming them? It’s a tricky balance, especially if you love books and writing yourself.
Here are some of the mistakes I’ve made (and I know I’m not the only one) – and what I’ve learned through them.
5 mistakes I made with my kids and writing – and how I made up for them
Mistake 1 – Correcting small errors
“I look over my child’s shoulder to peek at their work. Oh no! The first sentence goes on for two paragraphs. The spelling is all over the place. They’ve written the letter ‘a’ backwards.”
How I fixed it
I’ve learned not to point out small errors, especially at the beginning. It takes away the fun. And writing should be fun for as long as possible, so that kids keep writing.Now I focus on complementing what does work – illustrations, fun details, interesting words, character names… and ideas.
If a child feels confident in their ideas, then they’ll happily come up with more ideas. This means more creativity, more writing, more skill-building, more fun!
Mistake 2 – Forcing the narrative
“So what’s it actually about, darling? Did you know that proper stories have a beginning, a middle and an end?”
How I fixed it
I realised quickly that rules like these are stifling early on – and that our kids will probably be told about story structure hundreds of times at school.
These days, I’m happy to sit back and enjoy my children’s originality. I let their writing take me back to my own childhood thinking, before I became a grown-up immersed in Western narrative structures.
Maybe a child has written a tale which starts off with a dragon called Alannah in a volcano and ends up with Pete the ice-cream being eaten by a llama. Great! I’m happy to enjoy the journey (and any ice-cream that might be available).
Mistake 3 – ‘Being the teacher’
“Maybe this is a good time to point out the difference between a verb and a noun. So they’ll be ahead in class later.”
How I fixed it
It is not a good time. Children meet lots of teachers in their life. School curricula cover adverbs, verbs, nouns, synonyms, homonyms, similes, metaphors…
Instead, I think about things I can do to bring their ideas to life – things that a teacher can’t do in a busy classroom.
For example: acting out a child’s story with favourite toys chatting about characters and ideas in relaxed down-time, reading younger children’s stories aloud in funny voices if permitted, and (our household favourite) discussing who would play the characters in a movie.
Mistake 4 – Oversharing
“Oooh! You’re writing about a dragon! Has you read Dragon Rider? Here it is! Oh look – here’s a picture of a dragon on Pinterest! We could get ‘Dragonology’ from the Op Shop? Oh there used to be a show about dragons when I was a kid. Let me look it up… Hello? Hello!”
How I fixed it
This is the mistake I make the most often. I get overexcited and can’t wait to share my knowledge, swamping my children with references. Much better to imply one has fascinating information, and then wait to be asked.
Step back and be subtle. (ps. If anyone has tips on subtlety, please get in touch.)
Mistake 5 – Expecting a finished piece of work
“But you started off so well – aren’t you going to finish it?”
How I fixed it
My child had a grand vision. They designed a fabulous, multicoloured dragon cover for their story and wrote a short but promising blurb for the back. Now, half a page in, they’re staring out the window.
I’ve learned to accept this might be it. In time they’ll need to develop their perseverance and learn organisational skills. But for now, writing is fun!
Pushing a child to keep working on an idea they’ve moved on from is not the same as encouragement. I mutter a favourite phase of my school art teacher “Process not product”, and leave it for a while.
And if my child doesn’t go back to this particular story idea, I put the fabulous dragon cover on the wall. Maybe I’ll write my own story about a dragon.
After all – writing is fun!
Lucinda Gifford is the author/illustrator of The Wolves Of Greycoat Hall (Walker Books) and the Whitney and Britney picture books (Scholastic), along with a host of others, as well as being the illustrator of a slew of titles ranging from picture books to middle-grade novels.
Find out more about Lucinda and her work here.
Would you love more writing advice for kids? Check out my Creative Writing Quest, a 12-module online course with the Australian Writers’ Centre that takes kids, step-by-step, through the process of creative writing – from idea to producing an edited story. All the course details are here.
by Allison Tait | Feb 11, 2021 | Reading, Your Kid's Next Read
“I’m looking for books for an advanced reader aged 9 – please help!”
“I’m trying to help my 10 year old move on from books with pictures – please help!”
When it comes to regular queries in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group, these two (or variations of them), are in the top five.
Finding suitable books for a child who is reading at a level well above their age can be a minefield. Your child may be demanding more, more, more, but books for older kids or adults can contain subject matter that young readers are just not ready for.
On the other hand, some kids get stuck in a rut, re-reading Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, or similar, over and over again because they haven’t really found a longer book that ‘grabs’ them. Well-meaning adults will throw all the ‘usual suspects’ at them (think Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, et al), but nothing really sticks.
Extending a reader might mean moving ‘up’ or it might mean moving sideways. Either way, it’s about trying something different. So the Your Kid’s Next Read team (Allison Rushby, Megan Daley, Allison Tait/me) put our minds to the problem and came up with this list.
Whether you have an advanced reader of nine*, or you’re looking to extend your middle-grade reader into books that make them think, feel and wonder, this list has something for you.
25 books to extend young readers 9+
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Ally is smart. So smart she has been able to fool a lot of other smart people, covering up the fact that she can’t read. And then she meets her match – her new teacher, Mr Daniels.
We are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad
The Russian Army marches into East Prussia and the Wolf family has to flee. Liesl promises Mama she will keep brother Otto and baby sister Mia safe. To do so, they will have to turn wild.
The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ada’s fight for self-worth and a life to call her own is absolutely heartbreaking, as is her carer’s backstory of love and the loss of her partner. Together, these strong-willed characters manage to help each other strive for a happy ever after in troubled times.
The Mapmaker Chronicles (series) by A.L. Tait
Quinn is content with life on the farm, but he is selected to become a mapmaker. He soon finds himself racing across the world against other ships, battling sea monsters and searching for treasure. What lies off the edge of the map is more than he could have ever bargained for.
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
With the rise of the Berlin Wall, Gerta finds her family suddenly and devastatingly divided.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Hà’s whole world is Saigon until the Vietnam War reaches her home and she and her family are forced to flee to America.
When This Bell Rings by Allison Rushby
This story within a story told by an unreliable narrator and a famous children’s author will leave the reader guessing until the very end and re-reading to see which clues they missed along the way.
Con-Nerd by Oliver Phommavanh
Connor’s mum tells him he’s gifted and talented, but the kids at school call him Con-nerd – half Connor and all nerd. A book about finding your special talents and having the confidence to use them.
George by Alex Gino
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s a girl. When her teacher won’t let her try out for the female lead role in the school play, George and best friend Kelly come up with a plan to show everyone who she really is.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
This childhood memoir verse novel sees Jacqueline Woodson growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. It covers an incredible amount of topics, from race to religion, to the divide between the North and the South and the Civil Rights movement, using imagery that will stay with you forever.
The Ranger’s Apprentice (series) by John Flanagan
When 15-year-old Will is rejected by battleschool and his ambition to become a knight is thwarted, he becomes the reluctant apprentice to the mysterious Ranger Halt. Some fantasy, mostly adventure.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Mia’s immigrant parents are doing it tough and so is Mia, who tends the desk at the Calivista motel while they clean rooms.
Aster’s Good, Right Things by Kate Gordon
Each day Aster must do a good, right thing – a challenge she sets herself, to make someone else’s life better. Nobody can know about her ‘things’, because then they won’t count. And if she doesn’t do them, she knows everything will go wrong. Then she meets Xavier.
Bindi by Kirli Saunders (illustrated by Dub Lefller)
Written from the point of view of 11-year-old Bindi and her friends on Gundungurra Country, this beautiful verse novel explores climate, bushfires and healing.
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Three different children with one common mission: escape from the horrors of their war-torn homelands.
Call Of The Wild by Jack London
A classic tale of survival, adventure and finding your true self, told through the eyes of Buck, a farm dog who is kidnapped and ends up pulling sleds in the Klondike region of Canada during the goldrush.
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents and when they are tragically taken from her and Willow must find a way through her grief.
Sick Bay by Nova Weetman
Meg is struggling and hides out in sick bay to avoid other kids. Riley doesn’t want to go to sick bay, but has type 1 diabetes and an over-protective mother. Together, the unlikely pair find the space and courage in sick bay to be themselves.
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Jude and her mother must leave volatile Syria for America and a strange new life full of unexpected surprises.
Surface Tension by Meg McKinlay
On the day Cassie was born, they drowned her town. Twelve years later, she and her classmate Liam are drawn to the man-made lake and the mysteries it hides. As summer heats up and the lake waters become lower and lower, secrets are slowly uncovered. Can Cassie bring the shocking truth to light before it’s too late?
Across The Risen Sea by Bren MacDibble
Neoma and Jag and their small community are ‘living gentle lives’ on high ground surrounded by the risen sea that has caused widespread devastation. When strangers from the Valley of the Sun arrive unannounced, the friends find themselves drawn into a web of secrecy and lies that endangers the way of life of their entire community.
Everything I’ve Never Said by Samantha Wheeler
Ava is desperate to communicate with her family, but Rett Syndrome makes this impossible. That is, until some new people in her life allow this strong, driven character to finally show the world her true personality.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Cece is starting at a new school, one where she is the only kid with a giant hearing aid strapped to her chest. And then she discovers her superpower – she can hear her teacher in the teacher’s lounge and the bathroom. If only she could channel her superpowers into making a true friend …
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Told from the alternating views of Peter and Pax (a fox), this is an emotional tale of love, loss, loyalty and the horrors of war.
The Fall by Tristan Bancks
An exciting, action-packed story. When Sam hears a struggle in the apartment above and sees someone fall (pushed?) from the sixth floor, he goes to wake his father, Harry – but Harry, a crime reporter, is gone, and when Sam goes downstairs, so is the body. The next 24 hours are a heart-stopping ride.
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).
You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.
*As always, particularly with advanced readers, suitability comes down to knowing your individual reader. Please check the full description of each book for an insight into themes, level of tension, and more. Clicking the book title will take you to Booktopia. See contact page for details.
by Allison Tait | Mar 19, 2020 | Books, Reading, Your Kid's Next Read
When times get tough, the tough… give away children’s and YA literature!
More than ever, kids need books right now, and, equally more than ever, children’s and YA authors need our support.
With the cancellation of literary events and book launches across Australia for at least the next few months, many authors – from debut author to old favourites with new books – have been left stranded.
If you can’t talk about your books, how will anyone ever fall in love with them?
So the team behind the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group – Megan Daley, Allison Rushby and Allison Tait (that would be me) decided that what we really needed was a BIG event, all online.
And so the #30BooksIn30Days #YKNRAussieAuthorSuperTour was born.
The idea is simple – we’re GIVING AWAY books by Aussie authors, to raise awareness of books and Aussie authors, and share some ‘glad’ with our community.
From Monday 23 March, every single day for 30 days, we’ll offer one new book to be won. All you have to do is to make sure you’re a member of Your Kid’s Next Read and you’re in the perfect position to be able to enter.
When you see the daily post – which will go up at 10am each day (AEDST until April 5 and then AEST after that). Each daily giveaway is open until 8.30am the following day. Comment on the post of a book you’d like to win by answering the question and you’re in.
Winners will be announced as soon as possible after the 8.30am close (in the group and here, under WINNERS), and the next book goes up at 10am.
Just like that.
For 30 days.
We’ve got an amazing array of incredible books by Aussie authors lined up for you, so get ready!
And good luck!
Giveaway #30: 21 April 2020. BUMPER BOOK PACK from PENGUIN BOOKS. Click the title links to buy now from Booktopia*.
•The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore (This is a special advance proof copy. Book publishes June 2020, click to preorder.)
•Edie’s Experiments: How to Make Friends by Charlotte Barkla
•Don’t Follow Vee by Oliver Phommavanh
•Super Sidekicks 2: Ocean’s Revenge by Gavin Aung Than
•Atticus Van Tasticus: The Map of Half Maps by Andrew Daddo and Stephen Michael King
About Your Kid’s Next Read
Your Kid’s Next Read is an Australian-based Facebook community of 11,000+ members, made up of parents, teachers, authors, bloggers, booksellers, publishers, and other interested parties, all of whom are focussed on helping other members find the perfect next book for the young readers in their lives.
The group is managed by #TeamYKNR:
Megan is a teacher librarian (recently awarded the Queensland Teacher Librarian of the Year by the School Library Association of Queensland, as well as the national Dromkeen Librarians Award, presented by the State Library of Victoria), and general children’s literature advocate from way back. Megan is the author of Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books and blogs at Children’s Books Daily.
Allison is an award-winning author of many, many books for children, young adults and adults. Her new book When This Bell Rings will be out in September 2020. Find out more about Allison here.
That’s me. I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series: The Mapmaker Chronicles and the Ateben Cipher novels. My new book The Fire Star (A Maven & Reeve Mystery) is coming on 1 September 2020. You can find out more about me here and more about my books here.
We’ll announce winners right here as they come to hand each day from 23 March onwards. We’ll also provide a link* to buy the book if you miss out. Or call your local bookshop – they’d love to hear from you!
The winner of Giveaway #29: 20 April 2020. Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr is Laura Amy. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #28: 19 April 2020. Ella At Eden: New Girl by Laura Sieveking is Ella Keele. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #27: 18 April 2020. Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo (Aussie Kids #1) by Belinda Murrell and David Hardy is Felicity Harber. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #26: 17 April 2020. Ribbit Rabbit Robot by Victoria Mackinlay and Sofya Karmazina is Marissa Goeldner. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #25: 16 April 2020. The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte is Melissa Haworth. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #24: 15 April 2020. The Turnkey and The Seven Keys by Allison Rushby is Myah Fowler. If you missed out, click the title link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #23: 14 April 2020. BUMPER PACK OF SIX BOOKS FROM WALKER BOOKS is Emma Young. Click the title links to buy books separately from Booktopia*.
•To The Bridge by Corinne Fenton, illus. by Andrew McLean
•Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake by Zoe Norton Lodge and Georgia Norton Lodge
•Ten Little Figs by Rhian Williams, illus. by Nathaniel Eckstrom
•Worse Things by Sally Murphy
•Sometimes Cake by Edwina Wyatt, illus. by Tamsin Ainslie
•Henrie’s Hero Hunt by Petra James, illus. by A. Yi
The winner of Giveaway #22: 13 April 2020. How To Grow A Family Tree by Eliza Henry-Jones is Vicky Lorrimer. If you missed, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #21: 12 April 2020. Bronte: Me and My Boots by Penny Harrison, illustrated by Evie Barrow is Sara Ryan. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #20: 11 April 2020. Kensy and Max: Freefall by Jacqueline Harvey is Alison Myers. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #19: 10 April 2020. Crack Up by Jules Faber is Emma Elizabeth. Click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #18: 9 April 2020. Anzac Girl: The War Diaries of Alice Ross-King by Kate Simpson and Jess Racklyeft is Kylie Devlin. Click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #17: 8 April 2020. All Bodies are Good Bodies by Charlotte Barkla is Amanda Reid. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Constant Reader Bookshop.
The winner of Giveaway #16: 7 April 2020. Taking Down Evelyn Tait by Poppy Nwosu is Fiona Mackie. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #15: 6 April 2020. Lleague Of Llamas: The Golden Llama by Aleesah Darlison is Lawsie Wade. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Readings Books.
The winner of Giveaway #14: 5 April 2020. Raising Readers: How To Nurture A Child’s Love Of Books by Megan Daley is Irene Elizabeth. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #13: 4 April 2020. The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes: The Crumbling Castle by Brenda Gurr is Lynne Kozak. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #12: 3 April 2020. Beyond Belief by Dee White was Colleen Dancer. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #11: 2 April 2020. Grace’s Secret by Louise Park is Tiff Waters. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Beachside Bookshop Avalon.
The winner of Giveaway #10: 1 April 2020. The Book Of Chance by Sue Whiting is Jody Le. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Readings.
The winner of Giveaway #9: 31 March 2020. Stardust School Of Dance: Priya The Swan Queen and Stardust School of Dance: Edmund The Dazzling Dancer by Zanni Louise was Claire Wilderman. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #8: 30 March 2020. Deep Water by Sarah Epstein was Justine Cooper. If you missed out, click the link to buy now from Dymocks Books (pub date 31 March).
The winner of Giveaway #7: 29 March 2020. The Peski Kids: The Mystery Of The Squashed Cockroach by R. A. Spratt is Analucia Malta. If you missed out, click the title link to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #6: 28 March 2020. Squidge Dibley Destroys Everything by Mick Elliott was Rebecca Rose. If you missed out, click the title to buy now from Riverbend Books (pub date 31 March 2020).
The winner of Giveaway #5: 27 March 2020. Isla’s Family Tree by Katrina McElvey (ill. Prue Pittock) is Cherie Keith. If you missed out, click the title to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #4: 26 March 2020. Evie and Pog: Take Off! and Evie and Pog: Puppy Paws! by Tania McCartney was Rebecca Munro. If you missed out, click the title to buy now from Abbeys Bookshop.
The winner of Giveaway #3: 25 March 2020. Toffle Towers: Fully Booked by Tim Harris was Simone Taylor. Click the title to buy now from Booktopia*.
The winner of Giveaway #2: 24 March 2020. Fish Kid And The Mega Manta Ray by Kylie Howarth was Ciera Coveney. If you missed out, click the title to buy now from Riverbend Books.
The winners of Giveaway #1: 23 March, 2020 Derek Dool: Supercool (Bust A Move) by Adrian Beck (Ill. Scott Edgar) were Malathi Krisnan and Karen Casey. If you missed out, click the title to buy now from Booktopia*.
Terms and conditions for the #30booksin30days #YKNRAussieAuthorSuperTour giveaway
The giveaway will begin at 10am (AEDST) on Monday 23 March 2020, and run for 30 days (ends 8.30am (AEST) Wednesday 22 April). Entry is open only to members of the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community with an Australian mailing address. Books cannot be posted internationally.
Each day, a new giveaway book will be posted in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group, with a question to answer, and entries will be via comment on that post. Entries for each daily post will be open from 10am (AEDST until April 5 and then AEST after that) on the day of posting until 8.30am (AEDST until April 5 and then AEST after that) the following day. Winners will be judged by #TeamYKNR and announced in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community as soon as possible after closing. No correspondence regarding the judged winner will be entered into.
Once announced, winners will need to email their postal address as indicated in the announcement. Books will be sent out by individual authors as soon as is practicable and are not the responsibility of the YKNR admin team. If the postal system is interrupted for any reason, books will be posted as soon as possible after that date.
*Winners names will also be added to this post as the giveaway progresses, along with links to buy the books that have been offered in the giveaway. Some of these links may contain affiliate links, which means when you click on those links and make a purchase, it can result in a small commission that will be credited to Children’s Books Daily, to help Megan keep the pages turning on her incredibly useful site. Others will be links to other Australian booksellers, large and small, who offer online sales.
Fine print: This competition is not associated with Facebook. Entrants are required to leave a comment on the Facebook associated with the competition. Entry is open to residents of Australia and the prize is as stated each day. Winners will be selected all eligible entries received – this is a game of skill with entries judge on originality. If a winner is unable to be contacted or does not claim their Prize within 14 days the prize will be forfeited. In the event of forfeiture a further draw will be conducted within 14 days and a new winner will be selected.
One last thing
If you win a book and you would like to share your excitement on receiving it, feel free to post in the Your Kid’s Next Read group or tag us on social media (don’t forget to use our hashtags: #30BooksIn30Days #YKNRAussieAuthorSuperTour)
Find Megan Daley: Facebook Twitter Instagram
Find Allison Rushby: Facebook Twitter Instagram
Find Allison Tait: Facebook Twitter Instagram
by Allison Tait | Oct 31, 2019 | Reading, Your Kid's Next Read
For many years, my friend Allison Rushby has been a ‘go-to’ source for me for ‘classic’ children’s stories. The woman has read everything, particularly if there’s a green and pleasant English setting involved, and is the team member we turn to when a question about ‘classics for kids’ comes up in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group.
Classics are an interesting area. Some of them withstand the test of time beautifully, but others just seem tired and old-fashioned.
I will never forget reading Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne to my oldest son, then about eight. We spent an awfully long time wading through travel description waiting for the balloon to show up and then were disappointed when it did.
It gave me the opportunity to discuss writing in different eras with him – a time when nobody much had seen the world versus a time when it’s at your fingertips thanks to Google – and may, in fact, have indirectly and subconsciously fed into the reservoir of inspiration that became The Mapmaker Chronicles series, but oh my word it was a hard slog at the time…
But I digress.
Allison has kindly put together a list of classic reads for children that she feels are as exciting and engaging today as they were when first written. As she candidly admits, this list is heavy on English novels, so we’re also working on an Aussie classics list (my all-time favourite Callie’s Castle by Ruth Park is sadly no longer available, but my love of turrets remains).
In the meantime, take it away Al!
Beyond the usual suspects
There are certain “classic” children’s books that seem to be suggested time and time again. And for good reason! Charlotte’s Web, Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking and The Secret Garden have become classics due to their marvellous storytelling.
But there are so many, many other classic children’s books that I know hold a special place in my heart right alongside these popular titles and I find when they come up in conversation, I long to reach for them and delve back into their familiar pages immediately.
I’ve been keeping a little list of these many, many books in one of my (many, many) notebooks. When I came across the notebook a few weeks back, I thought it was time to write a post listing some of these beautiful classics that don’t get suggested quite so often (feel free to blame my Nana for the list being solidly English in nature).
12 often-overlooked children’s classics
White Boots by Noel Streatfeild
I find Ballet Shoes still gets recommended a lot (don’t hate me, but I personally find the Fossils and GUM/Great Uncle Matthew a bit much). I prefer White Boots, hanging out at the chilly ice rink in a cardi and being a part of the burgeoning friendship of Harriet and Lalla.
The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston (a six-book series)
A magical old house, lots of spirits (including a demonic tree spirit!) and a crazy boat ride to get there. Fun times. I am still kicking myself that I lived down the road from Lucy M. Boston’s house (the inspiration for the novels) for a full year and had no idea it was open to the public.
What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (also What Katy Did at School, What Katy Did Next, Clover and In the High Valley)
I’m pretty sure I could have kept reading about Katy Carr, her endless “scrapes” and all the members of her 1860s family forever. Thankfully, there are quite a few books to keep you going here.
The Doll’s House by Rumer Godden
When you break it down, this is a mighty strange book, but it just works. Tottie Plantaganet (what a name!) is a doll and lives in Emily and Charlotte’s doll house. And all is good. Until evil Marchpane moves in… I have only listed one Rumer Godden book, but I adore all of her writing, especially The Story of Holly and Ivy and Miss Happiness and Miss Flower. Her books are always unusual and unexpected, but in a way that feels as if you’ve found the exact story you were looking for.
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
The year is 1290, Catherine is fourteen, an avid diarist and very concerned that she will be married off to someone horrid (and she most definitely should be concerned). More for the YA crowd, as there is violence, sex, death in childbirth and death in general (it is the Middle Ages, after all).
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner
I love this funny little book about Emil, a German boy who is sent on an errand in Berlin in 1929 that (of course), goes horribly wrong.
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
There’s just something about Frog and Toad. These are very easy to read stories for early readers, but I’m quite sure I read them again and again right up into my teens, because Frog and Toad are just plain funny and everything friends should be.
Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden
Carrie and her brother Nick have been evacuated from London and find themselves in a Welsh village and a hotbed of family drama.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I feel like this book is often overlooked as Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden is invariably recommended first and foremost, but it really is top notch (have just taken one for the team and had a little re-read to make sure). When Sara Crewe’s fortunes change suddenly, her kind and generous personality does not. Of course you know she’ll win out in the end, but it’s a lot of fun waiting for the payoff.
Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
A good option for readers who love Anne of Green Gables and What Katy Did, Pollyanna’s optimistic “glad game” errs on the side of cloying, but you’d have to have a mean, withered little black heart not to enjoy this read.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
The train! The menacing wolves! The evil Miss Slighcarp! The horrid orphanage! Starving Aunt Jane! There is a lot of wide-eyed, white-knuckled reading to be had here.
Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankaster Brisley
I still want to be Milly-Molly-Mandy when I grow up and I am 45! Millicent Margaret Amanda lives in a darling little village in a nice white cottage with a thatched roof and wears a fetching pink and white striped dress. Her friends include Little Friend Susan and Billy Blunt. So, so twee, but incredibly comforting, like a tummy-full of your favourite childhood pudding. Really, does it get any better than this? I think not.
Allison Rushby is the author of more than 20 books. Her latest middle-grade novel, The Seven Keys, is the sequel to the award-winning The Turnkey. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.
You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.
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