for adults helping children

learn English as a foreign language

or additional language

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BOOK BROWSING - child-led play with books?



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From the Editor - Opal Dunn


This BUMPER 10th Issue marks 5 years of publishing. There is evidence that the inclusion of REALpictureBOOKS in classrooms is spreading. It seems a long time since my first article Real Books for Real Children was published in the EF Gazette (then EFL Gazette) in December 1990!


Issue 10 includes a Special Supplement for Nursery School aged children. This is now the fastest growing age group in English Language Teaching. Children at this age learn their home-language through experiences and picking-up the language used in them. They learn English in the same way using many of the same skills. They find it more difficult to learn structured language items taught in isolation. For a child reading a picture storybook is another type of experience through which the child can learn naturally. Publishers inform me that sales of picture books in English for very young children has increased greatly especially in the Far East. This reflects the growing number of Bilingual=English Nursery Schools that are opening or established Nursery Schools that are introducing an English language awareness programme. These children can enjoy REALpictureBOOKS. The teacher acts as the mediator between the book and the child and although they are not yet ready to read the text, they can 'read' the pictures..


The Feature Article discusses the importance of the well-planned presentation of a REALBOOK and subsequent book browsing or child-led play with the book. Book browsing opportunities should be the goal for all children as without such child-led activities a book experience is incomplete. Selecting REALpictureBOOKS carefully still remains vital if children are to get the most from a picture book experience. Not all books are right for the age and the English language developmental level of children. A book with a difficult text can discourage a child in the initial stages of learning English.


The Report from Pecs Real Picture Book Project in Hungary has been extended for a further 2 years increasing the number of children involved and REALBOOKs available. Originally planned for 2 years, children in 3 classes were given the opportunity to read 22 books. 'The classroom observation and interviews made with the two teachers reveal that Real Books have brought changes in the lives of both pupils and teachers' reports Reka Lugossy, University of Pecs, leader of the Project.


A recently published book for Very Young Learners written by a Lecturer in Early Years Education and Researcher in using Picture Books in the classroom is a valuable resource for anyone introducing English to young beginners. The first half of the book suggests how picture books can be used to support children's holistic development. The second half introduces 12 popular picture books and suggests different types of activities, including music activities, to go with them. Although not all the books are suitable for beginners in English, the detailed explanation of their accompanying activities may give teachers some new ideas


Using Picture Books Ideas for working with 12 popular picture books Author Hilary White

Step Forward Publishing Paperback ISBN 1-902438-44-2 9.95


This Issue includes some excellent books at very cheap prices. I hope these books will help you get books into the hands of children and find someway for them to borrow the books to take home. Please enjoy Issue 10 and if you are not working with VERY Young Learners, please pass on The Supplement to others in the field.


Feature Article

Books - from presentation to browsing(child-led play) - how important?


Through good presentations adults share their passion for books. Reading a picture book at any age should be a pleasurable and satisfying experience that stimulates the emotions, stretches the mind and inspires creativity. Although we cannot see into a child's mind, we know that a good book experience, even when a child is very young, leaves some lasting impression at both a subconscious and conscious level. A picture book is a dual experience in which the text carries meaning but the sequence of the narrative pictures supporting it carry more detail from which the child decodes deeper understanding and additional stimulation. The breadth of a story book experience is increased where a child has an opportunity to hold the book and pore over the text and pictures, or just the pictures in the case of children who cannot read, by themselves at their own speed. Book browsing - or child-led play with books - is a vital and often overlooked part of a book reading experience.


Most parents, and especially mothers, use presentation skills naturally everyday with their young children. They know from experience that when they take time to explain a forth coming activity, it is usually more successful. These presentation skills, which include parentese language techniques, can be transferred to introducing REALpictureBOOKS in English. A good presentation engages a child in a book experience. The teacher is the mediator between the book and the child in much the same way that a parent mediates a new experience to a young child.

A book in English needs more careful presentation than a book in home-language if it is to be successful. Children need to understand some of the English text before the book is introduced, as they quickly feel 'I can't understand' and switch off their interest. Children need to feel confident if they are to tackle something new successfully. Oral understanding of language should come before we ask children to recognise the print form of a word. Based on the age of the child and his literacy skills in his home-language, a teacher can judge at what stage a child is ready to be introduced to reading in English. However, whether or not reading is being introduced formally, some children who already read in their home-language, work out by themselves how to read English words they know orally and surprise us that they can read them. This is often the case with English rhyme books when children can already recite the rhymes in English. (Issue 7- Feature Article - Reading in a Foreign Language)




       Introduce the key words or key-phrases of the story (eg animal names 'an elephant' or phrases like 'clap your hands') through a game or handwork. Don't introduce all the language as this may spoil the thrill of the story for some children.

       Practise reading the text aloud to yourself before hand. Decide which is the core text; with very young children it may be better to introduce only the core text and build in the rest of the text as you re-read the story over several sessions. Work out where you will pause to add suspense and which words you will stress taking care not to distort the reading. Decide what body language you will use to dramatise the story to make understanding easier. You need to feel confident that you know the story well so that you will not be phased by unexpected interruptions!




       To get children used to picture book activities, it is better to have a regular Book Time in your programme. Like this children can anticipate the activity and prepare themselves psychologically. Children who do not have similar book experiences in their home-language need time to learn how to get meaning and information from books (text and picture), as well as how to look and listen to the adult reader. Concentration may be short to begin with. (TV video pictures generally change every 30 seconds). With exposure children gradually learn to expand their concentration span. It is accepted that most girls find it easier than boys to sit still and listen.

       Select a comfortable and different place in the classroom to read books where children can be close enough to observe the adult's mouth movements as children pick-up information about pronunciation by watching and imitating the adult. Check that children who have problems with seeing and hearing - this includes temporary difficulties due to colds and teeth - are also close to the reader.

       Reading picture books is about constructing some personal meaning from the text and pictures. Begin the story by looking at the title page together and talking about it in both English and the home-language. When using the home-language, use English for the names of the characters and other key words and phrases in the story. Be prepared to break the story at a convenient place if children are over excited and unsettled, which may happen on special days and birthdays etc.

       Make story reading fun and interesting and enjoy it. Like this your own passion will come across; enthusiasm is infectious! Each time you re-read, speed up your reading a little, but keep it fresh. With each re-reading, children deepen their understanding of the story and gain more from it. As you re-read children pick-up more of the text by heart and they soon will be ready to add the last word or words to phrases if you indicate by hesitating and signalling that you expect them to join in. They are used to doing this in their home-language so it is only a skill transfer for them.

       Translation of some words and phrases may be necessary in the first readings. Where possible code-switch in your translation to include the key-words and key-phrases your included in your pre-presentation. Use a whisper for the translation so children get used to the idea that the translation is not permanent and will not be there when you re-read. If they know that you will translate each time you read, they may not bother to listen to the English!.

       After the first reading, or as soon as possible, only read the text in English. Children have an amazing and often under-estimated ability to cope and they will try to work out using gist understanding skills what they do not understand. They do this continually in their home-language as they do not understand all adults say to them.

       Be sure to pause before you turn a page and add your own commentary like and then what happens? or look at the . pointing to the picture. Children need time to scan the pictures if they are to decode meaning from them. However don't ask too many questions as they come between the child and the story and thus can irritate children.

       As children begin to join in they may make mistakes in pronunciation. Make no comment as criticism can de-motivate. Praise them for joining in and repeat the word back to them in the same phrase in which they have used it. They will notice the difference and correct themselves straight away or later as they are used to refining their pronunciation to match that of their parent's speech in the home-language. This is another skill transfer from the home-language.


Post -Presentation (Follow up)


       Books that children know well can be put in The English Corner or The Book Corner for everyone to pore over and enjoy. Children need time to browse and discuss books. At this stage discussion is in the home-language as few children have sufficient English to communicate ideas and feelings in depth. Many children even when talking amongst themselves using home-language switch language to include the story language in English. Children benefit from being able to borrow the books and take them home. Family involvement, interest and admiration of reading skills motivates! Some teachers make audiocassette recordings to go with the storybooks.

       Children benefit from further opportunities to discuss the story in home-language. It is important to encourage any discussion as apart from developing thought and language it helps you to know how the children think. Their opinions may be quite different from what adults imagined. In home-language discussion code-switch the English story language.

       Listen to children's ideas and suggestions as these provide clues to their interests. Child-led activities usually need hidden guidance from an adult as without this they may not develop to provide further learning opportunities. This guidance usually entails scaffolding the experience to the next higher level conceptually and linguistically.

       Be prepared to provide opportunities to draw, paint, act, dance and sing or make your own books. These activities help to consolidate the learning experience at the child's level. Be sure that children do not feel that after a lovely story they 'have to do work' which is what they sometimes say about work sheets etc. It is important to feel the mood as some books may not need any immediate follow-up, whilst others may need only a quick one.

       Include a Favourite Book Day in your programme. Let children know in advance that on this day you re-read REALBOOKs selected by them and not by you! Ask them to make their request beforehand so that you can prepare by making a list etc. Gradually develop this into a day when children take over and read their favourite picture book aloud either individually or in a group.


Adults are the child's initial mediators of REALpictureBOOKS, but with re-presentation the adult's role diminishes as the child takes on his personal relationship with the book. The depth to which this multi-faceted relationship develops depends greatly on the quality of the adult mediator's presentation and the amount of contact, including book browsing, the child has afterwards with the book. Book browsing, or child-led play with books, should be the ultimate goal of a REALBOOK experience, as, like all forms of play, it will consolidate and deepen the experience. It will also influence the child's holistic development including his linguistic ability in his home-language as well as in English. Like all children, children who are learning English need to have opportunities to book browse. To do this, children need to have and hold REALpictureBOOKS in English.


Book Selection

    Story Books

Good Dog, Daisy Author -Illustrator Lisa Kopper Level 1a

Hamish Hamilton-London Hardback ISBN 0-24-114128-1 10.99

Great for children who have or dream of having a pet dog. Daisy, the dog, has three puppies and Baby, the toddler, likes one who is called Little Daisy. Baby loves to tell the puppy what to do, 'LIE! And Little Daisy lies. SPEAK! And Little Daisy speaks. SQUEAK! But Big Daisy arrives on the scene and pushes Baby over. The resulting screams from baby bring mother to the scene who says firmly SIT, DAISY. But Daisy doesn't sit. Everything gets worse and until Mummy says Bad Dog, Daisy! However Daisy manages to redeem herself and the story ends with the words GOOD DOG, DAISY! Before you introduce the book make up a simple game using the commands (imperatives) that Baby and Mother use with Little Daisy. This simple text is easy to understand with many useful imperatives!


The Hungry Monster Author Phyllis Root Illus Sue Heap Level 1a

Walker Books Paperback ISBN 0-7445-5462-4 1.99

A rocket came to Planet Earth. Out stepped a monster. HUNGRY! roared the monster. The monster saw a daisy YUM! Said the monster. The monster tasted the daisy YUCK! So the story goes on and each time the monster tastes something he finds it is Yuck. The monster gets really, REALLY, REALLY HUNGRY and then he sees a girl. The girl gives him a banana and he eats it, skin and all.

Yuck say the girl and what does the monster say? Fun detailed drawings add to the joke. An easy to read and remember story that could be fun to dramatise.


That's My Dad Author-Illustrator Ralph Steadman Level 1a

Anderson Press Paperback ISBN 1-84270-011-1 4.99

Look at a Dad through the eyes of a young child and this is what you'll see! Minimal text and extravagant cartoon-like illustrations send children into fits of laughter That's my dad! Why your dad? Because he has huge floppy ears, two big eyes and only one nose. When he laughs he has hundreds of teeth. Then something goes wrong. Wait a minute! That's not my dad. Well whose dad is it then? The author selects parts of the body and particularly the face,

that fascinate children. A great way to learn parts of the body, especially for older boys!


Hide and Seek Author-Illus Jez Alborough Level 1a

Walker Books Novelty/Paperback ISBN 0-7445-6335-6 3.99

A flip-Flap Book

Deep in the jungle Frog is playing hide and seek. I'm playing hide and seek with my friends, but I can't see anyone. Can you? A careful search reveals that frog is actually sitting on the head of Hippo. Turn the page to reveal Hippo, mouth wide open saying BOO. The story continues with Hippo and Frog both searching. After a careful look you can see snake curled round a tree. Turn the flap and BOO says snake. The game continues until, eventually, Frog is lost. Where do the friends find him and what does he say? A fun story that is easy to pick-up as the short text repeats itself on each page. Children are fascinated by the animal disguise and like to browse checking it on each page. Plenty of chance to let of steam with the BOOs, which tend to get louder each time an animal is found.


Ten minutes till Bedtime Author-Illustrator Peggy Rathmann Level 1a

Puffin Paperback ISBN 0-14-056653-8 4.99

First published in the US this idea is familiar to most households. Ten minutes to bedtime and a bus full of hamsters arrive to take the 10 minute bedtime tour. Father is quite oblivious to what is going on as he continues to read his paper and count down the minutes till bedtime. The detailed fun pictures tell explicitly how the boy copes with the usual things that have to be done before you go to bed plus the arrival of more and more hamsters. BEDTIME! The chaos is sorted! Father gives his son a goodnight kiss and the ten-minute bedtime tour is closed. Good night Hamsters! Sweet dreams! The text is minimal so the story can be used to put some excitement and fun into the first lessons.


Dinner Time Rhyme Author June Crebbin Illus Anna Martin Larranaga Level 1a

Walker Books Paperback ISBN 0-7445-6307-3 3.99

Great! Children love it. It gives them a chance to talk about food in a fun and simple, natural way without any of the classifiers like a piece of, a spoonful of, etc. The story begins with Can you tell me, if you please, who it is likes squidgy peas? Louise likes peas. (Squidgy peas is something very British. It is rather like soft peas. The picture shows Louise with a spoonful of green peas!) After this the text is simpler How about Jake? Jake likes cake. Ellen likes melon. Trish likes fish, Fred likes bread and finally they list the food liked by a very special girl who also likes smelly cheese! WOW - this together with the expressive faces of all the children introduced in the book watching her eat smelly cheese makes an amusing end to the story. This is a give away for making lists in your classroom of what food children like and dislike. The rhyming text makes this story very easy to pick-up orally and later read by themselves or aloud as a play-reading activity.


Herbie Monkey Author Martin Waddell Illustrator Russell Ayto Level 1a

Walker Books Paperback ISBN 0-7445-8305-5 3.99

Herbie Monkey liked to tease Grandpa. One day he was up in his nut tree and Grandpa Monkey was snoozing below. Herbie threw a nut on to Grandpa's ear and then chanted CAN'T CATCH ME UP IN MY TREE! Ten he threw another nut that hit his nose and so he went on throwing things until disaster hit. Crack-Snap went the branch but all was well as Grandpa caught Herbie Monkey. A simple story that is easy to expand with other places on the body at which to throw a nut! A fun story with a moral. The expressive illustrations and easy repetitive text makes this a favourite for many children.



Cat is Sleepy Author-Illustrator Satoshi Kitamura Level 1b

Andersen Press Boardbook ISBN 0-86264-669-3 3.99

Cat is sleepy. Where can he sleep? Vibrant, clear illustrations convey the atmosphere of each situation described by a simple phrase that children will pick-up as a block.. Cat isn't happy in the music room where a young boy is playing the piano, It's too noisy here. Cat goes next to the kitchen and sits in a saucepan, It's not comfortable here. Then into the bathroom, It's too cold here, and finally cat goes outside to sit on the wall but There's no room out there. Where can cat sleep? At last! A cosy place. On a little girl's lap! The cat's expressions are wonderful; the objects in most scenes stand alone that make them easy to identify and name, for any class who wants to extend the activity to talk about things in the kitchen, the bathroom or even the music room. Young children love

this book as they can identify themselves with the two children and the cat.


Dog is Thirsty Author-Illustrator Satoshi Kitamura Level 1b

Andersen Press Boardbook ISBN 0-86264-671-5 3.99

Dog is thirsty and goes looking for something to drink. What he finds is not suitable. It's too high. It's too dirty. It's too low. What a life, Dog thinks as he watches a little boy happily having a drink. And then it rains. Hurrah! And dog opens his mouth and drinks some raindrops and what happens to the little boy and his drink. A simple story supported by rich and humorous illustrations, which can be enjoyed, like Cat is Sleepy, at many different levels.


Come Here, Cleo! Author Stella Blackstone Illus Caroline Monkford Level 1b

A Barefoot Paper Back ISBN 1-84148-330-3 4.99p

A follow on to Cleo the Cat (see Issue 8) this cat story, in easy-to-remember rhyming text, is told in the simple present. Cleo wakes. Cleo winks. Cleo yawns and Cleo blinks. Great to act out with very young learners many of whom won't be able to wink! Cleo wants to play and Cleo jumps outside. Cleo has all sorts of adventures including meeting a bird and chasing a butterfly. All are clearly illustrated which makes understanding the story easier. Like the first book introducing Cleo, (Issue 8) this story is easy to act. You might like to be more adventurous this time and let children act out a story with their own cuddly animal. They'll love acting out the last illustration where the child-owner says, Come here, Cleo! and Cleo kisses. Great for involving younger Primary children and introducing simple language they can use in other situations.


Give it to Joe! Author Martin Waddell Illus Katherine McEwen Level 1b

Walker Books Paperback ISBN 0-7445-8304-7 3.99

A book for boys and their fathers, too! It was the Cup Final, and United were losing 2-1. With only five minutes to go, Coach sent on Joe! The story continues With only four minutes to go, Coach shouted 'Give it to Joe!' and With only three minutes to go, two minutes to go and then only one minute to go. Then someone tripped Joe! PENALTY! What happens next? Easy to read, realistic story and clear illustrations make this something that switches on football-lover boys. Many of the words like Goal, Referee, Team, Cup are already know as they are international football language.

The Adventures of Bert Author Allan Ahlberg Illus Raymond Briggs Level 2

Penguin Books Hardback ISBN 0-670-89329-3 9.99

A wonderful book to loose yourself in the pictures and the interactive simple text. A partnership between two internationally known, award-winning writers and illustrators resulted in this story about Bert, Mrs Bert and Baby Bert! Divided into 5 Chapters you are gradually introduced to Bert's family life and some of the adventures he gets up to. However you have to be careful of the Baby Bert. Don't say hallo to him. He is fast asleep. Shh! Turn the page .quietly. WAAAAAA Oh no! Now look what you have done! Oh dear! Disturbing the baby occurs twice, the first time in Chapter 1, which introduces the family and in Chapter 5 Goodnight Bert. The clear, humorous illustrations in the typical soft colours of the illustrator make this book attractive to readers of all ages!


Follow My Leader! Author -Illustrator Emma Chichester Clark Level 2

Collins Children's Books Paperback ISBN 0-000-664760-X 4.99

Play the game Follow My Leader before you read this book. Just get the children to follow you around copying what you do, Hopping and skipping, Whirling and twirling, Leaping and bounding, Puffing and panting, Jumping and jiving, Bumping and thumping. Have fun! If you haven't the space adapt the game but use the same language. After this you are ready to read the story together. There's a surprise as they get into the woods. What's that noise? It isn't what children expect! However the boy who has been the leader so far solves the problem and all ends well. By the time you have read the story several times most children will know it by heart. Some of them will then enjoy playing or acting the story version of Follow My Leader. Vibrant, amusing pictures by this award winning author-illustrator transpose you into the game and you can feel the atmosphere of the players. A enchanting book that comes into the category of We're Going on a Bear Hunt ISBN 0-7445-2323-0 Issue


The lucky grain of corn Author - Illustrator Veronique Tadjo Level 2

Milet Paperback ISBN 1-84059-274-5 4.99

This story written and illustrated by a well-known poet from the Ivory Coast will make any child realise that life in Africa is different. Soro was given a lucky grain of corn by his hard working parents. But he left it on a stone and it was stolen by a Guinea Fowl who ate it. Soro ran after the bird but It was terribly hot. He was dripping with sweat. His feet were covered in dust. Yet he couldn't catch up with the fowl. Soro ran from village to village and suddenly the guinea fowl crossed his path. He jumped and caught her. The end of the tale is not what the reader might expect. The repetitive text makes this an easy story for children to remember and then dramatise or say aloud. The stylised vibrantly colourful illustrations help children to appreciate that different societies may portray things differently.


We're going on a Lion Hunt Author-Illustrator David Axtell Level 2

Macmillan Paperback ISBN 0-333-74149-8 4.99

Have you read the Bear version of this traditional tale by Michael Rosen set in the English countryside by the illustrator Helen Oxenbury? (Issue 1) This time the story is set in Africa where two African sisters go off on a LION HUNT. We're not scared. Been there before. The illustrations convey the feeling of the background in which they are surrounded by African animals. Finally they find a male lion in a cave But what's that? One shiny wet nose! One big shaggy mane! Four big furry paws! It's a lion! and it chases them through the long grass, the lake and the swamp until they reach home. Scary fun!


    Non-Fiction Books


Do's and Don'ts Author-Illustrator Todd Parr Level 1a

Walker Books Hardback ISBN 0-7445-8196-6 3.99

This simple, but funny, code of behaviour was first published in the US, However the Do's and the Don'ts apply to most young children. Boys will certainly laugh at some of the suggestions. Do Help Keep the House clean. Don't Vacuum up the cat. Do Give the dog a bath. Don't Take one (a bath) with him. Do wear your Dad's pyjamas. Don't wear them to school. The twelve pairs of Do's and Don'ts are easily understood as the basic comic-style illustrations convey the fun and the message, too! After several reading many children will know the text off by heart or at least most of it. It could be fun to ask the children for some more Do's and Don'ts; you may get some surprises especially from the boys!


This to That Author-Illustrator Melanie Walsh Level 1a

Walker Books Novelty/Hardback ISBN 0-7445-8124-9 2.99

A Lift-the-Flap-Book

An unusual small book that deals with This to That in a different way that appears to fascinate children. Using two verbs makes and becomes to activate the change from this to that appears to fix it in children's minds. Behind 11 flaps this changes by lifting the flap to that. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Snow makes a snowman. Wool makes a jumper. The illustrations are simple and leave the reader to fill in their own background. Children like this book and appear to get fun from having the power to change things just by lifting a flap. Some children enjoy making their own books and some of their ideas of changes are interesting and sometimes unusual.

Let's look at FEET Author Simona Sideri Illustrator Sheilagh Noble Level 1b

Zero to Ten Paperback ISBN 1-84089-144-0

This colourful book gives us a chance to enter into a group of children's discussion about feet. Look, feet are fantastic! How many toes on each? An elephant

has five toes each too. Camel's hooves are special. They have two toes that spread out flat so the camel doesn't sink in soft sand. Interesting facts supported

by clear, lively illustrations help children compare their activities with those of the animals, which makes understanding quicker. These simple information books are useful for classrooms that plan to include concepts and language across the curriculum. After looking at feet you may like to look at hands in the same useful series.


Let's look at HANDS Author Simona Sideri Illustrator Sheilagh Noble Level 1b

Zero to Ten Paperback ISBN 1-84089-145-9

The Bad Good Manners Book Author-Illustrator Babette Cole Level 2

Puffin Books Paperback ISBN 0-14-055480-7 4.99

The first half of the book is about Don'ts, the second half of the book about Do's. All are supported by hilarious illustrations - often small ones in sequence -

which help you understand what can go wrong if you don't listen to the good suggestions or even if you do listen to them Don't bung the loo up with paper.

Don't leave the taps on in the bathroom. Do try to dress yourself properly. Do put the right shoes on your feet. Although many things may not succeed the most important thing is that, as the little boy tells his parents, I was trying!


    Song Books

Row Your Boat Author Lisa Bruce Illus Robin Bell Corfield Level 1b

Frances Lincoln Hardback ISBN 0-7113-1557-X 10.99

A delight and if you don't know the song, there's the music at the back of the book. The atmospheric watercolour illustrations take you into the circumstances of each part of the journey as the mother and son row their boat down the river and out to sea. The song has been extended to create 6 different scenes. The final verse shows mother and son at home Sitting on the floor acting out the boat in the traditional way and singing, Are you getting tired now, or shall we sing once more? Turn the page and a series of small drawing show how to act out each verse. Great fun to do with children who are already used to singing songs in English without necessarily understanding the meaning of each word.. It takes time to build up the to all the verses and it might be easier to let children mime the verses by themselves before they get into pairs on the floor!


Animal Boogie Author-Illus Debbie Harter Level 1b

Barefoot Books Paperback ISBN 1-84148-095-9 4.99

The lively colourful illustrations of the Indian Jungle get you in the mood to swing, boogie, woogle, oogie with the monkey as he's swinging through the trees.

Down in the jungle, come if you dare! What can you see shaking here and there? Well you'll meet a Bear, a monkey, an elephant, a bird, a leopard and a snake and a group of children including one in a wheel chair. Great fun and to help you there's a simple music score at the back of the book. Older Primary children will be sure to enjoy an opportunity to swing along with you.


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