for adults helping children

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From the Editor


Issue 8 is 10 pages long! This Issue includes a wider variety of types of books including Story Plays for facilitating dramatic reading of well-loved REALBOOKS.  Books cover personal relationships as well as global human and environmental topics. Look out for the UNESCO Prize winning book - Something Else and the World Wide Fund for Nature book The Desert. During the last months I have made an effort to look for suitable good picture books at a more affordable price. Some books I introduce cost under UK £3. I appreciate that for some this is still a lot of money, but for the more fortunate it is good value when you consider the price of a greeting card and compare their artistic value and use!


The Feature Article follows on from the brief comment in the excellent iatefl CATS Newsletter on Storytelling and the advantages and disadvantages of Telling or Reading a story. As in any good-practice Primary School in UK, both have their place in the young child's classroom and I feel it would be wrong to deprive children of either. From my own experience the two are closely inter-linked; one can lead quite naturally into another within a classroom that allows children to develop creatively. For example, after telling a story like Little Red Hen several times, a teacher might like to look at one of the many published picture books of the same story and discuss how the story book differs from the teacher's told version. Children generally have their own opinions and some may even have their own versions. In reverse a well-loved picture book can lead on to children telling the story themselves to you, their family or other children. Children love to tell stories, but too often we don't give them the opportunities, encouragement and space they need. We seem to forget that children speak in story form from a very young age. 'I went here and I did, I saw and I ate ' are familiar verb forms to most native speaker toddlers.


In this discussion it is important to remember that reading a story involves a book -a concrete and permanent record to which children can refer in order to read the texts and the pictures. From books children develop linguistic and visual literacy skills. Many soon know all or part of the text by heart. Children can learn to learn from books if we give them the right experiences. A book is something they can hold and experience without waiting for some one to tell or re-tell a story.

The Children's Book Trust slogan this year is BOOKS are Forever.


The use of Realbooks is spreading not only in schools and in Teacher Training Courses, but also amongst teachers who are parents.


The Pecs REALBOOK Project

This 2 year Project is supervised by Professor Marianne Nikolov and Rika Lugossy of the Department of Applied Linguistics at Pecs University in Hungary. It has now entered its second year. We look forward to the Pecs Project Report at the end of this academic year.


The Czech Picture Book Research

This research initiated by the British Council and supported by REALBOOK NEWS is up and running. It is part of a project, launched in 1999 by the British Council in the Czech Republic, which aims at developing a cadre of specialist YL trainers. The project includes classroom investigation into using REALBOOKS and stories in the classroom. The project is lead by Janet Enever. For further information contact <>.


Recently I heard that the project for teaching reading through REALBOOKS at the  Szkla Podstawowa School in Warsaw is expanding. This project involves the close co-operation of parents.


REALBOOK News would be pleased to hear of any RESEARCH PROJECTS using REAL picture BOOKS.


Feature Article - Which - Reading or Telling a Story?

What's in a term? Most young children need to match an activity to the language that goes with it, if they are to get meaning quickly and feel confident. Without some clear classification in their mind of what is going on and what language is used to talk about it, they can be confused although they rarely say so and we may not realise it if we are not down at their level.


To help children understand more rapidly, we can start by making sure our terminology for stories is clear. Are we telling stories or are we reading them? Primary trained teachers with experience in English language mainstream education know the dangers of not using precise language with young children. They may have been embarrassed on occasions getting what they asked for from children and not what they thought they had requested! Although the differences in some case for adults maybe blurred, if we are working with young foreign learners it is important to see our use of stories through children's eyes and use clear language to describe it.


 To quote iatefl YL's SIG journal CATS Issue 2/00 Summer 2000  ISBN 1026-6747

The Storytelling Handbook for Primary Teachers -PENGUIN

'This title is misleading…it is really the best book on the market offering ways of integrating the use of particular published story books into the whole curriculum. It is not really a book about storytelling.'

A new edition of this book, Tell it again. The new story telling handbook is to be published in Spring 2001.  In fact this book is not about storytelling but reading REAL picture story BOOKS, all  published by Penguin/Pearson. The text explains how to use each storybook as the basis for 6 to 8 lessons of 45 minutes each, so that a teacher can use the REALBOOK to replace a course book.



Storytelling is an oral tradition as old as the hills. Many of the best-loved western folk-tales like Grimm, and Anderson were originally told as oral stories and were only later recorded in books.

Useful expressions may include 'Would you like me to tell you a story. It's storytelling time.'


In the eyes of the child, the main criteria for describing storytelling as opposed to story reading is the form of the activity. How does the story activity take place and how is the child involved?

A story is told when a storyteller tells a story aloud as opposed to reading it from a text. The storyteller may support the activity with props like a hat, a toy animal or even some pictures providing these were not pictures of the story from a story book as these would be considered to be reading the pictures. This is the same as reading a story. (Issue 6 Feature Article - Visual Literacy)


Reading a story - Story reading

This activity involves a storybook from which either the story text or the pictures are read. In the case of books without words, the reader decodes just the pictures.

Useful expressions may include 'Shall we read a story ''Get the book and we'll read the story'

The complete story text may be read without any changes or the reader may improvise cutting or simplifying the text to fit the language level or needs of the class and classroom situation. The child may not realise that the adult is making any change to the text and even if they do, to the child this improvisation is still reading a story.


Writing a story or story writing

Some children enjoy writing their own stories. Children's story writing tends to be sparked by regular story reading activities and access in their own time to REALBOOKS  in a class book corner or at home. If a story is to become their own and deeper learning is to take place, children need to get beyond hearing stories at the speed of the adult to controlling their own speed of reading, turning each page when they are ready. Children need their own space with a REAL story picture BOOK if they are to enjoy their own 'dream time'.                    


.Book Selection

·       From Eric Carle -a new book and an old with  new illustrations!


Does a Kangaroo have a mother, too?  Author  Illus Eric Carle             Level 1a

Collins   Hardback        ISBN 0-00-7110599-1                                         £9.99

Eric Carle's latest book tells us about the mother-child bond of love in animals and uses it to emphasise the bond of love between parents and their children. The vibrant collage and paint illustrations convey the warmth and affection between each mother and her baby animal or animals. The fun question-and-answer text

A Dolphin has a mother, Just like me and you. Does a sheep have a mother, too? 

A monkey has a mother. Just like me and you. And do animal mothers love their babies?

YES! YES! Of course they do. Animal mothers love their babies, just as yours loves you.

gives children opportunities to reflect and predict. The repetitive language is easy to pick-up so children quickly join in the story. A page at the back lists the special names used for the 12 animal babies, parents and groups that appear in this book. This story could be useful for those who want to discuss animal families and could lead on to environmental work. Another winner from Eric Carle.


The Mixed-Up Chameleon  Author Illus Eric Carle                       Level 1b

Puffin   Paperback        ISBN 0-14-050642-X                                 £4.99

A well-crafted book with new illustrations. Two index at either

side of each spread help children find out information about the

animals in the Zoo and the colours which help to get the

Chameleon mixed-up. A tale with a message about respecting

differences and valuing the way you are and being proud of it.

The Chameleon soon found that adding something he liked to

his body from each animal he met, including the top hat and

umbrella from the humans, mixed him up so much that in the

end he was nobody. Children love the colourful mess the

additions make to the chameleon. A great book for children to

read in their own time. An added bonus - the grid on the back

cover is a ready-made Lotto Board.


·       a UNESCO PRIZE winning book


Something Else       Author Kathryn Cave Illus Chris Riddell              Level 2

Puffin   Paperback        ISBN 0-14-054907-2                                  £4.99

An endearing little creature was called Something Else by the others around him because that is what they felt he was. He was different and however hard he tried to do things like them, they always said Sorry. You're not like us. You're something else. You don't belong. How sad! One evening when Something Else was getting ready for bed, there was a knock on the door. Something was standing on the doorstep. Hi there! Great to meet you. Can I come in? But alas Something Else found he was not like anything he had ever seen, so he asked him to leave. Suddenly Something Else remembered his own experience and ran after the creature and asked him to stay. They played together happily and when another something different turned up, they didn't make any remark but moved right up and made room for him too. What was this new wierd-looking something? Was it a child? The detailed illustrations fill out this sensitive story giving the poignant message that friendship can over-ride physical differences, which, after all, are not that important. A memorable experience and a story not easy to forget. Good for Primary aged children.

·       A dual experience - Africa and the west


A Country Far Away Author Nigel Gray Illus Philippe Dupasquier      Level 1a

Anderson Press Paperback    ISBN 0-86264-860-2                                  £4.99

This book is uniquely crafted to use the same simple text to describe two culturally different pictures, one in Africa and the other in the West. The text sandwiched between two detailed pictures serves for both pictures and enables the reader to compare the life of a child in an African village in the top picture with that of a child in the West in the bottom.

Today was just an ordinary day. I stayed at home.

I did lots of jobs to help my mum and dad. They were really pleased.

Today it rained - so we went swimming

The fact that this comparison starts, for many children, from a familiar Western style scene makes understanding the new African environment easier. The story helps to emphasise the many similarities in the two children's lives and show that children share many human experiences. A sensitive book and if well presented it could be a memorable cross-curricular experience for Primary aged children. A natural basis for discussion and project work Let's hope that Anderson Press will develop the series to include other culturally different societies. It would be a valuable contribution to developing global understanding at a young age.


·       Cat's Whiskers - a list of 'the cream of the world's picture books'

Watts Publishing Group are presently scanning publishing lists throughout the world to find the best authors and illustrators to introduce their picture books to Britain.  In some cases this involves translating the texts into English. At present 7 picture books have been published. Each has a clear identity addressing social relations and self-development. At present the books are in hardback; paperback editions at £4.99 will be published in April 2001.


Mr Cool     Author-Illus Hildegard Muller                                      Level 1b

Cat's Whiskers    Hardback            ISBN 1-90301-204-X              £10.99

Originally published in Germany this eye-catching book is about 3 bears, Spotty and Spike and Growly Mike, who play together happily. One day Spike finds a scooter It's super and off he goes.

Before long he turns into Mr COOL! and goes off by himself, I'm Mr Cool and I want to ride on my scooter. His friends are sad, Spikes so cool, he won't play with us any more. And then CRUNCH! Guess what? But all is well, as his good friends know how to solve the problem. The vibrant illustrations, which sometimes spread to both pages, are full of humour. The deceptively simple text laid out in an easy-to-decode fun way, underlines the importance of friends. A vibrant modern story with a message which primary children of any level will understand. It's a cool experience!


Brave Bear   Author-Illus  Kathy Mallat                  Level 1a

Cat's Whiskers    Hardback   ISBN 1-90301-206-6   £10.99

Originally published in the US this enchanting story is about a bear

who tries so hard to return a blue baby bird to its nest. This isn't an

easy task as the nest is at the top of a very, very tall tree.  The unusual,

soft illustrations supported by simple text convey Brave Bear's great

efforts. The text is in easy-to-pick-up phrases, which can be useful

in other situations. Are you all right? Can I help you?

I'm not sure that I can … But I'll try. On the way the Bear gets

caught in a branch I need help. Luckily Baby bird managed to

help so on they went. Eventually baby bird is safely back in the nest.

·       Cat books for different ages

Milton              Author-Illus Hayde                                                   Level 1b

Ragged Bears (UK)/Chronicle Books(US) Hardback ISBN 0-8118-2762-3     £5.99

Milton, the delightfully sophisticated black and white cat has arrived from Geneva, Switzerland, via America, where he is all the rage, to tell us about himself and how he feels. For Milton Life is good, and you can feel this as Milton reveals all through minimal black and white drawings and simple text attractively designed on very black and white pages. More of Milton is on its way across the Pacific and this includes a cuddly toy, so watch the shelves and adverts in the UK nearer Christmas. Milton is a strong character and someone who can be everyone's cat. The expressive text makes this a great book to read aloud to Primary children whether or not you are a cat lover.


Cleo the Cat        Author- Stella Blackstone  Illus-Caroline Mockford   Level 1a

A Barefoot Paper Back                   ISBN 1-84148-260-9                                 £4.99

Bold colourful art work with a simple rhyming text tells

us about little Cleo who is looking for a home and a friend.

Told in the simple present tense, the text is easy to mime,

which makes understanding quicker. Cleo finds a house.

Cleo looks inside. Cleo hears a noise. Cleo tries to hide and

At last Cleo starts to purr. In the end Cleo falls asleep on the

lap of her newly found friend. A gentle appealing story.


Cat's Colours   Author-Illus  Jane Cabrera                                              Level 1b

Picture Mammoth         Papaerback                  ISBN 0-7497-3120-6              £4.99p

Cat's got a favourite colour. Is it green? Is it pink? Cat takes

you through seven colours each one supported by a vivid

illustration and explanatory text. Is it white? White are the

clouds floating in the sky. Until Is it orange? Yes! Because

and guess why. Orange is the colour of Mummy.

An interesting way of confirming these colours. In each

illustration different animals provide a second story.

This interactive story leads on naturally to asking children

 what is your favourite colour and why? As a result some

children often want to make their own colour books.


·       Story readings

Read me - Story Play                       You've read the story, now read the play!

Walker Story Plays are dramatic versions of favourite stories, perfect for reading aloud and choral speaking. They are written for 4 voices, with the parts clearly denoted by different colour bands. Each part can be read by a single voice or several voices.


 We're going on a Bear Hunt Re-Played by Vivian French            Level 1a

Walker Books                        ISBN 0-7445-6112-4                        £3.99

From the REALBOOK by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury (Issue 1)          

This dramatic version of the traditional, well-loved rhyme encourages children in reading aloud and choral speaking. Children love to recite rhymes and poems and this provides them with a ready-made opportunity. Story-Plays encourage children to share in the reading of a whole text as a group. This means that they have to pay attention to what is going on and, at the same time, think about the appropriate expression in order to convey the meaning. A good idea for an end of term presentation.

·       Learning to read

Walker Books - The Giggle Club

The Giggle Club is a collection of picture books to put a giggle into early reading. Although these books have the early reader in mind they use authentic English not text specially created to include words for reading practise.


One Day in the Jungle   Author-Illus  Colin West                                    Level 1a

Walker  The Giggle Club Paperback      ISBN 0-7445 4784-9                £2.50

Wonderful value. A full colour, carefully crafted Colin

West story book for this price. This fun (giggle) story

is about a sneeze(Achooo!) that spreads across the jungle

getting bigger and bigger each time until - Oh dear! 

Each animal's sneeze is greeted by the traditional

greeting 'Bless you'.


Only Joking Laughed the Lobster                                                            Level 1a

Walker - The Giggle Club Paperback    ISBN 0-7445-4785-7                          £2.50

Another Colin West fun (Giggle)story at the same price. The lobster has a joke on other sea animals saying there's a great big ugly shark following you! But in the end the joke is on the lobster. BURP! The shark wasn't joking! Both books are great fun for all ages and have nothing that makes you feel they have been written to help children learn to read. Boys especially love acting out the BURP!


Walker Books -Read Me Story Books

This series of Read Me Story books comprises of simple, lively rhyme-stories illustrated with clear, colourful, fun pictures making them ideal for children of any age learning to read.


Mrs Pirate    Author-Illus    Nick Sharrat                                                 Level 1a

Walker Books  Read Me Paperback                 ISBN 0-7445-7271-1              £2.99

A simple rhyming story with clear illustrations introduce us to Mrs Pirate and the things she bought when she went shopping. She bought an apple pie and a patch for her eye, a bar of soap and a telescope. Stimulating pictures easy to copy and easy to pick-up language. Fine even for older Primary aged children.


The Green Queen      Author-Illus     Nick Sharrat                                   Level 1a

Walker Books     Read Me Paperback     ISBN 0-7445-7269-X              £2.99

Another simple rhyming book with colourful clear pictures

tells about the Queen who lay in her red bed and looked

at the grey day. But she had to go out.  To get ready she

had to put on her clothes, which included her 6 coloured

scarf. Yellow, pink, turquoise, brown, orange and indigo.

An exciting way to confirm names for colours and

clothes. Leads on to talking about Kings and Queens.

Good for Nursery and lower Primary aged children.






·        Story books

Not Like That, Like This  Auth Tony Bradman Illus Joanna Burroughes Level 1b

Picture Mammoth                  Paperback   ISBN 0-7497-2415-3             £4.99

Have you ever been frightened that a child will get its head stuck between the banisters on the stairs? Well Thomas's Dad warned Thomas not to put his head through the park railings as he would get it stuck and guess what? His father got his head stuck in the railings. So many people came to help his father get his head out suggesting Not like that, like this, but it was stuck fast. Finally Dad  was free, but this was not the end of the story. An amusing story. Good for lower Primary aged children.


Wolf!   Author-Illus Sarah Fanelli                                                            Level 2

Picture Mammoth      Paperback              ISBN 0-7497-2870-1              £4.99

Designed and written by a young prize winning graphic

designer this story is about a wolf visiting the big city.

Each spread of the story challenges the reader to a

new-style visual experience which older Primary children

and computer literate teachers enjoy. Poor wolf he cannot

understand why nobody wants to make friends with him and

all of them chase him away. Finally, he was going home

when he suddenly caught sight of someone who smiled at

him. Wolf told her about his many misadventures and


All the people he had met in the city were astonished to hear

his words. They suddenly realised how wrong they had

been and everything ended happily in a friendly picnic.


Woo! The-Not-So-Scary Ghost Author/Illus  AnaMartin Larranaga         Level 1b

Hodder Children's Books       Paperback          ISBN 0-340-77406-1         £4.99

Ana grew up in Spain and this is her first book in English.

Woo- the little ghost - is fed up with everyone telling him

what to do. Brush your teeth. Do your homework. Tidy

your room. So one day Woo packs his bag and flits away.

Woo has fun practising his scaring techniques… although

nothing quite works. Alas poor Woo isn't as successful in

the big wide world as he had hoped and finally he finds

an opportunity to escape home just in time, as the sun

and the moon are changing places. The message is clear -

Even scary ghosts love home sweet home.


Mouse and Elephant  Author-Illus An Vrombaut                                      Level Ia

Hodder Children's Books    Papaerback  ISBN 0-340-74427-8               £4.99

Mouse and Elephant are very good friends and

want to play together but what can they play?

Mouse likes playing football. But elephant does not!

Can they bounce on the bed? Elephant likes bouncing.

But Mouse does not! What can they play? It is hard to find a

suitable game to please both the large and the small animal.

Finally Elephant manages to work out a great solution.

A mouse-and-an-elephant-tricycle …made for two!

Clear fun illustrations which children will enjoy copying.

Good for very young learners

The Elephant and the Bad Baby

Author Elfrida Vipont  Illus Raymond Briggs                             Level 2

Puffin                   Paperback           ISBN 0-14-0556691-0   £2.99p

First published in 1969 this edition sells at an affordable

price. This classic story-line tells how an elephant takes a

Bad Baby on his back and they go

rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta all down the road.

On the way the elephant stops at many different shops

and asks if the Baby would like something. The Baby

merely replies Yes never once saying Please. This annoys

all the shopkeepers who, in turn, join the chase after the

elephant and the bad baby. The amusing ending is not quite

what you expect and brings home the importance of manners

and what a difference an added please can make. The repetition

of activities and the language to go with them, makes this an

easy-to-pick-up text. Raymond Briggs once again delights us

with his detailed coloured and black and white illustrations.

Good for an end of term show.  


·       Information Books

Look who lives in     WWF World Wide Fund for Nature

The Desert     Author-Illus  Alan Baker                                          Level 2

Macdonald Young Books       Paperback           ISBN 0-7500-2774-6     £4.99

Look who lives in the Desert is one of a series introducing life in the Ocean, the Rain Forest and the Arctic. This excellent series is produced in association with the World Wide Fund for Nature. The Desert is clearly described and illustrated by Alan Baker who takes you on a journey looking for the creatures that roam around in the scorching Desert asking you to guess from page to page what is

picking, pecking or  pouncing. preying. Finally he introduces the Puma who can see all the animals in the Desert and asks you to check Can you see them all?  A map at the back shows the areas of Desert around the world and a picture index provides added information on the animals. A useful book for cross-curricular work.


Toad    Author-Illus Ruth Brown                                           Level 2

Red Fox     Paperback           ISBN 0-09-940382-X              £4.99

This superbly illustrated book was shortlisted for the

famous Kate Greenaway Medal.

This is the tale of a monstrous toad,

A muddy toad, a slimy toad,

A clammy, sticky, goey toad.

Yes, you nearly feel the Toad is there, in front of you. The

toad has the misfortune to waddle straight into the jaws

of a monster! Yuuuuk yells the monster and spits out the toad.

The monster had a monstrous shock and the Toad is once again

The happy toad, the carefree toad,

 the safe, secure, self-confident toad.

From my experience older Primary aged children really enjoy

the strings of adjectives and soon pick them up and use them sometimes in the most unlikely places!

A good book to read aloud and a wonderful basis for cross-curricular work.


·       Rich creative experiences

What's inside? The Alphabet Book          Author - Illus Satoshi Kitamura      Level 1a

Anderson Press   Paperback   ISBN 0-86264-756-8             £4.99

First published in 1985 this original way of presenting

the Alphabet as a mystery tour is particularly

useful for Primary children needing to learn the Alphabet

and for whom the concept of most Alphabet books is too

babyish. The selection of words is exciting and the way

of asking the reader to predict and then check helps to

reinforce the first letter sounds of the words. The

pictures are full of the special type of humour

associated with this Japanese author and illustrator's work.

A book that children need to look at in their own time if they are to

enjoy the pictures to their full and be stimulated by them.


You and Me          Author-Illus  Giovanni Manna                           Level 1a 1b 2

Barefoot Books            Hardback   ISBN 1-84148-262-5     £9.99

A rich and stimulating experience based on a game that some children often play challenging each other to opposites …..

I'm hot. You're cold.   You're young. I'm old.

I' a river. You're the sea. And finally

You're you And I'm me.

The simple rhyming language is complemented by detailed, nearly surreal illustrations that can take readers on a creative journey into a world as seen through a child's eyes and dreams.

The award-winning Italian artist's well thought out borders not only frame the pictures but help children relate, what ever their background, to the adventures and think about who they

are, what they can do and more importantly how they can relate to others. There is much to explore and consider in this book and children will love to read and re-read to themselves. Although the story is based on two children, a boy and a girl, it can be adapted for an end of term show as there are roles for 28 different children.


Back Issues can be downloaded from the REALBOOKS website



REALBOOK NEWS aims to help adults select suitable picture books (fiction and non-fiction) for  young children beginning to learning English as a foreign language or additional language.



·        Recommends suitable books

·        Includes a FEATURE ARTICLE on matters relevant to REAL picture BOOKS.

·        Selects books from any publisher - big or small

·        Selects books that YLs can or will soon be able to read

·        Prints a Book List of all fiction and non-fiction books introduced in back Issues 1- 8.