for adults helping children

learn English as a foreign language

or additional language

May and November                          distributed free             download Issues from





























Website:                         Email:

Fax: 44-20-7704-6686                  Address: 23 St Peter's Street, London N1 8JP

From the Editor       -       Opal Dunn

Issue 9 focuses on Emotional Literacy. Previous Issues have included books about feelings. Issue 9 includes a selection of nine storybooks, and one Alphabet book covering different feelings and emotions by authors and illustrators from Britain, Europe and America. (See page 1)


The Feature Article briefly looks at the stresses of present day children's life and the frustration, often unrecognised, that some children feel in the early stages of learning English. Research with children using REALBOOKs shows quite clearly that REALpictureBOOKs provide children with extra dimensions, not covered in most EFL Text Books, from which they may find some solace and develop a better understanding of their personal emotions and feelings.


Issue 9 includes two interesting Novelty books for cross-curricular work - Ken Wilson-Max's lively Zelda in the City and Emma Damon's All Kinds of Beliefs which follows on her best selling All Kinds of People (Issue 7). For teachers working in multi-ethnic and linguistic classrooms, these two books might be of interest. Parents might also find them a good introduction to different faiths and their cultures. Recently I came to realise how useful these two books could be when I visited an Infant School in London where there were over 28 different home-languages spoken, and the majority of children were learning English as an additional language.


I continue to look for suitable good REALpictureBOOKs at a more affordable price. This Issue introduces The Cat on the Mat Series by the famous illustrator Brian Wildsmith. The title for many teachers signals that these books introduce structured language based on phonic content. This is not the case. The simple text is repetitive,  spoken language and is supported by full-colour illustrations. An ideal collection for those of you with limited funds wanting to start a Book Corner or Book Box!


You may be surprised that I also introduce an old favourite Winnie the Witch. I feel that Winnie, who may not be known to some, might enthuse older children and especially boys, who are hooked on the Harry Potter Books, which they have read in their home-language.  I think children who are already into witchcraft will be fascinated by Korky Paul's witty, imaginative illustrations of a witch's antics. Remember there are no illustrations in the Harry Potter Books except on the book covers and the crest of Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However a film is being made! A pity Hogwart's School did not teach a modern foreign language. It would have done so much to motivate children, and especially boys, learning a foreign language at school!


It is very encouraging to hear that more and more teachers are trying to include REALBOOKs in their programmes and that some of these books are from the Book Selections in REALBOOK NEWS. Thank you for your support. Please enjoy Issue 9.


Feature Article Emotional Literacy- reading about feelings.

Teaching English to YL's cannot be thought of as teaching a subject like Geography or History. The world, seen through children's eyes is not divided into compartments called subjects. English for children is another tool for communicating about themselves and their world. To teach children English successfully, we need to understand child development and respond to individual children's ever-changing needs, as they grow physically and develop mentally, emotionally, socially and linguistically. Many of today's children are stressed. They want and need adults to listen to them. They need help to understand and manage their emotions and without it they are often not sufficiently relaxed to study. Learning English can be an additional frustration for children as it takes time before they can communicate needs and interests as easily as in their home-language. In some situations the frustration may be compounded as the relationship with the English teacher may be more friendly and relaxed than with some of the other teachers. Children may long to share their joys and problems with the English teacher, but have not yet acquired sufficient language in English. Frustration is present in many YL's classrooms and often passes unrecognised.


Children need to 'feelgood' if they are to learn easily. If the 'feelgood factor' is absent, children are likely to be less co-operative listeners and their frustration may even lead to disruptive behaviour. This type of behaviour is generally more usual amongst boys, who are known to find foreign language learning more difficult than girls.


Learning how to recognise and manage personal emotions is an important part of growing up. This is especially so in the pre-puberty years, when children become more self-conscious. In some cultures, although children may be exposed to many forms of stress, home-language education may give little help in emotional management.


REALBOOKS can help children work out how to manage their emotions as many provide focal settings beyond daily life occurrences. Through sharing the pictures and text of selected REALstory BOOKs,  adults can provide opportunities to talk about how to manage stress. Through REALstory BOOKs  children can:

·        explore emotions and acquire the language needed to express them.

·        share emotions confidently and freely in a sympathetic, warm, caring atmosphere.

·         reflect on experiences and relate them to their own life which leads to greater understanding, security and self-confidence.

·         through characters in stories try out and feel potential emotions.

·         come to terms with their own feelings in a safe, caring  situation.

·         find out about fear in a way that is exciting without it being a threat or real danger as the experience is contained. A book can be shut and put away!


REALBOOKs can be revisited by children in their own time. Although to begin with children share books, later they may have opportunities to revisit them by themselves, browsing through them interpreting the text and especially the pictures at their own level of experience, understanding and need. Through REALBOOK experiences children can pick up language and borrow it ( transfer it) to talk about their own emotions. If children are given opportunities to do this, talk gradually begins to replace some of their frustrated reactions, which may be physical like a poke or a push. Follow-up own drawings of REALBOOK experiences often reveal details of feelings that are too complex to express in limited English.


The 'feelgood factor' can be cultivated if children are listened to and given the linguistic tools and creative outlets (like drawing) to express their feelings. Where REALBOOKS are part of a programme, teachers often report that children appear happier and calmer. It seems that selected REALstoryBOOKs can contribute to individual children's 'feelgood factor' as through them they can find ways to understand and manage their emotions and so begin to develop a necessary life-long skill.

Book Selection

·      Books about Feelings (See page 1 for front covers)


NASEN Special Educational Needs Children's Book Award 2000

Susan Laughs           Author- Jeanne Willis  Illustrator Tony Ross            Level 1a

Anderson Press    Hardback             ISBN 0-86264-896-3                    £9.99

Red Fox              Paperback                    ISBN 0 09940756 6                           £4.99


Susan is a sweet little girl. She can do all the things most little girls and boys can do.

Susan laughs, Susan sings, Susan dances, Susan hides

A natural way of listing all that Susan can do in the simple present tense, which can lead on to children comparing themselves with Susan and listing all they and others can do. For example I laugh, I swim or  Hilda laughs, Hilda runs ……..and so on. But what a surprise to see on the last page that Susan, who can do all these things, is sitting in a wheel chair.

That is Susan - through and through - just like me, just like you.

Tony Ross's crayon illustrations are easy for children to decode and copy. The double spread showing Susan doing an addition sum and getting it wrong, and then solving it another way, will make many children and adults smile. Susan's right, Susan's wrong, Susan's weak, Susan's strong.

This book has a strong, relevant message conveyed without sentimentality. It is easy to use, even with beginners, though some teachers might like to save the surprise ending for the second presentation. Through sharing this simple book you will probably find out a lot about how the children in your class think and feel.


You smell and taste and feel and see and hear Author-Illus Mary Murphy Level 1a

Dorling Kindersley                      Paperback                    ISBN 0-7513-7206-4          £3.99

Although this book is in the Toddler Story Book, series the story may be good for those wanting to introduce or confirm the 5 senses - smell, taste, feel, see and hear to beginners. The senses are clearly introduced by a mother dog and her lively puppy and both communicate their reactions in easy-to-pick-up spoken language.

I feel smooth paper and sticky paint. I hear my friend on the telephone.

I see the moon far away. I smell dinner.

The bold black out-line drawings are easy to decode and also copy. This reasonably priced book is printed on sturdy colourful paper likely to last sometime in a book corner or book box.


How scarry!        Author-Illustrator Bernard Lodge                                      Level 1a

Frances Lincoln                 Hardback      ISBN 0-7112-1762 9                           £10.99

Who scares who from numbers one to ten? Graphic designer Bernard Lodge worked at the BBC on award-winning classics such as Dr Who, so it is not surprising that he has produced a scary counting book with a final unpredicted end. The story begins with a boy and girl being frightened away by 

Look out. It's one Growling Giant. The Giant is then frightened away by two Dreadful Dragons. The Dragons are then chased by three snapping sharks, and so the story goes on up to number ten. A fun adventure counting book, which should amuse older children who may find learning numbers in English frustrating and boring! Boys especially will enjoy the pictures and the rich language will soon be picked-up by most children. Make your own class counting book full of hairy, scary and ferocious creatures. This counting book should stimulate some interesting discussion and may even help some children to come to terms with their own fears.


L is for Loving   Author-Illus  Ken Wilson-Max                                         Level 1b

David Bennett Books           Hardback            ISBN 1-85602-300-1                 £9.99p

An ABC for the way you feel.


Ken Wilson-Max's bold but sensitive pictures capture 26 moods from the child's-eye perspective as he takes us through his alphabet of feelings.

Ff Friendly. Being together gives us all a friendly feeling with.a picture of 2 boys and 2 girls.

Ww Worried . I felt worried when Daddy was not very well, so I made him a special card with a picture of a card on which is written Get well soon I love you Daddy xxx

Xx xx for kisses. When Daddy opened his card we gave each other a big hug and a kiss. I love that feeling! With a picture of Daddy hugging his daughter.

Born in Harare, Zimbabwe and now living in London, Ken Wilson-Max's colourful, multicultural illustrations reflect his early childhood. If you introduce the Alphabet over several lessons, children will have time to think, discuss. They may even want to make their own Alphabet about their feelings.


Today I Feel Silly  Author Jamie Lee Curtis Illus Laura Cornell                  Level 2

HarperCollins      Hardback              ISBN 0-00-198424-1                        £9.99

A Novelty Book with a Mood Wheel for individual interaction


Today I Feel Silly - and other Moods That Make My Day. An ideal book for older Primary Children who are rapidly becoming more self-conscious and subject to moods as they approach adolescence. The text, in easy-to-pick-up, rhyming language deals, spread by spread, with different moods. Each is supported by vibrant illustrations that help you to even feel the mood!

Today I am angry. You'd better stay clear. My face is all pinched and red ear to ear.

Today I am lonely. I feel so small. My Auntie's away. I wish that she'd call.

My Mom's working late and my Dad has the flu. And although I've got stuff, I've got nothing to do.

To-day I'm discouraged and frustrated - see? I tried Rollerblading and fell on my knee.


The book concludes with moods are just something that happen each day. What ever I'm feeling inside is OK!  How do YOU feel today?  This is followed by a Mood Wheel. This is a face with moveable eyes and a mouth, which you can turn to reflect the various moods that adults and children experience. Great to start everyone talking especially if you try to make a class chart of moody faces!


Becky's New Teacher    Author Abby Irvine Illus Emma Damon                 Level 1b

Tango Books          Hardback/Novelty       ISBN 1-85707-500-5           £9.99

A novelty book with fabrics and flaps ending with your own contribution


Children wonder what a new teacher is going to be like and especially their English teacher! Becky's teacher has left and a new teacher is coming today. What do you think our new teacher will be like? Children in the book, like all children, have many different and even some outlandish ideas!

Then Becky thinks about lots of people who look a bit different but are very nice and kind and by lifting up 12 flaps we can see 12 people known to Becky, who are all different but nice and kind.

The new teacher arrives and Mrs Tate is friendly and nice. She tells the children for your first lesson I'd like you to paint a picture of me. The children all paint a picture of Mrs Tate. The reader can also draw a picture of Mrs Tate as, at the back of the book, there is a pull-out, wipe-clean board just for this. This is a touch-and-feel book with many fun, interactive experiences that help readers think more about how people differ from one another. Hopefully this book will make them more observant and realise that looks are not everything. Emma Damon's illustrations bring this special message alive in a way that children can easily understand. A very special experience!


Rain                                        Author Illus Manya Stojic                             Level 1b

David Bennett Books                   Hardback   ISBN 1-85602-355-9        £9.99

A great story about the African Savannah that helps you enter into the environment and share the senses of the animals as they smell, hear, touch, see and finally taste a refreshing drink from the water hole.  Manya Stojic was born in Belgrade and left in 1991. Now married to Ken Wilson-Max she spends winters in Harare, Zimbabwe, which helps to explains her sensitive portrayal of the this African experience. Large print of varying size resting on bold, vivid illustrations transfer the emotions of the first drops of rain, and their importance to the environment.

Thunder boomed. The rain is coming! cried the baboons. Porcupine can smell it. The Zebras can see it. We can hear it. A raindrop splashed. ….. And I felt it. I must tell the lion…. The lion sighed I can taste it…Then the rain stopped…. Every tree began to sprout fresh, green leaves.  This beautiful story will leave a lasting impression and may help all of us understand the global environment better.


From Cat's Whiskers - world picture books about feelings

The following 2 Cat's Whiskers books, reviewed in Issue 8 are now in paperback.

Mr Cool           Paperback          ISBN 1 90301-205-8                                    £4.99

Brave Bear           Paperback     ISBN 1 90301-207-4                           £4.99



Flop-Ear Author-Illustrator Guido Van Genechten                     Level 1b

Cat's Whiskers          Hardback            ISBN 1-90301-200-7                    £9.99

                             Paperback                    ISBN 1-90301-202-3           £4.99


Originally published by a Belgium publisher, Clavis, well known for picture books, this appealing story has a clear message for children of Nursery and Lower Primary ages. Flop-Ear - one ear up, the other down - wanted to be like the rest of the rabbits with two ears up. He tried many ways to be the same as them without success. All the other rabbits had ears that stood straight up. But Flop-Ear's right ear hung down.  The other rabbits just laughed at him for being different. Lop-Ear Flop-ear they shouted at him. Why can't you stick your ear up, like us! Flop-Ear tried so many ingenious ways to make his ear stick up like putting a carrot in it. He even held his ear up with a balloon. Poor Flop-Ear. Nothing seemed to work. By now he was very sad.  I'll just have to cut my ear off. Flop-Ear sat down and cried. The next day he went to the doctor. The Doctor explained that all ears were different. The most important thing was that ears functioned and you could hear. Flop-Ear accepted this and returned home. Meanwhile the other rabbits had missed him and gave him a tremendous welcome. They even went as far as to copy one of his ear-tricks that made them all have one ear up and the other down! At last They were all the same. The message so clearly portrayed is about not only accepting differences, but not bullying people who are different.


Flop-Ear and Annie Author-Illustrator Guido Van Genechten           Level 2

Cat's Whiskers              Hardback    ISBN 1 90301 217-1                  £10.99

Paperback          ISBN 1 90301-216-3                  £4.99

A delightful follow-on tells how Flop-Ear tries everything he can think of to please Annie so that she will want to be his friend. He altered his clothes and even put on his grandfather's glasses as he felt I don't look clever enough. After much thought and a few changes Flop-Ear discovers that Annie prefers him just the way he is! Together they walked through the wood. Annie's paw felt very soft when Flop-Ear held it. It was so good to have a friend.

Although the pictures may look more suitable for younger children, the message is relevant even for children of 9 and 10 who may be troubled by the difficulties they find in making a special friend.



Ed loves Sarah loves Tim  Auth - Edith Schreiber-Wicke Illus-C Holland        Level 2

Cat's Whiskers              Paperback   ISBN 1-90301-215--5                          £4.99

This charming story first published by the Germany Company Thienemanns follows the feelings and emotions of Ed as he falls in love with Sarah. Sarah declares Ed is my boy-friend! But suddenly everything went horribly wrong. Sarah rejected Ed and instead made friends with Tim. Ed felt so lonely. Everyone seemed to have a special friend, except Ed. But one day, just as suddenly everything changed again. Ed made a new special friend - Hannah. The experience of first love is sensitively recorded and many older Primary children will relate to Ed's story. This book will give them the vocabulary, and also the courage, to share with you their feelings about their first love and classroom relationships, which are so important to older Primary aged children.


·      Story books


 Don't step on the crack!  Author-Illus Colin McNaughton                Level Ib

HarperCollins    Hardback  ISBN 0-00-198417-9                                 £9.99

Do you remember as a child being told never to walk

on a crack or line between paving stones and if you did

something terrible would happen. The story goes that

there is a town somewhere and in that town, a street.

On that street is a pavement and on that pavement, a

crack. This hilarious story is told interactively - the

storyteller giving advice and the boy responding.

The graphic illustrations add to the wit and humour

of the text. Some of the results of treading on the cracks

may be anyone's worst fears. You might not get exactly

what you want for your birthday. A TUTU! with a picture

of the embarrassed boy wearing a pink tutu and trainers!

Or even worse, you might set off for school one morning and forget something really important ….. WHAT? your trousers!  Children will soon pick-up the boy's language. After sharing this story, you will never walk along a pavement without wondering if you are going to put your foot on that special crack.  A great experience for children aged 7 upwards.


Count Down to Bedtime  Author Mike Haines  Illus David Melling        Level Ia

Hodder                     Hardback    ISBN 0-340-75762-0                           £10.99

A different way for counting up or rather down from

ten for very young learners. Ten minutes to bedtime!

Are Fidget and Quilly ready for bed? Lift the flap to

find out. As you count down to bedtime, one or more

flaps on each spread make this an interesting story

and one to which children can relate their own

experiences. The reverse side of every flap has

additional comments, which like all the text, is

in spoken English. However, for the very young

beginner these are not necessary to make the story

fun. Try using a count down to finish off activities

in your classroom Four minutes to play time. Are

you ready for playtime?


The Shopping basket                            Author-Illus John Burningham       Level Ib

Red Fox               Paperback             ISBN 0-09-9989930-2                      £4.99

It's tea time and Steven is asked to pop down to the shop

and buy six eggs, five bananas, four apples, three oranges,

two doughnuts and a packet of crisps. He bought what he was

told, but met a bear who wanted the eggs. How did Steven cope?

He then met a monkey who wanted the bananas and then a

Kangaroo, who wanted the apples. So the story goes on! But

Steven still manages to get home with some things for tea,

in spite of the efforts of the bullies he had met on his way!

There are many fun surprises in the story. The illustrations

are full of interesting details. The re-presentation of the

visual shopping list, up-dating it after each encounter with

a bully, enables children to join in and practice plurals in

an amusing way.


Can you keep a secret?                           Author-Illus Pamela Allen                      Level Ia

Puffin                       Hardback  ISBN 0-670-84405-5                                     £4.99

Puffin celebrate 60 years of Publishing children's books

this year with an interesting list, including a new Pamela

Allen small- sized book for very young learners. A nameless

little boy imagines he is the KING, but in his transformation

he has forgotten that he already put the King's crown on his head.

The King has lost his crown. Is it under the green elephant?

Shhhh… you mustn't tell. Is it behind the yellow lion? And so

on re-listing all the places where the crown cannot be found

until Someone must have taken it. Do you know where it is?

A lovely repetitive story, easy to pick-up and use to confirm

colours and prepositions of place. Make a crown and play the game.


Space Dog            Author Vivian French   Illustrator  Sue Heap               Level Ia

Hodder                    Paperback  ISBN 0-340-77873-3                                     £4.99

Another Birthday and your class is bored with the same 

way of celebrating. Why not introduce Space Dog and have

a space celebration! It was Space Dog's birthday. Happy

Birthday to me and off he zoomed into space. Space dog

flew up and up and up past the big sun and the little sun.

How? Attached to his back is a small rocket, which lets out white

vapour marking his track. On and on he went through space until

he felt fizzy, dizzy and sick. Home time! Home he flew back past

all the things he had met on his way, finally writing a special message

across the sky to all of them . A very happy party ends the story

and the final page asks you to find some of the beautiful colours 

in prize-winning Susan Heap's unusual ideas of life in space. Great for

leading on to a large colourful class illustration of a space cat's birthday journey.






·       Beginning to read

Oxford University Press - Cat on the Mat Books                  Level 1a

These very simple picture books tell a real story in simple language supported by detailed full colour illustrations by Brian Wildsmith, whose work can be best seen in the Brian Wildsmith Museum in Japan. Each 16 page paperback book costs £1.99.  So far 9 have been published. All are fun; the following might be useful for beginners.


The Cat on the Mat             Author/Illus Brian Wildsmith ISBN 0-19-272123-2  £1.99

A beautifully crafted story using 11 words to tell about all the animals, who sit on the mat. In the end  the cat chased them away so only the cat was left sitting on the mat.

Can you do this?           Author/Illus Brian Wildsmith ISBN 0-19-272418-5  £1.99

Again using 11 words, this story tells how the animals ask the useful question Can you do this? What they do is not said but shown in the detailed illustrations and in the final spread.

Not Here                        Author/Illus Brian Wildsmith ISBN0-19-272417-7  £1.99

This story is written using only 8 words. A pair of birds want to build a nest and set off to search for a suitable place. Where can I build a nest? They select some amusing places shown in the illustrations and to which the reply is Not here. Finally they find the right place and the answer is here.

How many?                  Author/Illus Brian Wildsmith ISBN 0-19-272419-3  £1.99

A counting book up to 10 with a difference. Count the animals from owls to ants.

If only                             Author/Illus Brian Wildsmith ISBN 0-19-272415-0  £1.99

The story has two words If only. Everything is told in the amusing pictures about dreams. An easy-to -use book, that should spark some interesting discussion and drawings, too. A good way to really get to know the children you teach!


Winnie the Witch    Author-Illus Korky Paul/Valerie Thomas          Level 1b/2

OUP Paperback                               ISBN 0-19-2772197-6                           £4.99

TEXT adapted for EFL plus activities           ISBN 0-19-431904-0

Winnie in Winter                  ISBN 0-19-272316-2                        £4.99

Winnie in Winter adapted for EFL  ISBN 0-19-4319922-9

 A wonderful witch story carried by the detailed illustrations full of witch humour and jokes. Winnie is up to all sorts of tricks, which are told in story language in the original book and skilfully changed to use the present tense and some simpler constructions and vocabulary in the EFL version. The EFL versions are both accompanied by cassettes.

Winnie flies again  OUP

 Hardback          ISBN 0-19-279026-9           £9.99

Another Winnie adventure in which Winnie starts

by travelling on her broomstick up into the sky. There were

no traffic lights. No traffic jams. Just the empty sky. But

Winnie found The sky is too dangerous, and she decided to

Try something else. She waved her wand and shouted

ABRACADABRA! and her broomstick turned into a bicycle,

then a skateboard and then a horse. Fine for Harry Potter fans

who know all about magic. Children who have read the 2 earlier

books and listened to the cassettes will be able to cope with this

text. Korky Paul's fun illustrations are a feast for those who

are mad about magic!




·       Information Books

Zelda in the city   Author-Illus Ken Wilson-Max                                Level 1b

David Bennett Books    Hardback/Novelty          ISBN 1-85602-352-4          £14.99

A little expensive, but not really, as the pull-outs provide

you with all that you need to stimulate a project on a city

or even your town. It is full of surprises including a map,

a post-card from the art gallery, a toy aeroplane from the

toy shop and a book about the city.

Hi! My name is Zelda. We're going to the city! We're going

to the BIG city! Mum and Dad and me!

Dad says, Take a map and let's get going.

Time to eat. Time to queue. A burger for Dad. A salad for Mum.

Ken Wilson-Max has presented us with a modern, ready-made

real experience. The simple text is accompanied by language

that goes with the variety of graphic experiences that you can

find in a BIG BIG city. Kids, especially older Primary, will love it

even if, to begin with, they can't read all the neon signs and the Movie Mag.                                                                                                              


All Kinds of Beliefs  Aothor/Illus Emma Damon      Level 1b

Tango Books, London  Hardback/Lift-the-Flap Book            ISBN 1-85707-503-6 £8.99

Another wonderful multicultural book from Emma Damon

 This book sensitively introduces you to children of

different beliefs and their cultures and clothes as well as

where and how they pray. Everyone is special. 

Some Muslim girls wear a Hijab over their hair. Some

Muslim boys wear a Toki on their head.

Some Sikh girls wear Shalwar Kameez. Some Sikh boys

wear a Romala over their hair. Some Christian boys like

to wear a Cross on a chain.

Christians worship in a Church. Buddhist worship in a Wat.

Hindus worship in a Mandir…. Other people may worship

in other places. The final spread unfolds to double the size

and takes you into a room in a Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim

and Hindu home This books brings together a great deal of information in an interesting and  easy-to-understand way. A really useful book which helps to better understand and, hopefully appreciate and respect, the richness of the diversity of people and faiths in the global world village.


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- 9.