Books for All!

There are lots of different kinds of books that children can choose to engage with. For most kids, particularly younger ones, the most engaging books will be those specifically written for them. Sometimes, however, they will find books written primarily for adults more appropriate. With this in mind, for this month’s blog I have chosen to focus on some fantastic adult books that children – even those in primary school – may find interesting and engaging.

First up we have the ever-popular Dr Karl Kruszelnicki! Dr Karl has been around for a long time, and yet he remains as popular as ever. His latest book, Dr Karl’s Random Road Trip, is a wonderfully wild ride through some of science’s more bizarre areas. From looking at why wombat poo is cube-shaped to how coral spawns to the nutritional value of cannibalism, this book has something for every child from eight years up. It’s highly illustrated and features break out boxes with fun facts and extraordinary information, which makes it an ideal text for children to dip in and out of. I know I found myself fascinated – and maybe even a little terrified – with some of the sections, such as the security issues with the internet. Teachers’ notes are available.

One of the most inspiring developments in sport over the past couple of years has been in recognising the phenomenal contribution of women. It is wonderful that many women who compete at high levels of sport are now as recognisable as men, and foremost amongst these is Ellyse Perry. So, when I heard she would be releasing a book, Perspective, I was thrilled. With the inclusion of photographs from Ellyse’s amazing life, this is more than a memoir, rather it is a series of reflections on how to get the most out of life; how to find what it is that inspires you, and how to bring joy to yourself and others. Plenty of our students love to read non-fiction, and this would be an ideal introduction to forms of non-fiction other than straightforward biography.

Many of you will be familiar with Jackie French’s Matilda Saga, and Clancy of the Overflow is the conclusion to this amazing series. Throughout the Matilda Saga, Jackie has centred women in the history of Australia and the bush myths and legends that have had such a profound impact on our sense of what it is to be Australian. Clancy of the Overflow is a fitting end to the series. In this beautifully composed novel, we are taken back in time to meet the women who influenced the eponymous Clancy, and the stories of what he loved and lost, which were not included in the famous poem. In doing so, Jackie French also shines a light on another significant group whose voices have been lost in history: Indigenous Australians. This is an amazing book in its own right, and a wonderful ending to a series that is loved by many. Teachers’ notes are available.

Read of the Month – Given that I’ve spent this blog post looking at adult books that will be enjoyed by children, it seems only fitting that my read recommendation for the month is a young adult book that will be enjoyed by adults. I loved The Last Balfour, and not just because it reminded me of what I loved to read as a teenager. It reminded me that I should read more of what I love now – I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction, and this is a brilliant example of the genre, no matter what your age.

Set in Sixteenth Century Scotland, this well-researched and compelling novel looks at witches in a whole new light. Iona, 14, is from a long line of witches. While she embraces her heritage, she doesn’t have much faith in her own abilities until the witch hunts of King James VI force her to confront her own power. Cait Duggan takes us on a thrilling ride, which finishes with several breath-taking twists that I never saw coming.

Part of what I loved as an adult reader of this book was that the witches that Duggan presents us with are those much closer to historical fact then the ones many of us will have encountered before. They are wise women with the power to heal illness and aid in life’s great events, although Duggan does endow the witches of The Last Balfour with the ability to conjure magic.

The attention to detail and depth of research is obvious, and the writing draws the reader in from the first page. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough, add it to your TBR pile.

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