Down the back of the chair – World read aloud day

Today is World Read Aloud day brought to us by Scholastic Publishing. I have a few suggestions for great read alouds.

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Screenshot from which includes resources for the book “Down the Back of the Chair”

I seem to recall that Margaret Mahy’s book “Down the Back of the Chair” was selected by some libraries and school to read aloud on this day quite a few years ago. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar this tale has such rhythm and repetition that children cannot help but join in with the phrase … “down the back of the chair.” It revolves around the very real problem of not being able to find the car keys as the family is ready to leave the house. One of the children makes the very good suggestion to look down the back of the chair and, well, you would not believe what was found there. Margaret Mahy will get a whole post of her own – she is an incredible writer for children. Below is a film clip of her performing the story for her own grandchildren created by TVNZ and found on YouTube.

Another suggestion is to find the writer Juliette MacIver’s book “That is not a hippotamus”. It is the marvellous story of a school field trip to a wildlife park where the children notice the hippotamus is missing and help to find it. Sarah Davis’s illustrations of the harassed teacher are a real treat. Liam is the only child who spots the elusive animal but as can happen oh so often Liam is dismissed by his teacher who is busy trying to keep her students from being eaten or worse by other animals. It is so much fun and I always invite my students to use their clever eyes to spot the hidden hippo on every page.

Juliette MacIver is a real favourite of mine. She enjoys rhyme and rhythm to the point of often coming up with names and fun words before the storyline. Her characters are so believable. My favourite character is Marmaduke Duck a fabulous fellow who loves making and eating marmalade jam. Juliette was given an illustrator for this book and as luck would have it the publishers teamed her up with the talents of Sarah Davis. When Juliette first saw Sarah’s illustration of Marmaduke she fell in love with him and asked if it was possible to work with Sarah again. Her publisher told her only if it was on a sequel and so Marmaduke’s story has continued and is now in four books. Below is a screenshot taken from Sarah’s website showing illustrations from “Marmaduke Duck and Bernadette Bear” the second book in the series.

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My two boys grew up loving Lynley Dodd’s character Hairy Maclary, a little black dog who gets up to wonderful mischief with his dog friends from around the neighbourhood, including memorable characters like Bottomly Potts covered in spots and Hercules Morse as big as a horse. Dodd wrote many of the books my children loved from “My cat likes to hide in boxes” through to the “Nickle Nackle Tree” which housed the most unusually colourful and wonderful birds. We read them so often I still remember most of them without looking at the text. I love Dodd’s vocabulary – in one book “Hairy Maclary’s Caterwaul Caper” the ferocious cat Scarface Claw gets stuck in a tree – “you could hear the cacophony all over town” which of course attracts Hairy Maclary and his friends.

I hope this has added a few more options for World Read Aloud day – enjoy.

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Amanda Bond is a New Zealand ex-pat currently working as Teacher Librarian in an international school in Istanbul, Turkey. Her twitter handle is @kiwionthego

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