In part two of her blog, Nicola Preskett, author of the ‘Hudson and Me’ series, talks about how to use her books in a fun and educational way. Nicola and Hudson have been touring nurseries and schools running story sessions. They have been discussing sausage dogs, using lots of class interaction while reading, and Hudson has been getting a lot of cuddles!
I have been visiting many nurseries and schools in the last few weeks since the books release, with little Hudson himself. This was a little risky as despite being a good dog on the whole, you never quite know what might happen in a room of 30 children! What was it they say?…”Never work with animals or children”…..
But it’s been a huge success. He plops himself on my knee, sits like an angel as I show the children various bits and pieces on him – his flappy ears, his big nose, his long sausage-like shape. We joke about the fact that he looks just like a sausage, we read his big book together, pointing as we go along, and then all the children get the chance to stroke and cuddle him. He has had his photo taken with hundreds of children and his ‘pawtograph’ is improving.
As I said in my previous blog, observing Hudson gave me the inspiration for my book series. From day one it was hard not to observe him, as every time I looked down or turned around, there he was. Like a little sausage shadow..
So, five books were created from the things I noticed about him, things he did, and our time together. Each has a theme to it. The underlying theme is the friendship and love between a little girl and her dog. But as a primary school teacher it is difficult to take off that ‘teacher head’, and I always write an ‘aim’ or learning objective before I start a book. I knew I wanted children to be able to feel that strong connection between the two characters, but also through familiarity, to be able to interact and relate to the themes themselves.
At specific stages in a child’s development they learn certain things; Some of this might be through exploration of themselves or the world; some through copying others or repetition of words; others through topics taught in nursery and school.
I have chosen not to include a learning objective or aim in the front of each book, as I wanted my books to be seen predominantly as fun interactive books. But each does have an aim. Using themes that children can relate to puts children at ease, and encourages interaction. The series also aims to teach new vocabulary, and follow topics in parallel with Early Learning Goals.
Here is a list of books in the series and a guideline for what can be learned in each:
Hudson and Me: to identify and point to body parts through observing similarities bewteen the little girl and Hudson.
Hudson and Me- Playing: to copy actions and learn different adjectives.
Hudson and Me - Snacktime: to learn the days of the week and relate to healthy eating.
Hudson and Me - Exploring: to look at mini beasts in the garden and learn different prepositions
Hudson and Me - Bedtime: to relate to bedtime routines. To be used as a soothing pre bedtime story.
Just as an example, here is how I would read the first book Hudson and Me…
The text is very simple, so if you read through the text alone you are done in a couple of minutes! The aim of this book is to notice similar body parts on Hudson and yourself, so each page is designed to encourage children to locate and point to the relevant body part. The opposite page points out Hudson’s similar body part. Then you can discuss and introduce whatever you think appropriate for the child’s age. For example, with an 18 month old, the location of their nose or eyes is sufficient. But for older children, you could make further observations or ask any of the following questions:
Can you see how Hudson’s nose is longer?
Why are dog’s noses longer?
What do dogs do with their noses?
Why do Hudson’s ears flap when he runs?
What are dogs feet actually called?
How many feet/paws does a dog have?
How many do you have?
I could go on, but you get the idea!
So as well as locating and pointing to each eye, ear, nose, tummy, you can introduce extra learning.
There are a couple of pages containing less text. These are designed to encourage discussion between you and your child/children about what’s happening in the illustrations. It is a great way for children to take part in the telling of the story (again, age appropriate).
I have thought about putting these aims or questions at the end of the books as you find in Usborne reading books, and would love to know your thoughts on this. Do you think it would detract from the simplicity of the book and the ‘reading for fun’? Or as a parent would you welcome having a few guidelines?
Please do e mail me at [email protected] to let me know as it’s useful feedback. Also, if you live in London and would like me to come to your child’s school or nursery then drop me an email and we would love to visit…
The second book Hudson and Me - Playing is due out in a month and each book in the series will follow every 6 weeks after that. I have many more ideas for the next series and really hope children, parents and teachers enjoy reading the Hudson and Me series as much as I love writing them!
Hudson and Me is available to buy on Amazon.co.uk at http://goo.gl/egAu8
And on Amazon.com at http://goo.gl/8SVrU
And you can follow him on twitter @hudsonandme