A million words

According  to this article on Essential Kids, children who are read five books a day before heading to school have heard more than a million words than those who aren’t read to regularly. That’s why some kids have such large vocabularies and others don’t.

This really emphasises the importance of children’s books in a child’s life although I remember as a child I would read almost anything. I loved my children’s story books, of course, but I just read things for the sake of reading. My parents regularly had the newspaper delivered – that was back when the newspaper was physically delivered and not searched for on a computer screen – so I would read bits of the newspaper and on Sundays, definitely the “Kids’ Page” section with the cartoons and comics. I also voraciously read junk mail. I could read a pamphlet for plumbing services just because it was there. I just liked seeing those words on the printed page.

Later some of my favourite books were not only fairytales and “what my mother grew up with” which was old-fashioned even then, like Milly-Molly-Mandy and Mrs Pepperpot books, but also children’s encyclopedias. I loved reading about dinosaurs or big mountains and famous explorers. I liked to feel important words like “chlorophyll” and “metamorphosis” roll off my tongue.

Not only did I probably hear a million words but I loved to say them and report back to everyone what I’d read and correct them which is probably really really annoying for adults. However, if your child can remember which dinosaurs ate only plants (herbivores!) better than you can, you are either doing the right thing with exposing them to lots of books or letting them watch too much Jurassic park.

I am pretty sure not only do parents who read at least five books a day to their kids, have kids who’ve heard a million words more than those who haven’t had that opportunity, but the parents have heard millions of words more than the non-bookish parent too … millions of words from those kids!

A batty Homecoming

I’ll spit the exciting news out – I have a story in this May’s School Magazine, the Orbit magazine. The story is called Homecoming and it’s on page 4. It’s very very batty!

When I first tried to write for this issue of the School Magazine, I saw the theme on the website, ‘Journeys’. It made me think of all sorts of exciting stories, after all so many things can happen when you take a journey. Then I read an article about bats migrating to Kasanka National Park.

This was an amazing journey. Not just because of how far the bats have to fly. But also because of the description in the article of this huge black cloud that comes into Kasanka, every year. A swarm of bats makes Kasanka its home, and no one knows exactly where the bats come from or where they go after.

I thought about what it would be like to fly in a huge black cloud like that, and to come to make a place your home only to swoop off somewhere else several months later. Would it feel like home?  How would you make it feel like home?

It was extra-exciting to find out The School Magazine accepted my story and to see it published. The pictures by Tohby Riddle are absolutely beautiful and capture the bats, the joy of their flight and their new home and the feeling of family among them perfectly.

This is my story of Felix the bat, who’s making his first flight to Kasanka …

Looking at the night sky

I have always loved looking at the stars and the night sky.

There used to be a bus ride home when I’d see the full moon and think it was the most beautiful thing hanging in the sky. A bit like Princess Hayley and her comet, it seemed so brilliant and beautiful I’d want to reach out and pluck it from the sky. Instead, of course, all I did was miss a few bus stops, have to get out late and walk back!

(But then at least I saw more of the moon!)

One of my favourite lines of poetry comes from Alfred Noyes’ The Highwayman.

It says:

The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.

I cannot think of a more perfect description of the moon in the fierce cloudy sky at night, white and mysterious. On other nights though it hung still and dignified like a glimmering pearl.

I kept looking at the sky for all the different moods it could take on, each so enchanting and so variable. I am sure that Princess Hayley was as captivated as I was.

Introducing Princess Hayley’s Comet …

A new chapter book about a princess, great friends, an even bigger dream and outer space.

Princess Hayley has everything a princess could want … except a comet. It’s her only birthday wish. Comets are so sparkly and they shoot through the sky so fast – who wouldn’t want one? But then Hayley realises the only way she’s going to get her wish is to catch a comet for herself. Joined by the very best friends a princess could have, Hayley aims to build the biggest and best – the only – comet-catcher in the world and make sure her birthday dream comes true!

A magical, funny story for young readers.

Princess Hayley’s Comet by Rebecca Fung, illustrations by Kathy Creamer
Published by Christmas Press, November 2018
ISBN: 9780994528070
RRP: $13.99
Approx. 70 pages
Trim: 190mm x 140mm

See also the Christmas Press Chapter Book web page; and
the Goodreads entry for Princess Hayley’s Comet.

The book can be purchased in bookshops around Australia (if it’s not in stock please query the bookseller, they can order it from the distributor Peribo) or be purchased direct from the Christmas Press website in the section Buying Our Books.