The love of books – the development of reading starts at home and it’s never too early to begin!
Generations of children, myself included, once enjoyed and still remember the old nursery rhymes. Perhaps this is why rhyming patterns of words in jaunty humorous verse remain popular with ‘children’ of all ages. In the young reader they provide enjoyable interaction: fun! Which is what reading should be.
Major Payne in Happy Bottom … is a unique series of elementary ‘novels’ with its chapters written in verse. Unlike conventional novels, however, the chapters can be read out of sequence.
Tips to help the development of reading skills in young children
Before you begin, find a comfortable spot with plenty of light and as little distraction as possible.
Suggestions below, though specific to Major Payne in Happy Bottom,’ can be adapted to most books. The important thing is that the activity should engage the reader in a fun filled way and leave them wanting more…
* Talk about the cover – What might the story be about? Look for clues in the illustration.
*Consider the play on words. For example:
Payne and pain
cheap and cheep
fowl and foul
* When reading to a child take a pause to encourage the anticipation of the rhyme.
*Share the book – read a rhyme together, after you’ve demonstrated the rhythm.
*At the end of a rhyme, ask for an opinion of the story – which was the best bit? Can they explain why with reference to the text?
*Ask for a verbal recount of events. Can they put them in chronological order? This is a very good skill for children to practise.
*Ask for a brief summary of the rhyme. Encourage the reader to recount key points in a couple of sentences.
*If a word isn’t understood, ‘precariously,’ for example, help them look for clues in the text or illustration. If that fails, look it up.
Children gain confidence when reading aloud familiar texts. Happy Bottom, by virtue of its short ‘chapters’ could prove a useful source for such practise. Ask your child to read to an elderly relative, or younger sibling. Maybe they could also recite a rhyme they’ve learned by heart.
Learning to write is a much more complex process than learning to read. Reading is the ability to decode symbols, recognise patterns and make sense of them. Writing, unless it’s the process of copying a text, is much more abstract.
Story writing is a complex discipline, and one at which children often feel inadequate. This is little wonder when many have a limited vocabulary, lack experience and are not instantly inspired. You can’t be forced to write a story: it comes from desire – not demand.
As a teacher I loved story telling and drama more than anything else. Creating the world of ‘Happy Bottom’ has been a joy, something I’m now eager to share. I’d love nothing more than to inspire both adults and children to embrace the art of rhyme and illustration.
A rhyme can tell a story in a few lines. They can be serious, funny or complete nonsense.
* Encourage your child to make up spontaneous rhymes – join in and have a go yourself. Say whatever word or phrase comes into your head. I guarantee you’ll have some laughs.
Play games with rhyming words. One person says a word, eg ‘boat,’ the next person repeats, then adds another and so on…
boat – coat –
boat – coat – note…
How long a word chain can you make?
Encourage your child to write a limerick. I find this fun, as it’s complete nonsense, of course. A limerick tells a story in five lines and the rhyming pattern is 1,2,5 – 3,4.
If your child would like to send me their ‘Happy Bottom’ rhyme, please follow the instructions on the website. I will show case as many exhibits as I can in the Gallery.
Anyone can draw. There are no hard and fast rules. Images portray an idea, which is open to interpretation. I chose Robin Edmonds to illustrate for me, as his style complements my vision for Happy Bottom.
Robin and I would like to encourage children to explore the art of drawing and character design. It took a while to agree on the characteristics of some Happy Bottom characters. I loved ‘Panic’ the moment I saw her, but our initial visions for Woofbot, were quite different.
The objective of the website’s Gallery is to provide a place where children can display their drawings or illustrated rhymes.
There are pictures on the website that can be downloaded to colour, but I’d also like to see children’s original work.