By: Alice Ahearn*
I was very excited to be invited to The Merlin School to read some of Tiny Owl’s stories to children!
On Tuesday 9 May, I visited four reception classes during their morning lessons to read two Tiny Owl titles: A Bird Like Himself and The Elephant’s Umbrella. I picked these stories because they’re full of the joys of sharing and helping each other, which children are just learning for themselves at this age.
Each class was a joy to visit; the children were full of enthusiasm, and everyone joined in to spot the animals, guess what happened next, and make an amazing range of animal noises! We played a game after each book – I passed round a toy bird or a toy umbrella, and each person who got to hold it had to pick an animal, make a great noise, and decide either how that animal would help Baby to fly, or whether they would keep or share the umbrella.
All the children were very keen to talk about the ideas in the books, and had some really good suggestions about why sharing is important and why it’s good to help each other. They also had plenty to teach me about animals!
Thank you to The Merlin School for making me feel so welcome; I hope everyone enjoyed themselves as much as I did.
We’d love to bring our books to your school too. If you’re interested in an event, please email email@example.com.
*Alice is an intern at Tiny Owl.
- The Sunday Times: Watch out for the Elephant’s Umbrella!
- A Bird Like Himself as described by the Guardian reader
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Alive Again is now out in paperback! First published in hardcover in 2015, Ahmadreza Ahmadi’s simple yet profound poem of loss and hope is a wonderful way to discuss concerns of life, death and rebirth with young children.
There’s a universal appeal in the themes of Alive Again. Everyone has to learn to trust that the blossom will come back after it dies, that dry seasons will give way to wet. This can lead to broader questions about the nature of death and loss. There aren’t many books that allow children to deal with worries like this in such a thoughtful yet unintrusive way – and helping them understand these realities is far better than trying to conceal them. We should never underestimate children, and if they are familiar with the realities of loss, they will be better equipped to cope with them.
Nahid Kazemi enhances the book with unusual illustrations that combine collage with childlike line drawings: birds, umbrellas and buildings are all made from highly textured fabrics and card, while human figures are simple pencil sketches. These insights into the ways that children see the world can be appreciated by readers both young and old.
The spare narrative style leaves much unexplained, which parents, teachers and librarians can discuss with children: who is the boy? Why is he worried? It’s also a perfect book to inspire children’s own collage artwork, with simple materials such as coloured paper and fabrics. But it’s really a book with no age limits, because it explores the thoughts and feelings that we can have at any age.
- Read a review by IBBY LINK: Here worlds are brought together
- Read a review by Outside In World: Opening up discussions on challenging themes such as loss and re-birth
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