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Picture books

PICTURE BOOKS FOR THE LITERACY HOUR. By Guy Merchant and Huw Thomas. David Fulton pound;15.

This book encourages teachers to look closely at 24 high-quality picture books and suggests ways of using them for enjoyable, challenging activities. The authors discuss classroom organisation and the ways picture books can be used in the literacy hour, in other areas of the curriculum and at other times of the day.

The 24 books are divided into five categories - looking at how stories work, entering imaginary worlds, learning about ourselves and others, exploring feelings, and thinking about issues. They include popular titles such as The Blue Balloon by Mick Inkpen and Handa's Surprise by Eileen Browne, The Whale's Song by Dyan Sheldon and The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes.

There are learning opportunities matched to the National Literacy Strategy, story outlines with suggestions for work at text, word and sentence level, and thought-provoking extension ideas with links to other texts and photocopiable worksheets.

Other suggestions cover character analysis, discussion work, poetry-writing and story structure sequencing. There are also ideas for using picture books to raise issues such as bullying and racism.

Teachers will welcome this motivating classroom resource and adapt its ideas to their favourite books.

As Guy Merchant and Huw Thomas write: "Using big books in the classroom helps to establish a community of readers in the class - a community that can discuss and reflect upon a shared experience."

Gwynneth Bailey is English co-ordinator at Aldborough primary school, Norwich BIG BOOKS FOR THE LITERACY HOUR:Gwynneth Bailey's selection. 1 2 3 JUMP!. By Penelope Lively. Illustrated by Jan Ormerod. Longman pound;11.99.

Froglet is discovering the world, unaware of lurking dangers. Dragonfly alerts him to many hazards, which, of course, readers can seein the bold, colourful pictures. This engaging book for early readers perfectly matches text and illustrations.

BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR, WHAT DO YOU SEE?. By Bill Martin. Illustrated by Eric Carle. Longman pound;11.99. Clear colours, large-as-life animals, and repetitive, rhyming text in question-and-answer form combine to make this happy book ideal for sharing with nursery or reception children. The blue horse and purple cat never fail to amuse. The final spread joyfully recalls all the characters.

MR ARCHIMEDES' BATH. By Pamela Allen. Longman pound;11.99.

All children love bathtime fun, so they relate well to Mr Archimedes' problem. Why does his bathtub always overflow? His bathmates - wombat, goat and kangaroo - disclaim any responsibility, but after much measuring and experimenting, EUREKA! Mr Archimedes discovers displacement.

Thus enlightened, all four characters blissfully hop in and out of the tub all night.

CHICKEN, CHIPS AND PEAS. By Allan Ahlberg Illustrated by Andre Amstutz. Longman pound;11.99.

Characters in this series are superbly drawn, in text and illustration. Simple, skilfully repetitive language enables early readers to gain pleasure reading independently. Fast Fox hunts Mrs Hen's chickens to cook with his chips and peas. Things look bad for the chickens, but Slow Dog inadvertently rescues them - this time.

DINOSAURS AND ALL THAT RUBBISH. Michael Foreman. Longman pound;11.99.

This contemporary classic first attracted attention long before environmental issues were widely addressed in children's books. A rich industrialist sets off for a distant star, disturbing the long-slumbering dinosaurs, who restore the Earth to its former natural glories, rendering it delightfully unrecognisable to the returning industrialist. The direct language clearly conveys the message that we all share responsibility for caring for the Earth.

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