Why authors ♡ their characters – by Erica Gore — Anita’s Haven

Erica’s books have been a source of joy in my house and lessons, and Taya is one of the most positive preteen heroines girls could have. Read all about why her creator, Erica Gore, loves her. Why I Love Taya Taya Bayliss (Taya Bayliss Mysteries) is the bold, daring little girl that I wanted to […]

via Why authors ♡ their characters – by Erica Gore — Anita’s Haven

Summer Holidays

When I was a kid the summer holidays seemed to go on forever.

It was a wonderful time, full of adventure and experimentation. I don’t remember ever being bored. So it amazes me, when I am out and about at this time of year, to hear the wails of children -‘I’m bored!’

My brother, my cousin and I never had time to be bored when we were on holidays. We had all manner of weird and wonderful things to do – some fun and safe – some not so safe. Greame did like to make things explode…but that’s a whole other story.

My dad had two weeks annual vacation. For those two weeks we were small prisoners of whatever exciting holiday adventure Dad had planned for us, but for the other four weeks my brother and I usually hung out with our neighbourhood friends. Sometimes, however, Mum would send us off to stay with our aunty who lived at the beach.

Well, to be precise, she lived beside the mouth of Currumbin Creek. Currumbin beach is a beautiful surfing beach on Queensland’s Gold Coast. The sand is white, the waves are great and the beach itself is wide and safe.



Currumbin Creek -actually a river by the time it reaches the coast – runs into the ocean at the northern end of the beach.

When the tide is low, there were sand banks in the centre of the creek where the local fishermen dug for sand worms to use was bait. For us kids, the sand banks were out of bounds unless we were accompanied by an adult. Nobody seemed to mind us crawling in and out of the machinery in the sand works on the point, but we weren’t allowed to wade out to the sand banks. Go figure!

It happened that, one afternoon, my Uncle Herbie decided to go bait hunting…and…he took my cousin, Greame, and me with him. We were ten and full of energy. I think Aunty might have been glad to be free of us for an afternoon. We gathered up buckets, nets and the yabby-pump and paddled out to the middle of the creek. Heaven! We were on the sand banks! Yay!


All was well until Uncle Herbie realised that the tide was coming in. Hmmm. The channel over which we had waded was already too deep for Graeme and me to walk through, so Herbie made the decision that we should cross to the other side of the creek. Off we went.

“No worries, kids. Grab my hands,” called Herbie. “It’s only waist-deep.” And it was…..for him. Greame and I walked on tip-toes as the fortunately slow-flowing water lapped our chests. Eek!

We made it to the other side and were then faced with another problem. The road bridge leading back over the creek was quite a way from where we were. It would be quite a walk through mangroves to reach it.

Again Herbie had the answer….the railway bridge. (Sigh) It was right there, close by, easy to climb up to. Again, off we went.

There were no sidewalks on the railway bridge, just the sleepers and the tracks. One had to hop from one sleeper to the next or walk along on the track. No problem…just don’t look down.

Herbie assured us that there were no trains due so we could take our time.

We made it….and were carefully climbing down into the waiting arms of my aunty when the train from Brisbane chugged over the bridge. Phew!

Now that’s the kind of adventure that made the holidays fun and memorable – never boring – for me.

Did you have any adventures when you were a kid on holiday?

Magic #9

Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind.

This is an important point. These days we seem to have forgotten how to relax and      especially how to be silent. When we have time to ourselves, we have a tendency to veg out in front of some sort of screen. I have to admit that I am guilty of this. It is actually quite stressful for our brains and can interfere with our sleeping. Reading, in silence, black print on a white page is much less stressful for our eyes and brains. That is why a bedtime story has always been such a good idea.

Peaceful magic.

So, you see, reading very definitely IS important and magical. It is important for you now, and it is going to be an important part of your futures.


I am going to finish with a quote from author Mark Haddon.


He said. “Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.”


Magic #8

Reading is a great form of entertainment.

Whatever your interest, there is a book about it. There are millions and millions of books easily available in a variety of forms.

A book doesn’t take up much space so you can take it anywhere. These days you carry thousands of books around easily with one of those eReaders.

Personally, I prefer the feel (and smell) of an actual book. I did, however, buy an eReader to take on holiday a couple of years ago. My husband found it and that was the end of that. He has now commandeered it as his own and carries it with him everywhere.

My mother used to say that you are never lonely or bored if you have a book to read. And she was right! You can read anywhere, anytime.

Recreational magic.

sn cover  photo 1-2  cover G1  DSCN2879  Unknown  DSCN2876

Magic #7

Reading develops empathy.

When we are engaged in a story, we’re also imagining how the characters are feeling. We use our own experiences to imagine how we would feel in the same situation. This ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes is a valuable skill and serves us well as we go through life.

Reading stories to (and with) our children provides us with opportunities to discuss how the characters are feeling about or reacting to the situations they are facing. I have had very philosophical discussions with students and with my own children during/following the reading of stories.

What might cause Miss Trunchbull to become such a horrible person?  Do animals have the same feelings as humans? Is it ever okay to tell a lie? It never ceases to amaze me how profound the thinking of children can be.

Adults often underestimate the wisdom of children.

Emotional magic.




Even more Magic

Reading develops imagination.

         I met a dragon face to face 

The year that I was ten.

I took a trip to outer space.

I braved a pirate’s den.

I wrestled with a wicked troll,

And fought a great white shark.

I trailed a rabbit down a hole.

I hunted for a snark.

I stowed aboard a submarine.

I opened magic doors.

I travelled in a time machine

And searched for dinosaurs.

I climbed atop a giant’s head.

I found a pot of gold.

I did all this in books I read

When I was ten years old.

Jack Prelutsky


When we read, our brains translate descriptions of people, places and things into pictures. In books nothing is impossible.

Books take us to amazing places, give us super powers and introduce us to fantastic creatures. Books give us mysteries to solve, dangerous situations to escape from and dastardly villains to overcome. Our minds take the author’s words and create those wondrous worlds for us to explore.

Creative magic.

Where did books take you when you were ten years old?

Magic #5

This one follows on from yesterday’s magic.

Reading benefits every school subject.


No matter what you are studying: art, music, history, geography, maths, English, physics…reading is basic.

Without strong reading skills, you cannot achieve your potential.

You could be the best mathematician in the world, but if you can’t read the problem and figure out what it asking you to do, you can’t get top marks.


Educational magic.


Reading Magic #4

Reading improves vocabulary and leads to more highly developed language skills.

In schools these days teachers are having to spend much of their time preparing students for batteries of standardised tests. I, for one, am glad I am no longer a classroom teacher.

I would find it extremely difficult to teach that way. My beliefs about how children learn do not coincide with those of the current powers that be.

I believe that children learn best when they are having fun, enjoying the challenge of the learning experience. I believe they learn quickly and easily when the learning experience is set in narrative. I used stories as the base for my teaching units. My core belief that stories provide children with a means of engaging with, and forming deeper understanding of, the world around them proved most successful in encouraging learning.

learningWe learn new words as we read. We unconsciously absorb information about those      words, how they are spelt, how authors structure interesting sentences with those words. This is how we learn to write more effectively.

Test time magic.



More Magic.


Reading teaches us about the world around us.

One of the world’s great philosophers, and my personal favourite, Dr Seuss, sums this up in just a few words.

“The more you read, the more you will know, the more you will learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Books are like windows to the world. Reading opens those windows for us.


Think of places you’d like to go, things you’d like to do, people you’d like to meet.

You can find them all in books.



Oh, that’s definitely magic.


Magic #2


Reading improves concentration and focus. We live in the information age. A fast-paced world where we are surrounded by gadgets feeding us words, data, statuses, links, ads and all sorts of other information that we cannot possibly process and digest. It can be an overwhelming situation, especially for children. But there is a solution – pick up a book.

Reading requires active engagement and concentration – it completely absorbs your mind. The more you train your mind to concentrate, the easier it becomes. Better concentration leads to clearer thinking.

Note to adults re retention of brain function as we age. We need that magic.

Keep reading.