The Magic of Reading.


If you ask anyone if it is important to read, they will say ‘What a stupid question – of course it is important to read. Everybody should know how to read.’

But there’s more to it than knowing HOW to read.

The great novelist, Stephen King, said ‘Books are a uniquely portable form of magic.’

 And what is the key to that form of magic? Reading.   Let’s think about why that is. What is magical about reading?

Here are nine forms of the magic.

Magic #1:

Reading exercises the brain.

Researchers have found that being engrossed in a book enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. They scanned people’s brains before, during and after a reading session. They found that the areas of the brain associated with language and comprehension light up when we read. Interestingly, those same areas stay lit up for some time after we stop reading. Our brains are processing and storing information and building understanding for several hours, even days sometimes, after we finish reading. Children who read often and widely become better readers, more fluent and more expressive, because their brains make connections more easily. Cognitive Magic!


Stay tuned for more of the magic of reading.                           boy-reading

#reading #kidlit #takeastand #mysteryforkids


Supportive Bystanders

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We all know that we have the basic right to feel safe. As responsible members of a community, we also know that we should respect and protect the rights of others.

If someone is being bullied, a supportive bystander will take a stand against that bullying by using words or actions to help the victim.

If more bystanders have the confidence to speak up for the person being bullied and take safe action to help them, the power that the bully is seeking can be lessened.

Bullies thrive on the approval of those around them. Supportive bystanders do not just watch. They voice their voice their disapproval – ‘Stop that!’, ‘That’s not okay!’, ‘You don’t need to do that; leave him be.’

Make it clear to your friends that you won’t be involved in bullying behaviour.
Never stand by and watch or encourage bullying.
Do not harass, tease or spread gossip about others, this includes on social networks like Facebook.
Never forward on or respond to messages or photos that may be offensive or upsetting.
Support the person who is being bullied to ask for help e.g. go with them to a place they can get help or provide them with information about where to go for help.
Report it to someone in authority or someone you trust e.g. at school to a teacher, or a school counsellor; at work to a manager; if the bullying is serious, report it to the police; if the bullying occurs on Facebook, report it to Facebook.

Needing Help?                                                                     IMG_0126

These organisations are there for you.


More on Bullying

A bystander is someone who sees or knows something that is happening to someone else. When it comes to bullying, bystanders can be either part of the problem or part of the solution to stop what’s happening.

The way bystanders react when they see a bullying incident is critical.

Some bystanders take the side of the bully by laughing at the victim, encouraging the bully or forwarding on text messages or messages on social media like Facebook and YouTube.

Some bystanders say or do nothing. By doing so they give silent approval to the bully and encourage him/her to continue the behaviour.

Some bystanders may watch or know about the bullying but don’t do anything. They may not know what to do. or are scared. This group of bystanders knows that bullying is not ok.

Some bystanders will be supportive and take safe action to stop the bully, find help or support the victim.
What sort of bystander are you?

In my new book “Gummshoes – Mission#1: The Nobbled Numbskull”, I offer a plan to help kids cope with bullies.
Check out the P.E.R.F.E.C.T. Plan to cope with bullying.

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The Boy That Grew Teeth in his Ear

Today my guest is children’s author is Roni Kennedy. Welcome, Roni!

Roni, what genre do you write? Can you give an insight as to why you chose that genre?

I write children’s books. My mother was a school teacher and she wrote a few children’s books and I did the illustrations for her. She never got them published. One of my plans is to publish one of her books. I do have an artistic talent so I can draw about anything in front of my eyes or an imagination.

I usually write at the dining room table with the tv on for background noise. I have to have plenty of space for notebooks, pretty pens, and coffee cups. When you sit down to write, what is the environment like? Describe the space, sounds, accessories etc.

I enjoy quiet time. I actually own a small sign shop and it is very demanding and there is always designing on the computer to do, fill orders, customers walking in and putting the signs together or installing them. So quiet time is my time. My thought process generates better when it is quiet.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want there too (apart from family members)?

Probably my dog Sadie who has been my good friend for 12 years, a few trustworthy friends.

Tell us about you the person. What do you do when you are not writing – Hobbies, guilty pleasures?

I like to do crafts! Lie in front of the TV and vegetate and watch a movie on Netflix. I have very limited time to do much. My worst addiction is Facebook. I really need to limit my time on there.

What is your fave part of being an author?

My favorite part of being an author is putting together a story that has an ending that connects to the events that take place in the book.

Time to pimp your book – where can we find you?

You can find me on Facebook. My book is being sold on, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble and other sites.It’s available in Paperback and E-book. I will have a website very soon and a blog site as well. Just type in the Boy That Grew Teeth In His Ear. Thanks for the review.

Here’s the cover to look for.

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Remember folks, the best way to help an author, apart from buying her books, is to leave a review. More books sell through word of mouth, aka reviews, than anything else, so please don’t think your opinion doesn’t matter. It matters a lot.

So go along to any of the places Roni has mentioned and check out her book, ‘The Boy That Grew Teeth in his Ear’, buy it, read it and review it.

Thank you for stopping by, Roni.



Christmas memories

Christmas Memories

Christmas is an interesting time of year.

It seems to bring out the best and worst in people.  You see random acts of kindness and you see the most incomprehensible pieces of idiocy.  It puts a dent in one’s wallet but fills the heart with happiness as families come together to celebrate.

When one is very young, the time from one Christmas to the next seems so very long.  I can remember waiting and waiting for the November page to be torn from the calendar  – the signal that Christmas was just around the corner.

Here in Australia Christmas is hot and often steamy, not the Christmas weather one sees depicted on Christmas cards.  These days  Christmas lunch at my house consists of a variety of meats, some hot, some not, seafood and array of interesting salads. But my memory reminds me annually of the holiday seasons of my childhood.

When my Nanna was alive, the whole family would arrive at her place for what she called a proper Christmas. On the way from our place to Nanna’s, Dad would call in at the ice works to buy some bags of ice. These would be used to fill the laundry tub into which the beer bottles (and some bottles of lemonade too) would be placed to chill.

Nanna and my mother and aunties would spend the morning in the kitchen preparing baked ham, roast chickens (and once even a goose!), roast potatoes and other assorted vegetables and the most delicious gravy ever.  Nanna would have already made the mince pies, Christmas cake and the plum pudding complete with sixpences hidden in its yummy centre.  The men would arrange themselves on the verandah in squatter’s chairs with glasses of beer close to hand. My cousins and I would be left to climb the mango trees in the backyard in search of the treasured fruit or to add tinsel and handmade decorations to our treehouse.  The oldest of the boys would be set to work mowing a strip of grass in preparation for the post-lunch cricket match.

At one o’clock, Nanna would tell my Uncle Herbie that dinner was ready. He would announce the good news to the rest of us by way of a piercing whistle.  Never have so many children moved so quickly!  The race to get a drumstick was a very serious event.  We were greeted by a table (two tables end to end actually) groaning with bounty….yummo….it was a sight to behold.  Nanna would stand at the head of the table, her face flushed from the heat of the day and the effort of cooking for the multitude, and say “We give thanks for all that we are able to enjoy this day. May God bless us this Christmas and in the new year with health and happiness, friends and family and love and laughter.  All these in abundance.”  To which we would chorus a hearty “AMEN”.

There wasn’t room for us kids at the table so we sat on the floor or on the stairs with our plates of goodies.  My brother would have Vegemite sandwiches. He was not an adventurous eater. Nanna tried every year to tempt him with some delicacy from the feast but he would never relent. “Vegemite sandwich please, Nan.”

When we had cleaned our plates we were allowed to distribute the gifts from under the Christmas tree.  I usually received some clothes, a book or a jigsaw puzzle and one of the items from the long list I had sent off to Santa.  There was usually a stocking with boiled lollies, noise makers and paper hats etc. as well.

While we played with our new toys, the men of the family would clear the table and begin the washing up, while the ladies sorted the leftovers into bundles to be taken home.  Nanna would be told to put her feet up and relax.

Then the cricket match would begin. The usual backyard rules – over the fence is six and out etc.- applied and there were certain allowances made for the little kids.  One by one, the men would claim injury and retire to the verandah for a medicinal beer or spirit, and soon it was just us kids playing.  We played until the light did not allow us to see the ball. We kept ourselves hydrated by sucking on lumps of ice pinched from the laundry tub.

Finally we would all sit on the verandah and enjoy the mince pies and plum pudding served with custard.  My Uncle Harry always seemed to find the sixpence in his pudding. We were sure he slipped one out of his pocket and onto his plate.

We would go home tired, laughing about the day’s events and our tummies full. We would sit in the back seat of the car surrounded by bags and baskets loaded with gifts and leftovers.

Every year as I decorate my home for the season, these memories flood back and I hope that my family go home on Christmas day filled with similar feelings. I hope that when they look back on our family Christmas celebrations they too will remember them fondly.

We give thanks for all that we are able to enjoy this day. May God bless us this Christmas and in the new year with health and happiness, friends and family and love and laughter.  All these in abundance.

A Sensible Day at School

‘A child’s day at school should make sense. It should be about something. ideally the various activities should work together, building upon one another for some purpose.’  M. Simpson. 1990

For students to become engaged in exploring and expressing ideas, their learning must be relevant and purposeful. relevance and purpose help children establish the connections between prior knowledge and experience and new learning. It is this endless blending and connecting which is central to meaningful learning. How children learn and build understandings is affected by the complex of meaning structures that they already have in place which are, in turn, affected by emotions and intentions.

The affective aspect of learning has, I believe, become the neglected sphere of educational planning and practice. With the emphasis on levels of achievement, outcome statements and standardized test results, curriculum planners have tended to concentrate on the cognitive domain in order to develop concepts.

Although I am no longer involved in classroom teaching (Phew!), I still work with primary school students on a regular basis.  Talking with these youngsters about what they are working on at school is interesting and revealing. They can tell me what they are learning about and what the assessment piece is but they can’t tell me why they are studying the particular topic or how the study relates to their lives.

This concerns me.  Their school days have little meaning to them because they are not making sufficient connection between what they are studying and their own life experiences. They are far too busy preparing for the dreaded standardised tests.

The use of narrative/stories is one way that the affective aspects of learning can be integrated with the desired cognitive outcomes. Stories provide information about feelings, motives and cause and effect situations in ways which pose few comprehension difficulties for children. Imagination is a powerful conceptual tool which is already well developed in school age children. It is, however, largely underused in the classroom. Children are expected to use their imaginations in creative writing lessons but they are not encouraged to be actively imaginative in other areas of study.

Why not?  Why not use the existing imagination skills of our students to fire up their desire for knowledge and understanding?

Imagine the possibilities!

Child Writes – inspiring children to create with a step-by-step guide for writing and illustrating a children’s picture book

   This book is a godsend for teachers, homeschoolers – educators everywhere!                   Child Writes Book Cover copy

For the last ten years, Emma Mactaggart has been working with children, leading them through the entire process that is creating a children’s picture book, from the development of an original idea, using writing and illustrating tools, to book launch and beyond. At first glance, it looks like the output is merely a book. Step a little closer and Emma is driven by outcomes like giving children tools to promote creativity; increasing their self-efficacy; making them comfortable exhibiting their work in both words and images; giving them a platform to share their ideas and hopefully provoke a conversation about their ambitions for the future…

Emma wrote her first book to help her second daughter. It was personal, specific to the situation they had to deal with at home (a child reticent to go to school) and it worked! (Annabel is now 16 and flourishing!) Emma continued writing, teaching and creating, and wrote a well-tested step-by-step hand-holding guide for creating a children’s picture book, Child Writes: Creating a Children’s Picture Book sharing all the tips and insights gleaned from this experience.

Child Writes: Creating a Children’s Picture Book has won a 2012 GOLD for Best Non-Fiction Adult eBook and was acknowledged by the IndiePENdent Organisation for excellence in writing in 2014. It has been the key to over 350 titles produced by primary school aged children over the last decade, children from greatly varying socio-economic backgrounds, educational levels and abilities, and this is how we can be so positive the process works.

The book accompanied with the PDF print-yourself version of the Teachers Manual and the Student Workbook will give you all the tools you need to guide your child through the process of creating a children’s picture book – a full summer of activities to work through, culminating possibly in a polished manuscript and illustrations for a children’s picture book.

Today, the text book will be personally signed and delivered to your door for only $34.95, accompanied with a special USB with the two PDF files as Emma’s gift to you.

I have used Emma’s process successfully in the classroom with my own students. Our curriculum required that sixth graders produce a picture book suitable for kindergarten/first graders. This book was a most valuable resource in detailing the process to the children in a way that made complete sense to them.

I recommend Child Writes: Creating a Children’s Picture Book to pro-active educators everywhere.

Child Writes – inspiring children to create with a step-by-step guide for writing and illustrating a children’s picture book 

Child Writes: Creating a Children’s Picture Book is Child’s Play

Plus FREE PDF Teachers Manual AND PDF Student Workbook

Taya Bayliss – Tree Hugger

I am excited to announce that my new mystery for young readers is now available through Amazon and my website as well as some wonderful bookstores. (Links below)

To give you a little taste of Taya Bayliss – Tree Hugger, here is the book trailer and the first chapter.

Chapter 1:   The Sounds of the Bend


Taya Bayliss stood on the platform that formed the floor of the treehouse. She tied the corner of a tarpaulin to a branch before pausing to gaze out over the stretch of riverside land known as Monahan’s Bend. Red gums, silver wattles and manna gums grew happily in the rich soil, creating shelter for possums, bats, kingfishers and parrots. Small birds made theirhomes in the paperbarks, tea trees and bottlebrushes. Ducks and other waterbirds built their nests along the river’s edge and raised their babies safely there.

Although The Bend, as most people called it, was only a short distance from the centre of the city, it was almost silent, thanks to the canopy formed by the tall trees and the lush under-storey of shrubs and grasses. The Monahan family, who had owned the land since colonial times, had always allowed the public to enjoy the peace and beauty of The Bend. Walkers and joggers had worn a pathway along the riverbank. The only rule that the family had insisted upon was that no wheels were allowed at Monahan’s Bend. Taya breathed deeply, drawing in the rich smells of the surrounding trees and bushes.

Two men walked quickly along the path. Deep in a conversation punctuated by violent hand gestures, they did not notice thedark-haired boy and the blonde girl in the treehouse above them. As they disappeared from view, Taya turned her attention back to her handiwork. She checked the knot to make sure it was secure. The tree house now had a rainproof roof.

‘We’ll have to get going soon,’ she said. ‘I’m nearly done,’ replied a voice from below her.   Chris  Comino,      her     best        friend  and neighbor, was standing on the lowest branch of the large fig tree, attaching a rope ladder to a higher branch. ‘There,’ he said. ‘That should make getting up to the platform easier for us.’

Taya looked down. The rope ladder would certainly make access to their treehouse less of a struggle. ‘But, we don’t want it hanging down when we aren’t here. The treehouse has to be a secret place.’

Chris climbed up from the branch to stand beside her. He patted her shoulder. ‘You young people,’ he chuckled. ‘No imagination. Watch this.’ He pulled on a cord that was tied to the last rung of the rope ladder. The ladder rolled back up to the platform of the treehouse. ‘Now I just tie it off back here,’ he added, securing the rope to a small branch. ‘And taa-dah – no rope ladder! When we want to use it, all we have to do is release it. You may applaud now.’ He stretched his arms sideways like a magician who had just made a rabbit disappear.

Taya nodded in approval and provided the requested applause. ‘That is totally cool. Now, we just need…’ she stopped mid-sentence and turned to look towards the river. ‘What was that? Did you hear that?’

‘What?’ Chris followed her gaze, listening intently. ‘I can’t hear anything.’

‘I thought I heard something – sort of a shout.’

‘Who’d be shouting down here?   It was probably a bird.’ Chris inspected the tarpaulin. ‘This looks really good. We can leave stuff up here now and it won’t get wet. I think I will bring a plastic storage box though, just to be on the safe side.’

Taya stood still, ears straining. She shook her head. Was it really a shout? It sounded really weird, like someone was in trouble. Am I imagining things? It probably was just a bird.

She looked around again, suddenly uncomfortable. The Bend was strangely quiet. Something didn’t feel right. There was no scurrying of small animals in the leaf litter, no bird song. It was as though the inhabitants of The Bend were waiting, listening, for something to happen, just as she was.

The sound of feet pounding along the path broke the silence. A man approached. Heavily built, he looked uncomfortably hot, his jaw clenched, his blue shirt darkened by sweat.   It was one of the men who had passed the tree earlier. The children watched him as he hurried off in the direction of the Captain’s Point ferry terminal.

‘Angry man in a hurry,’ Chris said.

‘Hmm, maybe he had an argument with his friend,’ Taya agreed. ‘Come on. I told Dad we’d be at Tall Pines at three o’clock.’

‘Right. We can pick up Minnie on the way.’ Chris released the rope ladder so that they could climb down from the platform. Once on the ground, he tugged on the rope to draw the ladder back up out of sight, tying it off on a bush behind the tree.

‘Did you know that they used to scratch for gold down here?’ Chris asked as they walked past the ferry terminal and turned into Captain’s Point Road.

‘Who did? When?’

‘According to my history teacher, people used to pan and scratch for gold around the bend of the river and, they actually used to find some.’ He passed to pick up a pebble. ‘Just imagine scratching out little nuggets of gold.’

Taya grinned at the thought. ‘But that was back in the 1800s, wasn’t it?’

Chris lobbed the pebble into the water. ‘Yes, but people were still digging tunnels into the riverbank right up until the ferry service was started in the 1920s. The city council had the tunnel entrances filled in after some guy was killed when a tunnel collapsed.’

He grasped Taya’s arm, staring at her in mock horror for a moment. ‘That’s probably what you heard just now – Old Jasper’s ghostly wails. Oooooooh!’

Taya rolled her eyes. ‘Oh, very funny. You’re hilarious, Comino. Ghosts! Whatever next?’ She walked purposefully on. Chris might have been joking about a ghostly presence, but   she still felt uncomfortable, on edge. The riverside area had, for the time being at least, lost its air of serenity. For the first time in her life, Taya was glad to be walking away from Monahan’s Bend.

Cover Tree Hugger (1)

What happens next?  Do you believe in ghosts?

Taya Bayliss – Tree Hugger                                                          

E. J. Gore   2015

186 pages

Age Range: 8-12 years

Available from Amazon,  Taya Bayliss Books.                              

Taya’s Mystery Buster’s Club

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For all the young fans of the Taya Bayliss mysteries, I have been building a new club house. Taya and Chris have a treehouse in the new mystery ‘Tree Hugger’ which will be available soon, so I decided to use a treehouse as the theme for the club.

Children can join the club for free. Sign in is via my website where they will be sent a top secret link to the treehouse. At the treehouse they can learn about mysterious places around the planet, play games, solve puzzles and enter competitions. they will be kept up-to-date with all the news about the books and can ask questions, submit artwork etc.

Parents, you can help your child join the club by visiting

See you at the treehouse. Let’s have some fun and keep those kids reading.