Stories for 6 Year Olds: 25 stories by great NZ authors 288pp ISBN 9781775536123 SCIS 1652872; Stories for 7 Year Olds: 25 Stories by great NZ authors 272pp ISBN 9781775536147 SCIS 1656489 Random House, 2014 NZ$19.99 pbk
These two anthologies are a good start for modelling reading aloud a chapter book. The distinction between stories for the two different ages has to be very fluid indeed. For example, David Hill’s clever play with words in ‘Wool you join us?’ will no doubt appeal to some 10 year olds let alone the designated 6 year old (especially if the child comes from a rural background). What is positive about an anthology that contains at least 25 stories is that different preferences are likely to be met. So, the parent/teacher would be wise not to read the ones that appeal to them but to read most if not all of them! Of course we have favourites! The parent/child in me loves the playfulness of Anna Kenna’s ‘Parent Help’ where a somewhat over-protective and too enthusiastic mother gets something of a comeuppance by her daughter. I know my good friend Steve, whose son Louie has a tendency to climb all over things and to great heights before he was two, will shudder when reading Marie Gibson’s ‘The Climber’! The science teacher will enjoy reading Peter Friend’s ‘Sky’ and inviting learning as inquiry on all the questions that children have that begin with ‘Why?’ Debra Smallholme’s ‘The Little Koura’ brings back memories of finding freshwater crayfish as a child up the local stream. A story like this could invite an eco-critical discussion about how important freshwater aquatic life is, as every frog princess knows. What young lad would not be intrigued by the title ‘Shark Goggles and Dog-poo Jam’? Certainly, the sublime moment when Gaby gets to wear her granddad’s medal at the ANZAC parade in Maggie Rainey-Smith’s story ‘The Dawn Parade’ will resonate with all children who can recall a proud moment in their lives. These texts are a great resource for parents and teachers alike to collectively read and share their own stories. Recommended.
reviewed by John McKenzie