Why kids love Tintin

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I grew up reading Tintin comics, and so did my husband and probably most of our generation. I was hesitant to buy the books for my children at first, knowing that there was a drunkard sea captain, opium dens, and racism typical of its time. But buy them I did, and they have become a familiar favourite, read and reread multiple times. Of course, we've had discussions about the problematic areas and the boys like to point out anywhere they see something that is no longer socially acceptable. But I recently got to thinking about why the Tintin books, and other classic adventure books like the Hardy Boys series—where children are in danger, making big decisions without an adult, or where adults are the ones going on adventures—continue to be popular. I asked my boys what they thought. And they said that it's the mixture of danger, adventure and humour…

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Let the kids be bored

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  • Reading time:4 mins read

If you're a parent on social media you've probably seen those articles or blog posts that are meant to tug at your heart strings.  The ones that say, "the dishes can wait, your children can't."  They implore you to relish every moment of your precious children's life because they grow up so quickly. And it is precious.  And they do. But... I'm here to say - close that article, get off social media and go do those darn dishes, they won't do themselves. The children are alright. They really are. See, when my boys were little, those posts DID tug at my already tender heart strings. But seriously, life must go on.  I don't like eating off the floor. Or wearing the same clothes for a month. Or letting my garden to turn into a jungle. It's ok to take care of the things that need to be taken care…

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Let’s stop asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

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Hey, look, another blog post (I know, it's been a while)!  Life has been busy, busy, busy, but fun.  I've been writing, rebuilding my web-design business and teaching dance.  And learning, always learning.  Mostly about writing.  I feel like there are never enough hours in the day to learn ALL THE THINGS.  And of course, I've been raising my two precious boys. I've made great progress in the last few months towards getting myself out there as a writer, and also earning some money.  My mindset has changed from "I can't, I'm not good enough, I don't know what I'm doing" to "Of course I can, I've got this, if others can I can too..."  Yes I'm juggling a LOT and I've probably said yes to a few too many things, but hey, that's what makes life fun.  You've got to take advantage of opportunities that come your way.  And…

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Dabbling with art

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  • Reading time:3 mins read

After a lovely summer, I've thrown myself into working on a novel, a chapter book, some picture books and some poetry.  I'll be attending a conference in May and have booked manuscript assessments with two publishers and had to submit these manuscripts last week. Plus I've entered a writing competition and submitted a poem for an anthology called Celebrations which will be published later this year. It's all been a lot of fun playing with words while the children are at school but I've also been playing with visual arts - drawing, painting and collage.  These have been amazing for stimulating my creativity and almost a form of meditation, so calming.  So much so that I started sneaking into my "office" on the weekend to do a quick sketch or watercolour painting and ended up with my boys following me out and joining me.  And by "joining", I mean taking…

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There’s a name for that

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  • Reading time:2 mins read

I was lamenting a few days ago with a friend about how Mr 7 seems to be going through some mini teenagehood - moodiness, talkback, defiance - all fairly unusual for my sweet, sensitive boy.  Later on that day, I found an article specifically addressing this and calling it the Stroppy Sevens.  "So there's a name for it!" I thought to myself.  And strangely, I felt comforted.   Because enough other people have gone through the same thing that someone, somewhere has given "it" a name. (Having been through the not-so-Terrible Twos, and the F....rightening Fours, you'd think I would have known about this.  And now I'm dreading the Tortuous Twelves!) And then I realised how powerful it is to give something a name (as someone who never named her dolls or soft toys as a child).  It gives it familiarity, acceptance or normality.  Which is comforting, if you think…

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Play with your words

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Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bugs bite... Do you do wordplay with your children? I lasso you... I label you... I link you... I list you... Oh, I LOVE you! Do you do word games, plays on words, puns, double entendres, spoonerisms, mixed metaphors or rhymes? I spy with my little eye, something beginning with... I spy with my beady eye, something beginning with... I spy with my tiddly eye, something beginning with... Wordplay is beneficial in so many ways.  You don't need to know the technical names, just have fun with words.  Here's why: It builds connection.  Children love wordplay, the funnier the better.  Laughter brings good feelings, which builds connection.  And connection is so important.  If you have noticed an increase in tantrums, meltdowns, defiance or other behaviour problems, it may be that you need to repair or increase your connection.  Laughter through wordplay is one…

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Encouraging Creativity to Blossom

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  • Reading time:4 mins read

I attended an event over the weekend that was run by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. One of the topics that came up in presentation and in conversation was creativity in children. There's been talk recently of the job skills our children will need for a future in which some of the jobs have not yet been invented. And one of those skills, already highly valued and sought-after, is innovation. But where does innovation start?   It starts with creativity. Thinking outside the box. Everyone can be creative but it seems that people either believe they are creative or do not. But we are all creative, or we can be. As Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book Big Magic, "The earliest evidence of recognizable human art is 40,000 years old. The earliest evidence of human agriculture, by contrast, is only 10,000 years old."  Therefore, art and artistic…

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Reading Activity: Scavenger hunts (free downloads)

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My boys LOVE anything that involves treasure, maps and clues - they often draw their own fantasy maps, complete with sea monster, lava lakes and buried treasure.  I have to admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for these things as well, so I find it a lot of fun to make up scavenger hunts for them.  When Mr Now-7 turned 5, the theme for his party was The Magic Faraway Tree (his favourite book at the time) and we had it in our garden, complete with a faraway tree (including a door and an owl up in the branches), and mushrooms to sit on.  I also made a scavenger hunt around the garden and it was a huge hit.  Since then, I've whipped up different hunts for my boys - some for lazy sunny afternoons in the garden, others for rainy days indoors.  They've changed over time,…

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Reading rhyming stories 101 (for parents)

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  • Reading time:17 mins read

This post is for parents who are neither musically-inclined, nor poetically-inclined but who find themselves suddenly confronted by brightly coloured books by authors such as Dr Seuss, Mem Fox, Julia Donaldson, Pamela Allen - you know, authors who write in rhyme. Reading rhyming stories can make the most accomplished parent break out in cold sweats.  But you better get used to it because you know your kid is going to ask for Green Eggs and Ham roughly about nine thousand times before they are over it and move onto more high-brow stuff... like The Lorax. But don't sweat, I'm here to help.  With just a little bit of background knowledge, you'll be practically singing those "Sam-I-ams". Other than overcoming your discomfort, what benefit is there in improving your reading of rhyming stories?  Well, there's this thing called rhythm. Rhyming picture book authors spend a lot of time getting the rhythm…

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Three audio tools for peaceful car journeys with kids

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  • Reading time:3 mins read

If you're anything like us when driving in the car with kids in the back seat, you avoid commercial radio stations in case of swearing or sudden news breaks, argue over whether to listen to Dad's nineties metal or Mum's classical music, and after half an hour, it doesn't matter what you do, the children are fidgety and whining. But it doesn't need to be like that any more!  Thanks to smartphones, with a bit of forethought, we always have something to listen to that keeps the children engaged and quiet and keeps the parents relaxed.  Here is what we've been using. Borrow Box Borrow Box is an app that allows you to borrow digital audio books using your local library card. With more titles being added daily, there's a selection for children of all ages and the quality of the reading is great.  We recently listened to Stephen Fry reading…

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