Books to Share with your Grandchildren

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It can be a challenge to think of new things to do or places to visit with grandchildren. These three books recently published in New Zealand have given me lots of ideas for little adventures and projects that we can do with them.

The Story of Sir Peter Blake


In this book well known children’s author Tessa Duder tells a rollicking tale about the many yachting adventures of Sir Peter Blake. Her aim:

'To inspire a new generation of children with Peter Blake's extraordinary life as a yachtsman, an inspirational leader through five Whitbread Round-the-World races and two America's Cup regattas, and in his last few years, as a tireless worker to raise global awareness of the environment.

It is aimed at readers from the age of 9 years up, but older children and adults will also enjoy it. Once I had started to read it I found it hard to put down.

Our grandchildren can learn much from Sir Peter Blake’s style of leadership which was marked by clear goal setting, not being afraid to fail, a sense of honour and doing your best.

Books about sailing would traditionally have been seen a boys’ books. But girls also have a role model in Pippa (Peter Blake’s wife) who crewed with her husband in many of his early sailing adventures and is also a talented artist.

There were times, as I read the book, when I wondered if the dangers long distance sailors were exposed to at sea were worth the journey. Sir Peter Blake’s own life was cut short before he could realise many of his environmental dreams but his vision stays with us through the final entry in his logbook:

“The top of the environmental awareness mountain we are endeavouring to climb may be out of sight through the clouds right now. But to win, you first have to believe you can do it. You have to be passionate about it. You have to really want to do it. You have to really ‘want’ the result-even if this means years of hard work. The hardest part of any project is to begin. We have begun. We are under way. We have to make a difference.”

This would be the perfect book to share with grandchildren before taking them to the Voyager National Maritime Museum on Auckland’s viaduct harbour to visit the permanent exhibition : Blue Water Black Magic: A Tribute to Sir Peter Blake . Entry to the museum is free for Aucklanders.

They will see the original America’s Cup winning boat “Black Magic” suspended from the ceiling by her own rigging and many other memorabilia including the famous lucky red socks.

Using the state-of-the art computer software they can try their hand at designing a yacht, see how it would perform on the water and even try out as a virtual crew member

The Story of Sir Peter Blake. Author: Tessa Duder. Publisher Libro International, an imprint of Oratia Media. RRP $21.99

Turning Trash into Treasure for Young Children

Adam Buckingham, the author, is an early childhood teacher who has built a national reputation for showing how to turn solid waste into learning experiences. His passions are science, technology and sustainability.

Although mainly written for early childhood teachers, grandparents will also find a wealth of ideas here which are both inspirational and achievable.

Making swings out of old tyres, a noughts and crosses game made out of shells and driftwood, a water volcano or turning a margarine container into a posting box for toddlers are some of the easy projects. Others require a greater effort and level of skill such as turning a discarded wide screen TV into a theatre for puppet plays and dramas.

How to create these educational toys is not spelt out step by step but the many photographs are enough to provide an excellent starting point for any grandparent handy with a few basic tools.

There is also a comprehensive list of materials to collect and use. Many of these materials would otherwise have found their way to the dump.

Grandchildren would enjoy looking through this book and help to choose what they could help to build.

As an early childhood educator Adam knows the importance of keeping children safe. He emphasizes the need for supervision, proceeding with caution, demonstrating safe use and care repeatedly and making sure that safety checks on any equipment you allow them to use are frequently done. His advice is also to make sure that older children develop confidence with hand tools before attempting any power tools with them

Adam would like to involve more Dads in early childhood learning. So why not Granddads also? Any contributions of useful solid waste or an offer to help with turning trash into educational treasures might well be appreciated by Early Childhood Centres. And helping out like this can be a good way to bring the community together.

Turning Trash into Treasure for Young Children .Author:Adam Buckingham Available from www.trash2treasure.co.nz email; reusethetrash@gmail.com Book is $30 Inc postage within NZ

Eruption: Discovering New Zealand Volcanoes by Maria Gill

The cover of Eruption! Discovering New Zealand Volcanoes by Maria Gill shows an exploding volcano throwing out a huge ash cloud.

It’s so spectacular that one of my granddaughters declined to read this book because it looked so scary. But I am sure that once I have persuaded her to take a look inside she will enjoy it. Volcanica, the cub reporter for the Magmatic Press takes young readers on a journey in a very engaging way to give 8-12 year olds the hard and hot facts about volcanoes in New Zealand.

They will learn about the 4 main types of volcanoes found in New Zealand: stratovolcanoes shield, caldera and volcanic fields, how they were formed and when they erupted. And there are lots of colourful diagrams and photographs which show key aspects of volcanic activity such as fissures, fumaroles, debris avalanches, craters and fire fountains.

The Maori creation stories and legends connected with each volcanic site add another perspective. And young readers will find it reassuring to read how our volcanologists are keeping a constant eye on all our volcanoes and have a network of instruments to assist them in this task.

I know that my granddaughter will like the fact that on most of the pages there are links to online resources such as facts, film footage, photos, and animations which will connect her with the latest news and science surrounding volcanoes. Children can even ask their own questions about volcanoes by going to Volcanica’s hotline.

There are very few cities in the world which are built on an active volcanic field as Auckland is. And although the last one , the Rangitoto eruption happened 600 years ago it is not at all unlikely that further eruptions could happen in Auckland and in other parts of New Zealand in the not too distant future. This is a frightening prospect. But this book also explains how best to keep safe if an eruption should occur.

A list of field trips to volcanoes is included at the end of the book. After we have shared this book with our grandchildren we plan to take them for a drive around some of Auckland’s volcanoes which will bring the story alive

Eruption! Discovering New Zealand Volcanoes. Author: Maria Gill. Publisher: New Holland RRP $21

Read more from Lyn at her website: www.toothpix.co.nz