A Great Day at the Fair.

The Royalla Roundup proved to be a fantastic Fair day, celebrated and enjoyed by all community members, neighbours, friends and visitors. Everyone who came was welcome to share in the delights of the fabulous Autumn weather as well as the country air and atmosphere. Initially I was a a little concerned when we drove down to "the Common" to set up as a typical gorgeous crisp, clear Royalla morning had turned bleak with a thick fog that had rolled in across the hills. We could hardly see the road in front of us as we drove down into the valley. This was not a good sign, but I should have known better. A thick morning fog in the valley always means a very still day and by the time the fair was declared open at 10.00 am the morning had cleared, the sun shone bright to a perfect day.

Visitors soon filled the adjoining paddock carpark to overflow capacity as the air was filled with the sounds of children laughing, and the aroma of freshly baked bacon and egg rolls. As the day progressed children ran around with brightly painted faces eating pink fairy floss on sticks while parents listened to the wonderful sounds of the musicians performing in the amphitheatre under the shade of the trees in the elm grove.

I later asked a neighbour's son which of all the rides was he favourite? He couldn't decide between the mechanical bucking bull, (which he had 3 turns of and only fell off once!) or the pony ride.  The fact that he could also remember that the mechanical bull's name was "Kevin" but had trouble remembering the name of the pony, hinted to me just which one might have truly been his favourite. :) There was also a jumping castle and animals to pat in the petting zoo, but the cutest of all to me were the baby alpacas. If only I could talk my hubby into letting me have one or two on our land...mmmm.....will work on that!

DSCN0178A huge thank you to all those lovely parents, families and friends who came by my stall to chat, support me and purchase a book or two. You are all wonderful and I appreciate you all very much. :) I hope you enjoy reading the books with your children and ask if you would kindly take the time to write a review and send it to me either here on my website, via email or on Amazon once they are listed there. Struggling authors always need good reviews to help spread the word.


DSCN0185My table was nestled under the shade of the beautiful elm trees amongst all the other lovely arts and crafts, the path lead to the children's craft tables where they could create easter activities and other crafts before the path eventually finished near the logs to view the musicians and at one time a spectacular magician. I looked out towards the Rural Fire Services truck and helicopter DSCN0183where children spent a delightful time looking at all the equipments and could ask the usual array of inquisitive questions that all budding "fireman" at that tender young age tend to do.

Naturally, mums and dads were not forgotten. There were plenty of shiny old cars on display. Farm equipment and machinery to learn about, all your septic tank and storm water issues could be answered, gardenimg supplies were plentiful, not to mention an abundance of secondhand books and clothing to peruse.

Batch of aliensMy "Gingerbread Alien" cookies were another yummy take home delicious treat to be saved and eaten while reading the newest exciting chapter in the 'Bradberrie Brothers Alien Adventure" series. I was both surprised and delighted to meet several families who walked past and noticed my original book, "Gingerbread Aliens" then realised part two was now released. It was music to this author's ears to hear children ask their parents if they could  "please have the next book." They just had to find out what was going to happen next in Alien Shenanigans!

Emma the Eager Emu was the most popular of all three of my books. Some of the lovely feedback was that it was wonderful to find a book written about Australian animals, these are very hard to find, we don't have near enough of them. Mind you I think a lot of it has to do with the amazing illustrations my fabulous illustrator has done for me. Dianna Budd has made my bird characters come to life with charm and humour. I adore them. :) 15Thiis afternoon we met for a cuppa where I had the opportunity to tell Dianna how much everyone adored her illustrations. We agreed we perhaps need to get to work on the next book.

Once again I would like to thank the Royalla Roundup committee for the opportunity for me to be involved in the inaugural country living fair and hope that the community has rallied together to raise enough funds to begin the building of our community centre. I look forward to many years ahead meeting more and more neighbours during gatherings in our upcoming newly built shed.

For those of you still waiting for the books to come on-line so that you may purchase a copy via my website, I appreciate your patience. My son is working on it, and promises to have all the kinks worked out within the next few days. A busy Uni schedule has held him up, my sincere apologies.

Alien Shenanigans_cover_FNL_001Alien Shenanigans and

Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

Emma the Eager Emu will be available here. Please stay tuned!






10 Awesome Reasons Why Kids Should Read.

Summer holidays are at their end. Australian kids all around the nation are embarking on another academic school year. With that comes the controversial issue of homework.

Currrent research theory suggests that homework is not necessary. I'm not here to debate the pro's and con's of homework, (some may say that it depends entirely upon the age of the children and the stage of schooling they are at.) Suffice to say, if your kids are in Primary school, no matter what your school's current homework policy happens to be, I believe all children should at least read.

Below are my 10 awesome reasons why I believe all children (no matter what their age) should have the opportunity to read at home every day.

1.Imaginations grow and expand as books take children to magical far away lands with intriguing characters and unusual creatures.

2.Reading inspires creativity to think and invent. It is with stories children are inspired to dream and it is those dreamers who grow up to become the inventers of our world and our future.

3.Children can explore the world around them without leaving the safety of their bedroom. They can learn all about geography, flora and fauna, all things great and small.

4. Vocabulary is increased. The more a child reads, the more new words they discover. Comprehension is learnt in context and gradually as the new vocabulary is read more often it becomes part of every day life and speech.

5. Improved spelling. Repetition is a secret to success and as such, the more often a child reads, the more often they see the same words repeatedly in written form, again in context rather than isolation giving more meaning to each word. This makes it more likely that these words will become embedded in the memory and the child will be able to "see" the word when they are required to spell it.

6. Reading opens up a whole world of knowledge. Once a child learns to read, they can choose to read anything enabling them to learn about whatever their heart desires. It helps to stimulate the brain so that the child can grow and be educated to become whatever they choose to be when they become an adult.

7. Reading helps to develop empathy for other people  through viewing the world through the eyes of many different colourful characters. Giving children opportunities to understand how someone else may feel in situations that they may or may not be familiar with.

8. Life's lessons are taught through many children's books as they so often have a worthwhile moral to the story. This also opens up opportunities for family discussions and debates bringing the family closer together as they unite around a topic.

9. The more a child reads, the better they get at it. Like anything else in life, whether that is piano lessons or kicking a ball, we all know the old adage that "practice makes perfect."

10. Last, but by no means least, reading together, sharing  a book with someone you love, ( a parent, grandparent, sibling or friend) brings people together to make special moments. It allows time for laughter, cuddles and hugs. It builds relationships and creates strong bonds that form ever lasting wonderful memories.

So whatever happens in your house this year during the busy school terms to come, whether there is after school sport practice, music lessons,  or swimming training, (not to mention the usual household chores,) please take the time to read with your children every day. Even if it is only 20 minutes a day, you will not only be instilling a great life long habbit, you will also be giving them a love of learning and reading that

they will both love you and thank you for one day.

Always make Home Reading Fun!

Twelve months ago this week I began writing my first blog to help parents "Raise Awesome Readers." My goal was to assist and equip mums and dads with ideas that would make the learning process at home easier, less stressful and above all fun and enjoyable for both parents and their children. Learning to read (and write) does not begin and end when the school day is finished. It has to be a partnership between the teacher and family, with both providing role models, mentors and a warm loving, caring and supportive environment.

1381497_525197787571730_1819947331_nOver the year I have posted many quotes on my facebook page encouraging the importance of families reading together. None more so than the one I posted today. "Children should learn that reading is a pleasure, not just something that teachers make you do in school. Beverly Cleary." Along with the quote is a delightful picture of a child and his parents reading together, laughing and genuinely enjoying the shared experience. This is exactly what I have been advocating all along. It is essential not only in the growth of the child but in his/her potential to want to learn to read. A happy child is encouraged and will strive as he/she is a confident child.

My very first post on November 5, 2012, was titled Is the after school home reader a battle of wills?

I'd like to re-post it here now as a reminder that I do realise how difficult life can get trying to fit in home reading each day, but with a little pateince it is worth it in the end. Reading with your children can be a valuable, worthwhile experience, it is what we make it afterall.

Master six squirms on the lounge. He figdets and fiddles with the T.V. remote control , the cushions, anything he can get his hands on. He scratches his head while he turns, his ears are pricked to listen to the laughter of his older brother who is playing computer games in the next room. You desperately try to turn his attention back to the home reader at hand. So far he has managed to struggle through the first page. As usual this is going to be a long drawn out affair, a battle of wills.

You point at the next word, he rocks back and forth with a deep sigh. Just when you think the word is about to burst forth he cries out to the family dog instead. The dog wags it's tail and delighted with the attention, jumps up into his eager arms. They begin to rumble on the lounge. Son number three, (the baby of the family) is playing with blocks on the floor at your feet. Master six, now bored with the dog, slides off the lounge to join his younger brother, all thoughts of the home reader totally forgotten.

Time for you to take a deep breath, go make a cup of tea and re-group. He may have won the battle, but you can still win the war. A little love, time and patience can work wonders. Give him time to construct something amazing with those blocks, (little boys are hands-on creatures they need to be physical,) while you enjoy that soothing tea. Then come down to his level, join him on the floor. Make a word out of the blocks yourself, then ask Master six if he can make a word, any word he likes. If his classroom teacher uses sightwords, you should have a copy of the list. Suggest he makes a word from those, preferably one you know he can achieve. Start with the simple obvious words like mum, dad, dog, cat, anything that is familiar. Then introduce a word or two from the home reader. Before he realises it he has made a long list of words he knows. His confidence will grow triple fold.

Now re-open the home reader. Ask Master six if he can find each word one at a time on each page. If he finds a word, see if he can read it in the sentence or read the sentence together. before you know it. "hey presto!" he has "read" the entire book and he has had some fun along the way. :)

In the early years of learning to read, a home reader is one of the most important tools brought home from school. If read with a loved one evey day it really does make a world of difference in the development of the reading process. Children can get bored or frustrated with them when they are not changed regularly enough at school. Parents need to keep in mind that sometimes the school day has a very hectic schedule and the change of readers is not always possible. Parent helpers are always very much apprecaited. Don't forget to read other favourite books from home,(like Gingerbread Aliens a great early fun reader), libraries or swap with friends.

For further reading help and suggestions please read through some of my past blogs or drop by and leave me any questions or comments. I am always happy to help. :)

I Am A Self-Confessed Bookaholic

Ok, I admit it! I am addicted to books even more so than chocolate!

When it comes to reading there is nothing like the smell and touch of a real book. The aroma of the freshly pressed ink, the feel of the paper as your fingers glide across to turn the page.

A line of paperbacks resting neatly in a row along the bookshelf beckoning you over to scan their contents.

As for a bookshop, I haven't a hope in passing by one without venturing inside inevitably to depart arms loaded with more reading material than I have a hope of finding the time to wade through.

I can't stand to borrow a book from someone else, if I'm going to read it, I have to own it myself. To be placed on my shelf for all time. (Maybe one day I just might get around to re-reading it).

A lot of my children's books that I have bought over the years have been used over and over again. They are an invaluable resource to be used in the classroom, and I treasure them.

Diary of a wombat

Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French is  my all time favouite children's story. The wombat is such a lovable character that manages to get into so much trouble using so little dialogue and simple yet gorgeous illustrations. I have used this book in lessons with Kindergarten through to year 6 and it never ceases to surprise and delight the students in my classes.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak are two more children's books I can't go past when it comes to children's literature and their educaWhere the Wild Things Aretion.

I love books of all shapes and sizes, especially big colourful books for little kids.

Books that make them laugh and have fun.

The GruffaloBooks that entertain during the learning process.

When I was still teaching my favourite part of the day was always the literacy block.  I am passionate about helping litle ones learn to read and it always gave me so much joy to watch their reading skills grow in cofidence until they became independent readers. When I had the opportunity to teach ESL and Literacy Assistance I was happier than ever as I was teaching reading all day! I admit the hardest time in my classes came when we use to have "DEAR" time (Drop Everything And Read).When the time was up and we had to move onto the next lesson I found that even I (the teacher) had trouble putting down my book. So I understood when there was always at least one person somewhere up the back of the classroom so engrossed in their novel they found it very difficult to re-join the rest of us.

One year I had a year 4 class I decided to read Roald Dahl's The Witches to. Before I began to read each day I signalled the time by donning my own witches hat. Instantly the class knew it was time for the book. They packed away and sat quietly ever eager to hear and laugh along with Mr Dahl's marvelous story telling.

Another year whThe WitchesHow to train your dragonile I had Kindergarten I used a dragon puppet and read How to Train Your Dragon  by Cressida Cowell. Each lunchtime while they ate, the dragon and I read the story to an enraptured silently chewing audience.

I can think of nothing better than to engage children in the love of books when they are young and beginning to learn. That is what has prompted me to write my own series of books for early and reluctant readers. I want to continue to share the joy that books have brought into my world with the next generation of readers so that they are able to grow and fulfill their own dreams and passions in life.

Gingerbread Aliens

Gingerbread Aliens Book one in a series of five short chapter books for early readers. Full of fun, laughs, a bit of science, imagination, sibling rivalry and wonderful illustrations by Hayley Welsh.

Entice your young readers with a glimpse into intrigue, fun and hilarious moments when three mischievous brothers discover the snow balling effects of their mistakes rather than facing the consequences of their initial disaster! A great read for ages 4-10 and beyond. Gingerbread Aliens is full of fun, laughter and entertainment that will have children and their parents giggling all the way to the end.

View trailer

Available for purchase at