Books for 2020 government school Prep students and their families

The 2020 Prep bag contains five children’s books for every Prep student attending a Victorian Government school. Selected by a panel of teachers, librarians and literacy experts, these books are for families to keep and enjoy with their child at home.

Below are some activity ideas that you and your child can do before and after reading the books.

Hello from nowhere

Author: Raewyn Caisley
Illustrator: Karen Blair

What the story is about

This story is about Eve, a little girl who lives in the outback of Australia. Eve finds joy in nature, lying on a warm flat rock, a blue-tongue lizard and just having the time to run. When her Nan visits from the city, Eve shows her all of the things she loves about her home. It’s a story celebrating place, what it is that makes Australia wonderful, and the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren.

Questions to ask your child before reading the book

Do you live in the city, suburbs or in a rural place?
What is special about where you live?
What would it be like to live somewhere with not many people?
Where do you think ‘Nowhere’ is?
What do you know about the Australian outback? What might you find there?
What do you think the weather is like in the outback?

Questions to ask your child after reading the book

What does Eve like about her new home?
Why did Nan change her mind about the middle of nowhere?
Why did Nan change her mind about ‘Nowhere’?
What did Nan like about Eve’s new home?
What have you learned about the outback?
If you moved far away, what would you miss about home?
What activities does Eve do for fun?

Writing activity

What you need:

Pens, pencils, textas or crayons to draw with.
Paper or card to draw on.
Stamps.

What to do:

Help your child to create and write their own postcard or letter to a special person. Be sure to include a stamp, address, and message about what makes home a great place to be. Perhaps invite that special person for a visit. Post the postcard in your local mailbox.

Arts and crafts activity

What you need:

Paper, leaves or sticks.

What to do:

Make a picture of your child’s favourite places with leaves, sticks and other items you can find outside.

Discovery activity

What you need:

A map of Australia.

What to do:

Have a look at a map with your child.
Ask your child:

  • Where do you live?
  • Where might Eve live?
  • Where do your family and friends live?

Literacy activity

Ask your child to find the words starting with “n” in the story, such as Nullabor, native, Nan, neighbours and night.
Then find the words starting with other letters of the alphabet.

Silver buttons

Author and illustrator: Bob Graham

What the story is about

‘Silver Buttons’ explores the small moments in life in which we sense the greatest significance - those moments when we can see the big picture. At 9.59am on Thursday morning, Jodie draws a duck. Just as she is about to add one final silver button to the duck's boots, her little brother takes his first step. At this exact same moment, other things are happening around them.

Questions to ask your child before reading the book

What do you think the story might be about from hearing the title only? (Note: this is an opportunity for your child’s imagination to take flight)

Questions to ask your child after reading the book

So many things happened in the time the baby took its first step. Can you tell me about some of them?
What are some things other people could be doing in the world at this moment?
Look at Jodie and Jonathan’s house. What can you tell about their family? What have they been doing that day?
While Jodie is drawing the last silver button, her brother takes his first step, which is a milestone for a child. What does the word ‘milestone’ mean? What are some milestones that you have reached?
Discuss how everyone in the world is different, and how the activities they do can be influenced by their age, where they live, interests, family and other factors. 

Drawing activity

What you need:

Pencils, pens, textas, crayons or chalk to draw with.
Paper, cardboard or concrete to draw on.

What to do:

Encourage your child to draw a sequence of events that could be happening at that moment. For example, events that might be occurring around your neighbourhood.

Arts and crafts activities

What you need:

Materials around the house such as buttons, pencils, textas, fabric, cardboard, leaves, plastic, wrapping paper or watercolour paint.

What to do:

Create a scene that shows what could be happening in your neighbourhood at 9:59am when Jonathan took his first step.

Edward the emu

Author: Sheena Knowles
Illustrator: Rod Clement

What the story is about

Tired of his life as an emu, Edward decides to try being something else for a change. He tries swimming with the seals, he spends a day lounging with the lions, and even slithers with the snakes. But Edward soon discovers that being an emu may be the best thing after all.

Questions to ask your child before reading the book

Did you know that Emus are the second largest birds in the world?
The ostrich is the largest bird in the world. What other large birds have you seen?
Have you ever been to the zoo? What was it like? What did you see, smell, touch, and hear?

Questions to ask your child after reading the book

Why do you think Edward wants to be another type of animal? Have you ever wanted to pretend you were someone or something else?
Who is your favourite animal in the book?
How do you think Edward feels?
Do you think he is happy at the end of the story? If so, why?
What do you think Edward learnt from his experiences?

Discovery activity

What you need:

Pencils, pens, textas, crayons or chalk to draw with.
Paper or cardboard to draw on.
Tape measure.

What to do:

Emus can grow up to two metres tall. Together, measure two metres to see how tall that is. Help your child to measure how tall they are and compare the two lengths. Measure how tall each member of the family is and rank them from tallest to shortest.

Arts and craft activity

What you need:

Pencils, pens, textas, crayons or chalk to draw with.
Paper or cardboard to draw on.

What to do:

Make a book showing your child’s favourite zoo animals.

The Dress-up box

 

Author: Patrick Guest
Illustrator: Nathaniel Eckstrom 

What the story is about

The Frolleys have to move from their lovely house at 32 Sunshine Avenue to a house with dripping taps, smelly carpets and ants. However, they have brought something with them that can turn any house into a home.

Questions to ask your child before reading the book

Looking at the cover of the book:
What can you see the children doing?
What are the children dressing up as?
Why do you think they are dressing up?
What do you think is going to happen in this story?

Questions to ask your child after reading the book

What makes your home and neighbourhood special?
Do you have neighbours that are your friends? If so, what games and activities do you like to do together?
Do you like to dress up? What is your favourite thing to dress up in?
Have you ever had to move away from your friends, or had friends move away from you? How did it make you feel?
Why do we feel uneasy when things change? What are some of the things we can do to make change easier?

Arts and craft activity

What you need:

Boxes, paint or textas.

What to do:

The Frolleys used their imagination a lot in the story. Be imaginative and make something out of boxes, just like they did.

Imaginative play activity

What you need:

Costumes and props, clothes and items around the house.

What to do:

Make and fill a dress-up box.
Visit op shops, ask friends and family for unwanted clothes, or visit a toy library.
Encourage your child to make up a play featuring family and friends. Help them to make sure the play has a beginning, a middle and an end.
Ask your child:
Who are the characters in their story?
What happens in the story?

Where is galah?

Author and illustrator: Sally Morgan

What the story is about

Dingo is on the prowl. He can see Emu, Swan, and Turtle. He can hear Crocodile, Frog, and Kookaburra. But where is Galah? The Australian landscape is brought to life in this colourful exploration of animals and animal sounds.

Questions to ask your child before reading the book

What you can see on the front cover?
What do you think is happening in this picture?
Can you see any characters?
Where do dingoes and galahs live?
Can you name any other animals that live only in Australia?

Questions to ask your child while reading the book

Can you find where Galah is hiding on each page?
What are your favourite animals and what noises do they make?
Can you make the noises of the animals as we read?
Can you think of more movement-sounds that the animals in the book might make?
What kinds of sounds do you make when you walk, run, jump, clap your hands or knock on a door?
Talk about the bright colours and patterns in the landscape and animal pictures.
Point out to your child that that the sky is a different colour, and has different patterns on each page.
Ask your child:
What might this tell us about the weather on each page?
Is it day or night?
Which sky colours make us think of cool weather, and which colours make us think of warm weather?   

Arts and crafts activity

What you need:

Paint, paper.

What to do:

Encourage your child to paint pictures of the city and countryside, showing hot and cold weather, or day and night.
Ask your child how using different colours makes them feel.

Play and discovery activity

What you need:

Paint, textas, crayons or chalk to draw with.
Items from your house, backyard and garden.

What to do:

Ask your child to find all of the animals in the book and see if they can name them all. What other Australian animals do they know?
Ask your child to draw/build/make/paint the animals they saw in the book. Perhaps they can use chalk to draw the animals on the footpath outside.

Find out more about:
How to build your child’s literacy skills from birth to year 2,    
Literacy and Numeracy Tips to help your child every day’ (pdf - 4.17mb)
Tips for Starting School