Writer and publisher of books for children

Saturday, 24 May 2008


Reading the newspaper again, I saw an article about children who were poor readers at the age of 6 becoming the best in their class after being given one-to-one tuition. It only took 30 hours over a 12 week period to bring the children's reading abilities up to that of their classmates and after a further two years, the former poor readers had overtaken them. Way to go! The programme is called Every Child a Reader and is backed by the government. Teachers operating the scheme use Reading Recovery techniques to help those children who have been identified as weak readers.

Imagine what might have become of these children if this intervention had not taken place. There obviously was not much wrong with the kids themselves. They may only have needed help to overcome particular learning blocks and after one-on-one time with the teachers they were able to perform very well.

And it is this same principle that underpins the Cayac Pre-School Learning System. The books are designed so that an adult can sit with a child and guide and encourage him or her through the learning activity. And of course that means ample opportunity for the adult to discuss the pictures with the child, encourage questions about the actions, compare things in the pictures with things in the child's environment and so on to encourage speech development.

Many of the educational books on the market aimed at young children dedicate perhaps 2, 3 or 4 pages to a particular learning activity. If a child has not mastered the skill by the end of the third or fourth page, they have no further opportunity to practise and that bit of knowledge remains incomplete. The Cayac Pre-School books provide 15 or more pages on a particular learning activity to help children of differing abilities get to grips with and understand new concepts and practise the skills being taught.

Even if a child does not need all the pages to learn the targetted skill, he or she may simply enjoy the activity and want to continue copying the shapes and colouring the pictures. I know older children who like to work through the books in quiet moments just for the fun of doing something well within their abilities.

I am all for anything that will help to ensure children get the chance to fulfill their potential. The plan is to roll this programme out across the country. This scheme could well be the key that will open the door to a brighter future for lots of kids.


Wednesday, 21 May 2008


In her recent report Ofsted Chief Christine Gilbert said that 20% of pupils leave their primary schools without a solid foundation in reading, writing and arithmetic. That's 1 in 5 children! Such a sad statistic and it masks the hardship and deprivation those children must face in a modern world where knowledge is king. I can't imagine not immersing myself in a book, newspaper, magazine or the back of a cereal box on a daily basis. I can't survive without reading something!

Reading the report reinforced for me the necessity of making sure pre-school children are exposed to the skills and concepts they need to be able to learn to read, write and manipulate numbers when they begin primary school. That's the idea behind the Cayac Pre-school Series. If children could arrive at their Reception class already aware at least of what letters and numbers look like and some idea of what they do, how much easier their lives would be. I am sure all parents want to give their children a positive start to their education and if the emotion underpinning their learning is joy, excitement and curiosity, their progress is likely to be a lot smoother than if they are anxious and confused.

Cayac supports family learning and as their first teachers, mums and dads (and in many cases, grandparents and siblings) are best placed to give the little ones a helping hand. With good material and a few hints and tips, this should be a process enjoyed by all. Wouldn't it be great if we could all do something towards erasing that sad statistic and help drive an upturn in child literacy and numeracy?


Sunday, 18 May 2008


I am back after a rather long leave of absence. 2008 is a 'could do better' year.

I have been writing poetry for kids as a wind-down exercise to calm my nerves after a day of trying to get to grips with the new accounting package. I had a stab at it in the first of my pre-school activity books - 'Can you help us please?'.

'It is time to go to sleep now.
I am tired as can be.
Can you come back soon please
To play with me?'

I enjoyed those simple rhymes so much I thought I would take the next step, i.e. writing more than 4 lines per poem!!

I remember being awarded a book of poems in primary school as a prize for being the best at Nature Studies*?!# I loved that book. I still recall a couple of lines from one poem - something like 'It was the rainbow gave thee birth, and gave thee all her glorious hues.....' I have no idea what the poem was called but the imagery fascinated me and really made me think about the power of words to paint a picture.

My efforts are nothing like as romantic. Struggling for half an hour to find a word that rhymes with 'mud' is no fun at all. I bet Raold Dahl didn't have that problem.

I have been immersing myself in the business end of publishing. I have a brilliant new (human) printer who is absolutely meticulous about the work that leaves his workshop, which is great with me. I have a website designer who hopes to get the site up by the end of the month. I am on every internet marketing gurus mailing list and I have to say, although this is all fairly new to me, I find it absolutely fascinating. Tracy Repchuk, the Marketing Makeover Maestro wrote a book called 31 Days to Millionaire Marketing Miracles which gives a step by step guide to making money on the internet. Brilliant stuff and really clarifies a lot of the mysteries of the internet.

Must get back to the poetry though. 'Mud' will stick in my mind until I get that rhyme sorted out! Bud, cud, dud......