Category Archives: Thoughts

A Book Box in March


I was so excited to find this little package on my doorstep during the week! It’s a small box packed with awesomeness that makes me feel so very happy.

The YA Chronicles are an Australian book box subscription service specialising in young adult literature. Each month, a new release YA book is chosen to develop a book box. It is then accompanied by several themed goodies, which make it a truly fun experience. A subscription would make an excellent gift for a lover of YA.

This month, I opened the box to grassy green tissue paper, which I carefully peeled back and unveiled… A beautiful parcel of literary fun!









The book is Frogkisser by Garth Nix! And it came with a signed plate through the publisher, Allen & Unwin. It’s been a hectic week, so I haven’t been able to start reading it yet, but I can hardly wait to get to it (must get kids to bed first!)

Also included was a lovely vinyl sticker from Ink and Wonder Designs, some villainous bath salts from Burning Pages Candles and a delightfully smelling lip balm from From the Page. And of course, The YA Chronicles bookmark and information postcard.

Check out The YA Chronicles to get in on the book box action!



My First Book Box


Recently I had seen a few places advertised online that were selling book box subscriptions, but they were not available in my area, or the postage costs were prohibitive. Then I ran across The YA Chronicles, an Australian based book box subscription service specialising in young adult literature. I could hardly have been more excited! I love YA and read it as much as I can, so this was just perfect.

Each month, a new release YA book is chosen to develop a book box. It is then accompanied by several themed goodies, which make it a truly fun experience. A subscription would make an excellent gift for a lover of YA.

Book box

Book box

My first box arrived during the week, yay! I got an email from Australia Post early in the morning to say it was on board with the driver for delivery that day. I waited impatiently all day for it to arrive, but it didn’t show up until after four, by which time all the kids were home from school, so I had to sneak off to my room to open it in peace!

I was tingling with anticipation as I opened the box to find black tissue paper surrounding the wonderful contents. Inside was the book, Valentine by Jodi McAlister, along with a lovely smelly and glittery soy candle, a pin, some tea and a bookmark. And I love it all!












Already looking forward to the next box! Thanks to The YA Chronicles for giving me such joy!

Time Away


Focus, concentration and motivation have been rather lacking in my life lately, as I slowly recover from illness, and the death of a loved one. I just haven’t been able to work or even read for pleasure, leaving me woefully behind in my read-and-review stack. I apologise if you have been waiting for a review or feedback. I don’t know how long it will be until I find myself back on my feet again, I’m just taking things one day at a time.
Thank you all for reading my blog and sharing your work with me and my readers. I hope to continue the Today We Did journey soon, and I hope you will come along for the ride 🙂

Sara xx

New Library Additions June ’16


IMG_7789 (1)

More books, more books!

Physical books:


Guest Post: How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover the Joy of Reading


kidsreadingImage: Shutterstock


How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover the Joy of Reading

It doesn’t take a team of scientists to tell us that children holding tablets and iPhones before they can speak has substantially changed the way they interact with the world. The research has been done, but it’s fairly obvious that the switch from wooden blocks to a full on digital device is a force to be reckoned with.

So what has changed exactly?

Access to instant information has trained us to be satisfied when we are constantly engaged, but more importantly, entertained in every second. For new readers, this can be distracting for the learning process. It takes careful motivation and time for the development of comprehension and practical application to cross over the digital barrier and enrich new readers to pick up reading with an appetite on their own.


Attention Spans

The digital age has shortened the human attention span to eight seconds, and it’s had a big effect on kids too, as studies show that, on average, children from ages 6 to 12 spend an average of six hours a day in front of screens. After a while that can mean big changes to learning styles, but in this day and age, you don’t have to fight the statistics but can embrace them.

Matching your child’s interest in digital devices with reading is an excellent way to reach them on a level they will be excited about, and excitement and independence are the ways to get lifetime readers (both things your kids can achieve through reader technologies). Letting them navigate ways to read titles that interest them, allowing them access to books when it interests them, and also maintaining that they are reading at their level will build voracious readers that can’t get enough of the written word.

A couple of good things to remember about tablets however is that tuning out is as important as tuning in, so moderation and supplementation with exercise, plenty of time for play outside away from the tablet and a healthy diet with plenty of fluids are the best ways to raise healthy kids that don’t become unnaturally addicted to screen time.



The good news about digital reading comes down to apps. Between interactive games and e-readers, getting your kid to read on a tablet combines two things that really are better together: the latest technology and one of the oldest taught skills. Together, they improve minds, expand horizons and make for brighter futures. Here are a few apps that are likely to help out any new reader:

  • MeeGenius: Working on iOS, Android and Google Play, MeeGenius allows readers to highlight words that might need a little more time, and then go back to review them with audio, as well as providing a personalization element that will substitute the main character’s name with your child’s name. It’s a great tool for the younger set still learning how to read, and it comes free with book selection.
  • Tikatok StorySpark: As Barnes & Noble’s kid-friendly app, Tikatok StorySpark combines a lot of great elements for an app that will fully engage any new reader who also wants to take a stab at playing author. Kid’s can write and publish their own stories, using their own drawings or uploading digital backgrounds, and then they can upload their finished product to com for publication.
  • Tales2Go: This app is a winner due to its inclusion of thousands of titles that you can take wherever your tablet can go (hint the name!) and is well-beloved by parents who don’t want to pack a bunch of bedtime books for every adventure. Bookmark favorites, scroll through genres and save yourself a little library on Tales2Go—it’s ideal for the reader who can’t get enough of the favorites but also likes the option to browse.
  • A Story Before Bed: A Story Before Bed app is a great one for readers who dig the nighttime storytelling experience. It allows readers to access 300 titles and then uses a video recording to save the goodnight reading session. It’s perfect for going back to relive some of the best stories you have shared together whenever.


Mobile Opportunities

Busy families can benefit from the mobile opportunities that a tablet reader provides, and if you don’t want to have your kid slinging around your new iPad Air, tablet devices for kids exist for that very reason.

Try a model such as the V.Reader, which is perfect for toddlers just getting their hands on a book or two. It comes with software cartridges that let you monitor what they’re reading and provides them with plenty of interactive games. For older readers, the Amazon’s bundled e-reader includes achievement benchmarks that monitor your child’s progress and comes with access to over 250,000 titles and the ability to access e-books from their libraries. With the Amazon reader you can also download PDF books whenever you run out of options, so try international titles from around the world. Sounds like a great start, right?

It may seem as if the world is coming to an end since the tablet’s arrival, but really it’s just an opportunity for us all to evolve—something we’ve historically been very successful at. Why not do it with reading?

How has technology impacted your child’s reading? Do you have any other apps you would suggest? Share with us in the comments below!


About the Author: Caroline is a passionate reader and technology guru who writes for and She is constantly in search of the best new book, the latest in technology and the ultimate guide on how to gracefully get out of weekend plans so she can remain at home in bed with a good read.

Twitter: @CultureCovC

New Library Additions May ’16


Added some books to my home library this month!

IMG_7614 (1)

Physical Books:


What new books did you get in May?

CBCA Shortlist for 2016


The Children’s Book Council of Australia announced their Book of the Year shortlist for 2016 on Friday. I get so excited waiting for this every year!

Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators of these wonderful books!

I am looking forward to reading as many as I can. Unfortunately there never seems enough time to get through all of them.


In the early childhood category;

  • Piranha’s Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
  • The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Laura Wood
  • My Dog Bigsy by Alison Lester
  • Mr Huff by Anna Walker
  • Perfect by Danny Parker and illustrated by Freya Blackwood
  • Ollie and the Wind by Ghosh Ronojoy


In the picture book category;

  • My Dead Bunny by James Foley with text by Sigi Cohen


In the younger readers category;

  • The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood


In the older readers category;


Information books;


I am quite keen to read The Flywheel, it sounds interesting. I’m also looking forward to sharing the early childhood and picture books with my kids, they are always worth a read. We already love The Cow Tripped Over the Moon and Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, so now I am excited to discover the others.

Which of these books have you read? Which ones do you think will be Book of the Year?


“New Books” Space


On Mother’s Day my lovely children and their lovely dad set up a “New Books” area for me. It is a small space within our play-room, which also houses a wall of books. Each of my girls made signs for the space, indicating what it is for, and then they laid out the new books I got for Mother’s Day, and added my e-readers and book-seat. I was quite surprised, but also delighted. It was very sweet of them.


Menstruation in teen fiction???


Over my lifetime I have read thousands of books, including many, many young adult and middle grade fiction. Plenty of coming-of-age novels and books addressing teen issues, but it’s not often that I’ve come across books portraying menarche or menstruation. Why is this?

Well I have a few theories myself, but I don’t really know the answer. It could be inconvenient to the plot of course, why write in bodily functions if not specifically required, it’s not as if we follow characters to the toilet all the time, though it may be mentioned in passing. That is understandable really, but where is it in teenage angst books? Maybe these books don’t get out there due to fear of censure, or actual censorship. Maybe they don’t get written at all. Embarrassment, misunderstanding, perceived lack of requirement?

Factual book for girls.

Factual book for girls.

As puberty creeps closer in our house, I have began searching for books addressing the various issues and upsets of adolescence. It has quickly become apparent that there are countless books about the awkwardness of being a teen, pimples, first loves, school work, even teen pregnancy, yet very little that addresses periods. Don’t get me wrong, there are a tonne of factual books to help kids entering puberty and beyond, and some of them are quite good, but I am looking for fiction that incorporates menstruation as a normal function of a girl’s body. I want fiction that shows my kids that it’s okay to have periods, all girls get them, and all girls deal with them, and every girl’s is different, and that’s okay. That even our heroes get them, and they can still save the world from time to time!

I was watching “Catching Fire” (the second movie based on The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins) on TV last week when I had the thought that getting a period during the Hunger Games would be really inconvenient. Were tampons available in the Cornucopia? Perhaps the girls from District 12 are so malnourished that menarche is delayed? And what of other heroines in the world of YA fiction? Did Tris have to deal with her period during the Gauntless initiation? Where did Karou find menstrual products when she was resurrecting the Chimaera in the Moroccan desert? Did Hermione keep tampons in her bottomless bag when traveling with Harry and Ron searching for the Horcruxes? Does Ellie have to stay in Hell instead of going out to fight in the war, because her period is particularly heavy this month? These girls were pretty busy fighting for their own lives, as well as the lives of others, so perhaps they were just too busy to menstruate. Even girls like America Singer, safe within the palace walls, fighting more for love than life, never talk about their period, even in passing.

areyoutheregodcoverI vaguely remember reading that old Judy Blume book, Are you there God? It’s me Margaret, as a child, but I don’t remember much about it. It’s a good place to start though. I also read Puberty Blues a long time ago, though I don’t remember if there was much about menstruation, it is a good Aussie novel, and I think I will re-read it.

So I put it to you now, do you know of any middle grade or teen fiction that addresses menstruation? Or includes it in some way? Throw those suggestions at me, please!


As a book reviewer I do get books in the post (and I am excited every single time one arrives!), but today I got something a little different. I got my first ever marketing pack for a book that I am currently reading for review. I was so super excited!

The book is Deathcat Sally by P.S. Brooks, and so far I am really enjoying it. Hopefully I will have the review up by next week (children willing!). It’s about Sally and Zachary, a teenage girl and a cat that find themselves joined together after a car accident that nearly killed them both. Not only do they have to deal with this unexpected predicament, every time they fall asleep they enter No Man’s Land, a dreamscape that is all too real, and all too scary. IMG_7571

The author, P.S. Brooks is also an illustrator, and has done the book cover, illustrations and marketing material himself. And his work is lovely! I was sent some of his Deathcat Sally art in the form of bookmarks, badges and a little booklet providing background for the book. I have put some of the art up on my library wall (well it will be my library when it has finished its life as a playroom!). The cat stickers and little cat figure that was in the marketing pack disappeared very quickly to my 6 year old’s bedroom. IMG_7560

I have also been perusing his other artwork and I have fallen in love with it! It is whimsical and gorgeous and I want some! I like so many his pictures I can’t decide on a favourite, but it’s close between Origin of a Starfish and Dance of the Stars. What’s your favourite? Have a look for yourself at P.S. Brooks Illustrator & Writer!

Now that I’ve shared my excitement, I’m off to continue reading 🙂

Exciting Mail