Cool Hats For Reading Books

Author and public servant with a legal background, Cori Brooke wears a cool hat for every story.  She was thrilled to be shortlisted for the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year awards in the Early Childhood category. ‘All I Want for Christmas is Rain’ was popular with the little-ones who guessed right. Brooke was to wear… a farmer’s hat.

Ninety Preps and a sprinkle of 1/2s, also learned how Brooke’s Picture Book endpapers tell you about the story. Because of the drought, the first endpaper was splotchy brown for… ‘Dirt!’. And the last endpaper was splotchy green for… ‘Grass!’ symbolising young Jane’s wish for rain. Also no words on the page meant the story was being told through the Illustrator, Megan Forward’s pictures. Students saw the illustrators first pencil drawing of a scene. This is a… starts with an Sss… . It’s called a… ‘Sketch!’ The second drawing showed the illustrator working out colours for characters and setting.

Next, students had their chance to write the first line of a story. ‘The first line has to draw your reader in.’ Brooke used a story cube – starting with Once upon a time… and the word ‘parachute’. The little-ones worked in groups sharing their ideas with their teacher. Some of the first lines included, Once upon a time, …we found a yellow and orange parachute and it was magical. …there was a pig and a pigeon and a parachute landed in front of them. …we went swimming in the pool and a parachute landed. Brooke gave them high praise for their imaginative story starts for such a young age.



Brooke also encouraged students to write and draw their own book, like she did in about year 3, when she first became an author. She held up her first book The Dream, which she hand-wrote, illustrated and self-published from ‘a time when there was no computers’. One day she’d organise a crown to read her first published book. She wrote that first draft by hand, which continues today in an A4 notebook before typing it into her computer. Writing by hand allowed her to write down ideas and expand them, make notes in margins and add drawings. It also allowed her story to flow during her first draft.

Before she read ‘Fearless Dad’ she asked the kids, ‘What do I need first before I read this… ‘A HAT!’

As the Preppies left, she surprised them with high fives and a disguise. But they still recognised her, as they looked up to her giggling and smiling.



Maria Parenti-Baldey, primary teacher, writer, amateur photographer and blogger at


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