Summer Reading: Why Children Can Benefit from Reading over the Holidays

Summers in Malta are long, and there’s plenty of time to plan fun activities that give children and parents a well-deserved break. The summer holidays are a time for rest, recreation, and adventure, but it’s also an excellent opportunity for parents and caregivers to encourage one of the most enriching activities for young minds: reading.

While reading may seem like ‘homework’ to some children over the summer holidays, it can actually help them enjoy the summer more and make them feel more prepared for the upcoming academic year. Plus, it’s a great way to start important conversations as a family by discussing the stories that a child is engaged in.

Remember, there’s no pressure to read all the books on your summer reading list. Even one book is better than none, and it’s never too late to start cultivating a new habit!

In this blog post, we explore why reading can be one of the best hobbies that your child can pick up this summer.

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PANCAKE Project: Making Nature Accessible to Deaf Communities

Since 2021, Octavo has proudly formed part of the PANCAKE project which aims to improve the accessibility of nature to the deaf community. 

The natural world is full of wonders, but have you ever thought about how you would describe a particular plant or tree without using speech? Although there are approximately 70 million people with hearing impairments in Europe, nature-related terms are lacking in sign languages around the world.

This is why Friends of the Earth Malta launched the PANCAKE project. Through this project, participants from 5 countries (Malta, Spain, Italy and the UK) are working together to create a common sign that can be understood on an international scale, similar to the Botanical Latin adopted by flora enthusiasts and researchers around the world. The project aims to make nature more accessible to the Deaf Community and elevate knowledge about flora and design-inclusive public spaces. This is being achieved through the following actions:

  • Enhance the national sign languages of each participating country with signs for plants found within the countries;
  • Create videos to teach new signs and produce sign language documentaries;
  • Create a manual of best architectural practices for inclusion and accessibility in public spaces;
  • Adapt material into online interactive content for dissemination.

And that’s where we come in. Octavo is the chosen online platform which will be used to transmit the PANCAKE project’s message, and our team also form part of the meetings taking place throughout the project. 

PANCAKE Project Meetings

So far, we’ve had three main transnational project meetings. The first meeting took place at Ebro’s river delta, in Spain, from the 16th – the 17th of November 2021. The purpose of this first meeting was to brainstorm on projects, EU-added value and new ideas. We networked and headed to the ‘Mon Natura’ reserve and eco-museum, where we got to know the other partners and prepared to start the project.

The second meeting took place in Rome between the 23rd and 24th of May 2022. Here, we met up with partners to discuss budget updates, as well as intellectual outputs and task division among partners. Deaf representatives from associations (ST, SP, ENS, AVSiE, DPAM) and botanists (FOEM/SEO) presented their draft signs, and then created and assessed the possibility of having common signs. This was followed by a presentation of the draft manual’s index and discussion. We ended the meeting with a visit to the ‘Museo Civico di Zoologia’.

The third meeting, held in Edinburgh between the 21st and 22nd of November 2022, saw partners meeting to discuss the sign list and present the work to British partners. We discussed the dissemination of future activities and organised the making of videos for the signs. We also visited the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, where we had a BSL-signed tour.

The PANCAKE project will last until 2024. If you’re interested in learning more about the project, follow Friends of the Earth Malta and Octavo for future updates!

The manual for guides and interpreters in nature reserves can be found here:

7 Ways to Get Children to Love Reading!

Child reading on tablet.

As a parent of a young child, you may feel thrilled when your child starts learning how to read. It’s a significant milestone that marks the beginning of a lifetime of learning, opening the doors to endless opportunities. However, the process of learning to read is not a straightforward one, and you might be wondering how you can encourage your child to read and help them develop their reading skills as best as possible.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

Make reading a part of your daily routine.

Set aside some time each day for reading. It could be before bedtime, during breakfast, or any other time that works for you and your child. Consistency is key to developing good reading habits.

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5 Festive Reads for Kids [English & Maltese]

It’s never too early to learn about the joy that Christmas brings, and burying your nose into a good book is a great place to start. These festive stories highlight the beauty of Christmas, ranging from festive traditions to fictional tales in both English and Maltese.

From young elementary readers to older, more confident ones – these oBooks are suitable for a wide range of readers.

Take note of the reading level beneath each story to find the right match for your level!

Christmas – Bullfrog Books

Which holidays do you celebrate with your family? These books tell you about holidays from different cultures. Have you read them all?

Level: Lexile 220L/ European Framework for Languages A1 (Elementary)

Il-Maġija tal-Milied – Qari għal Qalbi [Maltese – FREE]

Toninu u Ġakkinu marru jistaqsu lil Santa Klaws fuq is-sigriet tiegħu; kif jagħmel lin-nies ferħanin, iżda Santa Klaws iddeċieda li jidħaq ftit bihom qabel iweġibhom…

Level: Qadfa ‘l fuq – Turkwas

Il-Milied it-Tajjeb – Qari għal Qalbi [Maltese – FREE]

Illum sejrin nixtru l-affarijiet biex inżejnu d-dar, għax il-Milied mingħajr tiżjin ma jġibx ferħ fost il-Maltin!

Livell: Qadfa ‘l Fuq Roża B

Make a Gingerbread Man – Teacher Created Materials

A fun and festive gingerbread man can put a smile on anyone’s face. You will learn how to craft your own special gingerbread man by reading this book.

Level: Lexile 450L/ European Framework for Languages A2 (Basic user)

Il-Qalb Kollox – BDL Publications

Kien lejlet il-Milied. Nora kienet qiegħda tistenna lill-maħbub żewġha Mario ġej lura mix-xogħol. Riedet tixtrilu rigal iżda ma kellhiex flus. X’waslet tagħmel sabiex tara lil żewġha kuntent? U x’sorpriża ssib tistennieha? Il-qalb kollox…

Level: Adult

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Science Made Fun: STEAM books for Esploranauts!

Open the doors to a new way of learning about science for kids…

For budding scientists who are fascinated by the world around them, or newcomers to the wonderful world of science – the Esploranauts Science Club for Kids will get young learners thinking about the way things work… from the chemicals in our atmosphere to the physics of engineering.

Launched in September 2022, the Esploranauts club will give its members access to a digital library of STEAM books to help further their learning. The books are available on Octavo – a Malta-based digital reading platform – and form part of the STEAM Readers collection created in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution.

The science club is designed for curious children and eager learners aged between 5 to 10 years. The collection of STEAM books includes 90 original texts, with 45 of those books targeted for children in Grades 1 – 3, and the other 45 books suitable for children in Grades 4 – 6.

Members of the club will receive an official Esploranauts t-shirt, quarterly magazine, an Esplora digital book and a free Esplora Child Ticket on their birthdays to enjoy a day at Esplora!

The STEAM digital books will be available all year long and can be accessed by creating a free account on Octavo.

The Membership fee for this science club, comprising all these benefits, is €15 per year.

As Malta’s Interactive Science Centre, Esplora is located at Villa Bighi and aims to provide an immersive experience for visitors to learn about science. The hands-on experiences and exhibitions are designed to spark interest among all visitors, encouraging an informal alternative approach to classroom-based science lessons!

Click on the button below to sign your child up to Esploranauts!

What is Digital Literacy all About?

Digital Literacy with Octavo

Teach necessary digital skills with Octavo

For many teachers and parents who were born before the internet, the concept of digital literacy as a subject may sound a little strange. Aren’t digital skills something that people learn naturally as they grow older? This may have been the case up until the Millennial generation who grew up alongside the internet, but as technology develops at a rapid pace, it becomes even more difficult to keep up with new skills.

Just as children can learn new languages much easier than adults, they can also absorb the language of the digital world with greater ease.

This is what digital literacy is all about!

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5 oBooks to Explore the World for Elementary Readers

Passport and World Map

Explore countries, landscapes and cultures with these travel-themed oBooks

Travel books for children have the power to increase global awareness from a young age. Learning about the different countries and their unique cultures around the world can encourage a sense of curiosity among young readers, helping them expand their horizons and learn about the many wonders of the world.

With the summer months ahead of us, what better time to encourage children to read more? These 5 travel-themed oBooks will make the perfect summer read for elementary-level readers (CEFR: A2)

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Octavo for Mobile: Breaking Down Barriers to Reading!

Carry an oBook through the Octavo Mobile App

Whether you’re at home, in class, or on the go – having a good book close by is always a great idea. How do you think bookworms manage to read hundreds of books a year? Next time you’re twiddling your thumbs or scrolling through TikTok, dive into the Octavo app and add another oBook to your reading list.

Here’s how you can read your favourite oBooks – even without an internet connection – through Octavo on mobile!

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Where Reading Starts!

Children reading on Octavo

Discover the new Jump! Collection on Octavo

If you’re looking for a way to get young readers excited about books, here’s your chance! The fun-packed Jump! collection has just been added to Octavo with over 145+ educational, levelled English oBooks waiting to be read.

This collection uses high-interest non-fiction topics to educate readers from grades PreK – 3. From beginner readers to newly-fluent ones, the collection covers a diverse range of subjects that young children will love to read!

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Read and Learn with Bearport Publishing!

The Bearport Publishing Collection is now available on Octavo

Have fun reading with this latest collection for grades K-3!

How can parents and teachers make reading irresistible for young readers? As it gets harder and harder to maintain children’s attention, Bearport Publishing has cracked the code to help keep readers engaged! By combining excellent storytelling with eye-catching images, Bearport Publishing is dedicated to giving kids the kinds of books that they want to read. The award-winning children’s book publisher is now making a selection of 150+ oBooks available through Octavo!

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