I have loved reading as long as I can remember. It filled the void when I was bed-ridden for long periods of time as a child. Reading filled my imagination with characters I’d never met nor places I’d never seen and as I grew older, it gave me information I couldn’t get in other ways. It stimulated my mind and introduced me to the thoughts of others. I simply can’t imagine my life without reading.

As a teacher, much of my career has been devoted to teaching literacy. I have enjoyed sharing my love of reading and writing with children through classroom teaching, creating literacy programs and resources and in relating stories that engage with children’s sense of fun and wonder about the world in which we live.

This particular reading series has been a pleasure to write as it has brought together many interests in my life - a love of reading which I want to share with those who struggle to master the skills involved; a desire to make learning fun and enjoyable for my students, a love of animals and especially those featured in some of these stories. They are real personalities and their antics and exploits have brought delight to my family and students.

I am deeply indebted to my sons who have set aside time from their own successful design business to illustrate and organise the publishing of these stories, many of which have arisen from our own family’s experiences. Books can be fun to share but the stories really come to life when accompanied by images that capture the life and humour I hope flows through many of the Reading Mates’ stories. I am very appreciative of my sons’ efforts in achieving this.

I hope the children with whom you share these books, enjoy the characters and the stories and colourful images as they practise the skills they need, in learning to read successfully by themselves.