Saturday, 1 February 2014

Itchy Itchy Scratchy Scratchy - Back to school and head lice

Well it's a new school year in Australia and today I will be reviewing picture books and free resources about head lice - stop scratching LOL...why is it that you begin scratching straight away?!!

I am linking up again with Paula's Place to share some of my favourite picture books through Paula's Storybook Sunday.  Click on the image below to visit Paula's blog and check out the other picture books that have been shared this week.

A number of years ago, we designed a unit of work on head lice that our Year 2 students studied as part of their unit of work on Mini-beasts.  They actually had a great time learning about these little pests and how they could be "head lice detectives".  Sometimes, it is good to bring these issues out in the open and study them, to reduce embarrassment, shame and ridicule.  

To begin, there is an hilarious YouTube clip you can view here.  It states in the beginning of this video that head lice prefer "clean hair".  It includes some informative information.  I laughed out loud watching this clip as it reminded me in many ways of how I felt when my child's daycare rang me to tell me I had to pick him up because he!!!  I am sure that is a man dressed as a woman in that clip, but maybe you could give me a second opinion on that:)  Actually, I think he plays all the characters in this clip...what do you think?  

There is another interesting YouTube clip from the National's short, but has some really interesting facts and magnified images.  You can view it here.  This clip states that head lice don't generally have a preference for either clean or dirty hair.

1.  "Bugs in my Hair" David Shannon (2013).  I just love the illustration on the cover - doesn't it say it all?!  I love the blurb: "Warning: This book will make you itchy!" and inside the cover, the author writes, "Nobody talks about them, but they're everywhere.  Oh, the shame and humiliation of having bugs in your hair!"  This is such a humorous picture book that brings an uncomfortable problem out in the open.  I love the "bug" on the title page who clearly has his bags packed and is leaving town (or the "host head" LOL).  "Stop scratching!" (She says as she scratches her head!!!)  Oh, the illustration of mum shouting "Head Lice!" and running big time, is just hilarious - a typical parental reaction :)  In fact the illustrations in this book are awesome!  This picture book is bound to have readers laughing out loud and talking openly about their own experiences.  You can preview the book here.

2.  "What's Bugging Nurse Penny?"  Catherine Steir (2013).  You can view a review of this new release here and can preview the book here.  This picture book includes a narrative and facts about head lice, which makes it a lovely mix of fiction and non-fiction text features. The great feature of this text is that it debunks many myths about head lice.

3.  "Scritch Scratch We Have Nits" Miriam Moss (2001)
The illustrations in this book, by Delphine Durand are just gorgeous (Note to self: stop scratching!!!)  I love the recommendation on the back by The Bookseller, which says, "This book turns the nitty-gritty into something witty."  This is a terrific text for teaching onomatopoeia, rhyming words and alliteration.  The details in the illustrations are sure to keep the children engaged, although with the rhyming stanzas...and a love story to boot :)

4.  "Bugs in my Hair" Catherine Stier (2008).  The first thing I noticed was that this text has the same title as the first one!    It begins with a note to "Concerned Grown Ups".  What I like in this note is the comment that, "Getting lice does not reflect on the cleanliness of the child or home".  This is an important point to remember, so I am really pleased, as a reader, to see that upfront, before I even read the book.  This is the story of absolutely perfect Ellie LaFleur.  Nothing goes wrong for her.  When her head becomes itchy, she thinks someone at the Princess Luxury Shampoo company must have messed up the formula.  This is a great mentor text for vocabulary, specifically verbs, for example, "sashayed", "quivered" and "shivered".  It  would also be great for examining adjectives. This narrative also embeds facts about head lice.  The other thing I love about this text is Ellie's self-help guide for other students who may get head lice and I love the continual reassurance throughout the story, that, "These things happen!"

5.  "Lawrence has Head Lice" Jenny Leigh (2013).  This is the story of Lawrence the lion and it begins like a detective story with case notes.  Again, this picture story book raises parents' anxiety and embarrassment that their child has head lice.  This picture book touches on the bullying and teasing that can happen when someone is known to have had head lice and debunks it through the inclusion of factual information.  the back of the book includes information for parents about head lice and head lice treatments.
6.  "I've Got Nits" Mike Brownlow (2006).  As soon as I read that the family was called the "Fotheringtons", they had me :)  This is a rhyming text and reminds me of when I had long, straight hair and my mum used to brush my hair 100 times as well!  This is such a funny text, "We can't have them...we're clean and posh!"  I am only halfway through, but I am loving this funny rhyming narrative.  This was a great read and at the end there is a step-by-step guide about head lice and how to treat them.

7.  "Yikes-Lice!" Donna Caffey (1998).  

I love the fact that this picture book starts with "A note to concerned grown ups". Like most mothers, I freaked out when my child was sent home from daycare because of head lice!  I love this introduction, "People sometimes think that head lice are a sign of uncleanliness, but in fact anyone, no matter how clean, can get them."  I think I am going to like this book!  Wow, this is interesting, apparently girls are more affected than boys!  I didn't realise that a head louse could also be called a "cootie".  That's new learning for me!  Factual information is also included in this picture book.  Oh, this text has a narrative on one side of the page and factual information on the accompanying page!  This picture book actually embeds a lot of factual information in it, more than the narrative.  You can check out a preview here.

Many of these texts are just great for intertexuality because they weave narratives with factual information - great as mentor texts in this way!

Now, have you stopped scratching yet?  I have a couple more to share with you for older children.  The first one is a non-fiction text that I am thinking about doing an interactive notebook for, so make sure you are following me on TPT to get notice about that.


Here is  a free resource  for "Horrid Henry's Nits". You can preview the beginning chapter book here.   You can read a review of "Lousy Thinking" here.  I haven't read these ones yet, but I will and I am thinking about developing a head lice maybe interactive notebook pages (Stop scratching!!! I am only saying that because I just scratched again LOL).  I would love to hear from anyone who has used or read these texts.

I do believe if teachers share these stories with children, it will help reduce the stigma around head lice and the embarrassment and shame.

You can find a free PowerPoint that can be used with teaching staff here.  There are some very useful free resources here for both children and adults.  There is information about treatment here.

I hope you didn't scratch too much during this post...are there any other great resources you know about to tackle this irritating subject?


  1. We just did a round of lice at our house (due to daycare as well). UGH...
    I didn't know David Shannon had a book about lice. I actually had NO CLUE there were lice books at all!!! Thanks for the info. I might have to add a few to our classroom library.


  2. Thanks Deniece...I had fun reading up about these and I just love that YouTube clip at the start of my post - it is so funny :) It is the same man in all those roles isn't it? Thanks for leaving feedback.

  3. I had no idea there were books about that either. Thanks for linking up
    Paula from Paula’s Place and iSURF Maths

  4. Hi Paula
    I really enjoyed investigating these and when we integrated head lice into our Year 2 mini-beast unit of study, it really helped reduce the stigma attached to the whole pesty issue. Thanks so much for your Storybook Sunday linky :)

  5. Love this! My favourite it is 'Scritch Scratch' - the kids just love the idea of the teacher having nits (that, and the fact that the teacher and her principal fall in love while he treats her for head lice hee hee!!) I've got a mini booklet in the pipeline about nits, so this was a timely blog post for me - thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much for that feedback - I thought that story was hilarious too :) I was going to do a head lice resource too, but if you are (I love your work!), I will hold off...please post the link here when it is ready, so my followers know there is a great resource available to go with this and I will pin it too :) Many thanks

    2. Thanks for the added motivation to get my 'Lousy Head Lice' booklet finished - I've never itched so much while creating a product before!! You can find it here:

  6. Eek!! I'm itching everywhere! That first book looks so cute. Of course, David Shannon is a personal favorite. I will have to check out those videos and pin this for when head lice comes up in my classroom. None yet this year, thankfully! It helps to have a lot of boys!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late
    Follow me on Bloglovin!

  7. Ha ha Melissa - you made me laugh out loud! Don't you just love the illustrations in David Shannon's picture book? I do! Thanks so much for leaving feedback :) Kylie

  8. Thanks so much for adding the link Mrs Hug-a-Bug :) I just love your units of work! I'll add the link again so it doesn't get lost in the comment thread...


  9. Dr.D.M.Mahaja is good surgeon on male pattern baldness and hair fall treatment gurgaon.For more information Please visit at

  10. I am unsure if that is relevant to teaching children about head lice, but thanks for the information.