In no particular order and in honour of International Literacy Day, here are the authors and collections that have made their way into our home and become a lovely part of our lives. Some are ones that we are continually adding to, and some are full collections. These authors are making a difference in millions of children's lives every day and for their contributions to childhood literacy we will always be grateful.
1. Julia Donaldson
The first book we read over and over was The Gruffalo. We have videos of our eldest giggling hysterically at the silly voices we'd make up when she was only a few months old - precious! Next came Room on the Broom and from there we soon discovered the rest of the Axel Scheffler collection. We have a collection of 6 of those stories on CD and daughter Nr.1 actually learned her days of the week by which story she'd be listening to before going to sleep. She could 'read' all of these books to her younger sister long before she could actually read, as she'd heard them so many times she'd memorised them! The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child and Room on the Broom were made into fabulous short movies that were aired at Christmas time in the UK and we have those on DVD too. Both girls love the sparkly additions to the Lydia Monks collaboration books, they know Superworm by heart and I've given most of these as gifts to similar age kids at some point. (We also recently gave The Scarecrow Wedding to friends getting married!) You can't go wrong with Julia Donaldson, we love her x
2. Dr Seuss
Who doesn't love Dr Seuss?! His wonderfully whimsical drawings, silly rhymes and clever use of simple words makes them perfect starter books and easy readers for young ones to get into. We used to read these whilst the girls were learning to feed themselves to keep them entertained and people of all ages enjoyed taking on this task. Green Eggs and Ham was the second book our eldest learned to read before she started school, our youngest is currently into the ABC books and we had a joint Dr Seuss birthday party for their 3rd & 5th birthdays - brilliant fun. The longer stories are perfect for pre-bedtime reading and these timeless books will be enjoyed for years to come I'm sure.
3. Lynley Dodd
Until we moved to NZ I actually had no idea Lynley Dodd was from here - I foolishly assumed she was Scottish. Her first book that we must have read a million times (we have another hilarious series of videos of our eldest jumping with fright every single time we turned the page to reveal Scarface Claw!) was just the beginning of discovering all of her other treasures. These are all wonderful short books and her repetitive, rhyming, fabulous use of language makes them a joy to read over and over again. We've learned a lot more about her at an exhibition in our local museum and we are so excited to be moving to Tauranga this month where she actually lives... (Pictures to follow soon of the sculptures that were still under construction the last time we were there)
4. Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter is timeless. There is a whole museum dedicated to the woman she was and the world she created, her work has inspired spin off merchandise of every conceivable item and she has been delighting children with her wonderful animal tales since 1902! Her life story was even made into a movie. Some of her language is slightly outdated nowadays but we don't mind and the girls simply adore these books. My grandparents gave this set to us for their first great-grandchild, quite fittingly a Little Miss Potter - who incidentally is amazed that a lot of kids in her class sadly have no idea who Beatrix Potter is. We have the whole collection on CD too and these are always favourite choices for post story-time bedtime listening.
5. Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton was one of my most favourite authors as a child. Years of my childhood were consumed reading The Faraway Tree series, The Wishing Chair and other magical tales (my lovely Mum has just brought some of these over for us to share with the girls). When I first went to boarding school the Mallory Towers books were my go-to books for reading under the duvet by torchlight when I couldn't sleep and we had numerous Famous Five and Secret Seven books on the bookshelf. When the girls were little the one story they always requested I make up and tell them was the "Magical Tree" story. They had no idea yet that it was all based on The Faraway Tree, so when we found the CD box set of the series read by Kate Winslet and put it on in the car, they were absolutely delighted that they had been primed their whole short lives for those magical tales! For her 6th birthday we bought our daughter The Faraway Tree Collection and she is now halfway through the second book. We've been reading various chapter books at bedtime that we found at a second hand bookshop and although some of the language needs to be altered slightly, the wonderful stories remain as appealing as ever.
There's a reason some books become classics and these are just as appealing and widespread as the Beatrix Potter books. Growing up I went through a very long Winnie The Pooh phase and still have some pencil cases etc. from those years. Even my best friend that I made at University and I got given the nicknames Pooh & Piglet because of our size difference and inseparable nature! The characters seem to be a part of everyone's childhood and wherever you go you'll find Winnie the Pooh merchandise, stationary and books of all shapes and sizes. We've had several early books over the years and have yet to read the actual tales to the girls, but they are now the perfect age to enjoy these one chapter at a time. Simply Lovely!
7. Roald Dahl
Who didn't grow up with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, The Twits, The Witches and James and the Giant Peach? He has to this day remained one of the world's favourite and most famous authors and both teachers and parents recommend some of his books as the top books for children to read. We have recently bought the Roald Dahl CD case and the library book set to start enjoying. The girls are loving listening to the stories on long car journeys and our 6 year old is onto her 3rd book already! We can't wait to sit and read these before bedtime. Roald Dahl truly is phizz-whizzingly, super-spectacularly great! X
8. Roger Hargreaves
The Mr Men and Little Miss books have been part of popular culture since well before I was born and we had lots of them as kids. These simple, funny little books, boldly illustrated with bright coloured drawings are perfect for the very young and are just as good for reading to them or for them to sit and look through on their own. It is inevitable for them to identify with a certain character or to attribute certain books to people they know. The list of characters available has also been very useful for us in talking to the girls about desirable behaviour and for discussing aspirational attributes - do they want to be know as helpful, fun and friendly little girls or naughty, bossy, or greedy? We don't have the whole collection but it's one that will grow I'm sure. In the meantime, our two are pretty spot on being Little Miss Chatterbox and Little Miss Sunshine!
9. Giles Andrae
These books are big, bright, bold, colourful, fun rhyming stories that introduce children to all manner of creatures and animals in short poems that they can remember. Our girls have discovered a joy for and developed a fascination with bugs, creatures, dinosaurs and all kinds of animals partly through these books, so they will always be treasured ones we are happy to read often.
10. Spencer & Ann Johnson
Last but by no means least are these Value Tales written in the late 70s/80s. As a child they were one of my favourite collections of books and because they were so much bigger than our other story books they seemed very grown up. Each tale is based on the inspiring true story of a famous person's life and is illustrated with simple colourful drawings. The title on each spine is a different colour and even when I was little I loved the look of these on the shelves. My lovely Mum has just brought these over from Austria which I am extremely grateful for as they are out of print and impossible to find! I am hugely excited about now being able to share these with the girls. X
Great storytellers will always be appreciated and the mark of a truly wonderful book is whether it gets passed on from generation to generation. By choosing to share the same authors and books you read as a child with your own children, you get to rediscover and enjoy them all over again. We look forward to discovering more authors and their collections in the years to come as our children and library grow together...
You can see a few lists of 10 of our favourite children's books that might further inspire you here.
And if you ever needed an excuse to get your kids away from the TV and into books instead, you can read Roald Dahl's amusing poem about the matter here.
Love Holly x
QUESTION: Who are your favourite children's author's? What are your favourite book collections? Do you have any recommendations for us to read?