We read a LOT of children's books... We have done since the girls were babies and it has been a thoroughly enjoyable journey of discovery. We have bought and been given lots of lovely books, scoured other families' bookshelves for ideas, spent hours at the library with the girls and are always on the lookout for brilliant new stories to add to the collection. We have come across some absolutely dreadful stories and very poorly written books over the years, but have also found some definite favourites and wonderful treasures that we have in turn passed on to others. In honour of International Literacy Day we wanted to share them with you today...
Before getting started though, if I could give new parents only one tip, it would be this:
(Allowing myself a follow up tip I would highly recommend you read any children's books first that you are considering buying. Trust me on this one, you will be reading the same stories over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again for years to come, so it really does pay to find ones that you enjoy and approve of!)
Nothing quite compares to the quality bonding that you get from reading to your children, sharing great stories, looking through books together, discovering and revisiting well-loved characters and supporting them on their literary journey. By reading aloud, using interesting voices and engaging your children in the storytelling experience, you are not only helping them with their language, vocabulary, speech, pronunciation and reading skills but you are also feeding their minds, fuelling their imagination and instilling them with a joy for books and a love of reading that will last them a lifetime...
The library - where little Matilda started her reading journey - is always a fantastic place for discovering new books as you can usually let your children choose a pile each to bring home. You will soon figure out what you and your family enjoy and the more you read, the easier it becomes to quickly find decent material. For some inspiration though, the girls and I have spent some time putting together a few recommendation lists for you - as you can see we have way too many books for them to just choose 10 favourites, so we thought we'd give you a few categories that will help get you started!
Ten Favourite Board Books:
Ever since the girls were babies we've always had a basket of board books on the floor where they could reach them. Some would get chewed, some got ripped and some we've outgrown but here are ten that we've had for years and still enjoy. I could tell you a story about each - there are countless memories wrapped up in all of them - but for now I'll just leave you with the pictures. They've survived car journeys, airplanes, being stacked into towers, spread across the floor and just countless hours of young children flipping over the pages - board books really are brilliant and I can't recommend them highly enough!!
- Rainbow Rob - Jo Ryan & Simon Mugford (Priddy Books)
- Each Peach Pear Plum - Janet & Allan Ahlberg
- How Do I Love You? - Marion Dane Bauer
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle
- Room on the Broom - Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler (UK edition)
- Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy - Lynley Dodd
- The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler
- Dear Zoo - Rod Campbell
- Where is the Green Sheep? - Mem Fox
- No Matter What - Debi Gliori
Ten Favourite Picture Books:
As above, each of these books could tell a story - I know exactly who gave us each one or where we discovered them and they have all provided hours and hours worth of quality story time. Brilliant stories, lyrical rhyming texts, great illustrations and ones that the girls choose time and again. ("What am I? asked Butterfly" came from Chester Zoo near where we used to live and was the very first book Arabella learned to read all by herself!)
- Shoe Baby - Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Polly Dunbar
- Fatty Cat - Simon B. Montgomery, illustrated by Alexandra Colombo
- What Does Daddy Do? - Rachel Bright
- Baby Brains - Simon James
- Biscuit Bear - Mini Grey
- What am I? asked Butterfly - Stuart Trotter
- Madison Moon and the hot air balloon - Chris Gurney, illustrated by Catherine Foreman
- Bumpus Jumpus Dinosaurumpus - Tony Mitten, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
- The Big Yawn - Monika Spang, illustrated by Sonja Bougaeva
- Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo - E.S. Redmond
Ten Favourite Books from NZ:
Had we not moved to NZ, we'd have missed out on discovering some of the books that have become our absolute favourites! We have sent Marmaduke Duck & Piggity-Wiggity all over the world and the Cork books are so lovely that we've even given them as wedding and Christmas gifts to adult friends. There is actually a whole series of Piggity-Wiggity books that we've had from the library and will be buying whenever we find them.
- Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam (1st book) - Juliette MacIver, illust. Sarah Davis
- Marmaduke Duck on the Wide Open Seas(3rd book) - Juliette MacIver, illust. Sarah Davis
- Marmaduke Duck and Bernadette Bear (2nd book) - Juliette MacIver, illust. Sarah Davis
- Down in the Forest - Yvonne Morrison, illustrated by Jenny Cooper
- The Wheels on the Bus - illustrated by Donavon Bixley
- Two Little Pirates - Ruth Paul
- Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig - Diana Neild, illustrated by Philip Webb
- Cork on the Ocean - Mark Somerset, illustrated by Rowan
- Cork and the Bottle - Mark Somerset, illustrated by Rowan
- The Song of the Ship Rat - Ben Brown, illustrated by Helen Taylor
Ten Favourite Books about Friendship & Kindness:
Here are some lovely books that are a joy to read and are all about kindness, sharing, friendship and making a difference. There are hundreds of books out there that deal with similar topics I'm sure, but of the ones we have, these are the girls' favourites.
- Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpillar - Clare Jarrett
- Night Monkey, Day Monkey - Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Lucy Richards
- Betty and the Yeti - Ella Burfoot
- My Friend Bear - Jez Alborough
- The Chimpanzees of Happy Town - Giles Andrae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
- Sharing a Shell - Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Lydia Monks
- Frog on the Log - Leyland Perree, illustrated by Joelle Dreidemy
- The Snail and the Whale - Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
- Hamilton's Hats - Martine Oborne, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
- The Lion Who Wanted to Love - Giles Andrae, illustrated by David Wojtowycz
Ten Books that are just Lovely!
Here are ten books that are simply lovely. Either stories of love and heartwarming animal friendships and/or simply beautiful illustrations that will be a pleasure looking through again and again.
- Can I Cuddle the Moon? - Kerry Brown, illustrated by Lisa Stewart
- Sleepy time Stories - Sam Taplin & Francesca di Chiara
- How Do I Love You? - Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by C.J. Church
- If Kisses Were Colours - Alison Jay
- Guess How Much I Love You? - Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
- Alice in Wonderland - J. Rhatigan & C. Nurnberg, illustrated by Eric Puybaret
- No Matter What - Debi Gliori (2005 UK edition)
- Possum Magic - Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas
- Dear Bunny, A Bunny Love Story - Michaela Morgan, illustrated by C.J. Church
- The Tail of the Whale - Ellie Patterson, illustrated by Christine Pym
Ten Classic Books I am looking forward to reading with our children:
As well as the popular children's books mentioned in my favourite authors post, all of the classic fairy tales and fables and the obvious things like Harry Potter, here are some outstanding books I look forward to reading with the girls as they get a bit older:
- Charlotte's Webb - E.B. White (1952)
- Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren (1945)
- A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett (1905)
- The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)
- The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams (1922)
- The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (1908)
- The Narnia Series - C.S. Lewis (1950)
- Mary Poppins - P.L. Travers (1934)
- Heidi - Johanna Spyri (1881)
- The Just So Stories - Rudyard Kipling (1902)
I hope this post has inspired you to switch off your phones, scour your bookshelves or head to the local library with your children and encourage a love of reading. They will thank you for it one day!
For a list of our 10 Favourite Children's authors and book collections click here...
For Roald Dahl's amusing take on just why you should choose books over TV, see here...
Love Holly x
QUESTION: What are some stories that have become part of your lives? Which books are your personal favourites? As you know I love recommendations so please feel free to comment and let me know what we should be reading next! x