Last week we went to our local library (only the BEST LIBRARY IN THE UNIVERSE) and for the first time B1 snuck off to a cosy corner to read by herself. B2 was still keen for me to read to her (read as: shove a book at me before proceeding to wrestle my body into a more pleasing, arm-chair-ish shape with her knees, shoulders, skull and elbows) while B3 careened and screeched and launched herself into the beanbags. Observing them all I had that dawning, cliched realization. It is, my friends, the end of an era. And the beginning of a new one.
While the girls are at different stages with books, they all, thankfully, seem to love them. Phew. So now I have the perfect excuse to seek out and read not one but three different kinds of children’s books and I am absolutely loving it. Exploring chapter-book authors with B1 whilst getting picture-book nostalgic with B3; I’m having a ball along with them. If you too love nothing more than a new book / author recommendation then these three lists, based on what we’re reading and adoring, are for you.
Into: Funny, animals, graphic novels, basic stories she can read herself
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (Usborne Illustrated Originals) – This is our current chapter book and I’m baffled as to why I haven’t read it earlier. The girls love picking out the differences between this story and the movie and poring over the rich, detailled illustrations by Lorena Alvarez Gomez. A particularly beautiful version of a classic book.
Me: A Compendium by Wee Society – Instead of reading a book under a covers when she is supposed to be sleeping, B2 is journalling! Every page of this book prompts imagination and consideration, encouraging kids to draw what their hair looks like, what their band name would be, what they’d bring to outer space, and how they feel about lightning, lizards and pickles. This book is superbly well-designed and captivating for young kids.
101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith – After discovering a vintage copy of this book in our local secondhand bookstore it became the first ever chapter book we read together. B1 is a huge fan of puppies and reading this book no doubt cemented her desire to receive one for Christmas (help me!). I am keen to seek out ‘The Midnight Kittens” by the same author.
Frog, Where Are You? by Mercer Mayer – For visual kids, this wordless picture book is an absolute winner. It works for all ages, cultures and languages and is a fun one for your kid to read to you, for you to make up the words to together or for them to read to themselves. There are six books in the series.
Children Just Like Me by DK – This book is so wonderful for prompting discussion we have both versions (1995 & 2016) in our home. Each page features a child from a different country, with photos and descriptions of their family, school, religion, diet, pets and hobbies. It’s great for teaching geography and empathy.
Into: Funny, whimsical and novel
I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell – Looking for a hilarious book featuring vegetables? Look no further. Great for early readers and funny fans, this is a story about miscommunication, featuring bright illustrations and lots of repetition.
When I Was Small by Sara O’Leary – Part of a trio of gorgeous books by O’Leary / Morstad this one features a conversation between mother and child, with anecdotes from the mother about “when she was small”. The strange and charming little tales, Thumbelina-esque illustrations and pretty pink cover with vivid red binding make for a lovely package.
That Book Woman by Heather Henson – Set in the Appalachian Mountains, the lyrical language of this book is mesmerizing. A great book to start a conversation about history (it is set in the 1930’s), poverty and love of reading (it features a reluctant reader and a Pack Horse librarian – people who provided a library service to remote, rural areas via horseback). As a bonus I attempt an Appalachian accent while reading it, which the kids find pretty amusing.
Ruby Red Shoes Goes To Paris by Kate Knapp – Another one from a series, this is our favourite Ruby Red Shoes book so far just because it is our newest! Featuring Kate Knapp’s charming, precise illustrations of Ruby the rabbit and her grandmother, this book adds new characters / rabbits: Monsieur Gaspar Galushka and grandson, Felix and has lovely descriptions of french food and Parisian sights. Shamelessly indoctrinating my kids to become francophiles? Mais oui.
Into: Tactile, bright, basic shapes
Peck Peck Peck by Lucy Cousins – Famous for giving us loveable “Maisy”, Cousins has created a book full of holes. Literally. In this bright board book the baby woodpecker pecks at everything he finds and leaves a hole punched in the pages, perfect for tiny fingers to poke at. If your baby loves exploring the holes in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as mine does, this is a great alternative. I have a copy at home and another in the car to keep bubs occupied.
Peepo! by Janet Ahlberg – Another book with holes, this time big time to peep through. Set in England, during the war, this book is about a baby’s day with lovely rhymes and illustrations of ordinary, cluttered kitchens and lounges and bedrooms. It is charming. Plus, kids get a thrill out of both peeping and exclaiming “Peepo!”
Little Cloud by Eric Carle – More well-known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Carle is, of course, synonymous with picture books. He even founded a museum dedicated to picture book art! Hello, bucket list. I love this particular Carle because it’s so very simple and inspired my girls to spot shapes within the clouds.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – You can’t go past this luridly-coloured book for lulling kids (and reading parents) to sleep. Because I didn’t grow up with this book I didn’t understand the appeal at first. It’s, well, a bit ugly. But now…zzzzz….I get it. Thank you, my Vancouver mothers group, for introducing me to this one. It’s my go-to baby present.
Rain Train by Elenor De Roo – And, finally, another soporific tale, this one by New Zealander Elena de Roo. Roo’s percussive, soothing poem is paired with Brian Lovelock’s soft and beautiful illustrations in a book which is my Dad’s favourite to read to the girls. They call him Pipi, so it’s known in our house as“Pipi’s book”, which they find and fetch for him when he comes to visit.
Always keen for a bookish recommendation – we would love to hear your favourite children’s books. What are you reading to your children? What do they read to themselves? Which books did you love when you were child? Share your favourite titles with us in a comment below.