If you’re anything like me, then you’re growing tired of the traditional nursery rhymes and fairy tales that we’re supposed to read to our children. Teach my daughters that if you’re ever in trouble, then only a prince (man) can save you? I think I’ll give that a miss, thank you. So, if I even see a glimpse of Sleeping Beauty’s blonde locks or Little Red Riding Hood’s red cape, then it can cause some serious eye-rolling. But even with feminism and the gender inequality aside (that’s a whole other blog post in itself), after 30 years of hearing them, and reading them, I think I’m done. I’m bored.
Thankfully, for our kids, and for us, there’s a far more extensive collection of fun, engaging, educational and entertaining books on the market – see you later Little Piggies. And because my girls have been brought up on the likes of The Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business, and Poo Bum (apparently poo was a hot topic in our house!), if I pulled out Goldilocks and the Three Bears instead, I’m pretty sure I’d be faced with some questionable and confused looks – where is the humour? Where is the poo? Why am I not laughing? So, as I live with the toughest of book critics, I thought I might be in a position to give you some book recommendations based on their opinions. Books that are fun to read, that’ll teach your kids real-life lessons, that’ll make them enthusiastic about reading, and some with illustrations you could quite easily rip out and hang on your wall as a piece of art.
When we were first given this book for Penny, she was only young and didn’t ‘get’ the humour, not really sure if she does now, but we do. Oh, we really do. For the first few weeks, we would strategically place the book on the top of the pile in the drawer, so that when it came to choosing her bedtime story, it was almost guaranteed that I Want My Hat Back would be the one that we’d be reading. And it never gets boring. To put it simply, a bear has lost his hat and desperately wants it back (hence the title), so off he goes, asking a few of his animal friends whether or not they’ve seen it. The replies, the politeness of the bear and the final two pages will make you cry with laughter (your kids will enjoy it too). It’s simplistic, fun to read, and if you fall in love with it as much as we have, then the author, Jon Klassen, has introduced a few other titles to the range – This Is Not My Hat, and We’ve Found A Hat.
I’m going to give you the same advice that I received when I was first handed this book – read it through alone before you read it to your kids. Get to grips with the concept, the delivery (this book is all about how you deliver it), and enjoy the quiet giggles from your children when they believe that you don’t know the secret that only they and the author, B. J. Novak, are in on. Just as the title states, the book has no pictures, but as the author proves, this by no means a book is boring. Remember you, the parent, the reader, must say every word in the book, no matter what, so….
Amelia is hard to please when it comes to books, she doesn’t seem to have that desire to read that I displayed at her age. I’m not sure if this is typically what kids her age are like these days – with their iPads, Instant Messaging services, apps, and phones always buzzing by their sides – or if it’s her personality. I’m hoping for the former. Thankfully, there is no persuasion needed when it comes to reading this book, and I often catch her reading it without any encouragement from me.
Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls includes a variety of short stories based on inspiring women who have been, and who are here today. The words and stories will fill your daughter with hope and enthusiasm – you can change the world (and no, you don’t have to wait for a man to help you to do it), you can accomplish amazing things, and you can be whoever you want to be. Each woman featured in the book has been illustrated by a different artist, meaning no image style is the same, which has resulted in every image being just as beautiful as the words. Now, I just need to wait for her to finish it so that I can be educated on inspiring women, too.
Similarly to the above, this is a series of books about inspirational females, only this time each book is dedicated to one particular individual. We have the Maya Angelou and the Amelia Earheart editions, but there are also others in the series such as Coco Chanel, Marie Curie, Agatha Christie, and Frida Kahlo. The magic of these books, apart from the uplifting storylines, is that they are based on real life events. This story really did happen. Penny is fascinated that these are ‘weal’ women (how Penny says ‘real’ – move aside Jonathan Ross), and when you combine that with the collection of photographs at the end of the book, chronicling the woman’s life, then the interest and excitement is only heightened. I think, for any child to read a book and to then be told that the story is true and that the character they’ve just been introduced to was an actual person, can be mind-blowing.
The saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ was thought up with this book in mind. Don’t let the fairly basic and non-descript exterior deter you from buying this book, as although it doesn’t seem as impressive as the others when it comes to the illustrations or the quality, the message is arguably the most powerful. The first time I read it, I was covered in goosebumps and closed Penny’s bedroom door filled with a warm glow. We all know that kids (and adults) can be cruel, so this book highlights that, and with the help of an invisible bucket, it encourages children to display positive behaviour and kindness. So, you can be a bucket dipper – someone who upsets others and in effect takes out of their bucket – or a bucket filler – someone who is kind, generous and makes people happy.
This book details the importance of positive behaviour and what it means to be kind to others, but it does it in a way that young children can understand. Whenever we read it, I’ll ask Penny whose bucket she filled that day, and if she ever does anything loving she’ll follow it up with ‘did I just fill your bucket?’ *heart melts*.