OK, so here is my box book idea for ages 1-4. Book boxes are something that I have thought of to encourage families to have books in the house. We all have toy boxes, so why not book boxes? You don’t have to be a reader yourself, this is an easy way to let your little ones explore books and never have to fear them. 1-4 years is my all time favourite age as reading is still just a massive adventure for them. It might be a bit time consuming as they want to try and read stuff themselves but stick with it, as this is when you can really fire up their enthusiasm for books. The list below doesn’t contain anything particularly new, instead just stories that have captured both my girls imaginations. Some are classics so if you want to copy head to your library, charity shop or local independent bookshop to see what you can find.
1 -Mr Men series – Roger Hargreaves
I’ve gone all retro again, and I can’t say I agree with all the books in the series as they can be a bit out-dated, but what I do like it that they give kids exposure to words that don’t usually appear in their books. I swear these have helped give my daughters a wider range of vocabulary than normal. If you read them enough (if you are anything like me it will be every night for about two years….zzzz.) Anyway, they allow your kids to get to know standard emotions such as happy, funny, mean etc and action words like sneezy, rush and so on and they get to learn what they mean through osmosis. They are also small, so fit perfectly in your suitcase or bag whenever you go anywhere. The set is pricey (much better at The Book People) but you can buy individual ones for a couple of pounds. Our all time favourites are Mr Nonsense and Mr Funny.
2 – Literally Anything by Julia Donaldson
Here she is again (she also appeared in my 0-12 months list) , but this time it’s for The Gruffalo, The Smartest Giant in Town, Highway Rat, The Snail and the Whale, Zog etc. All wonderful stories that will be enjoyed over and over again. The way she rhymes is so simple yet so accessible to kids. They are the perfect length to read at bedtime and use language that children can understand. The woman is a genius so I will say no more. They also make great birthday presents.
3 – You Choose – Nick Sharratt
I think this is my all time favourite children’s book. There are very few words but the possibilities are endless. Put simply, you and your little one choose what ever they like from the pictures on the page, they then can be the inspiration for stories, characters, role-play etc. I use this book at work on kids right up to Year 5 and they love it. Simply brilliant, especially as it doesn’t matter if you can read or not as you still can get the same pleasure from it. (Nick Sharratt also appears in my 0-12 month list. The man is simply a god.)
4 – Oi Frog/Oi Dog – Kes Gray, Jim Field
These are such funny, clever, engaging rhyming books that will make you both laugh. They are great for word-play and such fun to read out loud. The kids love the characters as well, as they are really beautifully drawn. They really encourages kids to try out their own rhyming skills and I never seem to get bored of reading them, as you find something new every time you do. I love books that have something for the adults as well as the child.
5 -Dogs Don’t Do Ballet – Anna Kemp
Now I don’t actually own this one, but we must have got it out of the library about a hundred times! It really captured my older one’s imagination when she was little, as she loved spotting the cheeky dog on all the pages. It’s a lovely story to read at night as it teaches them all about getting stuck into something if you really love it. Again, humour is the key here.
6 – I love You, Blue Kangaroo – Emma Chichester-Brown
We love all Emma’s books, but Blue Kangaroo is the most popular in our house. My older one has a taggie that she adores, so I think she could relate to Blue Kangaroo in this story. There are other stories about Blue Kangaroo, and a lovely one for Christmas too.
7 – Totally Wonderful Mrs Plumberry/ Our House– Michael Rosen
He’s back! My ultimate hero in kid’s books. These books also appear in my 0-12 month list as they are suitable for all ages. He just seems to find a way of bringing alive something that is so important to children, but of which they might not be able to articulate. The child in Mrs Plumberry is just like both my daughters. So desperate to show something at school, but then someone else comes in with something bigger and better. Everyone should have a Mrs Plumberry in their classroom. As for Our House, if you have ever watched a group of children play you will understand this book.
8 – The Princes Bedtime – Joanne Oppenheim
Another beautiful rhyming one, that I did spend a full year reading as my daughter’s ‘last’ book at bedtime. It works wonders on kids that have a habit of nipping in and out of bed as it basically tells them to curl up and go to sleep. (It also makes you feel pretty smug and it says you are doing the right thing by reading them to sleep.) Lovely illustrations too.
9 – The Queen’s Knickers – Nicholas Allen
The title says it all really! It’s about a Queen and her choice of knickers. Now I don’t know about you but pants/knickers etc get talked about a lot in our family so this is just great to make you child laugh. It’s also got a bit choice for the child (she can choose her own favourite ones) and the ending makes them think that it’s possible you Queen might tip up at their school one day.
10 – Mrs Wobble the Waitress – Janet & Allan Ahlberg
Stepping back in time again, but I can’t really put into words how important these writers are to the world of children’s books. Their rhymes are so skilful yet so simple, and they can teach them so much. This one is part of a huge series, Mrs Plug the Plumber, Miss Jump the jockey etc and although a bit out-dated in parts the use of language is so important. Investigate all their work as you will find some real classics that you might even remember from being small.
* I use The Man Who Wore All this Clothes (just by Allan this one) to help reluctant readers as the repetition and routine within it is very good for making children feel secure with their reading. This is part of a series that they really enjoy.
As you can see humour, repetition and rhyming wins out in my family. Have you got any other tips? If so, I would love to hear from you. I’ve really enjoyed putting these lists together, I really hope you get the chance to have the same amount of fun!!