If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll already know that we are quite partial to a lovely book in our house and recently I have been adding to our collection.
Sadly I haven’t read a book for myself in quite some time, I’m just completely unable to concentrate, as my mind soon diverts to the 101 other things I have going on. I used to read at least 1 sizeable novel a week, sometimes 2, but I haven’t read a single one in full in over 5 years. This is one of the sacrifices of my multifaceted, all consuming life of work.
But, I do get to indulge my imagination every night, when putting my girls to bed, by sharing some of my favourite childhood story books with them, as well as discovering new authors and amazing illustrators.
In this round up of our favourites I am focusing on easy reads, Nancy, 8, reads a proper “big girl’s book” at bedtime, but the point of this blog is to show you the more picture based ones we all enjoy, with a few, mainly Moomin based, longer reads thrown in for good measure.
I’m not including links to show you where to buy, because I would absolutely love to encourage you to get out and support your local independent book shops, or order from them online. You could also buy second hand, or, if you aren’t planning on making some of these Christmas presents, then there’s always your local Library. Don’t forget to show your libraries the love people, use it or really run the risk of losing it and wouldn’t that just be an awful thing for society. Anyway, before I give way to a full on political rant I’ll get back to the good stuff.
Janet + Allan Ahlberg can do no wrong in my mind, so many of my most loved childhood books are by this duo, Each Peach Pear Plum is just brilliant and still one I love to read/ recite from memory.
The Jolly Postman should absolutely be on your gift buying list for any children in your life this year.
The Whales’ Song is about a celebration of the beauty of nature, of stories told by older generations, of dreams and hope and believing things are possible. This is my copy, from when I was young and now it is read at least once a month with or by Nancy and Eula.
Brambly Hedge is so much a part of my childhood memories, whether it was my Mum reading the stories to me as I gazed at the incredibly detail illustrations, listening to the story tapes on long car journeys to visit family in Wales, or later, re-reading the books for myself. I have the big, complete Brambly Hedge compilation, bought for me as a gift from Stu on our honeymoon and now I get to share the magic with my 2 wide eyed and eager listeners. I still have the audiobooks too!
When we were planning our garden revamp a few years ago, Nancy actually forbid me from removing the brambles which line the back drystone wall, as she is absolutely convinced we have out very own Brambly Hedge community in there.
The Dancing Bear is a bit of an extra special book to me, as I actually modeled for the illustrator, Christian Birmingham, when I was a little girl. In the first half of the book you meet Roxanne, the central character and all the illustrations for these parts are based on the photos and sketches Christian took of me. I have one of the original drawings and I was told Joanna Lumley bought the others at a charity auction. So, that’s my little claim to fame!
Is there anyone who doesn’t love Shirley Hughes, another author who’s creations featured heavily in my childhood book collection. Dogger has to be top of my favourites.
Eula and I read at least 1 Miffy book a night, they’re my go to alternatives when Biff, Chip and Kipper have driven me insane. We all adore the simplistic colours and illustrations, so much so that I actually sell these books at the shop – check them out here.
It is definitely safe to say we are a little Moomin obsessed here, hence why there’s a bit of a Moomin overload coming up! These are mostly longer story books and, whilst looking for some images to share with you, I’ve realised there is one in this particular set that we are missing, Moomin Valley in November. So I must get straight on that, it can be a late birthday gift from Nancy.
There are so many reasons to love the Moomins, or anything written by Tove Jansson (Grownups, have you read The Summer Book? If not, please do, it’s just lovely).
I know when Nancy is engrossed in one of Tove Jansson’s stories that she is in safe hands, that she is off on a wonderful adventure and her imagination will be filled right up to over flowing. I have often come in to ask her to turn her light off, way past her allotted evening reading time, to find Nancy drawing beautiful Moomin Valley scenes. I have those saved, somewhere, as they are really rather wonderful.
This comic strip book, a gift from my equally Moomin mad Mum, to the girls, is a great alternative, when they aren’t in the mood for a full story.
The Girls, written by Lauren Ace and absolutely beautifully illustrated by the Norwegian Artist Jenny Lovlie (best surname ever?!) was first brought to my attention via Instagram… I was watching someone’s stories, I’m afraid I can’t remember who’s now and knew immediately this was a book for my own girls.
The story explores the coming together of a group of girls, their growing friendships, the ups and downs, their achievements, supporting one another through ever changing every day life. It shows the real world version of friendship and I think this is incredibly important to show our children.
On Thursday Nancy turned 8 and, along with a much wished for Ukulele, I also gave her this brilliant book..
Take a proper look at it here, on the illustrator Merrilee’s magical Instagram.
It’s very cleverly written by Michelle Markel and Nancy really loves it. They are focusing heavily on Times Tables at the moment, with a large focus on a computer app called Times Tables Rockstars. I like that this is still on subject, but a screen free, more imaginative way for her to add to her learning.
Davina Bell is a new discovery for me, but boy am I glad my girls now have her wonderful words and life lessons in their lives. Illustrator Allison Colpoys has perfectly captured the feelings that flow throughout the pages.
Whatever you fear, come close my dear
You’re tucked in safe for always here
And I will never not be near
Because of our love umbrella
I have wrapped up Under the Love Umbrella for the girls to open on Christmas morning… I can’t wait to read it to them.
Eula had All the Ways to be Smart for her 6th birthday, last month. It has quickly become a life long treasure. Buy it, read it and you will see why.
I can’t wait to share with you
how smart you are the whole day through.
…Smart is not just ticks and crosses,
smart is building boats from boxes.
…Smart is kindness when there’s crying.
I feel very strongly that this book and it’s lessons should become a part of the school curriculum, immediately. I really struggle with the pressure that I know my girls are under, at such a young age, in such a big world of education. I try to always show them all the other ways they can be great in life, no matter how small their achievements are. This book only adds to this. Buy it!
Gemma Koomen is the creator of beautiful, childlike, folky artwork which does something to my heart. Her illustrations are how I want my children to see the world, so when I found out she had written and illustrated a book naturally we had to have it. This is another one that I am saving for Christmas, it was the first wrapped present of the year in fact.
I sell cards by Gemma at the Alice in Scandiland Shop, they make beautiful and inexpensive pieces of art, housed simply in a little clip frame. I also have a few of her prints, which are yet to find their way onto the online shop, but if you are interested, get in touch and I can send you some photos. I’ll get them listed once I’m back at the shop.
As the mother of 2 girls, I obviously had to buy this, didn’t I! It would make a brilliant stocking filler. You’ll notice illustrations are clearly really important in my/ our choices and Carolyn Susuki gets it very right in this book. Nancy really loves it.
This is a great book for strong willed children, with a different take on love and family and pirates!
I think it was Hannah Bullivant who first introduced this magical book to me, via her Instagram Stories. She is the Queen of seasonal living and this book made a very special New Year gift for Nancy and Eula, last year. It was my intention to put it away around the 5th of January, to save for this year’s New Year, but somehow (Nancy) it found it’s way back out again and has been read throughout the year.
I’ve hidden it now, to save up some of it’s magic to breakout on the 31st December.
Finally, a friend recommended this lovely Swedish story. It’s about a child, in Sweden, who spends their time lazing around naked in the summer sun, with his cat and eating jam sandwiches. She said that after reading it, as a child, she decided that Sweden may just be the best place in the world and, having read it myself, I absolutely agree.
The illustrations are really retro and I love everything about it.
Well, there you go, possible children’s book overload, but I hope it will prove helpful to some.
It’s now time for me to heard the girls up the stairs and into bed, I wonder which story I will use to tempt them into submission and send them off to sleep with heads full of wonderful inspiration. Many of these gatherings of paper and pictures have helped to shape my own childhood memories and now they do the same for my girls, that is true magic.