My three year old and my one year old can’t read because, well they are three and one years old. This pretty universal fact means that for several years from the birth of your first child right through until your kid does start reading (and even then most likely past that) you will be reading hundreds of children’s books to them every single day of your life. Now I have two Master’s degrees in English Literature. I don’t just like reading, I LOVE books. However, children’s books bring with them the potential to destroy your very soul (Alien’s Love Underpants. Really? Again? Really?!) along side the chance to hear some of the best adventures of your little and big lives. When buying a new book for your kid (and yourself!) do you go classic or contemporary?
Over at Books and Pieces you will find both options available and a whole lot that are a little of both so here are four we tried out to see just how Mum and son enjoyed them. All these books are available as part of their fantastic 3 for £10 deal and if you use discount code ONEOFEACH10 you will get a further 10% off.
This is one of those books folks refer to as a “modern classic”. Penned in 1994 this classic is younger than me so didn’t feature in my childhood but certainly will be in both my kid’s. The narrative is simple; the littler rabbit describes to the bigger rabbit how much he loves him, only to have big rabbit gazump him each time with displays of more love.
The Story is supper sweet and absolutely ideal for children because of it’s repetitive nature and predictably. Kid’s, I find, revel in structure and this type of building plot helps them understand the concepts being presented. Aiden and I both enjoy reading this book, especially at bedtime as we snuggle up and shower each other with affection. The illustrations are just beautiful. Very soft and adorable but also spirited and full of humour. We love it to the moon and back!
Straight from the cover you can tell Supermarket Zoo is a more modern book. I’ll be brutally honest here, I think the cover is cheap looking and I didn’t feel drawn to this book at all, book snob that I am.
Aiden on the other hand loved the bright, bold colours and all the animals. The surrealist plot sees a little boy who hates going the supermarket, have a blast as he finds the usually dull chore full of whimsy as one particular day the shopping includes stockpiling zoo animals. I personally found the concept a bit odd but then again I don’t support the idea of zoos so the whole idea of purchasing animals grated on me. Aiden was completely oblivious of my moral outrage (of course I was not actually outraged at the book!) but whilst he did happily sit and listen and ask about all the animals when we first read it, he has not asked for this book again which he often does with new books. So far the Classics’ are definitely beating contemporary!
Appearing in print first in 1989, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is the oldest of the books we are reviewing today and although not quite as old as me (not far off mind!) this book was around when I was a kid although with so many other greats I honestly don’t remember it. I do however remember the truly iconic illustrations by none other than Helen Oxenbury (Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes is a favourite in our house!) As well as a strong narrative, children’s books absolutely MUST have captivating illustrations, for both the child and me!
I had heard nothing but good things about We’re going on a Bear Hunt so I was actually quite shocked when I first read it to Aiden and Faye and I wasn’t blown away. Aiden seemed intrigued by the book and the bear in particular but he wasn’t swept away by the story as I had heard friends’ children were. I blurted out our guilty secret (that we didn’t much like the book) to the book Parent Panel over at Books and Pieces and I received the best piece of advise. Don’t just read the book they said, be one with the book (reenact the bear hunt!) So I did and we did and we are converts and We’re going on a Bear Hunt cheerleaders now. Aiden loves going over and under and through as we try and track that bear down. So sometimes it isn’t what you read that needs changing but rather the WAY you read it.
At only 2 years old, being published in 2015 (6 years after the original What the Ladybird Heard) the highly anticipated What the Ladybird Heard Next (well we certainly love the origional and I’m sure SOMEONE was desperate for a sequel…) is the youngest in our collection today. Julia Donaldson is an absolute powerhouse in the children’s literature world and quite rightly so. I can only think of one of her books that we are not so keen on and absolutely all the rest we adore and would read time and time again. We were extremely excited then when one we hadn’t read arrived at our door.
Now for those of you that haven’t read the origional, the premise is a simple yet perfectly executed one. A quiet ladybird on a noisy farm overhears two pesky robbers plan to steal the prize cow so said ladybird, with the help of the other farmyard animals, trick the robbers into a clamity filled outcome as justice is served. Now replace prize cow with fat red hen and you have the plot of this sequel. I had to keep checking the front cover to see which book I was reading! Now don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful book. The rhyme and sentence structure as with all of Donaldson’s work, is immaculate. The illustrations, whilst not as good as Axel’s (that’s a tough gig to follow isn’t it!) are really very stunning. They are colourful and charming, inviting and witty. As a stand along book, if you hadn’t heard of the origional, I think yiu woukd be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t enjoy it. As a sequel though I am afraid it does what all bad movie sequels do, it covers old ground and not as well. In this case, as seems to have been our feeling overall this week, the older Classics are holding up a lot better than their newer rivals.
Remember as a member of the Parent Panel of Books and Pieces I can offer you a further 10% off when you quote ONEOFEACH10 at the checkout so what is stopping you? Christmas is just round the corner and I GUARANTEE you will find something for every child in your family in their huge online range.
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