March was National Reading Month. Who knew?! I think every month should be a reading month and we certainly treat it as such in our house. It is however lovely to hear about other children (and adults) being encouraged to read more and to fall in love with books. To honour all the National Reading Month’s I have inadvertently missed (and because I have selfish and nosy reasons to have wanted to do this FOREVER!) I am launching my very own #paperparadise; a hashtags to use across all of social media whenever you would like to share anything at all about books, theatre and art. I want to be able to do a quick #paperparadise search and have a library of interesting posts at my fingers tips, ready to leaf through and be inspired by. There is more information about how you can get involved at the bottom of this post but for now, here are some truly amazing books that break the mould to get young children engaged with story telling and discovery.
When Laurence King Publishers sent us over a wonderful selection of children’s books from their 2017 catalogue last month we honestly didn’t know where to begin. I let Aiden delve in and explore the ones that looked most tempting to him but I did remove a few first and I’ll tell you why. I kept some of the ‘non-book’ books separate because I knew that he would get the most enjoyment out of them if we put time aside and looked at them each individually and ideally without his wee sister around to distract us. I knew we were going away on a mini weekend break to celebrate my Mum’s 60th so as well as having my Mum and Dad on hand to entertain Faye, I would also have two of Aiden’s Aunties there to test out the new books with. Being that our mini break was to a gorgeous self-catering place in the Lake District we were fortunate enough to have it rain occasionally (!) so we cracked out the alternative books and had a great time.
Firstly I have never seen anything even similar in idea to the Story Box and I absolutely love when I stumble across a new way to ‘read’ or tell stories with the kids. When I was a kid myself I remember we had some books where at the end of each page you chose what you wanted the characters to do next and were instructed to turn to a different page with each scenario. The different story-lines and outcomes were endless, I still don’t know how those book managed to always make sense, but I thought the marrying of having a rough story in place but you as the reader having the ability to lead it in certain directions was something akin to magic. The Story Box is the first time since my childhood I felt that again watching Aiden explore weaving narratives.
The Story Box contains 20 double sided jigsaw pieces that are interchangeable and slot into place to create a single line of illustrations. The illustrations are all different and feature no text but often share overlapping themes in order to tie them together. So for example one might have a castle in the background and a witch and dragon in the foreground, then the next will have no dragon but the witch talking to the king inside the castle. You can ‘read’ the Story Box in many ways; taking turns in a group to pick a jigsaw piece from a pile and describe what is happening next from the illustration, you could lay all the pieces out and choose which order you want to put them in to create the narrative you want, or as we did with Aiden, he put the pieces in place randomly as he found them and Mummy and Aunty Hely had to come up with the most fantastical adventure. Even though Aiden didn’t want to tell the story himself yet he certainly knew how he wanted it to go and sure let us know if he didn’t agree with our description of the action on each piece.
The illustrations themselves are fantastic. They offer exactly the right amount of attention to detail for children to be intrigued with and want to get to know more about, while at the same time they are vague enough to always be able to slot any piece in and have the picture bend to fit the story. They look like crayon drawings that a (talented!) older child drew which again helps the kids feel like they have ownership over it and offers the potential to inspire budding storytellers to illustrate their own story.
This is a great ‘none book’ that I know will offer us countless of opportunities and ways in which to explore narrative, character development, plot twists, and most importantly the simple joy of creating a story yourself.
Match A Track: Match 25 Animals to their Paw Prints (£12.98)
Aiden’s middle name is Forrest and Keith means ‘of the Woods’ so true to their names, my man and my boy simply love exploring the Great Outdoors. Keith has always been interested in animal tracking purely to see if he could do it, so whenever we are out as a family in the woods he will often point out to Aiden simple things like dog tracks or bird prints. This Match a Track box from the Laurence King catalogue then was the item that Keith was most excited about (except for the Dazzleship Battleships which wouldn’t have been suitable for Aiden but Keith is desperate to get his hands on and keep for when he is older being a History buff himself). I wasn’t sure if Aiden would be interested in the cards as I didn’t know if he would fully understand what he was looking at out of context but oh how wrong I was. As soon as he opened the box up he exclaimed with excitement “Oo Mummy look, animal prints to follow!” I showed him the guide that matched the animals to their track prints and that was him off. He picked the prints at random and then used the guide to match up the animal. For older children/grow-ups you can play this game in many other and more complex ways. You could challenge yourself by not looking at the guide or by turning the cards over and playing pairs. For Aiden who is not yet three, he was just thrilled to search for the correct animal and to match them all up in a very long line of pairs using the guide. He loved finding out the names of the animals and me pointing out things like how many claws certain tracks had compared to others. The elephant one which is just a big blob really ticked him! As well as the game itself, this set prompts so many wonderful questions and nourishes curiosity perfectly. Aiden wanted to know why some animals have claws, why bird tracks are like sticks, why a panda sits up! So so many whys and we learnt so much just discussing what we saw in front of us.
The cards themselves are really beautiful. They are made of great quality cardboard so are going to last. The animal illustrations are highly detailed which Aiden always enjoys and it means that this pack can grow with your child rather than them outgrow it. I don’t think it would ever feel childish for example as I know adults who would treasure this set as animal and nature enthusiasts. The one element of the whole thing that I would change would be to have the guide that matches the animals and tracks printed on a card too or on thinker cardboard than it is on. I just know this guide is going to get referred to a lot by Aiden who is mad about reading the ‘instructions’ of things and I suspect it will get a bit worn. The pairs are also spread across both sides of the guide leaflet so I had to turn the paper over to the right side for Aiden to locate them. Ideally it would somehow be on one side and feel more durable. I think we will laminate ours as I know he is going to want to treasure this game for a long time. This set would be perfect for anyone with an interest in animals and nature. It is a really beautiful starting block and paves the way for lots of questions and lots of knowledge gained about a lot of animals. Also crucial when living in Scotland, it is a great way to talk about the outdoors whilst remaining indoors on those rainy days.
Stickyscapes Space by Tom Froese (£9.95)
Who doesn’t love a sticker book? No one. I defy you to not like sticker books. They absolutely rock and I’ll be honest, I was pretty happy when I realised that having kids meant I could once again play with sticker books. I did soon discover however that there are good and there are bad sticker books. The bad sticker books can ruin your day. They boast stickers that you can’t un-peel and when you do eventually get them off (having ripped them in half) you can only stick them down once otherwise you tear the page trying to move them into a better position. Stickyscapes Space is not a bad sticker book. Stickyscapes Space is a very very good sticker book.
Aiden could get some of the stickers off himself which is pretty impressive as like most sticker books, it is aimed at slightly older kids. It would be absolutely perfect for a five years and above I would say, for doing it completely independently. Aiden was however thrilled to have me help and I was equally as thrilled to be able to get the stickers off with no hassle. Aiden could then merrily place them where ever he liked. Crucially they are reusable and can easily be moved around the scene so the police robot could chase the robber robot round the galaxy all day long.
The fact that the pages fold out into one very long scene really excited Aiden. He was also fascinated by the fact that it is double sided. One side contains real astronauts and space equipment whilst the other ride features aliens and UFOs. We made up wacky stories to go with the SciFi side and talked about real Space exploration on the other side. I think Aiden got a lot out of both realities and it us great that is contains double the fun in one item. There are over 100 stickers so we are going to be able to return to this time and time again.
As well as being a whole lot of fun to play with, this book is also informative as it manages to squeeze a lot of information about Space onto a few pages on text that are found at the back of the book. This is a very handy section to have close when you have a kid who asks why a lot! Each if the real space items are labelled so for example all the different space shuttles have their real names. This would certainly be great for an older Space buff but I would say I envisage it being a bit of a pain once the stickers have been removed from the original sheet to match them back to their label. Kids are crazy good at things like that though so I bet Aiden actually will enjoy the challenge! This isn’t a good sticker book for a long car journey because of the foldout nature but it will certainly fill a few hours on a rainy afternoon stuck in the house. What more could you ask for?
All three of the above books are available from the Laurence King website along with a huge range of other amazing children’s and grown-ups literature.
At the start of this post I mentioned we would be introducing a new linky and hashtag for you all to get involved with. Well drumroll please, I’ve finally set up Paper Paradise. The idea behind #PaperParadise is twofold. A hardback and a paperback version if you will.
Firstly with the hardback linky, folks with have a central place to come and read a (hopefully) large range of fantastic blog posts on books, theatre, and art. I couldn’t live without any of these three and am always looking to be inspired by exposure to new pieces of art. What better why to do that then through those fantastic reviews, accounts, and musings that bloggers are so good at.
Secondly with the paperback hashtag #Paperparadise I would love it is people regardless of having a blog post (or ever without a blog!) would us the #Paperparadise across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest whenever they want to share some paper love however big or small. Reading your favourite book for the 30th time and put a pic on IG? Tag the community. Equally if your kid has drawn a squiggle that us not dissimilar to a Picasso, we want to see it and hear about it.
This is a very relaxed linky. A linky for anything that started it’s life on paper. Books (a firm favourite here). Theatre (think scripts). Art (think sketch book). Music (think sheet music). Heck even film and cinema as they would have once been ideas in a note book. If you have written a review or a post about any of these things and they joy (or pain!) they bring, we would love to have you link up so we can read all about it.
Here’s the ins and outs of the linky…
Please encourage all to join in!
- #paperparadise will run whenever I have something to share with you or when I need some inspiration. It can be found right here with me at One of Each)
- Share some blog love people! Please comment on the host posts and the post before yours each time you link up but we’d love it if you commented on more.
- You can link up as many posts as you like but please comment on more the more you add.
- Please add the blog button below to any posts you link up
Add your posts to the Linky below: