As some of you know already, I spend my days working as a children’s librarian. This means I get to spend lots of time surrounded by kids and the books they love, which makes me very, very happy. Sometimes though, seeing all those bright, happy faces makes me miss my family, who I don’t get to see all that often, especially all my little nieces and nephews who are just starting to engage with books and reading. It also reminds me that I promised their parents a couple of posts about great kids books. I’m sorry it’s taken so long (!) but here you go.
I thought I’d steer clear of the usual children’s stories, opting instead for some that are a bit newer or slightly less well-known.
Great picture books for kids:
- Baa Baa Smart Sheep and I Love Lemonade by Mark and Rowan Sommerset. Okay – so to be honest these aren’t exactly new favourites. I’ve loved these books since they were released a few years ago, and they’re often my go-to books to buy for celebrations, especially for boys around 3 – 5 years old. The Sommersets are a New Zealand author/illustrator duo and they have a fantastically funny, delightfully quirky writing style that cracks me up as much as the kids I’m reading to.
- Sweet Petite by Poh Ling Yeow and Sarah Rich. I loved watching Poh & Co on SBS and when I found out she and her friend Sarah were releasing a picture book I was ridiculously excited. She has such a lovely vibe about her and just seems really genuine and down-to-earth. She’s totally on my list of fabulously fantastic people (everyone should have one of these don’t you think?! Life just seems so much more special when you surround yourself with people you admire and who inspire you, even if you don’t know them!). Anyway, this is a sweet little book about friendship and cake. Who doesn’t love friendship and cake?! Read the book then bake the cakes!
- Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall. This one had me in tears of laughter when I first read it. It’s about a blue crayon who somehow gets a red label in the factory. Cue identity crisis!! Red sets out to prove that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts. It’s a great story for 4 – 5 year olds and they won’t even notice they’re learning an important lesson at the same time.
- The Pigeon Series by Mo Willems, including Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, The Pigeon Needs a Bath and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog. Kids love these books (and adults totally do too). Who wouldn’t love such a cheeky, mischievous pigeon? You have to do the voices though. Don’t borrow or buy these books unless you’re willing to put on your best pigeon impression! But let loose and you’ll reap the rewards.
- Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen. Okay, so this one is probably better for those slightly older, around 5 – 7 years old. They’ll be old enough to ‘spot the difference’ between the first and last pages, which is a really clever way of helping them to understand the story. What does happen to Sam and Dave after all? The illustrations by Jon Klassen are just beautiful (of course) and the story has the kids groaning in frustration. How could they have missed a diamond that big?!
- Please Mr Panda by Steve Anthony. I read this at our story time for 2 – 3 year olds a few weeks ago and they loved it. Mr Panda is a seriously grumpy-looking dude who has a gripe about manners. It’s great on the details too, you can pick out the colours of the doughnuts and ask/explain why the little lemur is upside down. You may, however, have a little difficulty explaining why they might not get a doughnut every time they say please. Yummmm…doughnuts…
- This & That by Mem Fox. Mem Fox is an absolute genius kids book writer. She has written so many that are now a part of our regular story times, from Possum Magic to Where is the Green Sheep? The Magic Hat and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. This & That came out before Christmas last year and while it hasn’t packed as much of a punch as Mem’s big name books, I just think it’s lovely. Really lovely. It has beautiful rhythm, and read softly at bed time could help to lull little ones off to sleep or for spin-off stories with older ones. For 0-2 year olds.
- Mix It Up by Herve Tullet. I love this book! It’s all about colour! Colour that changes and mixes and splatters all over the page. Great for learning how yellow and blue become green and red and yellow become orange, etc. Read the book, then do it yourself I say! Great for 3-5 year olds. Herve has a new book out as well called Let’s Play which looks fab too.
- You Are (not) Small by Chris Weyant and Anna Kang. Okay…so pull those funny voices out again for this one. BIG. Small. BIG. Small! It’s fantastic for teaching kids about size, and you can do lots of little activities after, like getting them to line up their toys in height order, getting to line their family up, or grabbing some sticks from the back yard to do the same.
- Did you take the B from my _ook? by Bec and Matt Stanton: The blurb for this book says it all “Firstly, your favourite thing in the whole world is the letter B. And secondly, you’re about to sneeze and all the Bs are going to be blown out of the book. So until you can get your favourite letter back, you’re about to sound really, really silly …” Just sound silly. Stumble and slip over all those missing ‘B’s and you will have them giggling with you. Or at you. Either way, it doesn’t matter.
Okay, I’ve probably waffled on enough now. Just remember to read with enthusiasm! The little ones will love it if you love it. Reading doesn’t have to be a serious thing – it should be a joy. Reading is a joy. I promise.
If you like hearing about kids books, we can definitely include some more every now and then. We’re flexible like that. Just call us Gumby.