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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

366 Books in 366 Days: Brilliant Books for 2 Year Olds

Mini Reviewer, Theo, will tell you that being two is extremely exciting but sometimes very unfair! There's a whole world out there to be explored - puddles to jump in, furniture to climb on and so many places to run or, even better, to scoot! Unfortunately, all too often, there is someone there to say "Don't do that," "Get down from there" or "Slow down... Wait... STOP!" At these times Theo's frustration overwhelms him. There is a lot of foot stamping, shouting and the grumpiest look you have ever seen!

As mum to this fiercely independent bundle of stompy energy, I truly appreciate our calm and cuddly times together. I particularly love sitting down with him before his nap and sharing a book, just the two of us. He always picks one himself from his bookshelf and he certainly has his favourites. Here are just a few of them:

1. Guess How Much I Love You - Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram 

An adorable, gentle and calming story that is beautifully illustrated. As a parent, reading about the tender relationship between Big and Little Nutbrown Hare makes me more than a little emotional! It is wonderfully written and captures how the characters struggle to express just how much they love each other. We often read it just before a nap or at bedtime and we enjoy doing the actions together. Definitely a modern children's classic and a must for every little bookshelf.

Monday, 27 June 2016

366 Books in 366 Days: Are you in need of a giggle?

People often ask me what my life is like with three children under five. Well, to be honest, most days I feel like a zoo keeper or, at best, a referee. My two eldest have just entered the dreaded squabbling phase and now our lives are full of dilemmas such as, who gets the "Frozen" plate? Or, who needs that piece of red Lego the most? I admit that sometimes the bickering seems relentless!

One of my solutions to these situations is distraction and there is no better distraction than reading a funny book together. So the next time you're having "one of those days", try reading one of our top five choices to lighten the mood and get you giggling...

1. Oi Frog! Kes Gray and Jim Field

This is a super rhyming book with fantastic illustrations about a frog who is learning that every animal has a special place to sit. Cats may sit on mats and mules may sit on stools but this frog does not want to sit on a log! Izzie (4) loved the rhyming verse and Theo (2) loved the funny pictures. Both children thought it was a hilarious story. We borrowed this book from our local library and reluctantly returned it several weeks ago, yet both children still regularly shout "Oi Frog! Sit on a Log!" at each other. We simply can't wait to get our hands on a copy of "Oi Dog!" which is published later this year*. (*now released!)

Friday, 24 June 2016

366 Books in 366 Days: So why are picture books important?

I am sure there are many, many reasons why picture books are important to a child's development, however, my personal answer to this question is simple...

For me there's nothing quite like sitting down to share a story with my children, and especially a story with beautiful illustrations.

Reading picture books together creates a lovely opportunity to communicate in a truly unique way, an interactive way. The illustrations and the text of a book are, in my opinion, of equal importance. However, it is the pictures that offer us the natural pauses in our storytelling, they give us time. By looking at each page, we have the time to really think about the story. The time for discussion. The time to ask questions like: What has happened in the story? What do we think is going to happen? How does the story make us feel? Of course, now my children are a little bit older, they have their own questions too. Plenty of questions in fact!

So it really saddens me that many people view picture books inferior to chapter books for children. Picture books should not be underestimated, they can make for a truly magical storytelling experience. Or simply an interesting conversation between a mum and her three kids!

In celebration of beautiful picture books, I've selected six that we have already reviewed as part of our 366 books in 366 days reading challenge. These six books were totally new to us at the start of our challenge. They are brimming with amazing illustrations that make us smile. I hope they make you smile too!

Abigail - Catherine Rayner

A book about friendship and counting! Beautifully illustrated by Catherine Rayner, complete with a fold out night sky image. We've slightly fallen in love with Abigail and her friends. Certainly one to read over and over again.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

366 Books In 366 Days: It started with a tweet...

I am, and always have been, a great lover of books. As the daughter of a primary school teacher (now retired), I remember being surrounded by books from a very young age.

I rediscovered my love of picture books during my first, and somewhat stressful, pregnancy with Izzie. I found reading to "bump" calming and relaxing and a great way to bond. By the time Izzie was born, she had a well established little library.

As our family has grown, so too has our book collection. We continue to share books daily and enjoy our regular library trips together. However, at the end of last year we seemed to be in a bit of a book rut. Despite loving the "classics", I found that I couldn't take much more of "Dear Zoo", "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "The Gruffalo"!

Inspired by Child's Play Books on twitter, I started our 366 books in 366 days reading resolution. Throughout 2016 we have picked a different book to read each day. We have, of course, continued to re-read our favourite stories but our challenge has been, and continues to be, a brilliant way to discover new authors and illustrators.

You can follow our journey so far on Instagram . We have also reviewed books for Toppsta and have been Family Reviewers for The Guardian Children's Books.