Tag Archives: Julia Donaldson

Favourite children’s books

My daughter, the Little Monkey, has just started school. So far, so good. Her feedback consists of “great” and “all you do is play in Prep”. On the down side, she thinks attending school necessitates accelerated maturation. On a recent visit to the library she announced that she was too big for picture books and only interested in chapter books now. Then she armed herself with bundles of pink stuff about fairies and ballet dancers.

Much as I admire her ambition and determination (she doesn’t read yet), I was sad to hear this. I love picture books and I read to one or both of my children every night. As a result, I’m fairly familiar with the children’s bookshelves at the local libraries. We also have an extensive collection at home. Personally, I plan never to grow out of picture books.

Here are 25 books for little people that this big person never gets sick of reading and the kids don’t tire of hearing:

    1. The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson, illustrated Axel Scheffler (Small conquers big with smarts. A deserved award winner)
    2. Dogzilla – Dav Pilkey (Punster heaven)
    3. I am Not Sleepy & I Will Not Go To Bed – Lauren Child (Delicious use of language with house-faves Charlie & Lola)
    4. The Kiss That Missed – David Melling (Fantastic illos and a fun story focused on a lost goodnight kiss)
    5. Applesauce & the Christmas Miracle – Glenda Millard, illustrated Stephen Michael King (Beautiful. Hard to read without getting teary, esp. since the Victorian bushfires)
    6. Vegetable Glue – Susan Chandler, illustrated Elena Odriozola (Healthy message made fun)
    7. Jethro Byrde, Fairy Child – Bob Graham (Be kind)
    8. Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten – Bob Graham (Light overpowers darkness)
    9. Bim Bam Boom – Margaret Wild, illustrated Wayne Harris (Counting fun with great sound effects for the kids to do)
    10. Ruby Makes A Friend – Tina Burke (Imaginary friends are cool)
    11. Wombat Divine – Mem Fox, illustrated Kerry Argent (Finding your place at Christmas)
    12. Amy & Louis – Libby Gleeson, illustrated Freya Blackwood (Friendship defies distance)
    13. Rosie Sips Spiders – Alison Lester (Fave foods, games, jobs, beds, lists, gorgeous pix)
    14. Splat: Explosive Adventures of a Fish Left Home Alone (series) – Terry Denton (Anarchic tales full of twists)
    15. The Giant Jam Sandwich – John Vernon Lord (Co-operation saves a town. Zany pix)
    16. Blue Hat, Green Hat – Sandra Boynton (Colours & humour. The kids used to laugh themselves silly.)
    17. Dumb Bunnies Collection – Dav Pilkey (Every boy I know loves these.)
    18. Yuk – Kes Gray, illustrated Nick Sharratt (Tomboy Daisy dresses herself for a wedding)
    19. Where is the Green Sheep? – Mem Fox, illustrated Judy Horacek (Opposites and simple rhymes for toddlers)
    20. The Waterhole – Graeme Base (Lush, mysterious illustrations and an environmental warning)
    21. Millie – John Marsden, illustrated Sally Rippin (Love knows no limits)
    22. Mannie & The Long Brave Day – Martine Murray, illustrated Sally Rippin (Courage and creativity)
    23. We’re Going on A Bear Hunt – Michael Rosen (Fun to chant aloud)
    24. Miss Lily’s Fabulous Pink Feather Boa – Margaret Wild, illustrated Kerry Argent (Friendship, loneliness and the horrors of a guilty conscience)
    25. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak (Classic adventure starring a boy with a temper and a wild imagination)

That’s just a taste. Get into a good children’s bookstore or library and you’ll find there’s hours of fun to be had.

Newsflash: The Little Monkey has decided she still likes picture books. Most excellent news!

Writing and reading to an exclusive audience

Readers of this blog might have noticed the Little Dragon and I are huge fans of Sandy Fussell’s Samurai Kids series. As is often the case, knowing the inspiration for a story can make the actual stories even more engaging.

Here’s the skinny on Sandy’s stories from Book Chook. It tells how Sandy started writing because she wanted books her sons would read. Sounds like mighty fine motivation to me.

I’ve been lucky thus far that the Little Dragon is a keen reader. (His personal preference is for manga and other graphic novels.) I read to him almost every night and, apart from Sandy’s series, we’ve ripped through the Harry Potter tomes (I skipped the adverbs to save time), The Hobbit, the excellent Skulduggery Pleasant books and various others. On the go now are Howl’s Moving Castle and Emily the Strange: The Lost Days. We’ll probably do Neil Gaimain’s The Graveyard Book soon because a) I’ve read it and it’s far less scary than Coraline and b) the Little Dragon has a taste for horror that can’t be explained by his immediate gene-pool.

For me, the best bit about reading aloud, apart from encouraging a love of story, is that the text takes on new meanings. My son also helps me see humour and nuances I might not have picked up. By way of example, he thinks Gandalf is hilarious.

The Little Monkey is pre-reading but seems equally keen. She insists on “silent reading” after we read to her and often stacks picture books on her bed that thunder to the floor when she falls asleep. Her favourites include Amy & Louis, the Gruffalo books, Milly Molly Mandy (who’d have thought these quaint stories my Mum read as a child would have such a shelf-life?), Roger Hargreaves’ Mr and Little Miss tales … and anything containing babies.

As for writing for the kids, the Little Dragon is most impatient for me to write something suitable for him to read. Five Parts Dead will be closer to the mark than Game as Ned but still not ideal. I do have a few ideas … but lack the time to write them down right now. One day.