I am sure everyone knows the importance of this (and I am quite possibly preaching to the converted), but I really can’t stress highly enough the value of reading stories to young children.
Kids learn so much from reading…remember they are little sponges? I won’t go into the nitty gritty about what they learn as there are so many positive points to story time, and I am sure you don’t need all the theories behind benefits to reading.
It’s such a cliché, but it’s never too early to start reading books.
A little Einstein in the making…
A six month old will enjoy looking at bright pictures and will love listening to catchy words (actually you could talk about anything, they just love hearing your voice). Board books are good for babies, otherwise over enthusiastic grabs at the pages will result in rips and tears!
There are so many books out there to choose from, so what are the best ones? Any books that inspire your little person to sit still and focus is a winner. The key thing is to help them develop a love for books and reading. In my opinion, books that are off shoots of a TV series or film tend to not be as engaging or the highest quality reads. But then, if it makes your child tick, then use what they like!
What I can do to help you is to give you a few pointers on some tried and tested books I have used over the years, both with my own children and in the classroom. The best books to choose are ones that are repetitive, have a good rhythm, have rhyming words or appeal to a 3-4 year old’s humour (for example, anything to do with undies for some reason is always a hit).
To make it a bit clearer, I have separated my top picks into different categories. There are hundreds of fantastic books that would make my list but I have narrowed it down to just a few…..well I’ve tried my best to, anyway.
These books, in my opinion, are the best staple books to read and enjoy (over and over and over again!). If you need some guidance and can only buy a few, then you can’t go wrong with the ones below.
So here goes.
My top “vintage” picks:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, an old favourite, and first published in 1969
An old favourite. This story helps to teach the basics of counting, healthy eating choices and even the scientific concept of the life cycle of a caterpillar. There is a wealth of activities you could do with your child after reading the story, just google it and you will see.
First published in 1968
“Rosie’s Walk” has detailed and interesting illustrations with very simple text. A sly fox follows Rosie the hen around the farmyard with amusing consequences. This story is great for position words such as around, over, across etc. If you are feeling adventurous, you could even recreate Rosie’s Walk as an obstacle course at home (reinforcing those position words too as they go, of course).
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
Who doesn’t love a spot of tea?
Sophie is a little girl with an over active imagination and a tiger ends up coming to their house. They end up going to a restaurant (where they eat a haute cuisine dinner of sausages and chips) for dinner because the tiger has eaten all of their food up. This is a perfect story to talk about table manners and how to behave politely at the table.
Where the Wild Things Are
Published in 1963 a firm favourite in many households
Any story that gets made into theatre is generally going to be high quality reading material. Max has an enchanting adventure in his pyjamas. One to get those little imaginations sparking!
And here are my top four picks for more recent classic books:
Each, Peach, Pear, Plum
Ties characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales together ending in a feast of plum pie
This story has lots of rhyming words and loads of detail in each picture. Each page has something for the child to find and makes reference to common fairy tales and nursery rhymes your child is bound to be familiar with, or you have sung time and time again until you are blue in the face.
Stroll into the deep, dark wood to discover the Gruffalo
Julia Donaldson has written many fantastic books, but this is probably the most popular. Again, a story that has been made into theatre. Lots of rhyming words and alliteration to get the little ones engaged.
Hooray for Fish
Bright, bold and colourful pictures with lots of repetition
This is a story that my kids never get tired of. It’s great for understanding concepts such as size, shape, pattern and positioning as well as throwing in lots of describing words. My kids love giving me a kiss at the end when the little fish finds his fish mum….usually complete with snot, mind you. Awww thanks!
Love the illustrations in this story and all the delicious fruits!
Handa’s Surprise is a story I remember using as a student at uni. Once again, there is so much you can do with this story- just google the story for lots of good ideas you could do for weeks! Time to get out those wooden BBQ skewers and make some fruit kebabs after reading.
Now these books are perfect for early learning and particularly suitable for 2 year olds. They are fast paced with simple sentence structure that can keep their attention.
Lift the flaps to discover a new pet
The zoo sends a pet and each time you lift the flap it’s not quite the right type of pet. Lots of repetition and describing words in this story and the kids will love it. I don’t know what it is about flaps, but kids fight over who gets to lift them. Fighting over a book? Bring it on!
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Perfect story for reinforcing colours
This has got to be my favourite story for teaching 3-4 year olds. It’s really catchy phrases are repetitive and they also rhyme. There are animals of every colour which makes learning colours a cinch with this book. It’s a great one for kids to read back to you, and gives them confidence as they can’t get it wrong as it’s so predictable.
All kids love a game of hide and seek!
Another lift the flap book where children need to help Spot the dog’s mum find him hiding somewhere in the house. A fabulous book for practising position words, for example, behind, in front of, under. You can even play this one at home with a favourite toy (just make sure you can find it again though).
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
It’s a bear….Aaaaargh!
Another all time favourite where the kids go on an adventure with their dad and encounter mud, woods, snowstorms and finally a cave…..with a very scary bear! It always makes me think they are trekking through Hampstead Heath, although I’m probably way off. Anyway, it’s another goodie and another opportunity for physical development (perfect obstacle course material). And when you reach the back cover it has a picture of the bear that makes them think with a bit of critical analysis….is he really a scary bear after all?
Seeing as this post is starting to get on the lengthy side and I have a tendency to get a little bit too excited about childrens’ books, I’ve decided to split my best childrens’ book recommendations into two parts.
So stay tuned for Part Two, where I’ll give you my best of books that kids can’t help laughing out loud to, and books that have a moral to the story.
In the meantime…grab a book, a child and a comfy corner and get reading!
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