These are some of the books that I’ve been reading and enjoying with my kids. Some are new, while others are long-time favourites. All have found their way into the bedtime routine at my house, making a pleasure of the last half hour before peace (at last).
Florette and Mr Huff written and illustrated by Anna Walker
I’m always happy when my kids choose one of Anna Walker’s books as their bedtime story. The pictures are gorgeous and the stories are calming – Florette is about a little girl who moves into the city, and finds a way to bring a bit of the greenery that she loves to her new home. Some of the pages are beautiful enough to hang on a wall.
In Mr Huff, a boy’s low mood is represented by the hulk of Mr Huff, who follows him to school and throughout the day. Eventually, the boy finds a way to make peace with his sadness, bringing Mr Huff into perspective. Again, the pictures beautifully complement the story.
Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
This is a book for older children which I gave my 10-year-old niece, and decided to read myself. We both loved the story of Morrigan Crow, a girl who is excluded from her own community at home, but who finds acceptance – along with some new challenges – in the magical land of Nevermoor.
This is the first in a series by debut Australian author, Jessica Townsend, and I’m looking forward to reading the follow up, titled Wundersmith.
Koala Bare written by Jackie French and illustrated by Matt Shanks
This is a cute and fun book by one of Australia’s favourite children’s writers. It is cheeky enough to make a child chuckle, and just the right length for parents and children who have had a big day, and close to being ready for bed.
The Gruffalo written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler
“A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood. A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.” The Gruffalo is an oldie but a goodie, and I’ve rediscovered it this year after my children received it as a gift. Who can resist the repetition of those perfect lines and the clever ending?
The Giving Tree written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein
I love the poignancy of this book, in which a tree serves a man throughout his life, until it is little more than a stump. While some consider this to be a story of greed and selfishness, I prefer to see it as one of generosity, unconditional love and selflessness.
However, I continue to feel sad about the man’s failure to recognise his impact on the tree. Few children’s books can make an adult cry, but this is one of them.
Treehouse series written by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton
Like most Australian (and now American) children of a certain age, my son has gobbled up the Treehouse series. These books are funny and engaging, and I’m grateful that they’ve introduced a new generation of children, including my son, to the pleasure of reading.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I never read this book as a child, so I was intrigued to see what has made it so enduring. It turns out that this is a sweet, but perceptive, story of a man whose plane has crashed in the desert and meets a Prince from another planet. The stories the Prince tells are full of truth and insight, and I loved how this little book combined storytelling and philosophy.
The story was a bit beyond my son, who found it boring, but I’ll encourage him to read it again in the next few years.
Do Not Lick this Book by Idan Ben-Barak and Julian Frost
Who would have thought a book about germs could be so fascinating? But the photography and the information in Do Not Lick this Book is just as interesting for adults as it is for children. Full points for to the authors for creating a book that is educational and entertaining.
Ada Twist, Scientist written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts
Part of a series of books that show girls counteract all of the princesses of fairy tales, Ada Twist, Scientist centres on a girl who loves to ask questions. I’ve noticed that my girls tend to tap me on the shoulder with their own questions a lot more after they’ve read this book.
Peace at Last written and illustrated by Jill Murphy
Has a book ever captured so accurately the tiredness of parenthood? Well, perhaps Go the F**k to Sleep offers some insight into the attitude of parents at a certain time at night. But Peace at Last is a more child-friendly book about a bear who cannot get to sleep until the eleventh hour due to the tick tock of the clock, the snoring of his wife and various other noises. Mr Bear’s dilemma is not far removed from that of the parent who struggle to get enough sleep due to various nocturnal interruptions.
It’s Time to Sleep, You Crazy Sheep! written by Alison Ritchie and illustrated by Cornelia Haas
Another book about insomnia, It’s Time to Sleep, You Crazy Sheep! centres on Pheobe, who is trying to get to sleep by counting sheep. However, the sheep are not as calm as she might hope, and get up to madcap adventures that keep Phoebe wide awake.
This book is funny for adults and kids, and fortunately, those crazy sheep do calm down at the end, enough to settle little readers before they start to count their own sheep.