We're not going to go all technical and cite the millions of studies out there that tell you how important it is to read to your child and the benefit of reading during the formative early years - you've heard it all before and you know it well. (But if you really must know, then check out this article and maybe this one and the thousands of other references you can find online.)
What we ARE going to do instead is make sure we share with you, whether every few weeks or every few months but often enough to warrant a trip to the bookstore every now and then - the list of our favourite books that we're reading to our own children right now. It's always a struggle to find the right sort of book that will engage your child, but also interest you as the parent who has to read it over and over (and over!) again. We're always on the hunt for the beautiful books out there, the ones illustrated with gorgeous, gripping talent; the ones with a beautiful, flowing message; the right books to grab a child's attention and provide moments of pure perfection when you're cuddled together under a warm blanket, lost in the words and pictures on the page.
So consider this the first of our series! Here's a look at a few of our favourite books right now, on regular rotation around our home. I read to my daughter Alana, a voracious two-and-a-half year old, all day every day, and here’s what I’ve been picking up:
1. Anything and EVERYTHING by Julia Donaldson. Her books are brilliant - she's the award-winning author of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child and my daughter is in love with both of the books. Currently, we're obsessed with reading Room on the Broom which features a fun, little witch - always an interesting character for a little girl who gets to see witches in a whole
different light from the Disney interpretation! Over Christmas, we must have read Stick Man something like a hundred times! Donaldson has a gift for connecting with children, and here's a bonus: she's part of this year's edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature!! That's right, the festival's Children's Programme features TWO sessions with the great Donaldson, so we're celebrating by making her books a big part of our reading material these days.
2. Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by the incredible duo Bill Martin Jr
and Eric Carle. We have several of the Martin & Carle books at home and I love them just as much as my little girl does. This one in particular (as well as Brown Bear, Brown Bear and of course Polar Bear, Polar Bear) we like to sing to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star then rush through the end up into a crescendo. We love to examine the illustrations and his books are such a great way to teach colour (same goes for The Hungry Caterpillar!).
(PS....what did YOU do to teach your child colour?? In one of the earlier Happy Box editions, long before I joined the Happy team, there was a beautiful book called The Rainbow Book by Kate Ohrt that I credit for helping me teach Alana her colours at
such a young age. The book is incredible, linking colours to feelings, and I just loved that. So did the kiddo, apparently, because an understanding of her colours sunk in overnight!)
3- Oh, The Thinks You can Think! by Dr. Seuss. It's hard to pick just one Dr. Seuss
book to talk about, and you're going to see his books feature a lot in future editions of our What We're Reading series, but this one in particular I've been reaching for time and again lately. It might sound a bit cliche, but I always feel so inspired when I read this book to my little girl. It's how I want her to view the world, it's how I want her to see everything around her. I want her to know she can use her imagination to create anything, if she just thinks and dreams and uses her mind! (It's also why I started getting her a monthly Happy Box as well, obviously :D) But this one is definitely a family favourite!
4- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I've been reading this book to my little girl since she was a year old and next month, she'll be two and a half. That's how timeless this one is, and perfect as a story to wind down with right before bedtime. We love pointing out all the details in the room and I make sure my voice gets softer and softer until I'm basically whispering by the end of it. We have many bedtime stories to help Alana understand that it's time to sleep, but this one is one of the more effective!
5- The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. Really, REALLY love this good old
classic (it's old, from the 1930s, and yet so timeless), and it's perfect for the older kiddies, too. There's no better message in a book than to not be afraid to try. And see what you can do when you DO try! We've started reciting the phrase "I think I can, I think I can" a lot at our house thanks to this darling little book. So much in life is hard, so much feels like it's too difficult for us ever to even TRY and do, but you never know until you try and we sure do hope our kids grow up knowing this.
6- Jack and the Beanstalk by Parragon Books, illustrated by Gavin Scott. My daughter is just getting into the age where a longer, more complicated story, with a climax and a problem that is resolved in the end, really appeals to her and captures her attention. I've taken to telling her stories like Jack and the Beanstalk as well as classics like Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears from memory and she is RIVETED. This particular version of Jack and the Beanstalk was in the December edition of The Happy Box and it is AMAZING for this age (let's say 2 to 4). The book itself is nice and large, with a padded cover that is easy for her to hold, and the retelling of this classic is simple and not very lon
g. She absolutely LOVES the "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum" and I'm so relieved that the giant is not very scary looking nor does he die! The bright colours and art work are gripping and thankfully it is NOT boring for me to read. We snuggle with this book every single day.
* by Hala Khalaf, Head of Communications for The Happy Team!!