by Kate Sawtschuk
I have always loved children’s books, even well beyond my childhood and prior to having kids. They transport me to a place of comfort and endless possibility. Now, there’s not much I enjoy more than reading with my kids.
During my university years, I worked in several specialist children’s booksellers. One of the best parts of my job was sharing my favourite books with customers, who were always after recommendations. I developed a collection of children’s books I loved – for my own enjoyment but that I also hoped to read to my own children one day.
My wish came true and since having children, I’ve realised just how much reading enriches the lives of both children and their parents. Reading exposes kids to diverse characters, emotions and situations and ignites their imaginations. The adult reading with them also explores all of this with the child as they share the story, creating precious opportunities to interact, connect and chat.
Naturally, certain books will really appeal to some kids and not others. A parent’s love of a particular book is not necessarily transferable to a child. I’ve actually discovered more stories through my children’s choices than they have through me!
Having said that, here I have chosen some books (all series) for different age groups that stand out for me (and my children – whom I have consulted!) as unmissable. Note that the age groups are just a guideline and may vary depending on the child.
- Elmer by David McKee: Elmer the colourful patchwork elephant is different to other elephants, and isn’t afraid to challenge the norms of the jungle! These stories have a lovely, compassionate message.
- Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll & Jan Pienkowski: These quirky stories about Meg the witch, her owl and cat Mog, are simple and entertaining, with striking illustrations. My almost one year old is already entranced by these!
- Mr McGee by Pamela Allen: Mr McGee goes on adventures to the zoo, under the sea and flies around after eating magic apple skin! These funny whimsical stories are written in rhyme and are so fun to read.
- The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler: In the deep dark wood, a clever little mouse encounters some animals and a hungry Gruffalo – such an imaginative creature! The Gruffalo’s Child is the second book. My four year old son can pretty much recite these books.
- There’s a Hippopotamus On My Roof Eating Cake by Hazel Edwards and Deborah Niland: An hippopotamus accompanies a little girl on all the major happenings in her life such as going on holidays, going to school and going to hospital, bringing along comfort and fun.
- Mog by Judith Kerr: Mog is a forgetful, loveable cat who seems to lead his family to all sort of interesting situations such as going to the vet and baby-sitting.
- I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go To Bed by Lauren Child: Charlie and Lola are an adorable brother and sister duo with a close relationship. The stories are witty and hilarious and the collage-style illustrations are gorgeous and unique.
- Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish: Originally written in the 1960s, these books are about a maid who is continually misunderstanding her employer by taking figures of speech literally. They are so funny and clever!
- Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown: Stanley Lampchop is flattened by a large bulletin board one day. His altered state brings about some interesting adventures such as being mailed overseas in an envelope and helping to catch some thieves.
- Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows & Sophie Blackall: Ivy and Bean are unlikely friends who get up to mischief. These books explore wider themes such as the environment, friendships and family and their own ideas and independence. My six year old daughter adores these!
- Roald Dahl books such as Matilda, George’s Marvellous Medicine and BFG: Dahl’s books are absolute classics that are adored by kids. The children in his books are generally superior to the adults in many ways, with hilarious results!
Which are your favourite children’s books? Let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org