I have written a couple of posts on children’s books now – picture books here, and chapter books here. And I think we can safely say that you dislike reading trash literature to your children as much as I do, because I’ve had some requests for more recommendations.
Our four are all big readers at the moment so this updated selection spans some toddler favourites all the way to a year 3, Grade 3, level.
No one in this house is eating books right now though – which, after 8 years of toddlers, is quite the milestone:
Although Mim (3) does still enjoy a good game of ‘libraries’ (head in hands)
Enough now! Onto the books.
Ivy+Bean (Here in Canada, Here in the UK)
I am always so happy to find a series with a strong female lead character – like the Ottoline books I mentioned before – because there is such a woefully small selection available. (And am always happy to hear your recommendations).
Ivy+Bean is beautifully written, with great pace and fun illustrations. The general premise is a pair of mischievous second grade girls who reluctantly become friends. The girls are a bit naughty – but they are also adventurous stories without fairies or supermodels and my newly-six year old daughter is hooked.
If your children enjoy Asterix, Tintin or graphic novels in general – these are a really fantastic illustrated retelling of some Greek classics. I did, initially, let my seven year old read these before I had looked them over properly myself and he was immediately a fan: on a closer read I realised they don’t pull any punches. The stories are not a Disney version of the classics so you can expect all sorts of regular Greek mythological violence (but, like the Horrible Histories series, I suspect this may be a large part of their success. )
We have really enjoyed the Pippi books here – along with the Rupert series, this is one that Jacob (8), Elsa (6) and Mim (3) are all equally happy to read/listen to.
Lauren Child (author/illustrator of the Charlie&Lola series, also excellent) illustrated a lovely edition:
I think the modern and familiar imagery helped make this an instant hit.
Hooray for Fish!
Here in the UK, here in Canada. All the bright bold style of Maisy Mouse but… just.. not…Maisy. I’ve been reading this book for 8 years and I don’t absolutely hate it – a literary triumph.
Pleasingly, like Julia Donaldson’s Monkey Puzzle (also brilliant), the punchline of Hooray for Fish is all about being thankful for mummy fish, and how great mummy fish is. I mean How great I am. No wait, mummy fish.
You know that you’re supposed to love the Peter Rabbit series but actually sometimes they get a bit… sort of… boring.
Well Brambly Hedge isn’t boring and has really similarly beautiful illustrations.
Especially fun are the cross section drawings of the trees the mice live in:
And really gentle stories that all our children have loved.
Meg & Mog
The Meg and Mog series (Here in the UK, here in Canada) has a special place in my heart and not just because Meg has a familiar profile.
The illustrations are simple and iconic; the stories are perfect for babies and toddlers; and the text is excellent for beginner readers:
More books soon! Let me know which of your favourites I’ve missed.