With the start of the school year well underway, it’s time to get the kiddos’ mini brain cells revved up and ready to hit the books! Reading to or with your children is time well spent – not only does it aid in brain development, especially in the first 5 years of life, but you also get to bond over fantastical stories, new words and wonderful characters. We’ve put together a few of our favourite children’s picture books of 2014 (so far!) to add to the kids bookshelves, alongside much read old-timers and bedtime tales. Whether you’ve already got a little bookworm at home or you want to inspire your kids to read more, this is our latest lit list for littles mamas.
For pre-school readers (or listeners!)
A Gift For Mama – Linda Ravin Lodding
A wonderful story about a sweet little boy trying to find the perfect gift for his mama’s birthday (yup we were totally sucked in by the title!). He begins with a beautiful rose, but to help others, keeps trading his “finds” for someone else to use. The illustrations are gorgeous and the book is filled with details and pictures of olden day Vienna – and mama gets the best gift in the end.
Edgar Gets Ready for Bed: A BabyLit® First Steps Picture Book Hardcover – Jennifer Adams
Meet the plucky toddler Edgar the Raven! He’s mischievous, disobedient, and contrary (sound familiar, mamas?!). Dinnertime, clean-up time, and bedtime are all met with one word: NEVERMORE! But as the the day winds down, Edgar’s mummy knows just what to do to get her son into bed—a bedtime story.
Happy Street Pet Shop – Simon Abbott
This book is part of the Happy Street series and features different shops for children to explore and learn about – there are pop out pieces to play with after enjoying the story. Mr Paws has a very busy day ahead of him at the pet shop. The pets need feeding and grooming, and there are lots of customers to serve. There are so many different types of pets – scaly, furry, soft and with hard shells. Get the munchkins to think about what kind of pets they’d like best, but remember not to promise ponies and puppies mamas – they won’t let you forget!
Toot – Leslie Patricelli
If your little ones are anywhere near as obsessed with this particular body noise as ours are, then they’ll love this frank and funny board book. (We have to admit we found it hard not to giggle mamas.) Everybody does it: Kitty, Doggie, Daddy — even Mummy! And when Leslie Patricelli’s beloved bald baby does it while running, it sounds like a train. Perfect for the youngest of listeners and their older siblings who will love getting involved and reading it aloud.
For readers aged: 3+
A Is For Awesome – Dallas Clayton
Heralded as the ‘new Dr. Seuss’ inspirational artist Dallas Clayton’s awesome alphabet book bursts with colour and life. Kids are invited to “learn some new letters that you can use to make magical words and share big ideas” with a poetic rendition of the alphabet, where C is for Confident Cool and Collected/D is for Dreaming things never expected…/Q is for Quiet to escape from the madness/R is for Reading but also for radness.” Each page features gorgeous mini sketches of objects that begin with the featured letter, for example “H is for Happy to see you today” is paired with a horse, horn, hippo, hamster, harp, etc. Totally kid friendly with plenty to point at and talk about.
Fairy Tales Gone Wrong: Blow Your Nose, Big Bad Wolf: A Story About Spreading Germs
Back to school means back to picking up every bug going – and if you’re a mama who is more than a little obsessed with keeping your kids germ free, this favourite fairy tale has a fab twist that encourages good health and hygiene. The three little pigs learn a lesson about spreading germs when they won’t lend the wolf a tissue and their houses are blown down by his sneezes! And to make matters worse, they then catch his cold.
Froodle – Antoinette Portis
We love this adorable book for its silliness and fun poke at conforming to the norm. The birds in the neighborhood give up their usual ‘tweet, tweet’ when one of them changes everything! Tired of the same old song, a little bird sings ‘Froodle sproodle’ much to everyone’s amazement and as others join in the fun, each finds his own special voice. Lots of laughter and ideas to share – yes we’ve had the ‘be yourself’ theme in lots of books, but it’s not a bad message for the kiddos to hear over and over again right mamas? This book lends itself to reading aloud – really smart and fun.
Peck Peck Peck – Lucy Cousins
From the multi-award-winning creator of Maisy comes this funny little tale of a little woodpecker who’s just learnt to peck – and who goes on to peck holes in anything he can find “I peck, peck, peck a magazine,/ a picture of Aunt Geraldine,/ an armchair, a teddy bear,/ and a book called Jane Eyre”. It’s a really fun story with bright colourful pages. The kids will love to shout ‘peck, peck’ at the top of their voices whenever this one comes out.
Squishy Mcfluff: and the Supermarket Sweep! – Pip Jones
Ava and her invisible cat Squish are forced to go on a food shopping outing with Ava’s mum and because it’s boring they make their own fun. The whole outing turns into a crazy mess for Ava’s mother and it takes a long time to get the food shopping done! Great if your kids have their own imaginary friends – hopefully it will NOT encourage them to behave the same way during your next supermarket visit, mamas!
The Day The Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
A hysterical back to school story all about little Duncan who just wants to colour but discovers numerous handwritten crayon notes from his crayons, who are fed up and want to quit. Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun. This book inspired our littles to role-play with their own crayons and encourages fun debates – a win-win for everyone.
The Storm Whale – Benji Davies
An enchanting story about a little boy called Noi who is very lonely, until he discovers a small beached whale to care of and an unexpected friendship is born. We love this warm tender story and all its beautiful illustrations – a great choice for any little softies out there.
The Way To The Zoo – John Burningham
Guaranteed to fire little imaginations, The Way To The Zoo is a magical story about a little girl, Sylvie, who discovers a secret passage leading to the zoo in her bedroom. Pretty cool right!? She regularly brings back a few of the smaller animals for adventures (think penguins at bath time and a baby bear for bedtime cuddles). No matter what Sylvie does though, she always makes sure to close the door to the secret passage, until one fateful day…Packed with warm humour and gorgeous drawings, this is a guaranteed favourite.
For readers aged 6+
Bedtime Math: This Time Its Personal – Laura Overdeck
Math at bedtime? We weren’t too sure about this combination either, but this book actually succeeds in making math a fun part of our kids lives and gives bedtime stories a cool new twist. With over 100 math riddles on topics from pillow forts and sneeze speeds, to overfed pets and underwear, kids will find math isn’t just fun – it can be found in their everyday lives! And with three different levels of challenge (Wee ones, Little kids, and Big kids), there’s something for everyone.
Chicken Mission: Danger In The Deep Dark Woods – Jennifer Gray
The first in a series of brand new children’s books about…chickens! But they’re not your usual run-of-the-mill chickens, oh no, these chickens are elite fighters trained to wipe out evil in the world. And they look pretty cool doing it! So much fun and totally bonkers, this story follows little chook Amy Cluckbucket who has always wanted to escape her parent’s farm and do something exciting, when one day she gets an invitation to the Kung Foo School for Poultry in Tibet to become part of a special squad. She quickly becomes friends with fellow squad members Ruth and Boo and soon they’re on a mission to defeat their worst enemy – Thadeus E. Fox! An absolute favourite with the Sassy Mama team.
Oliver and the Seawigs – Philip Reeve, illustrated by Sarah McInytre
The adventures of Oliver Crisp, a boy on a journey to find his missing explorer parents (who met on top of Mount Everest – as you do!) Wonderfully silly, we love this book as much as the kids and we’ve even caught the hubbie reading it a few times. When Oliver’s mum and dad go missing, he decides to set off in a dinghy to rescue them and meets a talking albatross who calls his tuna sandwich ‘new-fangled muck’, a Mermaid called Iris and a villain who has a hang-up about being a boy called Stacey de Lacey. Hilarious!
Harry and the Monster – Sue Mongredien
A must if your children have recurrent monster nightmares and are frightened during the night – this book is actually one for all ages from 4 upwards. (Any younger and it might introduce something that isn’t actually an issue yet and scare them, which is definitely not the aim!) One night, a monster stomps into Harry’s dreams. The next day, Harry is scared to go to sleep. “If he comes back, just imagine him with pink pants on his head,” suggests Mum. “He won’t be scary then!” Can Mum’s clever plan possibly work? A perfect bedtime story which will help conquer fears as the lights go out.
The Dragon’s Dentist (Early Reader) – John McLay
Eric is a dragon. A big, scary, grumpy dragon that everyone is afraid of (but not so scary that he’ll cause nightmares mamas!). Harry wants to be a knight in waiting, but is stuck cleaning shields – so he decides to take matters into his own hands and capture Eric to prove himself. (As the title suggests, Harry ends up helping Eric with his toothache). A lovely little book that’s easy for new readers without too much text on each page. What really adds to the story though is the illustration throughout and the wonderful expressions on the face of Harry’s horse, Oats!
For readers aged 9+
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck – Jeff Kinney
The eighth exploit in the Wimpy Kid series, this one focuses on the ‘best friend gets a girl’ scenario. Greg finds it hard to makes friends in middle school when his best friend Rowley gets a girlfriend and ditches him. Easy to read with a few twists and turns along the way – a must for any DOAWK fans.
Henry Hunter and the beast of Snagov – John Matthews
If your minis like beasties, bats, Dracula and mysteries, then they’ll love this! A great adventure story centred around Henry Hunter, a most unusual boy with a private jet (could almost be plausible in Dubai perhaps?!) and an appetite for finding things. A little scary but very funny with plenty of twists and turns – best suited for the slightly older kiddos.
The Jade Boy – Cate Cain
A tale of mystery and magic – great escapism for your older kiddos. Eleven-year old Jem Green works as a kitchen boy in the London household of a powerful Duke during the reign of Charles II. He doesn’t know who his father is and his life consists of never ending drudgery. But when the sinister Count Cazalon pays a visit to the Duke, Jem’s world is turned upside down. The Count is planning something terrible and Jem appears to be central to his wicked scheme. With the help of newfound friends – an apprentice sorceress, mind-speaking mute and his pet monkey, Jem must figure out what’s going on.
The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth – Julia Lee
11-year-old Clemency Wrigglesworth (cool name right mamas?!) journeys to Victorian England from India to find her long lost relatives, but gets diverted by various characters each having their own adventure. A fabulous book full of twists and turns, plenty of jaunty dialogue and a plucky heroine who will appeal to your boys and your girls.