Reading picture books aloud and sharing the wonder of beautiful illustrations is a rewarding part of being a school librarian and, of course, of being a parent. This joy of stories will hopefully continue as young children move on to the first steps of reading books themselves. Sometimes though this transition does not always go smoothly. These two picturebooks will reassure and encourage those little people who wonder if the world of books is for them.
Natalie and Alphonse love stories and books. Picture books with Dad, scary books read by Mum and storytelling sessions with Grandma. Natalie looks forward to being able to read herself and reading stories to Alphonse. Then Natalie is given her first reading book and things are not quite what she expected. The words are jumbled shapes like scuttling insects on the page and even when they make sense nothing exciting happens in the stories. Natalie is downhearted and although she practises and practises she soon decides that she doesn’t like books any more.
However after a little while her love of stories returns and she starts to make up stories of her own which she tells to little Alphonse. Then together she and Alphonse create their own picture books which they share together as a family.
I love the wry humour in this entertaining book and the way in which it counters the rather dry approach of some reading schemes and their concentration on achieving levels rather than celebrating the joy of stories. Daisy Hirst has cleverly concentrated on the sharing of stories and pictures which will reassure young children who may be struggling with the mechanics of learning to read. This makes reading something to be loved rather than learned which for some is exactly what is needed at this age. A book to reinforce what reading is all about and allow breathing space until a child is ready for the next stage. Definitely recommended for home and schools.
The Covers of My Book Are Too Far Apart (and other grumbles) by Vivian French and Derek Baines
“I’m too old for bedtime stories, That’s a girl’s book!, I hate this book but I’ve got to finish it, I can’t find a book that I like.” You’ve probably heard at least one of the grumbles in this book before but have you known how to respond to it? This brilliant picture book will do it for you and is a joyful celebration of all that’s wonderful about books and reading.
From the eye catching cover to the ending which isn’t really an ending at all but hopefully a beginning this is a very special book. Vivian French and Nigel Baines have managed to make this a very inclusive book and it will be reassuring for those who find reading a chore and also for those who want to read but find it a struggle. Every possible question about reading, or excuse for not reading, given by both children and adults is tackled by a wide range of characters. The diversity of those featured is another major plus of this original book as it ensures that everyone sharing the book can readily identify with at least one of them. The illustrations by Nigel Baines are bright, colourful and engaging and these together with the witty writing add to the book’s overall appeal.
This is part of the Picture Squirrels range from Barrington Stoke and has a dyslexia-friendly layout and typeface to help adults with dyslexia or those less confident of their reading ability to enjoy it with their children too. However, as with so much of the Barrington Stoke range, this is wonderful to share for everyone. I particularly like the fact that it encourages children to enjoy stories in any form be that audio books, listening to stories read aloud, e-books, comics or picture books at any age and stresses that it’s fine to read favourite books again and again if you want to. The advice given is wise and sensible but is presented in an amusing and enjoyable manner.
I love this and think it deserves a place on every bookshelf but perhaps most importantly on school bookshelves as a reminder that Reading isn’t a competition! It’s fun!
Both these books would be invaluable in the primary school classroom and can be bought online by clicking on the book titles above.
Although I’m aware of many picture books celebrating reading, stories and libraries I would love to know of more titles similar to these two. Do you have any suggestions? If so I will happily prepare a list that may be useful.