Posts Tagged With: children’s books

What we read in December…

So, drum roll please, here we finally are with my last, somewhat belated, 300 Picture Books Challenge post! We managed it in the end. Just! After a somewhat cockily swift start our 2014 reading, our variety greatly reduced once a second baby came into the household mix. That said just because the books weren’t new ones didn’t mean the old ones weren’t being read again. And again. And… you get the picture. There are some individual titles that I feel must have been read at least 300 times on their own over the course of the year!

300 Picture Books Challenge we did it

But back to the new books we read at the end of last year. December’s reading had a lovely festive feel. I put away the Christmas themed books we’d got the previous year and we acquired a few more, including some fab charity shop bargains, to add to the seasonal stash this year. The library also came up trumps on this score.

Of the non-Christmassy books, Maisy Dresses Up was the firm favourite. The Maisy books, by Lucy Cousins, have been very popular with Little Miss all year and this one was no different, requested before every nap and bedtime until she could pretty much recite the whole thing back to us!

I especially enjoyed What Small Rabbit Heard by Sheryl Webster and Tim Warnes. Anyone who has a toddler with selective hearing should find the storyline amusing. An initially reluctant Small Rabbit is taken out for a walk on a windy day, getting into ever increasing mischief as he repeatedly ‘mishears’ the instructions given to him by Big Rabbit. It’s great fun (although you can’t help but feel for poor old Big Rabbit!).

Of course, Christmas Day brought with it a whole new haul of new books. Peppa Pig was a dominant theme and there was also a nice helping of Julia Donaldson (Zog, The Highway Rat and The Rhyming Rabbit), which pleased me no end. Little Mister also got a few new touchy-feely books of his own. So plenty of new material to start the new year with. And the pretty picture below shows our festive-themed favourites.

Festive favourite books

I’ve loved taking part in the 300 Picture Books Challenge and I’m so glad we managed to keep it up – dare I say proud without sounding ever so slightly smug?! It definitely spurred me into taking Little Miss to the library as much as I could, which is never a bad thing, and I’m sure all those books have helped boost her ever-expanding vocabulary.

Reading remains one of her favourite things and I’m now trying to encourage Little Mister’s interest in books. So far he seems much less inclined to sit still than his sister was so to hold his attention my best bet is anything tactile or interactive like the That’s Not My… books and those with finger puppets. And as with everything else, he does like to put books in his mouth! He’s a work in progress!

You can see all the books we read over the year on our Pinterest board and I’m sure there will be lots more book-related posts to come this year.

Thank you, as ever, for reading!

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What we read in November…

Oh dear… yes you did read that title right! Once again, I’m playing catch up with this post and several others yet to come. My offline to-do list has been rather manic of late and juggling life and two little ones has felt quite a struggle if I’m being totally honest – more of that in another post. But I hope everybody had a lovely Christmas and my very best wishes for the year ahead.

Now back to the books. At the start of 2014 I decided to join in with the 300 Picture Books Challenge to read, as the name suggests (duh!), at least 300 different books over the course of the year. We got off to a flying start in the early months but our progress did slow off somewhat when baby number two arrived in July and our regular library trips became more of a logistical exercise. But by the skin of our teeth, I think we just about did it in the end. So now I’m determined to share our final two posts and finish the job properly! Not least because it was one of last year’s New Year’s resolutions and I want to be able to tick at least one of them off that particular list as done!

So, by the end of November we’d read 274 different books.

300 Picture Books Challenge November

The favourite from this bunch was Monkey, Monkey, Monkey – not mine, hers I must add. If I’m honest I’m a little bit bored and mildly irritated by the blinking monkey! It became a bedtime favourite, meaning it’s stashed under her bed, along with her other elite reading material, and asked for again. And again. And again! I’m hoping to sneak it back to the library very soon. Basic premise is that monkey wants some monkey nuts – monkey-monkey-monkey nuts! It does have a good rhythm I admit but if you’re after a book with a chimp as the leading man (or woman?!), I much prefer Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson.

A couple of other interesting titles were Princesses Love to Share and The Friendliest Ballerina, both aimed at gently teaching toddlers some of those important social skills that the terrible twos can often find lacking. Little Miss is quite a girly girl so princesses and ballerinas do go down well.

We also both enjoyed Shark in the Dark and Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell. Both fun and a bit different, with great, bright pictures.

And, finally, You Choose was a really interesting concept. It’s not really a story book at all but a great way to start off conversations with your little one and encourage them to use their imagination. Each double page spread poses a question, such as where would you like to live, or what would you like to eat, accompanied by loads of quirky little illustrations for them to choose from. Little Miss, predictably enough, would like to live in the pink fairy tale castle and eat chocolate cake all day! It’s a very entertaining and interactive way to enjoy a book together and an idea we’d not seen before so well worth a look.

You can see all the books we’ve read for the 300 Picture Books Challenge on our Pinterest board. And watch out for our final post very soon. I hope!

Thanks for reading.

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What we’ve been reading…

Our reading updates seem to be becoming monthly rather than weekly at the moment but books are still a very big part of our lives, I just need to wait for both children to synchronise nap times before I get to write anything! That holy grail has been achieved today so here goes…

The pretty picture shows most of our latest reads, which takes our 300 Picture Books Challenge effort up to 246 different books read so far this year. The full list is on our 300 Picture Books Challenge Pinterest board.

300 Picture Books August update

We’re still managing to get to the library every few weeks and as Little Mister rapidly gets bigger I’m sure it will be easier for us all to get out more. Our library does some great Rhyme Time sessions that I took Little Miss to when she was tiny so I’m hoping we can all enjoy those together in the coming weeks. I’ve always found the library an easy, free, all-weather activity for little ones, as I wrote about in one of my earliest posts on Loving the Library.

The Animal Nursery Colours book was chosen by Little Miss on our latest library trip. It’s quite a simple book but a good one for a toddler who’s trying to get to grips with learning her colours – she’s a bit hit and miss at the moment so maybe this will help! She seems to like it anyway.

Her favourite book from the latest selection has been Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne, a gift from Nanny. The story features a winning toddler combination of fruit and naughty animals! I won’t completely ruin the surprise but the tale, set in Africa, sees a little girl called Handa set out to walk to her friend’s nearby village carrying a gift of a basket of different fruits on her head. Along the way a series of animals steal items from the basket, all without Handa noticing, but a lucky twist at the end means she still arrives with a full basket. Just not the one she was expecting.

Little Miss gets very excited about the animals secretly taking the fruit, especially the monkey swiping the banana. The story has her squealing with delight every time!

As well as the new books, two old favourites remain the most requested bedtime stories – ie that means every single night! They’re both Julia Donaldson books – Superworm and The Monkey Puzzle. Little Miss, my husband and I all know most of the words off by heart now, we’ve read them that often. In a bid to move her on from these – one is a library book I’ve had for months and the other… well, I’m a bit bored of it even if she isn’t – I’ve got a new Julia Donaldson book arriving this week. So I’m looking forward telling you all about A Squash and a Squeeze very soon.

300 Picture Books badge

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300 Picture Books Challenge update

It’s more than a month since I posted on our reading progress. When I last did our new Little Mister was still a rather large and uncomfortable bump! I’m finding it hard to keep up the blog with a new baby in the house but thankfully reading books with Little Miss is much easier. “Read it Mummy” is one of her most uttered phrases and it’s been a handy way of keeping her occupied when I’m breast feeding. I have even managed to make it out to the library with both children on two occasions! Today’s visit saw me attract a mini crowd of listening toddlers as I read Mr Tumble’s Hide and Seek out loud – the other mums really should pay me for my services!

300 Picture Books Challenge update

Anyway, the list of books we’ve read this year has continued to grow despite the huge changes and sleepless nights of the last few weeks. When I last wrote we were on week 25. I’ve no idea what week we’re on now, somewhere in the early thirties I assume, it’s all a bit of a blur at the moment! Either way at last count we’d added 11 new titles – and re-read countless old ones – taking our tally up to 234 different books read so far this year.

I’m starting to think I should also keep a list of books damaged this year! We’ve had three moments of toddler recklessness in the last week alone. Little Miss tends to save her destructive tendencies for library books rather than her own. You could say this is quite smart – why mess up your own reading material when you can have the pleasure of ripping up someone else’s?! Let’s just say I’m becoming a dab hand at repair jobs. I think the latest streak may be bad behavior brought on by the frustration of her new little brother arriving and stealing some of her limelight – the last of the book victims was a black and white first baby book we’d dug out for him.

Easily the favourite book of the last month, and one that’s still going strong, is Superworm by Julia Donaldson. Regular readers of this blog will know how well her books go down in our house and this one is no exception. We’ve read it so many times now that Little Miss can recite whole chunks of it. It’s one of those books that is great fun to read out loud.

Cinderella also has to have a mention. Not because Little Miss liked the story that much. More because she developed a strange obsession with taking the book to bed with her every night for weeks on end. She called it her ‘incerella book’ and would cuddle up to it along with her usual bedtime ensemble of ‘Dolly’, ‘Other Dolly’, Giraffe, Rabbit, Upsy Daisy, Puppy and Mouse Blanket. We decided to wean her off the new addition to the line up after finding little teeth marks all round the edge of the book. I love books but nibbling a hardback for comfort can’t be that good for you!

I for one need no help getting to sleep at the moment and on that note had better wrap things up for the night and get a bit of shut eye before a certain hungry baby comes calling in the early hours.

Don’t forget you can always see what we’ve been reading and follow our latest progress on our 300 Picture Books Challenge Pinterest board.

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Our summer book exchange: fun with Elmer the Elephant

Elmer bookIt’s been a very busy few weeks, so we’ve not read anywhere near as many books as usual. In case you missed it, there’s a new man in our lives… the lovely Little Mister was born on 1st July (you can read more about him here!). But while we were eagerly waiting the late arrival of our second bundle of joy, Little Miss and I did manage to take part in the Love Books Summer Exchange.

Love Books Summer Exchange badgeHosted by US blog The Educators’ Spin On It, this fab exchange sees parent bloggers paired up to send each other’s child a picture book and accompanying activity. We were teamed up with Adventures of Adam and it was great to also discover a new blog I hadn’t read before that’s full of toddler play ideas – I’ll definitely be a regular reader from now on.

Little Miss was thrilled when our parcel, complete with rainbow-coloured tape on the box, arrived. I’d forgotten it was coming as well and given how heavily pregnant and tired I was at the time, it was a very welcome distraction!

Book exchange parcel arrives

Inside we found the original Elmer book by David McKee along with everything we’d need to make and decorate our very own milk bottle elephants for the ‘Elmer’s Day’ parade that’s part of this much-loved story. We’ve read a couple of different Elmer books in the past, so Little Miss was vaguely familiar with the character, but we’d yet to read this one which is the very first story about the colourful patchwork elephant. First written in 1968 and published since 1989 by Andersen Press, the book has been celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and has sold millions of copies around the world, being translated into many different languages.

Elmer activity kit

Little Miss loves elephants and painting so the package was an instant hit with her. And that was before she realised there were also stickers included. She absolutely cannot resist stickers!

I’ve always had a soft spot for Elmer too so was very pleased we’d now have the original Elmer book at home. I love the message behind the story – that it’s ok to be different and changing yourself to fit in with the rest of the herd isn’t the way forward. The book sees the brightly coloured Elmer paint himself grey to try and fit in, only to find it’s not much fun when the other elephants no longer recognise him. It’s not long before Elmer’s vibrant personality bursts to the fore again and his true colours are revealed once more when rain washes the paint off. The other elephants declare that this day will become known as Elmer’s Day and every year they decorate themselves for a special parade in his honour.

We read the story one night before getting started on our Elmer activity the next day. Emma, the mum behind the Adventures of Adam blog, is a trained primary school teacher and the activity she shared with us used to be a favourite for her classes. She’d sent us two plastic milk bottles to make our elephants from – a big six-pint one and a little one-pint one to make a cute baby. The baby was already cut out for us and I just followed the lines on the big bottle to cut out an elephant shape. As you can see from the pictures, it’s really simple to do – these bottles just happen to be the perfect shape to make elephants from, with the handle of the bottle making the trunk!

Little Miss was intrigued to see the big elephant taking shape and then couldn’t wait to get her hands on the paint brush to decorate him. We added a bit of glue to the paint, as instructed, to make sure it stuck to the plastic.

Elmer activity collage

As you can see, she initially went for a multi-coloured effect, similar to Elmer himself, although as more and more paint went on a dirty-purple became the dominant theme. This amused me since our elephant became closer to the standard elephant shade that Elmer tries to achieve in the book before realising he’s better off as he is in all his technicolour glory – of course, the irony was lost on a toddler!

We left the paint to dry overnight before letting Little Miss loose with the fab foam stickers included in our package. I hadn’t seen these before but quickly tracked down another pack in the supermarket as they proved so popular. Adventures of Adam had also included tissue paper as another decorative option, which could be stuck on in a collage effect. As you can see from the picture below that we were sent with our activity instructions, the artistic scope is endless!

Elmers Day Parade elephants

With the stickers on, we decided our two elephants were complete. We didn’t get around to it but you could also add eyes, either using some boggle-eye stickers or by just drawing them on. You also have the option of adding ears and could paint a layer of glue over the top of the finished elephant to make it smooth and a bit waterproof.

Finished elephants

We had a great time taking part in Love Books Summer Exchange – it’s such a simple idea but so rewarding. I really enjoyed putting together the package we sent, based around the Big Yellow Digger book, and you can visit the Adventures of Adam blog to see how they got on. And, of course, it’s always lovely for a child (and this big child too!) to get a surprise parcel to open and play with.

The milk bottle elephant is a great activity, so easy to do with a toddler, and one I’m sure we’ll repeat in the future. I’m a bit of a fan of making animal models from those simple household items that otherwise just pile up in the recycling – you can also see our forays into the world of toilet roll tube creatures here!

To see some of the other book and activity ideas from the swap visit the Summer Exchange Pinterest Board.

Categories: Baby bookworm, Toddler activities | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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