Book Advent

This blog is from Rachel, the children’s librarian in Central library.

Book AdventWe are approaching that magical time of year where we count the days till Christmas. I have a daughter who has just turned 3 and doesn’t like eating chocolate (I know it’s hard to believe). So for us chocolate advent calendars are just not that exciting. The one thing she really does love is having stories read to her especially at bedtime. We are strong advocates of the Books Trust’s Bath, Book and Bed campaign, see more here. Each year we just combine the two things, bedtime story and advent and make it a little bit more special in the build up to Christmas Eve. I select 24 picture or board books and individually wrap them with a number tag on, 1-24. Each day we unwrap the book to read for that day. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make books exciting, enjoy those quiet moments of bonding and learn about Christmas traditions.

24 books sounds a lot, but that’s the brilliance of the library service, I just borrow the majority of them. I use some old books we already have at home, I’ll buy a couple of new books for her collection and borrow the rest. I like to get a mix of stories, some about sharing, giving and kindness and some that tell the tale of Christmas traditions. Here are some of my favourites.

Rachel GiantThe Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson.

A story of kindness, sharing and giving. George was very happy being the scruffiest giant in town. But one day, when he sees a shop stocking giant-size clothes, he decides it’s time to update his image. With smart clothes, George is a new man. However, as he goes home, he meets various animals who desperately need his help

Rachel JollyThe Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet Ahlberg.

A lovely story about letters at Christmas time. It’s Christmas Eve and the jolly postman is delivering greetings to various fairy-tale characters – there’s a card for Baby Bear, a game called ‘Beware’ for Red Riding Hood from Mr Wolf and four more surprise envelopes.

Rachel FatherFather Christmas by Raymond Briggs.

Meet Father Christmas: a very human gift-giver with a tough job to do. You’ll find out that he sometimes gets a little grumpy living at the icy North Pole and squeezing down chimneys, but he more than makes up for it in heart and
humor. Raymond Briggs brings this endearing character to life in over 100 wonderfully illustrated vignettes that follow the adventures of Father Christmas on his big night of the year.

Rachel StickStick Man by Julia Donaldson.

Stick Man lives in the family tree with his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three’. But it’s dangerous being a Stick Man. A dog wants to play with him, a swan builds her nest with him. He even ends up on a fire! Join Stick Man on his troublesome journey back to the family tree.

Rachel StockingThe Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis.

This is a fun story about siblings being naughty or nice but ultimately being kind and doing the right thing. It’s Christmas Eve and everyone is asking – have you been good this year? For twins Sam and Charlie this is a big worry. Charlie has been especially naughty and everyone is sure she won’t get any presents at all. But when Santa makes a mistake, it’s up to Charlie to put things right. Will her last-minute act of kindness be enough?

Rachel weeFather Christmas Needs A Wee by Nicholas Allan.

At each different house that he visits, Father Christmas drinks and eats all the goodies left out for him. Before long he really, really, really needs a wee. Find out what happens, and whether Father Christmas ever gets to relieve himself, in this funny counting book from Nicholas Allan

Rachel nightThe Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore.

A classic magical story of the Christmas Eve. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’. Clement Moore’s popular festive poem about a visit from Santa Claus, illustrated in colour by Tomie DePaola, is a delight to share with children.

 

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Librarian’s Choice: My favourite books for under 5s

This blog comes from Debbie, a Community Librarian in the east of Leeds.

As anyone with small children will know, the Summer Holidays bring many challenges, including how to keep little ones entertained for the entire 6 weeks…that’s a massive 1008 hours. With that in mind, I thought I would compose a list of my all-time favourite books for under 5s. As a Librarian and a mother, I have read countless children’s books over the years. Here are the 5 books that have stood out to me and I have returned to time and time again.

Each peach pear plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Deb Each peachThis is my favourite children’s book of all time. Written and illustrated by the magical duo Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This booked is packed with wonderful illustrations of fairy tale characters such as Tom Thumb, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Mother Hubbard and many more. There is a little ‘I spy’ rhyme on each page and children can look for the hidden characters. The rhymes are repetitive so children can quickly anticipate what will come next and can easily learn to recite the book themselves. The book is told in easy rhyme, ‘Each,Peach, Pear Plum I spy Tom Thumb, Tom Thumb in the cupboard, I spy Mother Hubbard.

Each, Peach, Pear, Plumb takes us through a journey to find the hidden characters, but the real joy comes from discovering the other secrets hidden on each page. Children can continue the story themselves, using the many characters for inspiration. I have spent many evenings cuddled up with my children with this book and this is a book I will never tire of. This is a charming, sweet book that you will enjoy reading with your child over and over again.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler

Deb The GruffaloThe Gruffalo is my next favourite book. Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Alex Scheffler, the Gruffalo is a classic book that will be loved by children and grown-ups for generations to come.

This book captures the imaginations of young minds. We are introduced to the characters- the Mouse, the Gruffalo, the Owl, the Fox, the Snake with the ‘innocent’ mouse as the main character. Throughout the book the Mouse shows his bravery and underlying cunningness to save himself from the various predators lurking ‘In the deep dark wood’. He is able to trick the various forest creatures into believing that he is in fact ‘the scariest creature in all the wood.’ The short rhymes and their repetitive structure make The Gruffalo a fun book to read aloud and children will quickly learn the words and be able to join in.

How the Library (not the Prince) saved Rapunzel by Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown

Deb How theThis is a lovely book with an inspiring message for younger readers. There are also many positive subtle messages that perhaps only the grown-ups will understand but using this a starting point to chat to children and develop the story gives this book many layers. The overall feeling for all readers in one of positivity.

It is so refreshing to see the damsel in distress (Rapunzel) ‘rescued’ by the library-and not the prince on horseback as we normally see. Lots of would be rescuers show their hand in this book, but alas only the library can save the day! The illustrations are bright, cheerful and engaging for readers and offer a fun and refreshing
background for the tale. The book is told in rhymes and a cast of multi-cultural characters that help set this book aside from most other ‘fairytales’. As a mother (and a Librarian), I am very impressed by the messages in this book as these echo the lessons I try to pass to my children,

“So don’t just wait for your prince to show.
He might turn up, but you never know.
Pop down to your library and borrow a book
There’s so much to find if only you look.”

Eat your peas: A Daisy book by Kes Gray and illustrated by Nick Sharratt

Deb Eat your peasMy daughter loved, loved, loved this book. This is the book I had to read over and over again.

Eat Your Peas is a funny tale of the battle of wills between Daisy (who really does not like peas) and her mum. Daisy’s mum tries everything to get her to eat her peas
resorting to bribing her with treats such as staying up later and skipping bath time. However as Daisy continues to refuse her peas, Mum’s promises start to become more and more elaborate, including offers of chocolate factories, elephants and bikes. But still Daisy refuses to eat her peas. Finally Daisy makes a suggestion. ‘I’ll eat my peas if you eat your Brussel Sprouts’. Simple. Except….Daisy’s mum replies ‘but I don’t like Brussel Sprouts.

This common problem of disliking certain food makes the story easy to relate to for
children. The repetition in the book is a fun way for the children to be involved often
calling out ‘but I don’t like peas’. The pictures a clear and vibrant and would be suitable for children of all ages.

We’re going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and illustrations by Helen Oxenby

Deb Bear HuntThis classic book is a favourite in many homes, nurseries, schools and libraries. There is a perfect mix of rhyme and repetition which engages children from the off and the anticipation of what will happen next is enough to keep children interested in the story from start to finish.

The story sees the determined family of 4 set off on their own bear hunt and tells how they overcome several obstacles in their way, until at last they manage to track down the bear. The story is simple and fun and easy for children to join in with. The descriptions of the obstacles in their way ‘swishy-swashy grass’ and ‘thick oozy mud’ lends itself to interactive and fun storytime session, with children being able to act out the story as they go along. Reading is meant to be fun and this book certainly is that.