Storytime Advent

This lovely idea for enjoying reading with your little ones comes from Rachel, our children’s librarian based at Central library.

storytime-advent-calenderCreate your own storytime advent calendar this year, it’s easy and can be as cheap as you want to make it. All you need is 24 picture or board books individually wrapped and labelled with the date. Then each day of advent you and your child/children can open one and share the book throughout the day. It could be for their bedtime story or just a good excuse to have a cuddle on the sofa with it. It’s a great way to encourage reading because the unwrapping of the book will make it feel extra special. The best bit is that you can wrap up books you already have on their book shelf, go to the library and borrow a pile of books and if you want to add in a few that you have bought that’s fine too. Some old, some new and some borrowed, it’s up to you!

During this busy time of year getting that special 5-10 minutes together reading, laughing, relaxing, pointing out things in the pictures and asking questions about what going on is a lovely way to enjoy this festive season with your children. There are so many books to choose from at your local library and you can take 20 out on each library card but remember to renew them as the loan period is 3 weeks initially. They don’t have to be Christmassy, it completely up to you what you choose, here’s a few books we have enjoyed recently in our home to get you started.

rachel-togetherTogether… by Emma Dodd

This little sea otter loves spending time with his mummy – learning new things, playing together, or even just holding each other. In fact, every day this little sea otter spends with his mummy is special, just because they are together.

rachel-we-found-a-hatWe Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat!

rachel-grinch-stole-christmasHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Suess

When he spies the citizens of Who-ville enjoying their Christmas preparations, the Grinch comes down from his cave and makes a dastardly attempt to take all the joy out of the occasion by actually stealing Christmas.

rachel-ten-little-piratesTen Little Pirates by Mike Brownlow

Ten little pirates set out to sea in search of adventure. But what will the ten little pirates do when they meet a hurricane – and a giant squid – and a hungry shark? This fun-filled rhyming story, which incorporates counting backwards from ten to one, is great to share with young children who are learning about numbers. The colourful, humourous illustrations feature objects to spot and count on every page.

rachel-detective-dogThe Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson

There once was a dog with a keen sense of smell. She was known far and wide as Detective Dog Nell. Peter’s dog Nell has an amazing sense of smell. Whether it’s finding a lost shoe or discovering who did a poo on the new gravel path, her ever-sniffing nose is always hard at work. But Nell has other talents too. Every Monday she goes to school with Peter and listens to children read. So who better to have on hand when they arrive one morning to discover that the school’s books have all disappeared! Who could have taken them? And why? There’s only one dog for the job and Detective Dog Nell is ready to sniff out the culprit!

rachel-jolly-postmanThe Jolly Postman by Janet Ahlberg

A delightful postbag of real letters for you to open and read.

rachel-alans-teethAlans Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis

Meet Alan, an alligator with a secret. Famed for his big, scary teeth, he sneaks into the jungle every day to scare the jungle animals. But after a long day of scaring, Alan likes nothing better than to run a warm mud bath and take out his false teeth, which nobody knows about! That is, until his teeth go missing. What will Alan do now? Scaring is the only thing he knows how to do! Can he still be scary without them?

rachel-fredFred by Mick and Chloe Inkpen

‘Fetch!’ and ‘Sit!’ and ‘Stay!’ I understand them all. Those are the words I know. But what is ‘Fred’? Fred the dog may not know his name yet or how to stay out of trouble, but one little boy will love him no matter what. A follow-up to ‘I Will Love You Anyway’, this touching rhyming story is full of friendship and tail wagging, and will touch a chord with all children who love pets.

rachel-snowmanThe Snowman by Raymond Briggs

One winter’s night, a snowman comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins. Raymond Briggs’ favourite classic is a true piece of Christmas magic – narrated entirely through pictures, it captures the wonder and innocence of childhood and is now recognised throughout the world.

rachel-night-before-christmasThe Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

‘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 is a delight to share with children.

rachel-swanSwan: the life and dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder

Librarian’s Choice -Past Favourites

This weeks blog is from Lynn, one of our Senior Communities Librarians. There are some real classic blasts from the past here, as well as a more recent recommendation.

Although I’m an avid reader of crime I thought I would give you a taste of some of my favourites from the past, starting with

Lynn Lady of HayLady of Hay – Barbara Erskine

I can’t believe this book is 30 years old!

This story is about Jo Clifford a successful 20th Century journalist, who is set to debunk the idea of past life regression but when she is regressed under hypnosis she finds herself reliving the experiences of Matilda, the Lady of Hay, the wife of a baron at the time of King John.

Jo learns of Matilda’s unhappy marriage and of her love for another man and of the brutal threats of death at the hands of King John.

The plot is full of twists and turns as Matilda’s life and pain threaten to take Jo’s life as she spontaneously regresses…………………

Lynn Lorna DooneLorna Doone – RD Blackmore

A teenage favourite!

Lorna Doone is a romance set in 17th Century in Somerset and Devon and is the story of John Ridd a farmer who finds love amid religious and social turmoil. John is just a boy when his father a respectable farmer is murdered by the outlawed Doones, a lawless clan who live in Exmoor. Battling his desire for revenge John also grows into a respectable farmer looking after his mother and siblings. He falls in love with Lorna a girl he meets by accident who turns out to be the granddaughter of the Lord of Doones and is destined to marry (against her will) Carver Doone. A tale of secrets, lies and deceit. A fantastic story of star crossed lovers.

Lynn RebeccaRebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

The novel begins in Monte Carlo where our orphaned lady’s maid is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter- carried along on her giddy adventure it’s not until they arrive at his impressive country estate that she realises the threat his late wife is to their new relationship. Young, shy and socially awkward the new Mrs De Winter finds herself lonely and alone as she battles to establish herself as the lady of the house in a tense, sinister household headed by the mean and spiteful Mrs Danvers who is loyal to the ghostly presence of Rebecca. Surprisingly scary with a psychological edge.

Lynn Black BeautyBlack Beauty – Anna Sewell

One of my favourite childhood stories.

Black Beauty is a horse with a fine black coat, a white foot and a silver star on his forehead, a real beauty indeed.

Seen through his eyes, the story tells of his idyllic upbringing living on Farmer Grey’s farm with his Mum frolicking in the fields. When he turns four he’s trained to carry riders and pull carriages and then sold and goes to live at Birtwick Hall where he meets Merrylegs, Ginger and Sir Oliver.

Hardship and cruelty follow as he is sold to a number of different homes and worked hard until he collapses from overwork before he finds security and happiness in a new home.

Lynn Little WomenLittle Women – Louisa May Alcott

The novel follows the lives of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. The four girls live with their Marmee in genteel poverty, whilst their father is away fighting in the American Civil War. Their mother encourages them to be the best version of themselves at all times and to celebrate their uniqueness, which for some of the sisters is hard, they pull together as a family in times of need, the loss of loved ones, feelings of failure, talent unappreciated, fear of the future and ever changing family dynamics just a few of the situations the family have to deal with.

Any finally something a little more up to date;

Lynn Elizabeth is missingElizabeth is missing – Emma Healey

Maud an ageing gran is slowly losing her memory – yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth who she believes is missing and in terrible danger, no one will listen.

Vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago come flooding back, could Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth – a hauntingly beautiful book.

Librarian Top 10 – Books for Bedtime

This list come from Rachel, our children’s librarian based at Central Library.

We read to our 18 month old daughter every night before bed. Some nights she’ll close the front cover after one page and other nights she’ll cry for more after four stories, either way is fine. We have been reading to her since the day she was born and she loves books, in fact they are her favourite toy. Bedtime stories don’t have to be about going to sleep and some of the nicest picture books to curl up with when you’re winding down before sleep aren’t. The one thing my list of favourites has in common is a gentle rhythmic text that flows well, often with a lovely positive message. Over the months we have found a selection of favourites and this is our list of top 10 stories at bedtime that are great for the adult as well as the child. In no particular order:

snail and the whaleThe Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson

This Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler combo is definitely underrated compared to the ever popular Gruffalo books, having said that it is by far one of my favourites. The words and story flow beautifully in a relaxing way as you go on an adventure discovering the marvels of the planet. This story depicts friendship, being caring and helpful as well as bravery to dream big and experience the world. It is a window to lovely dreams.

Smelly LouieSmelly Louie by Catherine Rayner

The illustrations in this book are just gorgeously scruffy. It takes you on Louie’s journey to get his smell back after his owners have given him a bath and shampooed him in roses and apple blossom scent. It’s a lovely fun story to fall between bathtime and bedtime.

LoveLove… by Emma Dodd

I absolutely adore the pastel illustrations of this book as they flash and shimmer with shards of gold. The story breezes through lots of different ways that love is presented. One of my favourite sentences from the book is “Sometimes love is quiet and it needs no words at all”. The text is beautiful and perfect for snuggling up at bedtime.

TidyTidy by Emily Gravett

Emily Gravett is one of my favourite illustrators; I think her style is amazing! Tidy is a fab and funny story about a badger that has to keep tidying up the forest. I really like how the story goes into autumn; the leaves start falling and the colours are all gorgeous browns and oranges. We always play a quiet little game where we point to the animals that are hidden all over the pages in the forest.

Peace at lastPeace at Last by Jill Murphy

This book is great to cuddle up with and it really engages the attention of my daughter. I particularly like that the words get you to act out the sound effects throughout the story, which makes it really easy to read in a fun way. It’s also all about being tired and I often find myself yawning along with Mr Bear whilst reading it in dimmed light. That’s OK though, because they won’t know it’s not part of the story. Peace at Last is a well-loved classic by many and never really seems to date.

worstprincessThe Worst Princess by Anna Kemp

This book appeals to me greatly and hopefully my daughter will grow to enjoy the spirit of the character. I really like this alternative take on the ‘traditional princess’, the text is funny and bounces along really well. It’s an excellent message to go to sleep with for a strong growing girl in a modern world.

Extra yarnExtra Yarn by Mac Barnett

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are a really interesting and unique author/illustrator combination. This story is just lovely where the girl warms and brightens up the dull and cold little town by knitting jumpers for everyone including the animals. It’s a gentle magical tale where good prevails and includes an odd yarn bomb here and there. Brilliant!

Love is my favourite thingLove is My Favourite Thing by Emma Chichester Clark

I adore this story; it’s told through the eyes of a very enthusiastic little dog called Plum and all the things she loves to do. The story is so gushing and fun to read and the illustrations are cute too. It reminds me of our dogs and the things they get up to which they know are naughty but just can’t but help doing anyway. This is a really great book to snuggle up and read at the end of the day.

The paper dollsThe Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson

I love this book and we’ve even made up our own tune to sing the little song that repeats throughout this story. It puts into words so well that sometimes things can be gone but will always stay in your memory and heart. Discovering some of the things that are in the little girl’s memory is just lovely and the ending is so touching. In true Julia Donaldson style the words flow in such a beautiful and relaxing way as you read this book and the calming illustrations and plain background make for a great bedtime read.

How to catch a starHow to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

It’s wonderful to sit and imagine that you can catch a star. The little boy in the story is so patient as he waits for his moment, and when the opportunity comes to catch his very own star he grasps it. What a lovely underlying message! This is a story to encourage gazing up at the night sky and it finds a fun way to relate to the stars that twinkle up there.