After bath time and before bed was one of my favourite recurring moments during my children's early years. Snuggled up in pyjamas with children either side and at least one on my knee, we read picture books every night. With five children spanning sixteen and a half years, I was lucky enough to enjoy over twenty years of such happiness.
Our bookshelves are still stuffed full of our favourite picture books. It was difficult to select just five, but here they are:
Starting School – Janet and Allan Ahlberg
A book I used to read to my children on the last day of the school Christmas term. Every year for 25 years!
Of course they didn’t all listen every year, but it became a tradition which I am very sad is over (my son is 14!)
It starts with a group of children on their first day at school and finishes with the immortal words, “Then Gavin and Errol and Sophie and Sushma and David and Kate and Robert and Alison go home…and the holiday begins!”
Often quoted in our house.
Floss – Kim Lewis
We had the story of Floss long before we had our dog Nelly. My daughter Beth was mad on dogs. Everything was about dogs. She even had a “whelping box” for ‘puppies’.
Eventually, I said that if she did her homework for a year without me having to tell her, we’d get a dog. This was never going to happen...or so I thought! Exactly one year later, we got our perfect dog Nelly. She was the best dog in the world, and lived to the grand old age of 16. She looked a lot like Floss, but more beautiful.
The Highway Rat – Julia Donaldson
I love all Julia Donaldson’s picture books and it was a close call between this and Room on the Broom, but this book is incredibly clever. It uses the same rhyming scheme as Alfred Noyes’ The Highwayman, and when my son had to study that poem, he definitely had a head start. Axel Scheffler’s illustrations are perfect.
The Highway Rat was a Baddie,
The Highway Rat was a beast.
He took what he wanted and ate what he took.
His life was one long feast.
I will not ever NEVER eat a tomato – Lauren Child
This book must have helped thousands of parents to get their children to eat things they don’t want. It went on to spark a TV series called, Charlie and Lola which my son (Charlie) loved to watch. The books are absolutely brilliant – the sort you can read over and over without getting bored.
The Hungry Donkey – Amery and Cartwright
The Apple Tree Farm series has always been a massive favourite in our house. We have all 20 books which are falling apart because they’ve been read so many times. They are great, often funny stories, simple pictures, and good for learning to read too. We used to act them out with toys. Happy memories!
If you haven't read The Runaway Children of Chennai yet, please do - the sequel will be out in January.
Also, it would make a great Christmas present.
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