Unrelaxed Dad has created a new meme. It’s about time I wrote a new post, but I’m too tired to be creative tonight, and besides, it’s about time I blogged about children’s books. Basically the meme is to choose six books that you read to a toddler that both of you enjoy. A crucial caveat that – if I let him, HungryBoy would choose the $2.95 Thomas the Tank Engine knock off books every night. As it is, I usually manage to get away with only reading him a book I hate every third night or so. So here are mind (and Hungryboy’s):
The Little Yellow Digger, by Betty and John Gilderdale. This book is a New Zealand book, in rhyme, about a sequence of four bigger and bigger diggers getting stuck as they tried to pull each other out of the mud. In the end, the smallest one, the yellow one, rescues them all. The verse scans well (surprisingly rare in children’s books), it’s a funny story, and in some indefinable way, the landscape is a New Zealand landscape.
Fix-it-Duck, by Jez Alborough. This is part of a series, about a duck which invites calamity everywhere he goes, with his friends, sheep, goat and frog usually rescuing him from his stupidity. Also in rhyme, it has an excellent catchphrase, “This is a job for Fix-it Duck!”. I love catchphrases when reading to toddlers, because they can recite them with you, and really feel involved. The pictures often have little clues as to what’s going to happen next, which you (or your toddler, who likes to show off) can point to.
A Camping Spree with Mr Magee, by Chris van Dusen. This is the story of “Mr Magee, and his little dog Dee”, and their camping trip which is ruined by a bear. The rhymes are occasionally slightly forced, but the rhythm is great, and the pictures are fantastic 1950s looking pictures of a roadster and caravan somewhere in the US (probably obvious if you know anything about the US).
Alexander’s Outing, by Pamela Allen. Pamela Allen is a prolific Australian children’s author. This is my favourite book of hers because it is set in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, a place we often go for an outing. Alexander is a duck who falls down a hole because he wasn’t staying close to his mother, and is rescued by a most ingenious method of everyone nearby filling the hole with water so he can float up to the surface. We love reading this book because we know the places (and it has lots of good bits to join in with). It’s not in rhyme, which works for this one.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, by Dr Seuss. This is a bit of a nostalgia trip for me – I used to read it to Chatterboy when he was about six to eighteen months old, only getting through the first ten pages before he got impatient and wanted to eat them. Like all Dr Seuss books it is filled with improbable animals doing great things that rhyme. My favourite page involves Mr Wump, who has a seven-hump Gump.
Wombat Stew, by Marcia Vaughan (illustrated by Pamela Lofts) – a book about a dingo who catches a wombat and decides to make a stew out of “that fat wombat”. All of the nearby animals convince him to add other things to the stew, which make it so horrible, he ends up not adding the wombat at all, but rather runs away in disgust. This story could be a bit twee (think of a way of adding every iconic animal to a children’s picture book), but instead, it is just a great story, that happens to be about Australian animals, instead of the usual northern hemisphere set. The illustrations are vivid, and not at all cutesy, too.
And one more, just for luck – The Going to Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton. This book doesn’t really count, in one sense – it’s too short, and has no real story, and is clearly aimed at the “find a book that will send them to sleep” market. But the boys and I can all recite it, so when it’s really too late for a bedtime story, I usually pull this one out, and it counts.
We have so many childrens’ books in our house that I think I should do this meme every month, just for fun. Hungry Boy (who is about to turn 4) is not really a toddler any more, but I’m hoping to be reading him a “bednight story” (as he says) for a while yet. Chatterboy likes to read to himself at bedtime now, but before they go up to bed, some evenings we all sit on the couch together while I read them a book. It generally creates a great conversation, and its particularly cute when Chatterboy decides to use the occasion to help me teach Hungryboy how to read.