I think it’s pretty much a given that any reader of this blog knows I love to read. I find no more enjoyable task than to curl up with a good book and a bit of quiet time. I even enjoy reading for work or study purposes, but let’s face it nothing quite beats a great bit of fiction. The love of reading, books and being lost in a fictitious universe is certainly a trait I want to pass on to my girls and so far the signs are looking more than promising on both counts. We read a lot together, every night before bed is a given, but some raucous, fun, loud and exciting reading time during the day is also on the regular agenda. We make regular trips to the library for story time and to peruse for new wonderful stories. We have an extensive children’s book collection, added to by Aunts, Great Aunts, Parents and Grandparents who all share my love of books.
However, I do find now that the books my children are drawn to and the ones I enjoy reading to them do not always correlate. Anything with pink, sparkles, fairies, unicorns, princesses or stuff about beauty are top of Miss Five’s list. There are the occasional gem among them, but mostly they are the most insipid, uninspired and poorly-written pieces of work available. I struggle to read them with any kind of enthusiasm and after a couple of goes through I refuse point-blank. Miss Three at the moment is on a dinosaur and alien theme with her reading material and the choices are far more interesting, but is also attracted to anything super-girly (just because her sister is I suspect). As a way to balance the selection we each pick three books to bring home from the library as well as one or two chapter books which we read but don’t always finish if they don’t spark the imagination. I’ve decided, given that reading to the girls is such a wonderful part of our day, that I would start to share some of best finds in our weekly selections.
First up is a stunning picture book called The Coat by Julie Hunt and Ron Brooks. It is about a coat that has somehow managed to become a scarecrow but feels his life is wasted in such activities, until a man notices him and decides to wear him instead. The coat is thrilled and takes the man on a journey to Big Smoke to become a musician and performer. The story is magically written and the illustrations, beginning in brown and white and ending in techni-colour, are intricate and beautiful. There is a lot to discuss with kids during the reading, talking about why the coat felt as he did at the start and how that changed, talking about how the illustrations slowing become more colourful and what that represents. It is a book layered with complexities that children of different ages will connect with at different levels.
The second book, The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas by Tony Wilson, ticks Miss Five’s princess criteria without instilling that awful Princess culture that seems to invade every aspect of girlhood these days. It is a new take on the Princess and the Pea story, but instead of Prince Henrik looking for a real Princess, he wants an UNreal princess, one that is going to share his love of camping and playing hockey. In order to test out the potential future brides Henrik makes them sleep on a camping mat in a sleeping bag and with a packet of frozen peas. Those that complain about a poor night’s sleep clearly do not meet his requirements. I loved this book because it was like the anti-princess book. Henrik valued girls that were outdoorsy, energetic and who felt comfortable with themselves rather than trying to attain an impossible physical perfection. And of course we had plenty of rich discussion about why this was better….. we read it quite a lot!
Finally, a chapter book for Miss Five called Violet Mackerel’s Personal Space. The Violet Mackerel Series was a recommendation from the children’s librarian in Ballarat. There were a couple of concepts unfamiliar to Miss Five, like divorced parents and mother’s having boyfriends – she lived a pretty sheltered life in that respect – but on the whole this was a really delightful read. Violet is the youngest of three siblings and the relationship between the siblings is the best part of the book. In this particular book Violet’s mother is getting married to Vincent and they are moving house, events that are somewhat worrying to Violet, but especially to her older brother Dylan. To be honest I had a catch in my throat and maybe even a tear in my eye a couple of times reading this, but Violet is a terrific, positive, thoughtful, kind and curious girls who has a theory for everything (like The Theory of Leaving Small Things Behind) and loves to test them out. I feel like she is a great role model for young girls and we’re looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Now over to you, any titles to add to my reserve list at the library?