Reading Stories and Recommended Books

Book and Story Rhythms

Create a daily rhythm for your story time. Children like the predictability of this special connecting time each day. ‘Story time’ does not necessarily have to be at bedtime; it could also be in the morning, when you snuggle in your big bed together, at rest time after lunch, even while young children are eating an afternoon snack. It is a time each day to unwind, connect and relax together. Reading stories not only brings love and connectedness, it can also hold the secrets of magic and a love of the earth (depending on your book choice). A love of stories is the best beginning to a child’s reading experience later in life. Try to connect and rest together with a story each day. I have read a story – on my big bed – through my children’s lives. Even now, they are 8 and 11, most week days after school we lie together while I continue with our family chapter book. This time has been special, connecting, nurturing (everyone can recharge their batteries – me inlcuded – before tea and the rest of the late afternoon and evening). I can recommend it to everyone.

Repetition

Children love to hear the same story over and over and over again! Variety is not always the spice of life for children. They may request the same story for up to three weeks before they ask to change. It is important not to say “We had that story yesterday, let us choose a different one”. It is this real absorption of a story which is very beneficial to children. My rule of thumb is that if I can read a book over and over again – without pulling my hair out – it is a good book. It has ‘soul’.

Choosing books?

What types of book nurture, inspire and heal? The same guidelines for choosing toys can be used when considering children’s books. Does this book hold the qualities of beauty, wonder and imagination? Does it show my child an interesting, good and kind world to live in? Does it allow my child’s imagination to flourish and does it show the ‘real world’? Including fairies and gnomes, of course.  Sometimes children’s books contain adult humour to keep the adult entertained too, but this is not always good or relevant for a small child. Any Elsa Beskow, Shirley Barber, or Beatrix Potter books are wonderful, also any children’s books published by Floris or Wynstones Press (see Great Goods).

Books without words often include beautiful illustrations of nature, seasons or everyday life. The young child can relate to these books, as you talk about the pictures together. As children get older, books that feature nature, animals, seasons and daily life are good to stimulate conversation about the world around them.

My son loved his diggers’ books too; boys can be a little bit more inclined to the mechanical. He still had a wide variety of story books, including his fairy books though! Remember that very young children tend to use books as teething rings so make sure the timing is right. Remember that books hold the power to inspire, heal and laugh!

The foundation for children developing a love of reading themselves is to have inspiring stories read to them each day.

Nursery Rhyme Magic

Young children benefit from the rhyming rhythm of nursery rhymes. A traditional nursery rhyme book is highly recommended for your child’s library. Many of these rhymes can be acted out on your knee (horse rides in particular!) For the under fives, a collection of traditional stories that have been passed down from generation to generation is a wonderful gift. The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen, The Giant Turnip, The Gingerbread Man, The Owl and the Pussy Cat, The Town Mouse and Country Mouse and others all hold a certain ‘soul’ quality and magic for children, which is why we never forget them! Books with compilations of these traditional stories for the young child are great reads.

Try to keep your children’s first special books, when they are old enough; they will really enjoy reading their familiar and loved books themselves. These precious stories become great early readers!

Chapter books

Between four and five years old, it is lovely to introduce chapter books to children. Buy or make a special book mark – a lovely gum leaf or large feather will do – then open the page, take a deep breath and begin… The old classics are wonderful stories. In our house my children’s favourites have included; Mr. Galliano’s Circus, Billy Bob Tales, The Children of Willow Tree Farm, Tales of Toyland (Enid Blyton), Milly Molly Mandy (Joyce Lankester Bristley), The Muddle-headed Wombat (Ruth Park) and Teddy Robinson (Joan Robinson). Later years can include the classic Little House on the Prairie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…

Fairy tales, the real deal

The true values of the original fairy tales are crystal jewels for children, as they are rich in overcoming obstacles in life towards goodness. Some parents think they are not ‘nice’ reads, as they can be quite graphic. If told in a way that does not accentuate negative loud or scary voices for the characters and if parent comment is limited, ‘Oh that was not nice”, then children, deep in their soul know it is just a story. Hearing a story is quite different from watching it on a screen as the images are the children’s creation. They are comforted by the archetypes of goodness and the happy-ever-after ending.

The Brothers Grimm are the most famous tellers of fairy tales and their original collection can be purchased. It is not widely known that the two brothers travelled the lands to document the stories that were being told in all the villages and towns at that time. In those days not many people could write! These wise old tales date back many centuries. The stories recommended for under fives include Sweet Porridge, The Elves and the Shoe Maker and the Wolf and the Seven Kids. Save the rest until the child is older; once a child is five and beyond many of the other treasures can be introduced.

I was once told (whether it is true or not, I do not know) that when Einstein was asked what parents could do to make their children clever, he replied, “Read them fairy tales”. The question was then repeated by the surprised parent and the answer was the same, “Read them fairy tales”. The wealth in fairy tales is not always fully understood, only in children’s hearts, minds and souls.

The love of reading

If you love reading yourself – and read often to your children, tell stories and have good quality, inspiring books in your children’s library – your children will love reading. Story time will be a treasure for you both for the years to come – providing cuddles, closeness, inspiration and imagination – way to go!