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Reading aloud is an essential step on a child's journey to independent reading and can help foster a life-long love of books. This special section includes a selection of books which we think are perfect for reading aloud to children, with lively storylines or interesting facts, and with inspiring illustrations to help your child learn to love reading.
Well, here’s a book that ticks some absolute favourite first reader boxes: Vikings – tick; bare bottoms – tick; knickers – tick; a bouncy rhyming text just right for reading aloud – tick; lively, action-packed illustrations – tick, tick, tick! The plot concerns some chilly Vikings and their quest to obtain yeti hair with which to knit cosy new knickers, and while it all builds to a tremendous and satisfying climax, most readers will be totally won over on page one, with the lines: “Well, they’d got into a fight, had their undies set alight,/ Now their pants were all in pieces and their bums were turning blue!” Just great fun!
‘Down in the forest as Bear had a doze/ A small stripy bug came and sat on his nose’, and so Bear’s troubles begin. He really doesn’t want to become home to this troublesome, if extremely cheerful and friendly bug. In one lovely spread the other animals look on askance as Bear vigorously tries to shake Bug off. Eventually Owl comes to the rescue, sensibly suggesting a welcoming alternative home for Bug. It’s an original and very funny story, told in accomplished, jolly rhyme, and Carmen Saldana’s bold, vibrant illustrations give a real sense of scale and unfolding drama.
May 2018 Book of the Month | Wonderful rhyme carries you through this rollicking ride through the wild west and a town they called Fear, whose scary inhabitants wear rattlesnake socks, chew rocks and and soon leave newcomer, the colourful and jolly Bingo B. Brown without his cheerful grin. Bingo soon discovers that as scary as the cowboys in town are, the wildest, scariest cowboy of all comes calling after dark. Frightened by the tales he hears of this terrible stranger, Bingo and his dog decide to leave town. They soon discover that you can't run away from the things that scare you as they come face to face with the fear spreading cowboy. Bingo soon finds his courage though and before long this baddie goes from spiteful to delightful. This is an absolute joy to read and is packed full of fun and colourful illustrations that complement the story perfectly. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
April 2018 Debut of the Month Sarah Jacoby’s beautiful book is proof that picture books can cover the most profound subjects in ways that speak to readers of all ages. Nothing less than the passage of time is the subject of Forever or a Day, how it can go at different speeds, and what’s important for us all to understand. The story is delivered through the eyes of a young child, short, lyrical lines of text beneath elegant watercolour illustrations of family life, first in the city, then in the countryside on a trip to see the grandparents. Images of the daily commute, and holiday train journeys illustrate time’s different speeds, alongside beautiful scenes of sunrises, sunsets and night skies. Time can be a drum beat, a whisker twitch, lost or found, and the answer to the question ‘Can we stay longer?’ is ‘I love the time I have with you.’ A rich, moving meditation on an eternally absorbing question, this is a book to keep forever.
With a cast of characters as colourful as the day-glo pinks and greens of its illustrations, and a plot that’s just as bright, Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective is going to wow young readers. Guests and staff are stunned when a talented hippo disappears right in the middle of her performance in the Hotel Royale’s talent competition. Fortunately Fabio is on hand to solve the mystery, and a couple of others in the process. Children who enjoy detective stories will love following the clues with Fabio, and children and adults alike will delight in the lush setting and in the comedy provided by Fabio’s co-stars, including hapless assistant Gilbert the Giraffe. For another quirky, satisfying animal detective series see Alex T Smith’s new Mr Penguin books.
Steve Smallman is a master of the poo-filled plotline, no mean boast when you consider just how much children love the smelly brown stuff (in books anyway). We’re happily knee-deep in poo in this adventure – cows, horses, chickens, they’re all producing it and as for the sheep – they ‘pop pellets out rat-a-tat-a-tat’! Famer Jill points out it’s good for the land, but is less happy when someone plops on the top of her new hairdo. Amongst the manure, Smallman tells a proper story when the rooster ingeniously and comically foils a fox attack on the henhouse, and Florence Weisner’s illustrations give the farm animals real character. Good smelly fun! ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: bumper fun with some of the best-loved characters in children’s books There are no less than twelve different Winnie and Wilbur stories to enjoy in this collection, each one just the right length for bedtime or storytime and guaranteed to leave everyone smiling. Winnie squeezes the most fun possible from any activity, whether she’s cheering up a giant, learning to play the bagpipes or tossing pancakes, and Wilbur is the perfect companion – calm (mostly), and always ready to be supportive or to help Winnie out. Winnie’s wonderful use of language is another of the many joys of these stories, and of course, each one of Korky Paul’s illustrations is a miniature story in itself. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: fast-moving, funny, highly-illustrated story with a very unusual central character Harriet is best friends with Horace – though at first they wouldn’t seem to have much in common. He’s a statue, and was a naval commander in the late 1700s, and she’s a seven (and a half) year old. Nonetheless they get on really well, even when they have different priorities, as in this adventure. Harriet is busy with her new holiday job dog-walking, while Horace is keen to find any kind of job at all, eventually landing one at the local newspaper. When one of the dogs in her care goes missing, Harriet appeals to Horace for help – will he come to the rescue? It’s a wonderfully daft adventure full of zany situations but rooted in the very real friendship that exists between the two central characters, and is thoroughly charming. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: exciting, unusual rescue story set in Australia’s dense forest A Different Dog is the story of the special relationship that develops between a boy and a dog and how it saves them both. It’s beautifully told in short, spare sentences that will make it accessible to all readers, and full of unexpected twists. The boy at the centre of the story – we never learn his name – is poor, lonely and bullied by other children because of his selective mutism. The dog he rescues from a car crash that has killed its owner is subject to its own set of painful compulsions, finding out why is one of the surprises and rewards of the story. This will absorb readers, from the opening page to its warm, uplifting final line. Readers will also enjoy Pippa Goodhart’s A Dog Called Flow, which tells another satisfying story of the special, healing bond between a boy and a dog. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from the Publisher Ruth Huddleston: “From the moment he wakes up on the floor, his dilapidated bed having been chopped for firewood, my heart went out to our plucky narrator and I wanted to know his story. His life is quite literally an uphill struggle, but his instinct to help others leads him to a healing bond with an extraordinary little dog and ultimately to find his voice again. You will empathise with the boy when he’s bullied for having to wear his mother’s old pink coat, with a bin bag pulled over against the rain, but he doesn’t feel sorry for himself. He doggedly persists until he achieves his goals – working hard to understand what the little dog is trying to communicate to him. The final twist of the story highlights the lightness of touch and humour throughout.” A note from the author: I have had a number of different occupations over the last fifty years: a special school teacher, a speech pathologist, a lecturer in reading education and an author. A Different Dog draws on many experiences in these fields. And of course, it also draws on my own childhood. If you ask me, ‘Where did the story come from?’ that’s another thing altogether. I will have to say that I don’t know. It was a matter of putting my hand into the lucky dip of my own mind. There are many presents in that barrel and they are all wrapped so you don’t know what you are going to get. One of the influences on a writer would have to be the books that he or she has read themselves. An author cannot copy another’s work and each writer must find their own voice. But somewhere in the back of our minds are tucked the stories we have enjoyed in the past. Of the books that I loved when I was aged between thirteen and fifteen I can think of three which I turn back to and read again and again. They are still readily available more than fifty years later. Teenagers and adults love these stories. I still have my old copies and like to look at their torn and worn covers which beckon me from years gone by. Here they are: Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. A boy and a runaway slave on the Mississippi River. How I wished I was on that raft. And little did I know that I would still be amazed by their wonderful adventures all these years later. The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. A girl, a bird and disabled man feature in this moving story. When you finish it you just know that there is an untold truth hinted at within the main story and it makes you think for weeks after you have read it. The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. This is a lovely story about a boy, an old man and a fish. Exciting, sometimes sad but always making you ask yourself, ‘Could I ever do that?’ I don’t know if these authors influenced me when I wrote, A Different Dog but if you read any of them you might like to give it some thought. I can tell you how I think A Different Dog came into being. When I was eight years old, I had to bury a dead dog. This unpleasant memory was the starting point for my new book. I began writing about how I felt while I was digging the grave for the poor animal. But as the story developed I dropped this bit out altogether and came up with a dog named Chase that was alive but very strange indeed. As the wrapping paper came off, something else revealed itself and the story changed completely. It was not about death any more but had ended up being about … Well, what do you think? Paul Jennings, 2017
The second in a fantastic funny younger series from Carnegie and Branford Boase long-listed author, Joanne Owen.Martha is still causing accidental mayhem in this second book in the series. She accidentally drops a nutmeg into a grow and move potion concocted by grumpy witch, Griselda Gritch . . . and mayhem unfolds, including an even-grumpier-than-Griselda-Gritch magical nutmeg lady, the village hall being accidentally knocked down by a herd of cows, and a VERY eventful and catastrophic village fete and football match.Everybody blames Martha - again!
In a nutshell: comic triumphs and mishaps of school boy super-sleuth Damian Drooth is a crime-buster extraordinaire, an ace detective; at least he is in his own imagination. Despite what his mother says, he’s determined to find crimes to solve and bones up by studying the detectives described in his favourite comic books. Laughs come in the gaps between what really happens, and what Damian thinks is happening while young readers will completely understand his propensity for getting into trouble or causing chaos. There’s something of Horrid Henry or even Just William about Damian and the story, with its Tony Ross illustrations, ends in triumph for our junior super-sleuth – he actually manages to catch a crook - despite his outrageously bad behaviour. Great fun for children to read on their own and for adults to read out loud. ~ Andrea Reece
Reading stories aloud will help your child develop key literacy skills, recognise letters and understand how a story develops.
It is also a lovely nurturing time when you can spend time with young children without the distractions of modern life.
If you would like to find out a bit more about the benefits of reading aloud you can visit www.booktrust.org.uk which also has top tips from Early Reading specialist, Emily Guille-Marrett.
You might also be interested in our Dyslexia Friendly Picture book selection for Parents and Children to share - click here.