Friday 1 June 2018

Top 5 story books for children under 5: Our May picks

We love a good children's book in this house! Both my children, (almost 5, and 2 and a half), have always enjoyed listening to stories and looking at books. Our collection at home is growing rapidly, and each of the children have their favourites. However, since joining the library, they are finding it hard to pin down just one story book that they love the most! 

Inspired by the Bath, Book, Bed campaign run by BookStartI have decided to write a round-up of my children's favourites each month. Here are our May picks for children under 5.

Dog Blue (Author/Illustrator: Polly Dunbar)

This is my son's favourite book of the moment! He's all about dogs since having puppies so I can see why he likes this story!

Dog Blue follows the story of Bertie, a little boy who wants nothing more in the world than a dog...a blue one! Bertie pretends he has a dog, he pretends to feed and care for it too until one day, a real dog appears...but is it blue? And if not, will he be able to love and accept it into his blue-coloured life? 

The line drawings are so simple but captivating, and the whole book uses only 5 colours. We worked out too, that as Bertie's mood changes, so does the background colour of the pages! This is a clever little touch that even my 4 year old appreciated. 

It's a story of friendship with a lovely message of acceptance and compromise that every young dog lover should read.

Smiley Shark (Author/ Illustrator: Ruth Galloway)

This is the story of a misunderstood shark, who just wants to play and be friends. Unfortunately the other characters find his toothy grin scary and don't give him the time of day. They keep swimming off in fear until one day, they need Smiley Shark's help. Will he ever make friends?
This a bright and vibrant book with a colourful underwater setting, a must for any fan of sea creatures. We loved the playful use of vocabulary, such as sentences like, "fish that dipped and dived and jiggled and jived, and darted and dashed with a splosh and a splash." It made it fun to read aloud and kept the attention of my 2 year old daughter too! 

We have the picture book and CD set, which made a nice change. My son has enjoyed getting into bed to listen to a bedtime story, while looking at the pictures and trying to follow along. The great thing about the CD, is that it plays a special sound that indicates you need to turn the page. So if young readers/listeners do lose track of the words, you can still keep up with the pictures.

The moral of the story is not a new one, but one that is important to teach your children. It reminds them that no matter what your differences are, you must consider what's on the "inside." You should never judge someone on their looks, but get to know what they are really like, and celebrate their diversity. A lovely bedtime story to share!

That's Not Funny! (Author: Jeanne Willis, Illustrator: Adrian Reynolds)

This is a story about about a cheeky hyena who plays a trick on his animal friends. Giraffe slips on a banana skin which creates a series of unfortunate events, which Hyena thinks is hilarious! Will he have the last laugh or will he get what he deserves?

This boldly illustrated, funny story had us laughing at the misfortune of others! The language is simple and the repetition is great for young children. There is a great range of action verbs, like catapulted, torpedoed and screeched which all help to keep young readers interested in the story. And of helps that there's a huge, steaming heap of elephant's poo near the end too! What 4 year old boy doesn't love a bit of toilet humour?!

Although, I don't agree with an "eye for an eye"  or retaliation, I do think it's important to give the message that sometimes playing tricks on others isn't funny and it can really hurt or upset someone. The "what goes around, comes around" message is clear in this story, and it is a good reminder for children to treat others as they want to be treated themselves! 

Monkey Puzzle (Author: Julia Donaldson, Illustrator: Axel Scheffler)

Julia Donaldson features again this month, but this time it's her charming tale of a little lost monkey that we enjoyed together. The story follows monkey on his journey to be reunited with his mum, helped along by Butterfly who is full of suggestions. As one disappointment leads to another, will Monkey ever find his family?
Again, Donaldson tells the story through joyful rhymes with animal facts worked in, which my children really enjoy. The illustrations are bright and colourful, and full of detail; you can tell how the creatures are feeling as their expressions are drawn so carefully! 

Monkey Puzzle is a heartwarming story which we all enjoyed, especially my youngest. The message that not everyone in your family is the same, and may look different to you, is a gentle introduction to diversity and inclusion which is so important to teach in this multicultural society. It's definitely worth a read! 

The Boy Who Cried Ninja (Author/Illustrator: Eric Hill)

The Boy Who Cried Ninja is a story about Tim and how no-one ever believes him, even when he is telling the truth! When a series of strange characters turn up at his house to cause trouble, Tim sets out to prove that he isn't the one to blame. But will his parents ever believe him?

I though this was going to be a cautionary story about "the boy who cried wolf," but in all honesty it left me a little confused! It isn't really a story about not telling lies, because it seems that perhaps Tim has always told the why didn't his parents believe him in the first place? To me, the message seems to be one of not misbehaving in general, which most children can relate to!

The writing is simple, with short sentences and use of onomatopoeia (words that describe a sound). The pictures kept my children entertained too, with interesting looking creatures and lots of detail. The mixed message didn't seem to put my son off this story, in fact he insisted we read it twice in a row! So it's definitely thumbs up from him!

You can find out which stories kept the kids entertained last month in our post, Top 5 story books for children under 5: Our April picks. Which ones have you read?

Check out BookTrust's list of best bedtime books for 2018 on their website. What are your children's favourite bedtime stories? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below. It might give us an idea of what to hunt out on our trip to the library next month!

Finding joy in the little things: This month has been all about understanding what the story really means! I love the fact that the children, especially my eldest, are really beginning to get a lot out of listening to stories. The giggles at bedtime and belly-laughs in all the right places show me that they appreciate the humour. The concern and emotion they show for the characters shows me they have empathy for others. Their questions show they understand the message or morals. Children don't tend to consider how or what they are learning through stories, but how much they enjoyed the books we share and talk about is important to me. And if they subconsciously learn a few morals along the way, then that can only be a good thing...

I'm linking up this post with these fabulous blogs:

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