I am Tabtiha and Marlow’s dad, and an Educational Psychologist. I also taught children aged five to seven for many years. I love reading to children and hearing them read. Sarah and Nicky have asked me to do the occasional ‘Daddy Spree’ post. So for my first one, here are my top ten books to share with children aged zero to seven years (in baby to child order, approximately).
My Animals by Xavier Deneux
The first book the twins showed the slightest bit of interest in (high contrast! tactile!).
Here Come the Aliens! by Colin McNaughton
Lots of black/white contrast again (it’s in space). Plus funny. Spend maximum time on the “inkey pinkey elekmah” page.
The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Raymond Briggs & Elfrida Vipont
Some people have difficulty with the ‘bad baby’ concept. Those people were never older siblings. Rumpetta Rumpetta Rumpetta.
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
It has funny, it has suspense. Kids love funny, kids love suspense. Do lots of bubble noises (to add to the suspense). Even better than its predecessor (‘I Want My Hat Back’).
Not Now Bernard by David McKee
“… every bit” is the best line in the history of children’s literature. Also, a wonderful way of talking through bad moods (sometimes all of us are Mum, all are Dad and all are The Monster).
Rescue! by Roderick Hunt & Alex Brytcha
I love this series and personally I prefer ‘Kipper and the Giant’, or ‘The Rainbow Machine’, or ‘The Dragon Tree’, but, for some reason, this is the one the twins choose, again and again and again (repetition is good!). A sort of feminist ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ without Nazis.
I am a Bunny by Ole Risom & Richard Scarry
A short one for late bedtimes.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Dr Seuss books were written for children to read and I loved reading them as a child, but how wonderful they are to read to children: they just flow off the page (and the illustrations still feel as fresh today as they did when I was 6). Hard to pick a favourite, but this is a roller-coaster of a read. Needs silly voices (confession: I do Sam-I-Am Robert De Niro in Mean Streets and the cat, or whatever that is, Princess Anne).
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Again, hard to pick a best Roald Dahl book, but maybe this is it, from a reading-to-children point of view (some will think it’s heresy, but in my opinion skipping the overlong Centipede songs is allowable).
MAPS by Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski
Great pictures. So much to talk about.
Library Lion by Michelle Knudson & Kevin Hawkes
Top ranking in the warm-and-fuzzy stakes (Sarah and I also love the illustrations).
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson
If you’ve never come across this (I hope you have!), you should. More than 50 years old but still quietly clever in a way that impresses both children as listeners and reading adults. And what are your favourite kinds of pie?
ps: books always make fantastic (and generally inexpensive) gifts, so perfect for Christmas. Sarah and I always love to give and receive books for Tabitha and Marlow (and not to mention, ourselves – our house is full of them!).