The more that you read the more things you will know – Dr Suess
I am very excited to be sharing this post all about Children’s Books with you today and also to introduce the lovely lady behind one of my favourite Instagram accounts, Teri from Petit Book Corner. Teri and I discovered each other’s accounts through a mutual friend and initially bonded over the fact that we are both teachers. I have enjoyed watching Petit Book Corner grow and blossom in the short time that it has been around (not an easy task in the world of Instagram these days!). Teri has a passion for reading and creating memories through books with her gorgeous daughter, and her talent for photography and styling makes PBC a very pretty little space on the ‘gram. In this post, we will share our tips for incorporating reading and storytime into your everyday routine, our favourite picture books and a little bit more about the lovely Teri herself.
Hi Teri, thank you so much for joining me to create this post! Would you like to tell everyone a little bit about yourself?
Thanks so much for having me! I always love talking picture books so I’m so excited to be joining you here today.
I’m a Canadian/newly Australian living in Sydney with my husband and our gorgeous 16 month old daughter. I’m currently on maternity leave from teaching and started my Instagram account @petitbookcorner as a creative outlet whilst away from the classroom to share my love of children’s literature. I’m a huge advocate for parents reading with their children. There are so many kids books out there that it can be overwhelming to decipher the good from the best. My aim is to showcase only good quality books that both children and adults alike will enjoy, along with some tips and ideas to help parents and carers get the most out of their reading time with their kids. I also share a little bit of other stuff we do in our days from time to time as we’re not always reading.
Where did your love of reading stem from? Was it something that was instilled in you from an early age?
I remember always enjoying bedtime stories. That was the time when I had my parents’ undivided attention and it was a calm and relaxing time where we could chat uninterrupted. I also thoroughly enjoyed library time at primary school. I loved story time when the librarian would read aloud a book and it felt like the story came to life. But the real spark occurred when I was studying my Masters of Teaching at Sydney University and I had the most incredible professors in Children’s Literature. When they read stories aloud and you could hear a pin drop in a lecture theatre full of adults. That’s when I realised the true power of storytelling. One of my very favourite things about being a teacher is reading stories aloud to my students. Seeing their precious faces light up as the story is being read is priceless. This is the same in a kindergarten classroom or a year 6 classroom.
Why do you think it is so important to introduce children to books as infants?
Where do I start?!! One of the most important reasons to start reading with your child from the very beginning is so they feel connected to you. Babies love hearing their parents’ soothing voices. It’s the most comforting thing in the world to them and the more they hear your voice the more relaxed they become. The rhythm and rhyme of a story is also very soothing for babies and exposes them to a real variety of language they wouldn’t otherwise hear in everyday conversations. Also as newborns don’t say much, apart from crying as a form of communication, it can be tricky for new parents to know what to talk to their babies about. So picking up a book and having a read aloud prompts a conversation and engagement. This conversation might include talking about what is happening in the story, what they see in the illustrations or making connections to things that have happened in their day with what is happening in the book. One of the best things to do, is to think out loud and share your thoughts with your child as you read.
How have you found your daughter has responded to story time? Have there been any particular ages so far that you have found it hard to engage her?
My husband and I have been blown away by her engagement in story time and I attribute that to the fact that we’ve been reading with her from birth. She points to the pictures, says loads of sounds, she bounces with excitement and looks for a reaction from us as well. Reading with my daughter is my very favourite way to connect with her. In the beginning, I read with her my favourite picture books. The stories we read were way above her pay grade but I knew it was more about us bonding and her hearing the rhythm and flow of the story and of course the cuddles!
Since she started walking at about 14 months, things have changed a lot. It’s been trickier to get as many stories in as she is just on the go constantly. I try and ‘catch’ her at slower points of the day for a story time. So this usually ends up being first thing in the morning when she wakes up, before her nap and bedtime. I’m also conscious to not read any new stories before bed so as to not stimulate her brain with new ideas and pictures. This is a time to unwind and slow everything right down. We have about 10 books we rotate and read about 3-4 every night. I also sometimes like to read with her while she’s eating her meals as she’s quite literally a captive audience. She seems to enjoy it a lot too. Recently, I have started to leave a few books in her cot as well so when she wakes up she has a little time to ‘read’ to herself. Our reading patterns are constantly evolving as she develops, so it’s more about being flexible. Then we see how the day unfolds and what times are best for a story.
From a teacher’s perspective, do you think it is evident when children haven’t engaged in a lot of reading at home?
It is certainly an advantage to children when they’ve been reading with their parents or caregivers right from the beginning. These children tend to have a higher level of enthusiasm for stories and engagement in reading as well, as they have already been exposed to the magical world of books.
There are features of a book that we must learn before learning to read a text. These include things such as, how to hold a book, distinguishing the front from the back cover, titles, authors, how to turn pages and the orientation of reading a text from left to right. These may seem like simple things but these are necessary steps in learning to read. Knowing all of this before entering school definitely gives children an advantage. A familiarity with stories and nursery rhymes also proves to be highly effective at speeding up a child’s learning to read path. Children who have been read to from birth have a larger vocabulary, letter name and sound awareness, and a better success at sounding out words. They also understand and value ‘book talk’ and get to know familiar patterns in stories (e.g. that there is a problem and a resolution). If they have never heard the rich language of books or interesting vocab spoken to them, then they don’t understand it when they go to read it or write it.
I’d also like to add that it’s never too late to start reading with your kids. It doesn’t have to be perfect in any way. Don’t be shy about how you sound or the way you look. Children are looking to connect and have a shared experience with you. You don’t need a huge selection of books at your house either. The library is the best free resource for parents and a nice outing. You are not there to teach your child to read but rather to help them learn to enjoy the magic of storytelling and that magic happens with cuddles and a great book. When in doubt pick up a book I say!
Brooke & Teri’s Tips for Incorporating Books into your Day.
- Place pretty baskets around the house with a few books in them so it is easy to ‘pick up a book and read’. Good places for these are the lounge room, dining room, your bedroom and bathroom for bath time.
- Read one story to your child during bath time! It does sound a bit strange, but they are contained in one space, so have nowhere to run! Especially good for the squirmier kids who don’t like to sit still for a whole story.
- Purchase some bath books for the car. I (Brooke) have been doing this with Hunter, as I found regular books too heavy for him to hold since becoming forward facing. Bath books are lightweight and pretty much indestructible, so make the perfect car companion for your little one.
- Place books in your child’s cot/bed, so when they wake up, they are encouraged to ‘read’. It may also buy you a little bit of extra time to get ready in the mornings!
- Keep books easily accessible for your baby, toddler or child to reach.
- Have book covers visible not book backs as children need to see the front cover of a book to help them decide if they want to read it.
- Read yourself. When kids see you reading for fun they’re more likely to want to do the same. Modelling reading behaviour.
- Make it part of your bedtime routine every night without fail. Some nights might just be one book and other nights it might be 3 or 4.
- Read your bedtime stories in the same place every night to make the experience predictable and enjoyable.
- If your child is hesitant to read give them a choice between two book options. They’ll generally choose one and feel more invested in their choice of book.
- Have a little feature book set up area. Books that are beautifully displayed always look more appealing. You could choose a theme such as animal books and have 1, 2 or 3 books set up on a little table or in a basket for the week. You could also add little toys that complement the books (ie – animal figurines) to encourage role play
- Encourage your child to actively participate in the read aloud by turning the pages and holding the book.
- Have fun and don’t worry if you’ve got a busy little one on your hands and can’t finish a book. Reading shouldn’t be a chore so don’t stress if your child brings you several diff books to read. Have a look at the books and talk about the pictures. It’s about engaging in a shared experience and spending time together.
- Another way to engage your child in reading is to ask questions throughout the story. Be sure to allow enough time for your child to process the question being asked and as well think of an answer. This is also a great tool for helping to develop early comprehension skills.
- Visit your local library often to help develop an early love of literacy and appreciation for books in your child. Most libraries conduct classes aimed at different age groups during the school term on a weekly basis.
Brooke & Teri’s Best of the Best Book List!
Being teachers, we both admit to loving a list. So below we have compiled a list (in super handy categories) of the books that we deem the ‘best’. These are books we have either read as teachers or as mums and have witnessed the enjoyment and learning possibilities for children when they engage in these stories. You will notice that several authors make a few appearances. This was not due to laziness or lack of knowledge – we just had a hard time narrowing it down to just one of their books to feature as all of their books are kind of amazing.
Must-Have Baby and Toddler Books:
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Hello Baby by Mem Fox
I Went Walking by Sue Williams
Peek a Boo Friends by Little Me
Usborne Touchy-Feely Books
Must-Have Baby and Toddler Bedtime Books:
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester
Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay
Time for Bed by Mem Fox
Goodnight, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox
Picture Books for 3-5 yr Olds:
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
In my Heart by Jo Witek
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley by Aaron Blabey
I Will Never Not Ever Eat Tomatoes by Lauren Child
How the Sun got to Coco’s House by Bob Graham
The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley
Picture Books for Children 5+:
Brave as Can Be by Jo Witek
Amy and Louis by Libby Gleeson
The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book? by Lauren Child
The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
UNO’s Garden by Graeme Base
Florette by Anna Walker
Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty
Picture Books for Older Children 8+:
The Duck and the Darkling by Stephen Micheal king
The Peasant Prince by Li Cunxin
Fox by Margaret Wild
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan
The Tunnel Anthony Browne
Super Fun Read Aloud Books:
The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
This is a Ball by Beck Stanton and Matt Stanton
Click Clack Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky
Press Here by Herve Tullet
Do Not Lick This Book by Idan Ben-Barak
We hope you have found this post useful, and I would like to thank the beautiful Teri once again for collaborating with me to create it. We would love to hear what your favourite stories are to read with your little ones, so be sure to leave a comment or drop by one of our Instagram pages to say hi!