The days are getting longer, the outdoors greener and the weather more clement. Many of us will have spent the past twelve months trying very hard to focus on silver linings and rainbows, but it’s taking its toll on us all, including our little ones. This month, we’re bringing you a selection of simply brilliant books that will take your mind off things for as long as you’re reading them, and sometimes for a lot longer!
Reading something you love, especially if it is fiction, can be such a boost for your morale and mental health. There’s nothing like a bit of escapism now and then, and that goes for grownups, kids and grownups reading to kids too! Funny books will go a long way towards lightening up the mood and here you will find our recent selection of rib-tickling tales. Babies and toddlers love everything that goes beyond the book, and any title that invites the reader to cuddle or tickle or jump around is likely to be a hit: have a go at Leslie Patricelli’s Tickle, Tatsuide Matsuoko’s Jump!, Ellie Sandal’s Every Bunny Dance or Sally Nicholls and Bethan Woollvin’s The Button Book.
Books featuring journeys to real or magical lands have the added bonus of offering readers a much-needed change of scene. Patricia Forde and Nicola Bernardelli’s gorgeous To the Island is one such book and it will leave you on a high every time you read it (ages 4–7). Also, try Robinson by Peter Sís and The Journey by Aaron Baker
Adventure books can be a super passport out of the ordinary and bring readers on the safest of adventures, as they don’t have to leave their chair or bed or whatever spot they’ve decided to read from. Joe Todd Stanton has a brilliant series, Brownstone’s Mythical Collection, that revisits classical mythology from around the world and ticks lots of boxes: cracking story, loveable heroes, amazing illustration and satisfying cruelty-free triumph over baddies. Have a go at Leo and the Gorgon’s Curse for a trip to Ancient Greece and a really interesting take on the myth of the hero.
Adventure stories can get quite dark and scary too, especially in the 9–12 category, and some readers can’t handle villains or great evil at work. Fair enough! For those readers (and for anyone, really, over the age of 5), try the wonderful Moomin series by Tove Jansson (go for the novels rather than the comics or the picturebooks); read them aloud to your kids: it’ll do you good too. In a different genre, Alex Bell and Tomislav Tomić’s The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club manages to be super-exciting and at times nail-biting but never scary.
Where will your reading adventures take you next?
Written by Juliette Saumande (@juliettesaumande), a children’s book writer and professional bookworm whose latest title, My Little Album of Dublin, is illustrated by Tarsila Krüse and published by The O’Brien Press.
For more recommandations visit our website: https://childrensbooksireland.ie/recommended-reads/
0–4: Tickle, by Leslie Patricelli, Boardbook, Walker Books, ISBN 9780763663223
We love Leslie Patricelli’s books in this house, and all of us are way beyond the recommended age! In Tickle, Baby proudly announces: ‘I’m not ticklish.’ And it’s true … until the Tickle Monster (aka Daddy) arrives! This is not quiet bedtime reading; expect laughing, roaring, running around and some well-earned cuddles. This book will take your mind off everything; your mind and your arms and your feet and your belly and everywhere you and your little one are definitely not ticklish.
4–7: To the Island, by Patricia Forde and Nicola Bernardelli, Little Island Books, ISBN 9781912417513
Fia has heard the legends about Hy Brasil, the island that only appears every seven years and tonight is her chance to finally see it! Following the moonlight and the calling of her heart, Fia visits the mythical land, where she meets all sorts of wonders before coming home as the sun rises and the island disappears off again. Surfing expertly on the crest between reality and dreams, this book is a feast of beautiful, magical images that will have kids alternately dance to the rhythm of the text or marvel at every detail of the illustrations.
6–9: Leo and the Gorgon’s Curse, by Joe Todd Stanton, Flying Eye Books, ISBN 9781912497393
In a reimagined Ancient Greece, Leo goes to hero school and wants to be one of the tough kids who go off to fight terrible beasts. But his parents have sworn to protect all living things and forbid him to join in. Leo will have to find new, cruel-free ways to deal with the creatures that threaten Athens and prove himself a new kind of hero. Action-packed, full of gorgeous illustration, with loveable protagonists and a glorious ending, this is a winner! A clever mix of picturebook, comics and beginner novel, Leo is ideal for readers who aren’t into or aren’t ready for lengthy tomes.
9–12: The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell and Tomislav Tomić, Faber & Faber, ISBN 9780571332540
The first in a brilliant series, this is the story of Stella Starflake Pearl who lives in a world where girls aren’t allowed to be explorers. So of course, she manages to find herself on the next expedition to the icy North where she accidentally sets off with a bunch of other kids and no grownups on an amazing adventure. The plot focusses on practical problems and their solutions, and no-one really misses the adults. It’s an absolute riot with an exciting touch of magic, too. Fantastic!