While I often say that Freya has too many toys – usually muttered after stepping on something small and pointy – there is one thing she can never have enough of in my opinion and that is books.
Both her dad and I are bookworms – although we had to downsize our collections when our office/spare bedroom was transformed into her nursery (not that we really minded, of course, as it was for a very good cause).
Freya already loves books, although it would be good if she would stop chewing them while she has some left. I can’t wait to introduce her to my favourites and I’ve kept a few well-worn ones for when she is older. However, I expected to be reading for her pleasure for many years yet without ever thinking that I might also gain something from children’s titles. I realise now that is ridiculously shortsighted.
Looking back on the last 19 months, as well as the That’s Not My and similar books, we have read certain ones which have shaped my early days of motherhood and I thought I would share some of them.
They have included:
1. What A Busy Baby by Rebecca Patterson. 25p.
I bought this simple board book from the charity shop when she was really small. I’ve read it to her lots and it continues to be a favourite.
It introduces keywords – and when I read it now she will touch her “button nose” or her “ten wriggly toes” but the part I like the most is the last sentence.
“Snuggle down my baby and rest your sleepy head.” And not because it is about going to bed!
This will probably sound silly but reading the “my baby” part over and over helped me when I struggled to bond in those early days and months. I felt disconnected when nothing I did comforted her because of the pain of reflux but repeating “my baby” seemed to help get across that she was MY baby. I told you, silly, but there it is.
I think it will always be special to me and certainly one to go in her keepsake box, if she hasn’t chewed it to bits by then.
2. ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore. £1.99.
I know, a bit out of season with this one but even before she was born I planned to read this to her every Christmas eve, as I have done twice now (although, to be fair, she wasn’t really listening either time).
I want to make this one of our new family traditions, hopefully read in hushed tones as she is snuggled up in bed ready to go to sleep (fingers crossed) before the Big Day.
This version will be great when she is older because each page has a search and find quiz as well as the words of the poem.
3. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss. £5.99.
I had never come across Dr Seuss before but this look at the “misadventures that life may have in store for us” is not just a lesson for children. Apparently it is a popular gift for students graduating from high school or college but I think the message is clear whatever stage of life you happen to be at.
I fell in love with it on the first read through (and got a bit misty eyed thinking about all the places she will go, which inspired this post). At the moment Freya only sits still for a couple of pages at a time but I hope she will eventually frequently request it as her bedtime story. I will definitely be keeping this for her for when she leaves school as inspiration for whatever she decides to do next.
4. Wuthering Heights by Jennifer Adams and art by Alison Oliver. £5.99.
As I said, I thought it would be a good while before I could introduce her to the books I love and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte would be first on the list.
However, a lovely friend who lives in Yorkshire, and has visited to the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth with me more times than she probably cares to remember, sent Freya this book when she was born. I could hardly contain my excitement.
Now, clearly, it’s nothing like the actual book (as it says on the front, it’s a weather primer) but I love it all the same. Each of the board pages is about the unpredictable weather at Wuthering Heights on the moors and as well as illustrations by Alison Oliver, the style of which reminds me of Tim Burton, it features selected quotes from the book to describe each event from sunny and breezy to windy and stormy.
For anyone interested, the Baby-Lit books cover many popular classics including Moby Dick, Anna Karenina and Jabberwocky, teaching such things as colours, sounds and opposites.
Thank you to Mother Mands who gave me the idea for this post by suggesting I talk about the Wuthering Heights book, which I happened to post about on Instagram. I haven’t been paid for or asked to write about any of them, they just mean something to me.
Have you got a favourite children’s book? What does it mean to you? And any suggestions for what we should try next? Freya has a library card and isn’t afraid to use it.
11 thoughts on “Four children’s books that have (already) shaped me as a parent.”
No, no-one can ever have too many books! 🙂 I already have ‘baby’s’ wishlist on Amazon with an enormous amount of my childhood favourites along with new books I like the sound of, including the Jane Eyre and Dracula books in the Baby Lit series 😀 (couldn’t resist when you posted up that picture of the Wuthering Heights book). Oh and if you’re ever in Haworth again, let me know it’s not far from me at all and the 1940’s weekend is great! 🙂
As for my favourite children’s book…too many to nail it down to just one! My fave story was always Bluebeard though, I think I’ve always been a little warped 😀
It is on my list of must see places to take Freya. Maybe we can meet up with our daughters? 🙂 Bluebeard is a great story, I hope that’s on your list too 🙂
I come from a family who have no interest in reading, so books were scarce until I was old enough to whine (and whine) about it. My girls bookshelves are literally bursting with books, just tried to have a bit of a cull with them and they begrudgingly selected one! Awesome! 📚🐛
My dad was never a book reader, although he liked political newspapers, but I was lucky that my mum is a proper bookworm. I’m glad you got some books in the end. I would have been just like your girls. When we had to get rid of most of our books to make room for Freya it was so hard picking which ones to keep.
Also, that little worm is the cutest thing ever. And it matches the blog theme 🙂
Ps do you follow the blog Cultural Wednesday’s? They went geocaching this week.
I’ll have to look that blog up! 😀
Here is a link for you 🙂 https://culturalwednesday.wordpress.com
I love you talking about the effect of the repetition of “my baby”. It makes perfect sense, and is part of the magic of a good children’s story, I think, the repetition making a self contained world. My favourites to read to my two (now both huge and still readers despite the lure of many screens) were Peepo by Janet and Allen Ahlberg, and The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Wilson. Both can still make me cry.
Awww, I’ve added those to my list, Caz. Thank you. So pleased to hear your big children still read. I do worry that screens are taking over the world though.
What a great post. Am currently looking for books for my son’s 2nd birthday and am now going to buy ‘Oh, the places you’ll go!’ Thank you! We love, love, love reading books with him, and I had no idea, before I had him that babies can enjoy them from a couple of months old! It’s such a special thing to enjoy together. At the moment, his favourite is ‘The Elephant and the Bad Baby’ – I’d really recommend it if you haven’t already got it – he started enjoying bits a few months ago and now at 23 months loves it – it has such a great rhythm. I too sometimes think he has too many toys and even too many books… but then really – that’s not possible, is it? 🙂
I think you will love Oh, The Places. I will definitely get The Elephant and the Bad Baby, thank you for suggesting it. Caz has recommended a couple of others in a comment, if you’re still looking.