Like adults, kids make judgements about books that are often instinctive and never objective. They’ll hate some books and love others, just because. But if a child proclaims hate for reading altogether, chances are they just haven’t discovered the right book yet.
I always enjoyed being read to, and audio books on road trips were great fun. Buy I hated reading myself. It wasn’t until I had finished High School that I finally stumbled upon a fantasy series by Kate Forsyth that I finally enjoyed reading. Its amazing what the right book can do.
To help encourage your kids to enjoy books while their imaginations are at their highest choose some of the books listed below.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
It’s a well-known tale: a little green caterpillar feasts on all sorts of foods (with actual holes in the pages to show what’s been chewed through) and eventually transforms into a beautiful butterfly. It teaches them about numbers, days of the week, the cycle of life and food nutrition. A great read aloud; still a huge favourite with the little ones.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda is about a girl who adores reading. Most of the adult characters in this story are despicable – from the terrifying principal, Mrs Trunchbull, to Matilda’s arrogant parents – so it’s all the more satisfying when the little girl uses her brains and just a little bit of magic to prevail. This is the one that will have you crossing your arms with outrage, yelling with triumph and laughing all the way.
Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas
It’s Australia’s best-selling picture book for many reasons, one is its Australian setting and lovable native animal characters. To keep the little possum Hush safe, Grandma Poss uses bush magic to make Hush invisible. The quest to reverse the spell takes them all over Australia, dining on an array of classic Oz cuisine. Vivass illustrations are gorgeous and the storyline has just enough conflict to grab the readers attention.
The Lorax by Dr Seuss
No one can rhyme like Dr Seuss, the undisputed king of phonic wordplay. Seuss’s surreal illustrations and silly, simple text combine to make ideal learn-to-read books. There are plenty of favourites in the Seuss oeuvre, The Cat In The Hat and Green Eggs And Ham but The Lorax scores extra points for its environmental and anti-consumerist message. As with many of Dr Seuss’s stories, valuable moral messages are communicated in the form of silly rhyming text and zany illustrations.
Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
There are few people who aren’t familiar with Max, the rowdy little boy who pays a visit to the wild things after hes sent to his room. The appeal of Sendak’s much-loved and lauded picture book is it reveals new things on each reading and the text and pictures both play a role in telling the story. A simple yet multi-layered picture book about a little boy’s quest for independence, the importance of imagination and the unconditional love of a parent.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Farm life is depicted vividly but what drives this story and has young readers holding their breath while they read is the life or death urgency: will Wilbur the pig be killed? The little girl, Fern, Charlotte the spider and Wilbur are lovable, resourceful characters and their story has been a favourite since it was first released in 1952. A good one for parents to read aloud with their kids. Charming, moving and beautifully written, this story about some of the most unlikely friendships is a bestselling classic.
Diary of a Wombat Jackie French and Bruce Whatley (ill)
A beloved Australian animal, the wombat. Actually, like emus, wombats aren’t always that people-friendly. This book shows off Australia’s extraordinary flora and fauna. Jackie French and Bruce Whatley sync together beautifully in this book and others, and if Diary of a Wombat isn’t the funniest Australian picture book ever written, I reckon it’s got to be in the top 10.