… for the adult who is reading them 🙂
My girls are 4 (almost 5) and 3 years old. They can’t read yet, but Celine can tell the best stories entirely from her memory of me reading it to her.
Every evening before bedtime we read two stories. We used to do only one story, but some day they decided they both want to pick one story so somehow we ended up reading two stories every evening.
After konmari-ing their books, I got more conscious about the books I get them (or put on their wish list for family & friends who love to gift books).
We used to have a ton of baby-dictionairy books. You know, those books with one picture & one word on every page. Yes, it’s a quick read every evening…. but not very exciting to read.
As Celine is really crazy about fairy tales at the moment we have a few fairytale books. I know some parents don’t like to read them, but I love them.
They are perfect for storytelling: if you’re familiar with the story there’s no need to read the text from the book, you can tell the story and look your children in the eyes, watch how they react, answer their questions.
You don’t need a lot of books. Children love to hear the same story over and over again. It might sound boring to you, but by repetition they will concentrate more on the exact words and the language which is used and soon they will be able to remember the lines and words themselves.
Normally I only speak Dutch to the kids ( ‘one parent one language’ ), but I read to them in Dutch, German, English and even Frisian.
1. Snowwhite – Benjamin Lacombe / Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
I can’t even count how many times we’ve been reading this story. Even if you already know this story, this book with illustrations by Benjamin Lacombe will likely mesmerize you.
I know it’s not a style which everybody will love, but I’m a fan! The best thing is that is uses the original Grimm text (we have the German version), no simplified version where a lot of details went missing.
On the short video ( ^^ above) Celine is telling the story to Alice and tells about snow-white being white as snow, red as blood and with hair black as ebony.
The stunning illustrations might look a bit scary at first, but my children really like them and try to explain them too.
As for this book images speak louder than words I’ve made some pictures to show you what I mean.
I think these pictures are enough for you to judge if you love his style or hate it. There are a lot of illustrations, some fill two complete pages, others only one like showed above.
There are some black & white illustrations, but most have colours.
Benjamin Lacombe has many other wonderful illustrated books, but this is my favorite. I’m waiting for his version of Alice in Wonderland to be available in English or German (currently there’s only a French version)… Those pictures are stunning too!
2. Red riding hood – Adolfo Serra
A story without words, but with these illustrations there is no need for any words. They tell the whole story, or even more than that.
The almost minimalistic illustrations leave a lot of room for an individual interpretation and every single time you could come up with something new.
Serra only used the colours red, white, black and a bit of yellow for his book and the images couldn’t have been more expressive.
Where the woods suddenly rise to be the back of the wolf and grandma’s house is on his nose… This is where the story begins.
Along with little red riding hood you will see a butterfly, the innocent light creature which is also being hunted by the wolf.
A new way of telling a fairytale you already know, or to let your children tell a story to the drawings.
3. Frederick – Leo Lionni
This is a story about Frederick and his group of mouse friends. When his friends work hard to build their food supplies for the winter, Frederick just sits around and enjoys the sun. When they ask what he’s doing, he answers he’s gathering rays of sunshine for the winter. He also gathers colours and words, when his friends are still busy preparing for the winter by gathering food. The story of Frederick teaches us about the value of work and questions what is considered to be work. At the end, when they run out of food during winter time, Frederick keeps his friends warm with his rays of sunshine, the stories he has to tell and his poetry. Which makes his friend to realize his work was important too. I hope this story helps me to teach my children to value more unconventional types of work, especially art forms.
I hope my kids will be able to find their way to contribute to the community without necessarily doing what’s expected by others.
That’s what this story is about (in my opinion).
4. Press Here – Hervé Tullet
This book interacts with the readers. To kids it’s almost magical. Follow the instructions and watch how the dots change.
Clap, press, tilt the book, do what the book tells you to do and flip the page to see what happens.
The dots will change position, get bigger (or smaller) and if you get to the end of the book you can read it backwards for the double amount of fun!
By reading this book with your kids they can learn the different directions (left,right,up,down), counting, colours and the different activities like pressing, rubbing or clapping.
They will feel like the next page is the result/outcome of their action and even after many times of reading it Alice is still surprised if suddenly all the dots are at the (right) side of the book after tilting it.
It’s not a quick read, especially if you do the complete book backwards too. But it’s fun!
Children of the forest – Elsa Beskow
I could remember my mother reading beautiful books to me when I was little , illustrated by Elsa Beskow. This is one of the reasons a few of them ended up on our wish list for the kids last year. Alice got ‘de kabouterkinderen’ ( = children of the forest). A lovely illustrated book about a family of forest people with red/white mushroom bonnets.
As the story follows the children around the year through the different seasons, there’s not a really big storyline. The book mentions the things the forest children learn, like not to hurt the animals unless they mean harm. The illustrations are cute, very detailed and a beautiful display of nature.
Alice is scared of the ghost in the mountain, which scares the kids in the book… but she will still take this book with her to bed as she loves to look at the illustrations.
These are just a few of our favorites, you can find some more inspiration on my Pinterest board!
Details on the books:
”Schneewittchen” – Benjamin Lacombe , Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Publisher: Jacoby Stuart (ISBN: 978-3-941787-39-1)
Original title: Blanche Neige (2010)
”Rotkäppchen” – Adolfo Serra, Publisher: Aracari verlag (ISBN: 978-3-905945-32-4)
Original title: Caperucita Roja (2011)
”Frederick” – Leo Lionni, translated by Harriet Laurey, Publisher: Ankh Hermes (ISBN:978-90-202-0253-3)
“Mitmach Buch” – Hervé Tullet, translated by Annalena Heber, Publisher: Christophorus Verlag (ISBN 978-3-8411-0016-0)
Original title: un livre! (2010)
“de kabouterkinderen” – Elsa Beskow, translated by Jan Ligthart and H.Scheepstra, Publisher: Christofoor (ISBN 90-6238-114-9)
Original title: Tomtebobarnen (1910)