As a father, one of the most regular ‘slots’ where I get to spend quality time with my son (especially during the week) is at bedtime – subsequently, I’ve probably read about 90% of the bedtime stories in his short life so far. Therefore, I’d consider myself reasonably well qualified to recommend a few good bedtime stories to other parents.
Robert has a bowing-shelf full of books, but there are definitely a few which both he and I will go to most often. Obviously I can only rate the books we have, so this list is by no means exhaustive (please let me know of *your* favourites in the comments!) but hopefully it might give new parents a few good suggestions to start their collections with…
The Snail and the Whale
If I weren’t worried about it making a very dull list, my top 10 would probably be made up mainly of books by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, like this. But as it is, I’ll limit myself to a couple.
The Snail and the Whale is by far my favourite – it’s probably in my Top 10 of all books to be honest, as I love it so much! There’s a lot we could ALL learn in this pile of paper and ink…
First published two years after I was born, Peepo! stands up to the test of time incredibly well. Despite the fact that the story is set during the Second World War, the simple concept and engaging central character make it a fun read every time.
Like another book on this list, the book also utilises ‘cut out’ holes in every other page to make it even more fun to read with your child. Robert chose to have this every night for about 6 months at one point…
Fix it Duck
We inherited our copy of this from a friend-of-a-friend, so it’s definitely seen better days. But, along with it’s predecessor ‘Duck in a Truck’, this is one of Robert’s firm favourites. It’s also very handy if your child is pretty tired (or worse, over-tired) after a long day – it doesn’t take long to read. Once you’ve read your children’s books often enough, you’ll probably have an intimate knowledge of which ones to read in what situations!
As I mentioned in my Octonauts-loving blog post from last week, these Octonauts books are about the only ‘merchandise’ you can get for the show at the moment, but they’re definitely worth a read for fans of the Cbeebies show. Beautifully illustrated and very ‘moral’ stories – without being patronising! We’ve only had them for a month or so now, but they’re already one of Robert’s favourite choices – and a great opportunity for a silly voice or two…
One Ted Falls out of Bed
Another classic from Julia Donaldson – though this time illustrated by Anna Currey. We got our copy as part of the soon-to-be-defunct BookStart scheme, but it soon became a firm favourite. As well as being a good way to encourage counting, it’s also incredibly easy to learn – I’d wager that both Robert and I could recite the entire book off-by-heart. “He tugs and pulls the bedclothes, but two eyes are tight shut…”
Pirate Pete’s Potty
In case you can’t tell from the title, this is a book designed to help your child with potty training. Along with it’s girl-equivalent – Princess Polly’s Potty – it explains the process of potty training in a REALLY fun way. It’s one of the few books with a ‘sound box’ stuck on the front which I don’t actually mind – though the sounds that come out aren’t really adding anything to the process, aside from giving the child something to do. It worked a treat for us!
Peace at Last
The best thing about this (and it’s follow up, ‘Whatever Next?’) is that I remember owning it myself when I was a child – so it’s got sentimental value as well as being a great read. If you’ve not read this, I’d highly recommend it – a really simple story (a father can’t get to sleep one night) told in an engaging way, with flawless illustrations. It also contains some great repetitive elements – one of the things that seems to appeal to kids, for reasons that are beyond me!
The Smartest Giant in Town
I chose this over the more obvious choice – The Gruffalo – simply because ever since Robert saw the (stunning) BBC adaptation, he’s claimed he is scared of The Gruffalo. So the Giant gets it! It’s also an excellent story, with a really nice moral element and a great structure. Like the Octonauts, it also features a great array of characters for the budding impressionist to test their chops on. I’d probably read this on my own if I was bored…!
Another book we inherited from a friend, and another REALLY quick read – so much so that we usually have to read it two or three times! As well as helping your child to understand the concept of rhyming, it’s a great way to help with pronunciation – though after almost a year of reading this, Robert still says ‘Spaghetti’ as ‘Getty’, so maybe I’m overestimating it’s genius! Either way, it’s definitely a fun read.
What did I miss?
I’ve probably missed off loads of classics – either because we didn’t have room on the list, or because we don’t own them. So I’d LOVE to have your suggestions on other great books for pre-schoolers. Let me know in the comments!
14 thoughts on “Fatherhood²: My 10 favourite pre-school story books”
The Bartholomew series “Nah, said Bartholomew!”nSix Dinner SidnMy Dad
Where The Wild Things Are (without it there would have been no Gruffalo)nEach Peach Pear PlumnThe Tiger Who Came To TeanNot Now, BernardnnOn the fun non-classic front, Katy votes for Tiddler and Monkey Puzzle by JD/AS.nnAnd for slightly older kids:nnThe Little Bear stories by Sendak and MinariknThe Frog and Toad stories by Arnold LobelnThe Mog books by Judith KerrnnAnd finally if your children don’t scare easily:nnThe Red Tree by Shaun Tan (great art)nThe Wolves in the Walls / The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish / Crazy Hair – all by Gaiman and McKean.nnBen has spoken :)
Can’t believe I forgot The Tiger Who Came to Tea! And we haven’t got a cop of Not Now, Bernard – might have to stop at a shop today
Both added to my to-buy list!
Lovely post :) All of our children had different favourite stories, one of Katy’s was Peepo and she loved Winnie the Pooh as well. Josh was a Thomas fan but loved Brown Bear a wonderful Eric Carle book. nnSadly I can’t remember any of Emily’s :( I’ll have to ask her later! It is Becky’s favourite books though that stand out in my memory (recency!) and she loved Down by the cool of the pool and any other Tony Mitton books (Guy Parker Rees did the illustrations). As she got older she fell in love with the Cat in the Hat and then another Dr Seuss book Lime Green Pants with nobody inside them (a short story in the Sneetches on the Beaches book)nn’My’ other favourites include Guess How Much I Love You and the Debbie Gliori book No Matter What and as they get older all Roald Dahl books and The Owl Who Was Afraid of the dark.nnI’m sure there are loads more…love books!
The Whale Song by Dyan Sheldon was one of Lily’s favourites – and Stories That Jesus told by Nick Inkpen was Euan’s I had to read it night after night – maybe that’s why he got A* in RE!
Room on the Broom was one of E&F’s favourites and Guess How Much I Love You. Never could read that last one without a lump in the throat!
Both of those are on our shelf – can’t believe I forgot to include GHMILY, a lump-in-throat classic!
I can’t wait until Robert is old enough for things like the Roald Dahl books!
How could I possibly have forgotten The Tiger Who Came To Tea – think I may have blocked it from my memory as we’ve read is SO much. Ditto with Each Peach.nnLooked for a copy of Not Now, Bernard in Waterstones today – no luck!
On your recommendation, we bought “Six Dinner Sid” in town today!