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Favourite Children's Books: Part 2 - Early Readers

Readers 2

Favourite children’s books are made through memories: Early Readers

By Hana Whaanga

To celebrate Children’s Book Day coming up on April 2nd , we are sharing our favourite children’s books through a small series, told in parts. These are books that may be from our own childhood, our kid’s childhood or more recent publications and some may still be in print and even in our libraries! Some may be more recent publications that have become classics as well. Either way, enjoy taking this trip down memory lane and please do share with us your favourites on our Facebook page.

In compiling my own list, I found that books I was recalling had a memory attached to them.
Do you have a treasured memory of a children’s book from your childhood? Did you have an olfactory recollection of a book read to you as a child?

Today we share some staff recollections of favourite children's early readers:

Readers 1

Go, Dog. Go! By P.D. Eastman (originally published 1961): Albany says, “Dogs driving fast cars, wearing hats, and throwing parties – what’s not to like? I distinctly remember my Dad putting on his poshest voice to read ‘Do you like my hat?’ (Thanks, Dad.)"

Amy says, “The Digging-est Dog by Al Perkins was read so much that the cover started falling off. When Mum told me it was “probably at the end of its lifetime” it stayed hidden in my bookshelf for a lot longer than its best before date and currently lives in a box somewhere.”

Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas and illustrated by Korky Paul: Jennie says, "I'm not sure where I picked this book up from, but my girl just loved it. I would read it every night to her. We had a black kitten ourselves at this time and she desperately wanted to change its name to Wilbur."

The Big Honey Hunt by Stan and Jan Berenstain: Jennie says, “Another favourite of mine when I was a kid. It was the only Berenstain Bears book I had and I just remember reading it over and over.”

Fox in socks by Dr. Seuss: Jennie says, “I used to read this to my oldest child on the advice of our speech therapist. It fast became a favourite; he used to love how I would get all twisted and tongue tied.”

Are you my mother? by P.D. Eastman: Hana says, “I bought a board book version of this for my wriggly teething baby as we had the bilingual edition in the house when I was growing up. I asked my Dad to help me translate so I could read it in Te reo Māori to her. Growing up, I found the images of the digger wordlessly lifting the chick up and up and up so scary. I also felt real affinity with the chick when it voiced the mood of the moment, and would read this page to my daughter with great passion, ‘Where am I?’ said the baby bird. ‘I want to go home! I want my mother!’”

 Lisa says, “I’m going to have to second Are You My Mother? I would have my mother read me this EVERY night (so I’ve been told!).I didn’t actually need her to read it to me, as I knew all the words off by heart.”

A fish out of water by Helen Palmer, illustrated by P.D. Eastman: Li says, “For the longest time, I swore black and blue that this book was written by Dr Seuss. Spoiler: it wasn’t! However, it was based on a short story he wrote, and expanded upon to become a children’s book by his wife, Helen Palmer. A fish out of water is a book I vividly remember, and honestly, could be the reason I have wanted a fish for so many years. If you haven’t read it, it’s quick, funny, and wholesome, and I highly recommend it.”

Readers 3

I am invited to a party and all the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems: Hana says, “I hold a special place in my heart for the Elephant and Piggie series. They made practicing reading fun for me and my girl, so much so that I purchased all of their titles that were still in print (for the libraries). They follow a speech bubble pattern of conversation between the two main characters, much like Mo Willems pigeon picture book series. The text is large and sentences are kept very simple. And there’s humour! In a reader?! No….Try ditching the school readers for a night and dip into these with your emerging reader.”

A baby sister for Frances by Russel Hoban and illustrated by Lillian Hoban: Hana says, “I can’t actually remember if this was the title I was thinking about, but a few years ago I decided to investigate whether I could re-create an olfactory experience with a book from my childhood. I remembered this ‘Frances the badger’ series had a particular smell to the pages (and you know, I loved the book), so I went on TradeMe, found a copy of one and purchased it. Alas, when the book arrived it did not smell like the one from my childhood. But perhaps it was a different edition?”

All library staff have so many more recommendations, and could talk for hours about books. Please feel free to come see us anytime if you need a suggestion; we love to help!
While you’re here, why not try our Pick’n’Mix service? Just tell us your child’s interests and what they’ve enjoyed.
Let library staff members take the hassle out of searching- it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

24 March 2022

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