We all have favorite books from our childhood. If we are lucky, some of these books were safely stored away and passed down to our own children to enjoy. My daughter has some of my old books, and we have amassed quite a collection of her own as well over her 5 years.
There is something empowering about physically holding and flipping through the pages of a book, no matter how old you are. Reading to children from the very beginning, as infants, has a positive and lasting effect on brain development. There is more research than I could possibly cite here to back this up. Though she is still a beginner reader, the words spoken to her through books in the past 5 years have laid a solid foundation for literacy. What children gain from having a book read aloud to them (if they are little) or allocating time for them to read (if they are older) each day is important. Story time is special and, somehow, sacred.
In going through many books over the past five years, I thought I would share some of the books that have truly captivated my daughter and me. These books have expanded her knowledge base, curiosity of learning, and desire to explore the world around her through reading.
1. Any book by Julia Donaldson
Julia Donaldson is an English top-selling author of children’s books, perhaps most well-known for The Gruffalo. She was the 2011-2013 Children’s Laureate. I was introduced to her works by my husband, who is from the United Kingdom. Her stories are unique and imaginative. The illustrators she works with are equally brilliant. Some of our favorite Julia Donaldson books include Zog, The Singing Mermaid, and my personal favorite – The Snail and the Whale.
2. Little People, Big Dreams
The Little People, Big Dreams books by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara showcase the lives of noteworthy individuals in many areas, from athletics, to art, science, and social activism. What makes these books exceptional is not only the people featured, but also the fact that the stories start when the people were children. Each story teaches how the featured person overcame obstacles to achieve something amazing. The series include famous names such as Stevie Wonder, Greta Thurnberg, Zaha Hadid, and Mother Teresa. We have the Little People Big Dreams Inspiring Artists and Writers Gift Set and individual books as well.
3. National Geographic Kids
Books by National Geographic Kids have incredible photos and invite so many fun questions. These books invite conversations about the world, different cultures, and the foundations of science. I also learn new things! National Geographic Kids books are so much fun whether you read them to your child or your child reads them to him/herself.
4. Smithsonian – The Animal Book: A Visual Encyclopedia of Life on Earth
I did not expect for this one to be my child’s bedtime book, but it has been for over a year now! Each night she picks a few pages for us to read. She has become more determined to read each animal’s name herself and works hard to pronounce them. This book has more than 1,500 species! Smithsonian has other books as well.
For any book needs, remember to check with your local indie bookstore first! They may have what you are looking for or might be able to order it for you. Also, if your child is not yet reading or a beginner reader, remember to point to words while you are reading.
About Amanda Murphy:
Amanda Murphy is passionate about what parents can do to enhance and supplement their child’s educational experience outside of the classroom. She believes in a model where kids grow up excited to learn, which starts with the parent or caregiver. As mom to a very bright and active 5-year-old girl in a not-as-active pandemic world, Amanda is constantly seeking out new ways to tie learning into real life to keep her daughter engaged. This involves outdoor exploration, a focus on literacy, building imagination, learning toys, and much more. Her belief is that each child is born with a passion for learning, but that harnessing it correctly is essential. Equally, she believes all children are smart, just in different ways.
Amanda was born and raised in Tulsa where she attended the University of Tulsa before earning graduate degrees in management and new media studies at Northwestern University and DePaul University in Chicago. After work took her to the East Coast, she moved back to Tulsa in 2014. She is married, and in addition to her young daughter, has a stepson entering his teen years. Amanda consults through her business, Lemons 2 Empires.