When it comes to children’s books, there are more than a fair share of pointless, dull and painful ones about. To quote my husband: “Who writes this crap?”
He was reading one the other day and could barely stop his groaning before announcing he was going to write his own kids’ book and call it The Boy Who Could Fly – he has already planned it out, folks – because “anything is better than this”.
It’s true – children’s books have the beautiful potential to teach lessons, to connect kids to themselves and their feelings, to invite them into different worlds, to make them laugh, to give them language to understand something that could be otherwise complex, to give them something to relate to, or to even just be a fun, entertaining story…and often this entire potential is wasted on books that have no flow, have no point, and are not engaging.
I love books and I love reading. Good books have the ability to change us. As an adult, being invited into other worlds so intimately and finding ourselves saying “me too”? Books can reach us in a place that, often, speech can’t. And this private, deep place is a really just a Real Me place – which is, of course, the best place to find yourself.
And so, a love of reading is something I’ve always pushed and encouraged in my children, because if they are not curious about books now, chances are they won’t be when they’re older. And what a waste that would be. Besides, some of the loveliest childhood moments I’ve had with my children are watching them snuggled under the glow of fairy lights at night while Joel or I read to them.
We have baskets of children’s stories in our lounge room and in our bedrooms, plus I make books extra accessible and inviting by displaying a few favourites on a shelf in the kid’s reading nook and swapping them out regularly.
One of my favourite things to do in a season change or an upcoming holiday is to have a handful of books which correlate and have them out on display. Seasonal changes in our big old city are on the hugely subtle side, so I love to use children’s books to highlight weather changes and seasonal traditions to give my children a taste of what it means when I shriek to them, “It’s Autumn!”
It’s hard to find books which relate to seasons in Australia, as many of them correlate to the seasonal changes of the northern hemisphere. However, there are a couple we’ve found and loved and I’ve compiled a little list of favourite seasonal books plus some favourites we’re loving right now to inspire you and your family to dive a little deeper into the world of storybooks and all the good they have to offer.
- In November, by Cynthia Ryant. So this is an American book about Fall, but if you swap out the word November for the word Autumn, you’ve got yourself a gorgeous children’s book about autumn traditions and what happens in nature as the world prepares for winter. I mean, look how beautiful this prose is….
- The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton. A sweet story about a pretty little house out in the country which enjoys seeing all the seasons change around it. But soon the cute country cottage becomes engulfed by a city that slowly grows around it. The house is sad being in the city, and it misses seeing the sun and the trees and the seasons. In the end, the house is rescued and moved back out to the country, where it’s happy again. Super cute and really gorgeous illustrations.
- Wonders of Nature, Little Golden Book. “Isn’t it a wonder that out in the pond, smooth wiggly tadpoles lose their tails and grow legs, and turn into frogs? And that fuzzy caterpillars weave silken cocoons around themselves and go to sleep, then wake up as pretty moths or butterflies?” This book touches on a few seasons, like spring and winter, but it’s just so gorgeous for evoking an awe of nature to little readers. Plus the sweet vintage illustrations are swoon-worthy.
- All Through The Year, by Jane Godwin. I love, love, love this book as it goes through each month of the year in Australia and what traditions or seasons happen in each. January is playing at the beach. February is the start of school. March is autumn leaves. April is Easter. May is Mother’s Day. June has campfires…there are so few books that take us through the Southern hemisphere seasons – and with SUCH beautiful illustrations. This will be a book I will keep forever. An Australian must-have.
- My Farm, by Alison Lester. We have so many Alison Lester books. She’s one of my favourite Australian children’s authors and her illustrations are magic. My Farm is a gorgeous story of childhood and family which goes through what happens on a farm throughout the seasons of the year. You can just feel the love in this book, outlined with the dedication, in which the author thanks her parents for the wonderful childhood that the book goes on to describe. Love it so much.
- What Do You Do With An Idea, by Kobi Yomada. This isn’t a seasonal book but a current favourite: a meaningful story with the beautiful message of following your ideas no matter how little or big or silly or crazy they are, and to watch what happens when you stop caring what people think and give attention to your idea. Love a book with a beautiful life lesson!
- -9. The Ruby Red Shoes books by Kate Knapp are my absolute favourite in the whole world. I want to climb inside those books and live there forever. The illustrations are so whimsical and so magic and as we go through the series, we learn about what happened to Ruby’s parents while we travel along with her to all the wonderful places she visits with her grandmother. It makes the reader fall in love with both travelling as well as the warm comforts of home. One of my favourite parts of the first book, which is less a story with a plot and more about the philosophy and ideals Ruby and her grandmother live with, is when the caravan they live in is being described:“There are generous teacups for hot drinks
feathery quilts to snuggle up in
jars of colourful buttons
and posies of flowers in pots and jugs”I could passionately relate to the need to fill a home with warmth and calm and beauty, and to share this with a child is like sharing an ideal of a warm and cosy home, while reminding them that things we cherish aren’t necessarily big and expensive.
And though I could list a dozen other children’s books I love, we’ll reign it in and call it a cosy autumn day. Because there’s nothing better in the cold weather than snuggling up with your babies under quilts and blankets, and reading sweet little stories to them.
Good night, friends.
And happy reading.