I Do Not Like Books Anymore + Tips for Kids Struggling to Learn to Read

Have you ever heard children utter this dreaded phrase? "I do not like books anymore." It would break my heart. And yet I compl...

Have you ever heard children utter this dreaded phrase? "I do not like books anymore." It would break my heart. And yet I completely understand that for children learning to read, trying to decipher and decode those squiggly lines and symbols can really take the fun out of storytime. 

As a teacher I’ve seen some of the joy sucked out of books and stories for kids as they try to learn to read. The letters look like squiggles and the decoding takes so long that fluency and understanding is lost. Imagine how it would feel to be presented with a wonderful image-packed picture book and all the words being in a foreign language, or worse in a language that is written using a whole different alphabet where the symbols mean nothing to you? That's often how children feel when they are learning to read. They can see the symbols are there but they don't know what they mean. Or they do know what sound the symbol represents but by the time they have processed that, blended it with the other letters to make a word, they have lost the whole context of the story making it a painful word by word process.  But what they do know is that there is a story there, within their reach but they just can't grasp it! It can be an incredibly frustrating time and, for some children, it really can take away all the joy of storytime.

And that’s how Natalie, in "I Do Not Like Books Anymore" by Daisy Hirst, feels when she is learning to read.  In the second title featuring these adorable monster siblings, Natalie and Alphonse, when Natalie tries to read all by herself for the first time, the letters look like squiggles, and she isn't so sure that she likes books anymore. So Natalie instead tells stories to her brother and they make their own books packed full of their own illustrations and Dad helping to record their words. And when Alphonse asked for Natalie to tell him the story again, she finds that she can, mostly, read the book they have written.

This is a book all about finding the joy in sharing stories, in feeling frustrated learning something new, and pride when you succeed. The illustrations are so fun! And the humour is spot on. This is a must have for all kids learning to read!

We are delighted to welcome Daisy Hirst to the blog to answer some of BookBairn's questions:

Mummy's Questions

As a teacher I love that you have approached the subject that learning to read can sometimes take the thrill away from reading. Is this something you have experienced yourself? Or have you seen it happen to children?

Both! It took me ages to learn to read and I did NOT like it, even though I loved books and stories – in fact it was partly that the reading books seemed so much less interesting than the books my parents read to us at home. It wasn’t until year 3 that I first had the experience of realising I was really reading a picturebook on my own. I was also, briefly, a year 3 teaching assistant and I suppose it was quite a shock to suddenly see books (and words and the alphabet) from the perspective of a child who’s really struggling with reading and whose only contact with books may be with reading scheme books which aren’t very rewarding when they do manage to decipher them (although I do realise some schemes are much more interesting than others). 

In BookBairn’s room we have a ‘Favourites Shelf’ of her favourite stories, which picture books would you have on your Favourites Shelf at the moment?

Angelo by Quentin Blake and Trubloff by John Burningham are two of my all-time favourites. Of recent books, I love Jon Klassen’s We Found A Hat and Carson Ellis’ Du Iz Tak? (and Maisie Paradise Shearring’s Anna and Otis but that’s not out until August)

BookBairn's Questions

“Orange is my colour. What’s your best colour?”


"What book do the monsters (Alphonse and Natalie) like to read best?”

Natalie’s favourite book (which Alphonse eats in Alphonse that is not ok to do!) is A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban. I’m not sure about Alphonse’s favourite book – maybe it’s one of the ones he makes with Natalie?

“I like a lion best. What’s your favourite animal?”

I like so many animals… I really like slow lorises. And ducks. [We had to google slow lorises too!]

“I like to draw flowers just now. What are you drawing?” 

I’ve been drawing witches, a newt and bears.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions Daisy!

For parents who have children who are struggling to learn to read, here are my three quick tips to help you make sure that reading is a joy not a chore:

Make sure you still read aloud to them. Please don't let Biff, Chip and Kipper (or any other reading scheme) be the only books that they read. Help them to enjoy the magic of the stories. And by you reading aloud to them you are modelling good reading skills.

Before you do any reading of the designated reading homework, get them to tell you the story. Look at the pictures and ask them what's happening. Don't even look at the words at first. They will likely have read the book in class so they may remember some of the details. This will help them remember what the story is about and they will be saying lots of the words that will come up in the text placing them at the front of their mind so that when they do start to slow down to decode words they will have a good idea of what words the story might contain.

Try reading at a different time of day. When kids get home from school they are exhausted and probably not in a good mindset to try something tricky. I know mornings can be busy and stressful as everyone tries to get read to get out on time but reading over the breakfast table might be more successful.

To all those little ones learning to read, you are getting the keys to a magical world of wonderful lands, characters and stories! 

Good luck reading,

Disclaimer: we were sent this book free for review purposes by the publisher after we requested a copy. Words and opinions are my own.

Touring Picture Book Club: Dinosaurs Don't Draw

We had such fun last month when we teamed up with fellow book bloggers - Acorn Books, Along Came Poppy and Mamma Filz - for the very firs...

We had such fun last month when we teamed up with fellow book bloggers - Acorn Books, Along Came Poppy and Mamma Filz - for the very first touring picture book club blog post! We loved seeing the activities that they paired with the book and I'm really excited to see what they have come up with this month! Without further ado, this month's book is...

Dinosaurs Don't Draw by Elli Woolland and Steven Lenton

So often when I share books with you I tell you what the story is about first. But today I'm going to share first of all how awesome the illustrations in this book are. The story is about a dinosaur artist so the pictures are incredibly important and Steven Lenton has done a marvelous job bringing the characters and their adventures to life. The main little dinosaur, Picasaur, is just adorable and his family of triceratops are friendly despite their anti-drawing mentality (I just love the dad's eyebrows - they have a life of their own!) and his cousins and friends are a variety of multi-coloured delights (much like a bag of skittles!). But brilliantly, when Picasaur draws on rocks, caves, and stones, his illustrations stand out from the rest. They look spectacular and don't for one second blend into the story. And through this you get a feel for the different art supplies that Picasaur uses and his own creative flair. The illustrations make this story for me!

But what's it about I hear you ask? It's the story of Picasaur who comes across a small piece of chalk and is destined to create. But his parents are not impressed. Dinosaurs stomp. Dinosaurs roar. Dinosaurs do not draw. Picasaur can't resist the urge to create and when he crosses path with anything that resembles paint, chalk or drawing material he creates his own dino-graffiti! But when a nasty T-Rex comes prowling, Picasaur's drawings save the day by scary away the T-Rex with a dinosaur even more fearsome. Written in rhyme, this story really is a wonder to read aloud! And I love that it celebrates creativity!

Now I'm no artist. And BookBairn enjoys creating but her skills are still in their early stages. So I wanted to show her she could create something fun and simple and enjoy the success of her work. There is a huge push on celebrating the process of children's artwork without bothering too much about the final product, and I'm all for that, but it's kind of nice to have something that looks attractive to stick up on the wall. And when I spotted the endpapers in this book I was immediately inspired to create our own large scale version.

We've never tried potato printing before, mostly because I thought it would be tricky and fiddly to cut the potatoes into a sensible shape but it turns out dinosaur feet (paws, hooves, claws?) are really easy. Just cut a few tiny triangles out at the top, or if you're not that ambitious go for diplodocus feet and you don't have to do anything more than cut them in half. And get a big roll of paper and let them stamp away. BookBairn loved it! And she loved seeing the different prints she created.  Such a fun and simple set up - and no brushes to wash afterwards - just pop those potatoes in the compost bin! That's a mum win if ever I knew one!

Check out the other activities happening across the Touring Picture Book Club and pop over to Mamma Filz's Twitter to be in with a chance of winning a copy of this awesome book!

And look out for our next touring picture book - "The Girls" by Lauren Ace and illustrated by Jenny Lovlie.

And if you've popped over from one of the other fabulous blogs - hello! And our regular readers - hello to you too!

Happy Reading and Sorting,
Mummy, BookBairn and the Touring Picture Book Team!

Disclaimer: all four bloggers were sent copies of the book, and we were provided with giveaway copies, after we reached out to the publisher and requested them. Words and opinions are each of our own. 

Read With Me

Laura's Lovely Blog

Chasing Butterflies

Today BookBairn and I had a wonderful morning out (whilst The Wee Page Turner was at nursery) at our local Botanic Gardens which have an ...

Today BookBairn and I had a wonderful morning out (whilst The Wee Page Turner was at nursery) at our local Botanic Gardens which have an annual butterfly house. We have been several times over the years now (here's our post from two years ago!) but it's such a wonderful experience that I hope that we can enjoy for many years to come.

BookBairn carefully wandered around, her eyes darting all over spotting butterflies of all colours and sizes from ceiling to floor (hence the careful wandering) and she could be heard gasping in glee "look mummy look!" The ladies who look after the butterflies were obviously charmed and they took the time to show her where some of the butterflies had laid their tiny eggs and then to the caterpillar terrariums to show her caterpillars as tiny as her eyelashes and as big as her forearm. She was absolutely entranced. As was I. Butterflies are truly magical and I felt like a child as I gazed in wonder myself and felt a thrill of joy as they landed gently on my arm. BookBairn was particularly attractive to the large blue morphos which kept landing on her head and due to their flapping and large size she was a bit distressed by this. But we didn't let that dampen the experience. If you have a chance to visit a butterfly house near you I highly recommend it!

We also took a story to read along with us! Obviously. You should know us well by now.

'Chasing Butterflies' by Zoe Sadler is a whimsical story about a little girl, Nova, who is determined to catch a butterfly. But no matter how high she climbs, the butterflies fly higher. When she zips and swoops the butterflies are faster. When she thinks she's a step ahead, the butterflies outsmart her. Until a stroke of luck, or an accidental trip, she catches a butterfly in her net and places it gently in a jar. But as she gazes upon the butterfly trapped she comes to realise that the butterfly is a free spirit just like her and sets it free. But there's a cheeky hint that Nova hasn't truly changed her ways on the final page. The illustrations of the butterflies are whimsical and magical and the Nova brought to life is a feisty long-legged girl with a sassy sense of style. A lovely story about determination, being a free spirit and appreciating the creatures around us.

You can see a butterfly in this photo if you look hard enough!

I love it when we can bring the magic of stories to life and I really enjoyed reading this one with BookBairn whilst we were actually at the butterfly house. It's something I want to do more often. Also I feel like we don't have enough butterfly stories so any recommendations for more good ones would be much welcomed.

Happy reading,
Mummy and BookBairn xx

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DISCLAIMER This book was sent to us by the author free for review purposes. Words and opinions are as always our own.

Books for Building Children's Empathy

Books are a wonderful tool for building children's empathy. Reading builds our real-life sensitivity towards other people. They all...

Books are a wonderful tool for building children's empathy. Reading builds our real-life sensitivity towards other people. They allow us to explore situations and scenarios with children that in real world can seem daunting or intimidating in a way that they can understand. Stories help us challenge prejudices and misconceptions, they help us to build connections and they help us to become more attuned to the people around us. New research has shown that books are a powerful tool to develop empathy, because by identifying with book characters, children learn to see things from other points of view.*

I wanted to share some books that I think are great for building empathy with little ones. This is just a short list and there are so many good ones out there as well as those listed in the 'Read for Empathy Guide' produced by Empathy Lab. I have not included books that focus on children's being true to themselves or accepting themselves as I wrote a post of books that help children celebrate their uniqueness already. (You can find it here!) So without further ado...

Any books written by Duncan Beedie

Duncan Beedie is an expert in wiriting books that will help children empathise with characters who are facing challenges. In 'The Last Chip', it tells the story of a pigeon who is hungry and cannot find food until a homeless person gives away their last chip. It's s story about even when you don't have much, there is often someone worse off who needs our help. It's about looking around you and spotting the pigeon who is hungry. It's about not hoarding. It's simply about sharing. In 'The Lumberjack's Beard', the Lumberjack is so busy chopping down trees that he doesn't notice the animals going homeless as he destroys their homes. But when the come to him and explain their plight he offers them a home in his beard and he begins to replant the trees. In ' The Bear Who Stared', Bear isn't very good at making friends. He doesn't know what to say and he just stares at people making them uncomfortable. But with the help of a little frog he learns to share his lovely smile as he meets new people, breaking the ice, and giving him time to formulate his thoughts to say hello. This is such a great story that shows us the importance of a smile. In all three books Duncan's illustrations are witty and characters expressive which for younger readers will help build their empathy as they learn to recognise and read facial expressions. Any of these books would be a great choice for reading to build empathy. And of course, they are just great stories.

We Are Family by Patricia Hegarty and Ryan Wheatcroft

Every child should be able to see themselves in the pages of the books they read. And every book should show children that they are part of the world around them. Featuring illustrations of families of all shapes, colours and sizes, this book shows the many different families that exist in our society. Not so much a story book, more an illustrated poem about love, family and diversity it is a beautiful reflection of modern society. Seeing ourselves as part of a wider society is a perfect way to build empathy in children and help them to recognise that all our experiences are unique. I did a full review on this book over a year ago but you can find the old post here.

Lionel and the Lion's Share by Lou Peacock and Lisa Sheenan

Lionel was a lion who did not share. And whenever he sees something he wants he simply takes it: "I am a lion and I get the lion's share" he roars, much to the disappointment of the other creatures. When they finally confront him about his selfish behaviour he storms off in a huff soon to realise that if he continues the way he is he will not have any friends and he makes things up again by surprising his friends. This is a lovely story about sharing, kindness and not taking our friends for granted. The illustrations are lovely and if you enjoy listening to your favourite books on audiobook you can download this one for free from the Nosy Crow podcast or using the QR code inside the book. 

Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal

This book is a very simple but powerful narrative about how your words (and others' words) can affect your heart. The book then tells you all the wonderful things that words can do such as: describing things, explaining stuff, make you happy, make you cry (even pierce someone's heart). Because your words have power! Isn't this so empowering for children? Especially ones like BookBairn who are just learning to speak and finding their own voice.

"Your words can actually change the way someone's heart feels."

The illustrations are very simple with only a black and red colour palette against a white page. Again this plays to the fact that this book is about the words being important. This book is perfect for helping children see how their words affect others. You can read an old blog post about this one too if you want to find out more!

Hugless Douglas by David Melling

Douglas just wants to find a hug. Pure and simple. This is a funny tale for very little ones about feeling lonely and just needing a cuddle from a loved one. The illustrations are adorable and by the end you'll just want to give Douglas a hug too!

Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo

In a similar way to the book I mentioned previously, this is a story about just needing a hug. Felipe is a little cactus who comes from a very prim and proper family who firmly believe that you should never trespass into another's personal space. But Felipe thinks they are worried about all the wrong things and they don't notice that he just needs a hug. He sets off on an adventure to find one. This is a story about recognising other's needs. And the illustrations are so adorable too and little Felipe has certainly made me want to hug a cactus which lets face it, isn't exactly the most appealing thing to do with all their spikes and prickles. 

Everybody's Welcome by Patricia Hegarty and Greg Abbott

We shared this book last year when Empathy Lab launched their campaign to 'Read for Empathy'. The story promotes the ideals of refuge, inclusivity and friendship at a level even the littlest readers will understand. Mouse is building a house in the middle of the wood. When Frog's pond dries up and he has no where to live, Mouse suggests that they build a home together:

"Everybody's welcome,
no matter who they are, 
Wherever they may come from,
whether near or far."

Accompanied by beautiful illustrations that BookBairn loves to pore over, spotting all her favourite creatures, this magical book really teaches little ones about acceptance, generosity and to empathise with others.

Under the Same Sky by Britta Teckntrup

We all live under the same sky and we experience many of the same hopes and dreams and emotions wherever we are. We feel the same love. We face the same storms. In this beautiful lyrical text, Britta Teckentrup celebrates and cherishes all that we have and share. Despite different colours, environments and experiences as depicted in her stunning illustrations of animal families all around the world. This is a magical story that will help you feel close as you read together and should help your little one develop their empathy skills.

I hope you have found something useful in this list for your children and that you add some great empathy building books to your library. We will continually add to our collection of empathy building books so please do let us know of any good ones you discover!

You can find out more about Empathy Day and Empathy Lab you can by visit the website for more information including a special selection of book recommendations. If you have any books that you would like to recommend head over to Twitter and share them using the hashtag #ReadForEmpathy 

"Read stories. Build empathy. Make a better world."
Happy Reading,
Mummy and the bairns xx

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*From Empathy Lab's 'Read for Empathy Guide'

DISCLAIMER These are a mix of books that we have bought or been given by publishers for review - many of them we have now had for several years and I cannot be certain which we bought ourselves and which we were sent. But they all remain on our bookshelves because they are wonderful books! Words and opinions are as always my own.

Babies Can Sleep Anywhere - Blog Collaboration with The Pramshed

They tell you babies can sleep anywhere! Well not in my experience! My babies only ever wanted to sleep on top of me to begin with, unt...

They tell you babies can sleep anywhere! Well not in my experience! My babies only ever wanted to sleep on top of me to begin with, until I coaxed them to sleep in the pram and eventually their own beds. And now they won’t sleep anywhere else! No car naps or buggy walking naps for us!

But my own experience with napping babies made the book 'Babies Can Sleep Anywhere', by Lisa Wheeler and Carolina Buzio, all the funnier to me!

Check out my post over on The Pramshed to read more:

Happy Reading,
Mummy and two napping bairns xx

#KidLit Picks May Round Up - Non-Fiction

You know we love all the fantastic non-fiction books that are flooding our bookshelves at the moment, and I am, in fact working on anot...

You know we love all the fantastic non-fiction books that are flooding our bookshelves at the moment, and I am, in fact working on another 'Factastic Non-Fiction for Tots' blog post at the moment so you can expect even more recommendations of great non-fiction books for very young readers soon!

During May the @kidlitpicks book club featured non-fiction picture books, a theme chosen by Books Kids Love!

"When I’m choosing books for my kids, I always reach for the storybooks first - that’s what I grew up loving to read. But experts say children will thrive if they read more non-fiction too. Factual texts teach children about the world we live in, about amazing animals, people, events and inventions. Extending children’s knowledge helps them to understand new concepts and to put them into context. It also expands their vocabulary, in turn enriching their own writing. I’ve made an effort to seek out engaging non-fiction for my kids and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the clever, engaging books I’ve found - and that my kids like them too."

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies, by Joyce Sidman
“An exceptional biography … must read, and even better if followed by a trip to the museum, nature study, or maybe a nature crafting session.” — Summer from @readingisourthing

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray, by ​​Dave Eggers and Ticker Nichols
There's a lot of of it going on this month in terms of holidays, but I want to discuss something else worth celebrating: love." — Mel from @spiky_penelope

Disappearing Acts: A Search-And-Find Book of Endangered Animals, by Isabella Bunnell
“A colorful seek-and-find book for young readers looking to learn more about the world's endangered animals." — Mel from @spiky_penelope

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space, by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman
“The range of facts is so wide that everyone will learn something from it and makes it a great purchase as it will continue to be relevant and interesting as your child grows.” — Claire from @alittlebookhabit

Howl Like a Wolf!, by Kathleen Yale and Kaley McKean
“Not only do you learn fascinating facts about animals, their habitats, and their special skills, you get to climb inside the minds of animals through creative play.” Leah from @astoryaday

The Book of Beas, by Piotr Socha and Wojciech Grajkowski
“Packed full of fascinating facts about my favourite little creatures. It’s a beauty! ” —  Kim from @bookbairn

The Big Book of the Blue, by Yuval Zommer
“And this masterpiece, packed with underwater wonders, is especially mesmerizing; not to mention a special sardine hidden throughout these aquatic spreads!” — Miranda from @bookbloom

Tree and Moon, by Britta Teckentrup
“These two books provide an exquisite introduction to the genre.”  De from @books_and_babycinos

Amazing Australians in their Flying Machines, by Prue and Kerry Mason and Tom Jellett
“It's been expertly designed to draw readers in, with a just-right mix of illustrations, photographs and facts.”  Carissa from @bookskidslove_

Ada Lovelace (Little People, Big Dreams), by Ma Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Zafouko Yamamoto

I love that this book celebrates a woman mathematician – the world’s first computer programmer - and that my children can read about her accomplishments and grow up with the belief that girls can do anything.”  Carissa from @bookskidslove_

The Colours of History, by Clive Gifford and Marc-Etienne Peintre

“There’s heaps of interesting history in this book, arranged around colours, with full-page illustrations and, of course, loads of colour."  Carissa from @bookskidslove_

10 Reasons to Love a Turtle, by Catherine Barr and Hanako Clulow

“I want all the books in the "10 reasons to love" series. They're pitched perfectly at young readers with colourful, full-page illustrations and snippets of interesting facts.”  Carissa from @bookskidslove_

First Big Book of the Ocean, by Catherine D Hughes
“There are so many amazing animals that live in the ocean!”  Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore

Book of Bones, by Gabrielle Balkan
“Ten animal skeletons are presented against black backgrounds and framed as a “Who am I?” guessing game. Perfect for budding paleontologists!”  Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

Birthdays Around the World, by Mar─úriet Ruurs
This is a great book for exposing children to different birthday customs and traditions around the world.” — Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

Counting Lions, by Katie Cotton
Being an oversized book, the drawings are startling and serves as a reminder that these animals should be cherished and protected.” — Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover, by Markus Motum
"Are your kids and students non-fiction fans? Do they love STEM and space? Lauren from @happily.ever.elephants

Camille and the Sunflowers, by Laurence Anholt
“A sweet tale based on real life events!” — Angelique from @heads.shoulders.knees

Her Right Foot, by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris
"The true shining moment is when they discuss the title of the book and link it to a message of inclusion." — Wendy from @homegrownreader

Fur, Feather, Fin: All of Us Are Kin, by Diane Lang and Stephanie Laberis
“This lovely bit of nonfiction is a celebration of life and the uniqueness of all that is animal.” — Heather from @kidlitbookbits

Drawn from Nature, by Helen Ahpornsiri
“Helen Ahpornsiri’s new nonfiction book, Drawn from Nature, is an absolute marvel. Full of fascinating text, each illustration is painstakingly created by hand with pressed plants.” — Anna from @kidlitcrafts

Mr Shaha's Recipes for Wonder: Adventures in Science Round the Kitchen Table, by Alom Shahaand and Emily Robertson
“This brilliant text shows you how Science is all about embracing wonder, getting excited about the “I-Don’t-Knows” and seeing failures as super opportunities for learning.” — Shannon from @ohcreativeday

 Our @kidlitpicks theme for JUNE is PERSEVERANCE, chosen and introduced by @homegrownreader

Perseverance, grit, growth mindset, etc. Anyway you spin it, it's a hot topic right now. And rightfully so. The importance of encouraging effort over ease has been proven to boost self-esteem, confidence, and learning. But even if there were no studies, it just ends up being common sense. How many quotes have you heard along the lines “if at first you don't succeed,” “keep moving forward,” etc.? The overabundance of these sentiments isn't an accident, for it's only through moving beyond our failure that we learn. Instilling our children with a self-growth attitude when faced with a challenge, not only prepares them to learn exponentially but to be ready to face the setbacks that just happen to be a side-effect of life.

So this month, @kidlitpicks is ready to face the hard work, with books that focus on characters that don't give up when the going gets tough. Share along with us by tagging #kidlitpicks_perseverance

Happy Reading,
The KidLitPicks Team and Kim x