When the lovely Jo from ' my attic library ' asked for bloggers to write guest posts to share great female writers for a series t...

#Feminist February Guest Post

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 BookBairn 1 Comments

When the lovely Jo from 'my attic library' asked for bloggers to write guest posts to share great female writers for a series titled 'Feminist February' I absolutely had to join in! You may have read our recent 'Little Feminist Book Club' posts so you will know that I am passionate about finding and sharing books starring mighty girls to be role models to the next generation of little feminists. Too many picture books feature only boys, or silent girls and this has to change. And it is. But parents are still struggling to find these books on the library and bookshop shelves.

Male characters are twice as likely to take leading roles in children’s picture books according to recent research by the Observer newspaper. Not only that male characters were given more speaking parts, were portrayed in more masculine roles and, shockingly, in a fifth of books (of the top 100 sellers in 2017) there were no female characters at all.

And so in walks “Ada Twist, Scientist” and “Rosie Revere, Engineer” by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts.

To read more check out the post on Jo's blog by clicking here.

Happy reading and raising little feminists,
Mummy and the bairns


One of the biggest book sensations of last year was the story behind 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'. Pitched to be a reinven...

Little Feminist Book Club: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Sunday, February 25, 2018 BookBairn 6 Comments

One of the biggest book sensations of last year was the story behind 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'. Pitched to be a reinvention of fairy tales about real-life inspiring women for little girls who wanted more from their stories than a simple damsel in distress princess, Goodnight Stories became the most highly-funded book in the history of crowd funding and is now available in good bookshops everywhere. And I believe on bedside tables and bookshelves of little girls everywhere.

Simply watching the advertising for their campaign you can see why - there is a real issue on our bookshelves. It shows a mother and daughter removing books from a bookcase depending on a range of criteria - does it have a female character, does that character speak, does she has aspirations? And sadly, the bookcase wasn't a randmonly chosen one - it was set up to reflect real statistics from studies into gender disparity in children's books. You can read more about it and watch the video in this guardian article. What they certainly proved was that there is a real need for a book like this one.

But it has not been without criticism. First of all, many people object to the use of 'for' in the title. Surely Goodnight Stories about mighty girls and women would appeal to boys too? And by using 'for' the team behind the book have alienated a whole audience from their book - something that we know the traditional publishing industry has done to girls for years (though is getting much better at readdressing the balance now). And I agree. As a title it doesn't work for me. I will be reading the stories to my son when he is old enough but I would imagine he wouldn't necessarily have chosen them himself given the title. But if you can get beyond that, and you should, inside the pages are really inspirational and empowering stories for girls and boys alike!

The book consists of 100 stories of women from all around the globe and from all eras who have broken down barriers, smashed through walls, 'stuck it' to the established system and made a change. From spies to pirates, queens to astronauts, pharaohs to scientists, writers to sports stars, activists to political figures there are all different sorts of women within this tome! And almost every page has been illustrated by a different female illustrator (60 different artists to bring these characters of history to life!). And let me just take a moment to say that the collection of illustrations are incredible. And would be worth framing to create a display of mighty women!

As I read through I enjoyed many of the stories - Marie Curie, the Mirabel sisters, Maria Montessori, Malala Yousafzai, Irena Sendlerowa, Harriet Tubman, Cleopatra, the Bronte sisters, Ann Makosinski, Ada Lovelace amongst others. I have read some of these stories to BookBairn - she is still quite young to sit through much of a story like this (and to be fair the book is aimed at older children). And I have enjoyed sharing the inspirational women I have mentioned above with her. I want her to know these wonderful women who made a difference and to know that she can follow in their footsteps or blaze a path of her own making! And I think that is probably the whole point of this book!

But there are some women whose inclusion I would question. Some of these women I do not admire. But I don't think that makes this a bad book, and it's here I find the criticism a bit unfair. This is an anthology. And you are not going to like every single page - for example I'm no Margaret Thatcher fan, I am disgusted by recent events in Myanmar that have lead to my losing respect for Aung San Suu Kyi (a women I once admired), and I'm not sure that the story of Zaha Hadid's bullying and diva behaviour is something I really want my daughter to hold in esteem.

But this book is not about the best behaved women in history. It is not even about the women who have done the most good. It is about women who have rewritten the rules. And I cannot deny that these women have done that. But that doesn't mean that I like them. In this book, as in life, you aren't going to like everyone.  Neither Michelle Obama nor Hilary Clinton are women who would make my top 100 women to admire - sure they have done some good things but really for a long time they were their husband's wives and there are, in my opinion, women way more deserving of a place in this book (Mother Theresa, for example). Perhaps that's why there is to be a sequel.

This really is a fascinating book, full of fascinating women. And whilst I have levelled some criticism at it, I would still recommend buying a copy for your daughter or son. But I would say it is one best explored together. So you can share additional facts, chose which women you focus on, making sure you choose ones that fit with your values. BookBairn and I will read it together. And if you read this book well, your little one's bedtime can be full of rebel girl goodnight stories and they may well go to sleep dreaming of being true to who they are, blazing their own path and changing history.

And personally, I want BookBairn to go to bed dreaming of all the tings she can be, of all the things she can achieve, inspired by women who believed they could be more and do more than was expected of them. Have you read Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls? Will you be buying book two? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below or on social media!

Next month for Little Feminist Book Club, we are going to be reading 'Edie' by Sophy Henn - a book starring a mighty helpful little girl! We'd love it if you read along too!

Happy Reading,
Mummy and the little feminist book club xx


A book that's illustrated with almost purely dots, circles and splodges can't be the most exciting of books, right? Well if you h...

Press Here and Say Zoop!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 BookBairn 1 Comments

A book that's illustrated with almost purely dots, circles and splodges can't be the most exciting of books, right? Well if you haven't read the series of books by Herve Tullet you might believe that. I'll admit I was a little skeptical of these books at first, I had seen them at the library and always assumed that BookBairn was too young for them and that even when she was older they would probably only get a read or two. In general, I don't like to admit that I was wrong. But... I was wrong on both counts (yes, Papa I'll sign to that!). These are some of the most engaging and interactive books that we have ever read!

We have four from this brilliant series: the original 'Press Here', 'Mix it Up, 'Let's Play' and the newest release 'Say Zoop' (which we currently have three copies of to give away on our social media). I'll start of by being honest with you - Let's Play doesn't get read very often. But I would estimate that we have read at least one of the other three on a daily basis (and often more than once a day) for months. And if that doesn't tell you how much BookBairn enjoys them I'll tell you a little more...

In 'Press Here' there is a little yellow dot that you can press in the centre of the page and if you do magic starts to happen. You press, and when you turn the page more dots appear. As if by magic. And as you read through the pages and follow the various instructions what your little ones fingers and hands do affects the story. It's rather ingenious.

Sorry for the strange filter - it was a phase I went through on
Instagram and I have lost the original photos.
BookBairn likes 'Mix it Up' too which follows the exact same premise but it also teaches children about mixing colours. So your little one dips their finger in the red and rubs it on the blue and on the next page they have made purple. Shake the book and yellow mixes with blue to make green. Slam the book shut and... splat... the yellow and red have mixed to create orange. Then you can talk about different shades as white and black are introduced. We have paired reading this on with a paint activity too which was so much fun! I squirted primary coloured paint into ziplock bags and BookBairn squished and squeezed until she saw the colours changing. The Wee Page Turner (who was very wee at the time) had a go too! Brilliant, if, like me, you hate messy art.

By far the favourite of the bunch is 'Say Zoop' and BookBairn and I like this for different reasons I think. She likes to make silly sounds. She likes to make me say silly sounds it's all fun and games as each dot is given a sound and you have to read in specific ways and as the dots are bigger or smaller at specific volumes. But I love it because this is the first book that BookBairn can actually read by herself. After several reads together she now puts her fingers on the dots and shouts "oh" for the large blue dots, or whispers if it is a small dot and similarly the corresponding red or yellow spots. She is beginning to translate symbols into sounds - pre-reading skills. But this book isn't just an awesome learning tool. It's great fun! Really great fun! So much fun, in fact that we made our own one using coloured dot stickers. Another mess free and fun bookish craft!

Herve Tullet is an expert in participatory bookmaking and ensures that children really engage with reading and books. It's no wonder kids have gone dotty for these!

Happy dot-reading!

Mummy and BookBairn xx


If you are here and reading this blog post I can only imagine that you value children's books and place importance on reading aloud. ...

Reading Magic

Monday, February 19, 2018 BookBairn 6 Comments

If you are here and reading this blog post I can only imagine that you value children's books and place importance on reading aloud. Obviously in our house reading aloud is intrinsic - we do it without a second thought. But I didn't realise quite how valuable it really is until I read 'Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever' by Mem Fox.

As a teacher, I thought I knew a lot about teaching children to read - phonics, sight words, reading for enjoyment. But this book has put a new perspective on learning to read.

In short, this book argues that being reading aloud to and reading aloud with our children is the key element in learning to read. Reading aloud "advances their speech, enlarges their brain, makes them happy, and helps them to be successful at school and in life. It also gives them sky-high self-esteem. They realise that we love them dearly."

So I thought I would share some of the snippets of wisdom that I gathered from this book but I highly recommend getting a copy, and a highlighter pen, and reading it yourself.

Why reading aloud from an early age, even to tiny babies, creates a wonderful experience and how it advances their literacy skills as they grow.

"Children who realise in their first few weeks and months of life that listening to stories is the purest heaven; who understands that books are filled with delights, facts, fun, and food for thought; who fall in love with their parents, and their parents with them, while stories are being shared; and who are read aloud to for ten minutes a day in their first five years, usually learn to read quickly, happily, and easily."

Why, even when you're exhausted, and they are overtired and you quite simply just want them to go to bed, it's worth taking a deep breath and embracing those ten minutes before bed.

"But what could be more important than our children's literacy and the loving interactions that occur during a read-aloud session? Is feeling too tired a valid excuse? Surely not. The price of not reading aloud is too high."

Why our theory about 'baby-led reading' is a great way to bring up readers. Book mess is the best mess.

"How can books become attractive if there aren't any lying around to flick through or to become absorbed in?"

Why libraries are amazing!

"[A child's] sublime ability to connect libraries to books and books to happiness at such an early age will give her a head start in life."

How to choose which books to take home.

"It won't be difficult deciding which books to take home. The really good ones won't let us leave without them."

Solving literacy problems one book at a time.

"Whatever happens in the world of school, continuing to read aloud to our children at home should solve most reading problems and will always be a lifeline to their happiness, their literacy, and their future."

But don't force it! It should be fun.

"The big thing to remember is to read aloud with happiness in mind, not education."


"The aim should be to make reading seem as fabulous as it is for most of us: fun, hilarious, thrilling, useful, interesting, amazing, essential, and desirable."

This book really has changed my views on reading and our reading habits at home. And it was such an easy read. I'm lending my copy to a friend tomorrow because this is a book that all teachers and parents will benefit from reading.

Reading really is magic!

Mummy x


It's always a good time to say 'I love you', especially to your kids. But at this romantic time of year it's always nice ...

Lovely Love Books for Little Valentines

Monday, February 12, 2018 BookBairn 1 Comments

It's always a good time to say 'I love you', especially to your kids. But at this romantic time of year it's always nice to celebrate with a little extra love. So here's a little list for you of some stories about love to share with your tots and toddlers.

Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo

First of all I wanted to share a story about friendship - after all that's the sort of love that we all cherish but sometimes forget to celebrate. 'Hug me' by  Simona Ciraolo is the story of a little cactus who simply wants a hug. It's got to be pretty hard being a cactus - they have such a prickly reputation - and especially so when you're family believes that everything should be neat and tidy and that no one should ever trespass into another person's space. But little Felipe thinks his family are worrying about all the wrong things and they didn't even notice that all he wants is a hug. How do you find a hug when you're a cactus though? This story is one about finding the perfect friend, a soulmate of sorts, who will give you a hug, just when you need it. It's sweet and the illustrations are adorable and it's a lovely little read about finding your best friend!

How to Say I Love You in five languages by Kenard Pak

Sometimes love can get lost in translation! But not for your little ones with the help of this very clever interactive sound book. It will help you learn exactly what to say in the language(s) of love! On each page you meet a child who speaks a different language - French, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and English and using the sound buttons on the side you can learn how they say 'I love you'. There is also some additional text with the words for 'hello' (though I think there is to be a sequel with sound buttons for hello) and a sentence about the illustration. Each child is beautifully illustrated and on the corresponding page their is a delightful illustration depicting love - the love between a boy and his dog,, between friends, neighbours, a daughter and her mother and between brothers. I really love this one - and BookBairn has definitely been absorbing the languages as she came up and said to me "Wo ai ni" in Mandarin. This just melted my heart.

My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall

This book isn't really about love, but it is full of heart. Literally. Each animal illustration is created from love hearts. Described as a 'book about feelings, colours, shapes, counting and animals' it really is a book to be explored and played with. Mostly I like the style of artwork. The rhymes are cute and you could count the hearts but really it's a great one for visuals for your tiny tots who really enjoy high contrast colours and images. I love the toddler-friendly activity designed by @kidlitcrafts over on Instagram (linked here) where you can create your own creatures with love heart cut outs and it's one I will definitely be doing with BookBairn in the future.

Emma Dodd's Love Series

Emma Dodd writes the most wonderful books about parental love. The love between a parent and a child is such a magical thing and quite tricky to capture well but Emma's words do a superb job of capturing that everlasting, all-encompassing, forgiving love. @afriendlyaffair on Instagram recently shared a whole series of book suggestions for books about 'real love'. Not the romantic sort of whimsical something from fiction love but real realistic love. And I think Emma captures it so well in her books but in a poetic, beautiful bedtime story sort of prose. The illustrations are also beautiful and if you get the paperback or hardback (not board book) editions every other page has foil details that make the illustrations really shine! As you can see from the photograph our copies are well-loved: I think I have read 'Me" (it's our favourite) over a thousand times. If that doesn't tell you how much we love this one I don't know what I could say to convince you further.

Love is by Diane Adams and Claire Keane

I spotted this book late year around Valentine's Day and really wanted it but felt that BookBairn was still too little to listen along so this year I ordered a copy. Simply this book describes what Love is. It is the story of a little girl who finds a duckling lost and abandoned in the street so she takes it in to look after it. Each page begins "Love is..." and some of my favourite lines include:

"Love is noisy midnight feedings, show box right beside the bed."

"It's early mornings, messy bath times, tidying up, and settling down."

If that's not real love... Perhaps I appreciate this book so much because having a duckling is a lot like having a new baby to look after! Written in rhyming phrases (although the ones I've shared are only part of the rhyming phrase) it is a lovely read aloud story. And will help you share that you want to love and protect your little ones until they are ready to fly on their own. The colour palette is very soft and the illustrations are simply enchanting - baby duckling is so cute you will want one of your own!

I Love You, Stick Insect by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

I saw the book trailer for this one recently and I knew it was one that I had to have for Valentine's Day! It is the delightful story of a stick insect who has fallen in love with (he thinks) another stick insect (it's actually a stick!). And he* dreams of all the lovely things that they will do together. He imagines them surfing, skating, paragliding, hula-hooping, eating ice cream, candyfloss and popcorn. He's good at planning dates this stick (Daddy BookBairn take note!). The illustrations are whimsical, sweet and hilarious! I don't want to spoil the ending but this is a love story that doesn't quite have a happily ever after. But that's ok. Sometimes love can be like that.

*I say he but I have no way of determining one stick insect from another so it might be she. Accordingly the relationship could be two males, two females, or heterosexual. Who knows? Who cares?

This is not a Valentine by Carter Higgins and Lucy Ruth Cummins

This is the one that got away (I guess that love can be like that too, can't it). I held off buying it and then I got bad book-regret but none of my local bookshops stock it (thought all would order it for me) because it's a new release and only out in hardback. But I wish I had a copy. Here's what I know. It's the story of a little boy who is not sending his love a Valentine. At least it's not just a Valentine because he really does love her, not just on Valentine's day but every day! And the illustrations look adorable, the children are charming and I can see why everyone is raving about it! Also, you know I love an endpaper and this one has a hardcover under the slipcover that is super sweet which just thrills my book nerdy-ness! I have ordered a copy. But it didn't come in time for this post. Thanks to Summer from @readingisourthing for letting me pinch your photo.

We so love these books. Do you have any plans for Valentine's Day? We have a Nature Tots walk and then I have some crafty bits to do in the afternoon. So romantic! And also remember the 14th February is Book Giving Day and will be the start of nine days of giveaways on our social media!

Happy Valentine's Day!
Mummy and the bairns xxx

Please feel free to pin this image on Pinterest for future reference.

*Some of these books were sent to us by publishers for review and others are ones that we have purchased ourselves. All opinions are our own.


Before I start - I have to make a confession. The 'Favourites Shelves' are currently gone. Argh!! We moved both kids into their o...

Favourites Shelf - Winter 2017-2018

Wednesday, February 07, 2018 BookBairn 2 Comments

Before I start - I have to make a confession. The 'Favourites Shelves' are currently gone. Argh!! We moved both kids into their own rooms upstairs in our cottage and the Favourites Shelves remain downstairs in the new study/library. I will get shelves for the children's rooms but I haven't had a chance to do a trip to Ikea yet so their are temporarily missing in action. But we still read every bedtime and every other time in between! So here are our favourites from this Winter.

Bébés Chouettes by Martin Waddell & Patrick Benson

I picked up the French versions of some of our favourite classic picture books at the library last month and BookBairn has really been fascinated by Owl Babies. She knows this story pretty well so it was a good one to start with and she likes to read the French and English versions, one after the other. It's the story of three owl babies whose owl mother flies off into the night and they worry about her return. Interestingly, BookBairn has started to follow along with her finger as we read the text in these books and she has picked up that we read from left to right. She can now also say "Je veux ma maman" in French which is so sweet to hear. We will definitely be reading more books in French and might start doing some numbers in French too.

Ally Bally Bee (traditional rhyme) with illustrations by Kathryn Selbert

We featured this recently as part of our Scottish books that we read to celebrate Burns Night (you can read the blog post here). It's a delightful traditional rhyme that we sing at home regularly and The Wee Page Turner really enjoys turning the pages of this one by himself. The lift-the-flaps are also easy for his wee hands to manipulate and he really enjoys it. A perfect book for reading on his mammy's knee!

Snuggle the Baby by Sara Gillingham

We have been revisiting an old favourite too which came to the front of the bookshelf after the room move. 'Snuggle the Baby' by Sara Gillingham is truly a perfect book for little ones to introduce the idea of looking after a newborn. Completely interactive, the readers have to help play with and look after the baby in the story. (Our original review can be found here.) BookBairn loves to read this one over and over and really enjoys playing at looking after the baby. She's got lots of practise now that she is actually a big sister!

My Colourful Chameleon by Leonie Roberts & Mike Byrne

We shared this one pretty recently when we joined in the blog tour and it really has become a favourite read. We certainly read it three or four times a day for several days after it first arrived and we still read it regularly! This lovely book tells the story of a little girl and her pet chameleon who just keeps disappearing. Her mum thinks her beloved pet is a pest when they lose it on a daily basis because, of course, it just keeps changing colour. The illustrations are simply adorable and the changing coloured chameleon is irresistible and BookBairn is now fairly insistent on a pet chameleon!

If I Had a Dinosaur by Alex Barrow & Gabby Dawnay

I can't believe we haven't shared this book on the blog before. We read it lots! It's the story of a little girl who really really wants a pet dinosaur. And she makes her argument really well and in brilliantly fun read-aloud rhyme. BookBairn has particularly enjoyed it recently after we watched it on Cbeebies Bedtime Stories being read aloud by Eddie Redmayne. She follows along, turning the pages as the story moves along. It's a great way for her to enjoy a story by herself. Though we still like to curl up and read it together.

Ted Series by Sophy Henn

We recently added a 'book basket' to the Wee Page Turner's bedroom (the main bookshelves are in the living room and BookBairn's bedroom) and every nap and bed time BookBairn chooses a book out of the basket to read with him. She often chooses this series because "he really likes Ted, mummy". These little books are delightful and I'm planning to do a full review of them this month. But if you have a toddler you will recognise Ted's play, behaviour and excuses for avoiding bedtime. They are delightful and the whole cast of animal friends remind me of the cast of animal toys that follow us around everywhere!

Pom Pom Gets the Grumps and Pom Pom the Champion by Sophy Henn

Another Sophy Henn book series! She makes the best books for toddlers. She captures them so well and makes them pretty endearing, even when they get the grumps! BookBairn rediscovered Pom Pom Gets the Grumps when we moved bedrooms and when she realised it was signed for her brother she switched her affections to Pom Pom the Champion which is signed for her. Pom Pom is a typical toddler who likes to get his own way, has a grumpfest over the slightest thing and very much enjoys being the winner. In Pom Pom, Sophy Henn has created an expressive little panda who is utterly adorable, even with a grumpy face! The illustrations throughout these books are deceptively simple with bold colours against unfussy backgrounds. And they are incredibly stylish. BookBairn is particularly fascinated by a background character, a giraffe, who Sophy told us is called Clemmie - it's amazing what they notice when you read a book over and over again. Our original review is linked here.

Neon Leon by Jane Clarke and Britta Teckentrup

Oddly we have another chameleon story in this round-up! Unlike the first one this chameleon has an issue - he's neon orange and he doesn't seem able to change colour. This is an interactive story where you try to help Leon fit in with the background and the crowd, and when he can't it's little readers jobs to help him find a place where he can fit in. It's utterly charming, and the illustrations just make this book! However, despite this book strongly relying on the visual elements, BookBairn loves listening to the audiobook on the Nosy Crow Stories Aloud Podcast too!

I'll Wait Mr Panda by Steve Antony

BookBairn has become a little obsessed with doughnuts. She loves the colours and the sprinkles. And she is really great at waiting until she gets home before devouring them. I blame and thank this book in equal parts. Whenever we go to the shop to pick up our doughnuts she stands in the aisle and shouts "please Mr Panda" and then when we get home and I say she was to wait until she gets home she replies "I'll wait Mr Panda". As you can guess this book is about patience and self-control, and waiting for doughnuts. The illustrations are delightful and it's equally fun as it is about good manners!

So that's our favourite read over the winter (I haven't included our festive reads for obvious reasons and we shared those with you already). What have you enjoyed reading recently? And do you have any recommendations for us to read as the season begins to change?

Happy Reading,
Mummy, BookBairn and The Wee Page Turner xx

*Some of these books were sent to us by publishers for review and others are ones that we have borrowed from the library or purchased ourselves. These are our genuine re-reads so all opinions are our own.