Well, home schooling is over for us (fingers crossed it remains that way) but we still have lots of work to do with BookBairn on learning to...

Learning to Read - Julia Donaldson's Songbirds

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 BookBairn 1 Comments

Well, home schooling is over for us (fingers crossed it remains that way) but we still have lots of work to do with BookBairn on learning to read. She is becoming more confident all the time and we have worked particularly hard on learning those 'tricky words' which can be a real stumbling block for children learning to read as they are very tricky to decode (sound-out).

Fortunately, the reading scheme that BookBairn's school have opted to use are very phonics focussed which means that she can use all her sounding out knowledge to make the story make sense! So when Books 2 Door, a fantastic book discount site which specialised in children's box sets, offered us a set of the same books for home, I thought they would be really handy for BookBairn, but also so I could share the set with you!

Julia Donaldson's Songbirds are lively and engaging phonics-based stories, which, as I say, is a bit of a rarity in the early readers book market. Written by the storytelling master that is Julia Donaldson, these books are guaranteed to be far more interesting than some of the dry and dull learning to read books on the market. With a wonderful mix of rhyme and rhythm, the books are fun to read aloud!

Level 1 Book

Each book also contains tips for reading together and supporting your child as they learn to read. And they follow a phonics progression that will support children's learning at school.

Level 4 Book

If your child is finding to tricky, or finding it laborious, to learn to read, then these books might just be the ticket to keeping them engaged even when it gets tough! And at less than £1 per book they are a bargain set through Books 2 Door. I also have a link for £5 off your first order over £30, which you can access by clicking here. (Note I also get £5 off my next order as it's an affiliate link)

Hope these help your little one with their learning to read!

Happy reading!

Kim and BookBairn

Disclaimer: I was sent this box set in exchange for review as part of a Books2Door collaboration and this post contains a link to the review which I included as part of said agreement. (Though I would have directed you to their site anyway!)


I have been anticipating this book since I first heard about it (it featured in my Exciting Upcoming Picture Book Releases the minute I hea...

A Shelter for Sadness Blog Tour

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 BookBairn 1 Comments

I have been anticipating this book since I first heard about it (it featured in my Exciting Upcoming Picture Book Releases the minute I heard about it's released date). Before I had even set eyes on it in real life I knew that this would be a powerful and evocative book that would support children with difficult emotions. So when I was asked to join the blog tour, I immediately said yes despite the fact that I told myself I was not doing any blog tours this year. What I'm trying to say by that is that it takes an exceptional book to make me change my mind. And this is an exceptional book!

I think, more so than ever, we need to find ways to support our children with their mental health and with dealing with the "big emotions" but we also have to accept that one of the ways we deal with our emotions is not by dismissing them or trying to conquer them but in a more quiet way by accepting that they are there and giving them space to breathe. Inspired by a quotation from Holocaust victim, Etty Hillesum (I'll insert that quotation at the end), Anne Booth has created a story that sensitively personifies sadness showing them that it is not a feeling to be feared, hidden or denied. Instead you need to give it a shelter of it's own.


A small boy creates a shelter for his sadness, a safe space where Sadness is welcome, where it can curl up small or be as big as it can be, where it can be noisy or quiet, or anything in between. (In fact, for me it reminds me of how I care for my children - giving them space to grow, or lie down or curl up small or the opportunity to be very very loud, or very very quiet - always following their lead; I don't, however, make them live in an outdoor shelter or build them bonfires and leave them unsupervised - just to be clear!) The boy can visit the shelter whenever he needs to, every day, every hour, or hardly at all. And Sadness and the boy sometimes will talk, or cry or just sit saying nothing. The boy knows that some days Sadness may come out the shelter, and together they will look out at the world and see how beautiful it is. Or that sometime he will be too busy to visit Sadness but that's ok too as he's built it a good shelter and it's safe inside there. And together they can navigate through the world holding each others' hands.

A Shelter for Sadness is a perfectly pitched picture book to help children explore the importance of making space and time for their own sadness, when they need to, and is especially poignant in the current climate of uncertainty and loss. 

With striking illustrations that are deeply evocative and rich as well as being laced with a playfulness and tenderness, David Litchfield has brought to life a Sadness that we can relate to, where we can see that Sadness is part of being human and that it can exist alongside the happiness and beauty in the world without taking up all the space and blotting out all the colour. Even if Sadness is the biggest thing in your life and requires all your focus and attention, the illustrations show that beauty and colour still exist in the world when we are ready and able to look for it outside the shelter. I also love the very subtle changing of seasons in the artwork as your turn through the pages of the book, which is a gentle reminder to children (and adults) that Sadness is with us through all seasons and does not disappear with changing weather and that that is ok.

I have long adored David's artwork and I was delighted that as part of the blog tour he agreed to let us seen inside his sketchbook for A Shelter for Sadness. It's fascinating seeing how a book comes to life and I love some of this artwork that otherwise would have been left inside a closed notebook. Thank you so much for sharing and if you want to see more of the blog tour check out the banner below.

As the importance of good mental health, empathy, and kindness  are being highlighted like never before, especially for children, this book will help them develop those skills and support them in becoming emotionally literate with the skills to cope with difficult feelings and approach others with gentleness and understanding. It's a very powerful book.

I said I would share the quotation by Ester 'Etty" Hillesum (15 Jan 1914 - 30 Nov 1943) and it feels poignant to close with it:

'Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that is its due, for if everyone bears grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate. But if you do instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge - from which new sorrows will be born for others - then sorrow will never cease in the world. And if you have given sorrow the space it demands, the you may truly say: life is beautiful and so rich.'

Hope that this book might bring you comfort and support if you need it, and start important conversations in your home,

Kim and the bairns xx

Disclaimer: This book was sent by the publisher for review. Words and opinions are my own. Please read our Review Policy  if you want to know more. If you click on the image of the book below you will be sent to Amazon.co.uk using an affiliate link.  This means that if you choose to purchase on Amazon.co.uk, I will receive a small sum (around 20-90p per book) from Amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog post please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our For Readers Section.