It was back in the summer that I published my first post in what was intended as an occasional series on building a library of books for your children. Last time I focussed on the 2-5 age group, mainly picture books and mainly classics. This time I am moving on a little to the 4-7 age group, ie Key Stage 1. This is the age when children are just learning to read, but they still value and need to be read to – the phonics and early reading books are much better than they used to be (I loved reading the Oxford Reading Tree Biff, Chip and Kipper books that my kids brought home from school), but they are designed to expose your children to vocabulary, word order and sentence construction – they are tools designed specifically to aid learning; good children’s literature, on the other hand, fosters joy, builds a bond between child and reader and should inspire.
There are some good chapter books now for six and seven year olds: precocious readers who benefit from the challenge of something more complex, but still need age-appropriate themes and subject-matter. I would argue, however, that at this age pictures are still vitally important. Pictures help to build vocabulary organically, they give the child something to look at and focus on whilst listening, as they may not be able to read all of the words themselves, and they help the child develop their imaginative skills as they look at the visions created for them by authors and illustrators. For this age group, the quality of the illustration is just as important as the text; can you imagine AA without EH, or Julia without Axel?
So, for those of you looking to build a library for the child or children in your lives, here are my top ten suggestions. The list is (absolutely!) not exhaustive of course, but these ten will provide the foundation for something wonderful. Nearly all of the books below are just one in a series or the same authors have written similar titles that you can add to the collection.
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (plus the other 22 books in her classic collection!)
- The Mr Men and Little Miss series by Roger Hargreaves
- Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne
- The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
- The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff
- Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
- Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
- Look Inside – Things That Go by Rob Lloyd Jones and Stefano Tognetti
- The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
- The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
I would love to hear your suggestions of books for this age group, particularly any that you have enjoyed sharing with the little people in your life.
I would love to hear your suggestions of indispensable titles for 4-7 year olds.
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