Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I’m Eloise, a mother, writer, and parent educator. I live in a house full of books in South London with my husband Sam, our daughter Frida who will be four in April, and our mischievous ginger cat Albie. We will be home educating Frida, and I’m inspired by a range of approaches including Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, the Scandinavian model of education, the Forest School movement, and unschooling.
What is your daughter’s favourite book?
Oh that is so hard – it varies from day to day. Like me, she’s a real bookworm and will happily sit for hours whilst we read to her. Can I cheat and name a few? For non-fiction, she loves the brilliant Nature Storybooks series, Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures (this probably wins the award for the book I’ve been asked to read the most!), and Tiny by Nicola Davies has been a firm favourite for years now. In terms of fiction, it’s just too hard to say. We’ve just read Mister Cleghorn’s Seal by Judith Kerr which was brilliant.
Which book do you most like reading to her and why?
It’s a tie between “When We Were Very Young” and “Now We Are Six”, the two poetry collections by A. A. Milne. Many of the poems included are just such a joy to read aloud, and some are really quite beautiful. I could read them for hours.
Who is your favourite illustrator and why?
My favourite modern illustrator has to be Emily Sutton. Her illustrations are just gorgeous, and they bring so much character to the books she illustrates. I also really, really love Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge illustrations, and Beatrix Potter’s illustrations too. Basically, give me all the cute mice and rabbits.
What do you look for when shopping for a new book for your child?
Rich language, beautiful illustrations or photos, and an interesting subject or storyline. I want books which have been written by someone who is passionate about their subject or story, rather than churned out with no real soul poured in (it’s usually easy to tell when you pick up a book which category they fall into!). It’s also really important to me that we read books where the characters are kind and helpful in their interactions with one another. If the main character is unpleasant or acts in an unkind manner, I won’t bring the book into our home. This will of course change as Frida gets older and can engage in more nuanced discussion about why people behave the way they do, but for now I want books we read together to reflect the goodness, courage, creativity and tenacity of human beings. I really like Charlotte Mason’s idea of “living books“.
What would you like to see more of in kids’ books today?
I’d like to see more effortless diversity. What I mean by that is that I’d like to see many, many more books where the characters just happen to be more diverse, without the whole book being about that particular aspect of their lives or the main selling point of the book being the diversity element of the book. I’d like to see more characters of all skin colours, of all body types, all family set-ups, and all gender expressions featuring in books with brilliant plots and gorgeous illustrations; not just “Billy has two mummies” but “Billy gets up to all kinds of adventures” and the two mummies are just there in passing in the background. I’d also really like to see more rich and complex language being used in children’s books, even – especially – books for very young children. When children are young their brains are like sponges (Maria Montessori called the period age 0-6 “The Absorbent Mind) and they soak everything up, so it’s the perfect age to introduce them to a really wide range of beautiful, complex words.
Eloise runs a range of peaceful parenting online courses covering subjects such as crafting a family rhythm, creating meaningful family celebrations, and making sense of screens. She also runs a peaceful parenting membership group. You can read her blog and find out more about her work at www.fridabemighty.com and find her on Instagram @mightymother_ where she posts parenting insights alongside snippets of daily life with her daughter. Eloise also runs a free Facebook group called ‘A Beautiful Childhood’.