We have a number of books from this fantastic Little People Big Dreams series. I bought them with the intention of putting them away until Ivy was a little bit older but she’s really drawn to the pictures and often asks for them to be read to her.
I recently visited the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A museum as I am hugely fascinated by her story and her art. In the gift shop I bought Ivy a flowered headband in a similar style to the one you can see on the front cover. She loved it and squealed with delight when I showed her that she looked like the lady on the book. As a result we’ve read this one lots of times over the last few weeks!
This beautifully illustrated title gives a brief overview of Frida Kahlo’s short and troubled life but deals with it in an age-appropriate way. We see that she suffers a childhood illness which affects her leg and is later involved in an accident which means she must spend much of her time in bed.
We are big fans of this brightly-coloured book which introduces the concept of a metaphorical ‘love umbrella’.
The neon images throughout the story show a diverse group of children encountering situations out in the world which may make them feel sad or uncomfortable – like being afraid of the dark, feeling shy around other children, moving house or starting a new school.
The lovely rhyming text explains that even if the child is on their own, their loved one is always with them ‘under their love umbrella’. They may not always be physically present but they are right there with them in spirit to help them through, because of the strength of their love.
This is a really comforting read and it’s definitely a good one to snuggle up with before bed. There are so many scenarios in which this book could be helpful to a small child – from being worried about being left at nursery for the first time right through to the loss of a loved one.
This lovely book about hearing loss was recommended to us by one of our recent interviewees – Nell Nash of Tatty Rose. I really liked the look of it so bought us a copy and it’s currently one of Ivy’s favourite bedtime reads.
The story is about a little boy called Freddie who finds a fairy called Bessie-Belle tangled in a tree. He helps her down and she says she will grant him some wishes to say thank you. She tells him that she can’t hear very well and if you look carefully at the illustrations you can see that she’s wearing a little blue hearing aid.
Freddie doesn’t really understand this though so he mumbles when he asks for his wishes. He really wants a pet but because she can’t hear him the fairy doesn’t quite get it right. Freddie’s requests for a cat, a dog or a parrot result in a bat, a frog and a carrot – none of which make great pets!
There are so many reasons to love this magical and unique story, not least because it’s the first children’s book I have encountered which features a non-binary character using they/them/their pronouns.
From the moment they are born, little Miu-Lan is different to other children. Neither boy or girl, they are are a magical being able to shape shift at their will from one fantastical creature to another. Miu-Lan changes their appearance at will to reflect how they are feeling – one day they may soar through the skies with wings and feathers and the next have scales and a tail to swim through the ocean. Supported by their amazing mother who encourages them to be whoever they want whenever they want, Miu-Lan is happy.
This uplifting story is about a little girl called Grace who loves stories and has a big imagination. She likes nothing more than to act out the stories she hears. One day she’s Joan of Arc and the next she’s Mowgli!
At school she discovers they are going to be putting on a play and she is desperate to get the lead role of Peter Pan. However her classmates laugh at her and tell her she can’t possibly play Peter because of her gender and the colour of her skin. Deflated, Grace goes home and tells her family – who rally together to show her that she can be anything that she wants if she puts her mind to it.
When Monday arrives it’s audition time and Grace wows her friends with her acting ability. But will she get the part?
This is such a lovely book about finding the strength to follow your dreams. The life-like illustrations are fantastic and Ivy finds them fascinating. She likes to copy all of Grace’s different acting poses!
If you’ve been following us for a while you’ll know that we are big fans of picture books which take on big emotions and break them down in a way which makes it easy for children to digest. Me And My Fear by Francesca Sanna is one of the best we’ve seen.
The book is about a little girl who has moved to a new country and is starting a new school. She has always lived with fear, who is depicted as a little ghost-like creature who goes everywhere with her – but the prospect of this new school causes her fear to grow so large that it takes up more space than she does. It fills her whole house and stops her from leaving her home. This super-sized fear doesn’t want her to go to school and doesn’t want her to make new friends. As a result the girl is lonely and her experience at her new school is a miserable one.
There are lots of books out there which teach small children about colours, but this one is definitely our favourite as it also challenges gender stereotypes.
The old adage that pink is for girls and blue is for boys has no place in modern times. Every colour is for everybody and this book illustrates this really well. As we move through the colours of the rainbow we are shown boys and girls wearing each of the colours and partaking in activities which are often seen as gendered.
We see both boys and girls dressed in pink at a fancy party, boys and girls dressed in blue playing team sports, boys and girls dressed in yellow and wearing golden crowns and boys and girls dressed in green running through the grass. It encourages your child to express themselves using whichever colours and pastimes they like best, rather than those which society pushes them towards.
Adapted by his daughter Cedella, this beautiful little board book takes the lyrics of Bob Marley’s much-loved song and makes them accessible to children. The song is about unity and brotherhood and we see this play out in the gorgeous illustrations which accompany the words.
At the start of the book we see a little girl playing with her friends in a green space which is overgrown and filled with rubbish. As we move through the pages we see the people of the culturally diverse neighbourhood come together and make plans for a park. All of the adults and children work hard to achieve this goal and everyone contributes something. They gather up rubbish, they rake the grass, and they bring flowers and seeds to plant borders.
Down in the valley life is happy and peaceful – bears, foxes and birds roam the beautiful countryside. The different species live harmoniously alongside each other.
Then one day a big dog appears. The dog has a terrible hunger and eats everything in his sight. To try and calm him, a fox steps forward and plays a tune on his fiddle, but the dog just gobbles him up. The fox continues to play his tune from within the dog’s tummy and it’s heard by some brave bunnies who try to rescue him – but they also find themselves in the belly of the beast.
The dog refuses to listen to reason and continues to feed his hunger by consuming everything in his path – but deep in his tummy a community of animals is coming together. They light a fire and sit down to talk of the future. Together, they work together to rebuild their world on the inside.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman is a fantastic book about diversity and inclusion which can hold Ivy’s attention for ages as the illustrations are super detailed!
The simple story follows a class of children as they go about their day. We see them arrive at class, go through their lessons, eat their lunch, have story time, play in the playground, get picked up by their parents and then go home for dinner before being tucked up in bed. It’s a very normal day for the average child.
What is wonderful is that each of the 30 children in the class is different and we see those differences celebrated throughout the book and reinforced with the regular refrain that ‘All are welcome here’.