Miss Youldon’s Book Recommendations

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I’m Beth Youldon, a Teacher, Early Years Lead and Early Reading Lead, and I’m passionate about fostering a love for reading in young children. There’s nothing quite like seeing a child’s eyes light up as you read them a captivating book, or when they proudly decode their first words. It’s in those moments that we witness the transformative power of literacy. 

‘Story Time’ is undoubtedly my favourite part of the school day because sharing stories is a wonderful way to connect and build relationships with the children in my class. We go on a journey together as a class family and nothing compares! I love how books are mirrors and windows; they allow children to see themselves in characters and explore cultures and experiences that differ from their own, helping them understand themselves, other humans and the world around them, building compassion and empathy.

As a teacher, I understand the pivotal role that parental involvement plays in nurturing a love for reading and fostering lifelong learning in children. Reading aloud to children from an early age is one of the most powerful ways to support their language development and lay the foundation for a lifelong love of reading. 

A child and mom share a moment reading a bedtime story together

With this in mind, and World Book Day approaching, I am delighted to offer you my top book recommendations for children ages 3-6. Here they are:

The research into reading and the ‘Million Word Gap’ proves the profound impact that regular exposure to language through reading can have on a child’s vocabulary and language.

Here are some of the statistics from the research:

  • If a child is never read to, they may only hear around 4,662 words by the time they are 5 years old.
  • Reading to a child 1-2 times per week can increase their exposure to words to approximately 63,570 by the time they are 5 years old.
  • If a child is read to 3-4 times per week, they may hear around 169,525 words by age 5.
  • Daily reading to a child can expose them to approximately 296,660 words by the time they are 5 years old.
  • For children who are read 5 books a day, their exposure to words can skyrocket to around 1,483,300 by age 5.

These numbers highlight the importance of reading aloud to children on a regular basis. By exposing children to a rich and diverse vocabulary through books, we help expand their language skills, enhance their comprehension abilities, and foster a deeper understanding of the world around them.

1. The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas (the pop-up version is incredible)

In this story, the Colour Monster’s emotions are all mixed up and he doesn’t know how to sort them out. With the help of a friend, the Colour Monster begins to identify and understand each of his emotions. I begin the school year with this book every year and revisit it throughout the year. It is not only a beautifully illustrated book, it sparks meaningful conversations about emotions and provides children with valuable tools for recognising and talking about their feelings. 

2. I Say Ooh You say Ahh by John Kane

I say OOH You say AAH by John Kane

This is an interactive and entertaining story that will have you, your child/ children giggling all the way through. As children eagerly participate in the call-and-response format of the book, they become active participants in the storytelling process, fostering engagement and interaction with the text. It’s a great mood booster and connection builder. My class and I love it. I am sure you will too!

3. Little People Big Dreams

Little People, Big Dreams Greta Thunberg

Each book in the series tells the story of a remarkable individual who has made a significant impact on the world, despite facing obstacles along the way. Through engaging storytelling and fascinating illustrations, these books inspire children to dream big and believe in the power of determination to make a difference in the world. Scan through the vast collection and pick a book about a significant individual who means something to you, or let your child choose! Some of my class favourites include stories about: Marcus Rashford, Shakira, Greta Thunberg and Rosa Parks- we love them!

4. I Like Myself! Karen Beaumont

Through playful rhymes and vibrant illustrations, ‘I Like Myself!’ encourages children to embrace their own identities and celebrate the things that make them special. It teaches valuable lessons about self-esteem, resilience and the importance of loving themselves just the way they are. The rhyming, rhythm and repetition enables children to join in with words and phrases, making reading it a delightful self-affirming, shared experience.

5. Mabel and the Mountain by Kim Hillyard

It tells the story of a determined little fly named Mabel who embarks on an adventurous journey to conquer a towering mountain. Along the way, she encounters various obstacles and faces moments of doubt, but her determination keeps her going. It’s a heart-warming tale that inspires children to believe in the magic of possibility and the extraordinary potential within each of us. This book is a hit EVERY SINGLE TIME!

6. Look Up! Nathan Bryon

Look Up! Nathan Bryon

It tells the story of a young girl named Rocket who dreams of becoming an astronaut and traveling to space. In the story, she eagerly awaits the arrival of a comet that will pass over her city. She is determined to share this event with her community and encourages everyone to join her in looking up at the sky. However, Rocket finds that many people are too preoccupied with their screens and devices to notice the beauty of the world around them. Through Rocket’s inspiring journey, readers learn the importance of curiosity, connection, and never losing sight of their dreams. It’s a book that ignites the imagination and leaves a lasting impression on all who read it.

7. Share your favourite stories from childhood!

When you do this, what happens is just magical! If children see your love and passion for books, they are more likely to develop a love of reading. I always share my favourite books from childhood, one of them being ‘Peace at Last’ by Jill Murphy. ‘Peace at Last’ is one of our most read stories in the classroom. Children often select it from our bookshelf to read themselves, with a friend or chose it to read it as a class. When reading alone, even the children who are not confident in decoding words, will retell the story in their own words and will say the repetitive phrases from the story that they have remembered. Not only will sharing favourite books foster a love of reading, but will also create lasting memories and strengthen the bond between you and your child.

Not only is reading about imparting knowledge and improving literacy skills, it’s about nurturing the heart and mind of a child, laying the foundations for a future filled with curiosity, imagination, and wonder. It’s one of the greatest gifts a parent/carer can give, and its impact extends far beyond the pages of a book. So, let’s heed the call to action and make reading a cherished part of every child’s daily routine. Open the doors to imagination, knowledge and endless possibilities one book at a time.

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