We are all huge fans of books in this house.
Me with my shelves of well thumbed novels, Leigh with his science fiction and medical tomes, Arthur with his picture books and classic adventures. Orson does not often sit still enough to be able to get through a whole book together, but even he lights up when one is put before him, turning the pages to glimpse the magic within.
There are so many ways to access stories and information, and we exploit them all, but there is something particularly special about books – the way they are so carefully curated and yet so open to interpretation, the way something so simple can transport you so far.
We have over the past few years discovered many wonderfully inspiring children’s books, books which help to widen Arthur’s horizons, which act as a portal for him to explore the world and also to better understand himself.
Here are five of our favourites.
You’re Here for a Reason Nancy Tillman
We have several of Nancy Tillman’s books and love them all for their magical illustrations and deeply enriching messages, all told through soul-satisfying rhyme. This one focuses in on the impact that our actions have on the world, how a kindness can ripple for days and how even when it’s hard to find a purpose it can appear in the most unexpected ways. When we read it together I can feel Arthur soften into me as it calms the anxieties that play on his mind and (I hope) strengthens his resolve that he can make a difference.
The Fox and the Star Coralie Bickford-Smith
This is such a gorgeously tactile book, with its softly textured cover and thick, heavy pages. The prose is sparse but powerful, and the block printed illustrations effectively conjure the world of the forest. It is a love letter to the magic of the natural world, inspiring and thought-provoking in equal measure.
Stories for Boys who Dare to be Different Ben Brooks
Arthur loves to hear the stories of the real-life men and boys who grace the pages of this book. In a world which is still way too bound by gender stereotypes – some days seemingly increasingly so – I think it is so valuable for him to collect a wealth of different role models who have all challenged the status quo in their own unique ways. We have Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls as well, and the combination of the two is serving to broaden his mind considerably – something which will hopefully have a positive impact on his own self concept as well as the young man he grows up to be.
This is How we do it Matt Lamothe
There are many wonderful things about a childhood in Devon, but immersion in a variety of different cultures is not one of them. Fortunately we have some great books to give Arthur a window onto the wider world, and this is one of our faves. It follows a day in the life of seven real kids around the world, from Japan to Russia to Peru, managing to avoid obvious stereotypes and sparking off some interesting conversations along the way.
The Journey Francesca Sanna
Another book full of insights into the international community, this time through the deeply unsettling tale of a refugee family forced to leave their home when war arrived on their doorstep. The striking illustrations teeter between imagined nightmares and stark reality, reinforcing the feelings of empathy that the words evoke. Whilst this is not an easy read it is definitely a gripping and important one.
I would love to hear about the books you have found to educate and inspire your little revolutionaries. We’re always on the lookout for new additions to our shelves!