I’ve been tagged by Rowan. This time to ‘fess up to the favourite children’s books in our house. This one I appreciate, as I’m always on the hunt for new books for our two. Amy is 4 and Irie is 2 and they both demand to be read to pretty much constantly. The age range makes for difficult choices, as Amy can happily sit through really quite long books now, while Irie is obviously at a much younger age. That said, all she wants is to be like her sister, so she’ll gamely try pretty much anything…
First up has to be Amy’s current favourite. She’s obsessed with Mr Men at the moment, and Mr Dizzy has her in gales of laughter when the oh-so-smug Elephant shouts “Dopit dopit!” with a knot in its trunk. My mum brought us a whole heap of mid seventies editions of Mr Men books from my childhood recently and I must admit to finding the moral a touch iffy in quite a few of them, but this one is (apparently) genuinely funny. There’s no accounting for taste, I guess.
For Irie after Mr Wolf’s Pancakes it has to be Little Rabbit Foo Foo. He is so very naughty, which I think Irie rather digs. And his punishment only seems to cause amusement, not concern. Michael Rosen is cool, too, which helps.
After the Mr Men Amy’s next obsession is Topsy and Tim. Yes, yes… I’m not sure quite how my kids got into the children’s books equivalent of seventies public service films either. That said, Topsy and Tim At The Farm (for example), holds genuine appeal. The utterly real nature of the stories gives us lots to talk about and Amy is quite happy to place herself in the story. Irie thinks they’re boring – and says so.
Rastamouse And The Crucial Plan is mine really. I love reading it (it gives me a chance to do my shit Jamaican accent); the rhythm of the words and the rather cheesy plot (they are mice, after all) make it great for Dads to read aloud. I also like the fact that apart from White Teeth it’s one of the few places you’ll find the word Irie defined, as there’s a helpful dictionary of patois at the back of each book in the series.
Last but not least it was a toss up between two ancient books that Claire and I loved as kids. I’ve gone for Harry the Dirty Dog, but it could equally have been The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Both stories are really a bit rubbish in modern terms, but the kids seem to love them and I’ve read them so many times that I can recite both off by heart.
What this makes me realise is that our kids, despite having tens, nearly hundreds, of books seem to go for the older ones. I’m guessing this is down to the fact that we own lots of books that Claire and I liked when we were children ourselves and so read them more often, but it does seem a little odd.
I’m pretty sure I’ll read anything that gets dragged off the shelf (except perhaps a rather appalling rendition of the nativity which makes my skin crawl) so maybe they’re choosing the Topsy and Tim, Mr Men, Harry the Dirty Dog and so on by themselves? Time will tell, I guess. If I find Amy with a Secret Seven habit a year or two from now then I’ll know it’s actually all down to me.
So, who to tag? Richard (if you’re reading this), Stef (leave something in the comments), Monty (after your “bat before ball” comment the other day I’m looking to your parenting skillz to get me through) and Francois (anything except Richard Scarry, the girls won’t buy it however hard I try). I’m desperate for recommendations, so any other readers with kids please take up the baton too.