International Children’s Book Day

Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, 2 April, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is
celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books. As if we needed another excuse to re-read all our childhood favourites!

Below is our pick of some of the best loved children’s books, leave your suggestions in the comments below!

The Enchanted Wood, Enid Blyton

When Joe, Beth and Frannie move to a new home, an Enchanted Wood is on their doorstep. And when they discover the Faraway Tree, that is the beginning of many magical adventures! Join them and their friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree. Will it be the Land of Spells, the Land of Treats, or the Land of Do-As-You-Please? Come on an amazing adventure – there’ll be adventures waiting whatever happens.

A bear called Paddington, Michael Bond

Paddington, the bear from Darkest Peru, who was found lost on Paddington Station. The Browns first met Paddington on a railway station – Paddington station, in fact. He had travelled all the way from Darkest Peru with only a jar of marmalade, a suitcase and his hat. The Browns soon found that Paddington was a very unusual bear. Ordinary things – like having a bath, travelling underground or going to the seaside became quite extraordinary, if a bear called Paddington was involved.

The queen’s nose, Dick King-Smith

Harmony’s uncle sends her on a treasure trail – which ends in finding a 50p piece. But the coin is a magic one, and when you rub the queen’s nose, your wishes will come true.

Pipi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren

Pippi is the only girl in the world who can do exactly what she likes. She is nine years old and lives in a cottage with a horse and a monkey. Her friends Tommy and Annika have to go to school and go to bed when they’re told, but they still have time to join Pippi on all her great adventures.

The BFG, Roald Dahl

Giants are known for eating children. So when Sophie is snatched from her bed by the BFG, she fears for her life. But luckily he is far more jumbly than his disgusting neighbours. They become good friends and cook up a plan to rid the world of bad giants.

The wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken

Long ago, at a time in history that never happened, England was overrun with wolves. But as Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia discover, real danger often lies closer to home. Their new governess, Miss Slighcarp, doesn’t seem at all nice. She shuts Bonnie in a cupboard, fires the faithful servants and sends the cousins far away from Willoughby Chase to a place they will never be found. Can Bonnie and Sylvia outwit the wicked Miss Slighcarp and her network of criminals, forgers and snitches?

Stig of the dump, Clive King

Nobody believes Barney when he says he’s discovered a boy living wild in the dump. But for Barney, Stig is totally real. They become great friends, learn each other’s ways and embark on a series of exciting adventures.

The Borrowers, Mary Norton

Beneath the floor behind the kitchen clock lives a family of tiny people. Everything they have is borrowed from the “human beans”, who don’t even know they exist – until the fateful day Arrietty makes friends with “the boy” from upstairs.

Truckers, Terry Pratchett

Imagine that all around you, hidden from sight, there are thousands of tiny people. They are four inches tall, brave, stubborn and resourceful. They are the nomes. The nomes in this story live under the floorboards of a large Department Store and have never been Outside. In fact, they don’t even believe in Outside. But new nomes arrive, from – where else? – and they bring with them terrifying news: the Store is closing down and Everything Must Go . . .

Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone, JK Rowling

Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon’s house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him who’s parents have been killed in a ‘car crash’. He is bullied by them and his fat, spoilt cousin Dudley, and lives a very unremarkable life with only the odd hiccup (like his hair growing back overnight!) to cause him much to think about. That is until an owl turns up with a letter addressed to Harry and all hell breaks loose! He is literally rescued by a world where nothing is as it seems and magic lessons are the order of the day.

Nursery Rhymes to Share from Bookstart Bear

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Bookstart Bear reading a picture book

Most of us associate nursery rhymes with singing, but their bouncy rhythms are also great for reading aloud. It’s a wonderful, fun way to encourage your child’s early language development. Some rhymes are for dancing or are full of action, others are a perfect excuse for some snuggle time with your child.

You may not know that we have lots of books of nursery rhymes – some containing a single rhyme, some with a whole collection – available from your local library.  Here are a few you might like to look at.


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Ladybird Touch-and-Feel Books

There are several books in this range, but I have picked out two,
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep, both illustrated by Natalie Marshall.  Each book has five rhymes, one to every double-page spread, with each illustration having a tactile component.  After each rhyme, there is a question.  In Twinkle you can ask your children to make silly noises and in Black Sheep you and your child can count together.


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Animal Rhymes – Tony Ross

Each rhyme in this sturdy board book has its own illustrated tab, so you and your child can enjoy guessing what the next rhyme will be.  A great book for little hands.  Even better for new parents, there is a QR code on the back cover giving you free access to audio versions of the rhymes.  Great if you don’t know the tunes – you and your children can learn them together.


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Five Little Monkeys – Zita Newcome

This bumper book of action and counting rhymes shows a diverse range of children.  They, along with some additional illustrations, demonstrate the actions and activities that can be done in conjunction with the songs.  A great way to tire the children out, but it might be a good idea to try some gentler songs just before bed time.


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My Favourite Bedtime Rhymes – Sanja Rescek & Hannah Wood

With it’s lovely soft, squishy cover this board book is perfect for bedtime.  It features lots of songs on the themes of bed and night time.  Some are lots of silly fun, but most are gentle and soothing.


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Annie Kubler

This fabulous illustrator has produced lots of board books illustrating nursery rhymes.  Her books are much loved for the diversity of children represented.  Whether it is the ethnicity of a child or something that marks them as physically different, you are likely to find them in one of Annie’s books.  Some, such as Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, even have simple sign language incorporated.


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I’m Ready… to Sing! – Sonia Esplugas

Do you sometimes struggle to remember all the verses in some of the very long nursery rhymes?  This book from Ladybird prints them out in full.  An essential aid to tired mums and dads.

10 Essential Poetry Books to get you started

21 April marks World Poetry Day, here are 10 of our suggestions to get you started. Which are your favourites? Let us know below!

Ariel, Sylvia Plath

The poems in Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, including many of her best-known such as ‘Lady Lazarus’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Edge’ and ‘Paralytic’, were all written between the publication in 1960 of Plath’s first book, The Colossus, and her death in 1963. Plath’s poems are deeply felt, deeply menacing dreams, roiling and crystalline and absolutely essential.

Paradise lost, John Milton

In Paradise Lost Milton produced poem of epic scale, conjuring up a vast, awe-inspiring cosmos ranging across huge tracts of space and time, populated by a memorable gallery of grotesques. And yet, in putting a charismatic Satan and naked, innocent Adam and Eve at the centre of this story, he also created an intensely human tragedy on the Fall of Man. Written when Milton was in his fifties – blind, bitterly disappointed by the Restoration and in danger of execution – Paradise Lost ‘s apparent ambivalence towards authority has led to intense debate about whether it manages to ‘justify the ways of God to men’, or exposes the cruelty of Christianity.

Birthday letters, Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters are addressed, with just two exceptions, to Sylvia Plath, the American poet to whom he was married. They were written over a period of more than twenty-five years, the first a few years after her suicide in 1963, and represent Ted Hughes’s only account of his relationship with Plath and of the psychological drama that led both to the writing of her greatest poems and to her death.

Dart, Alice Oswald

Using conversations with people who live and work on the River Dart in Devon as a poetic census, Oswald creates a narrative of the river, tracking its life from source to sea. The voices are varied and idiomatic – poacher, ferryman, sewage worker.

Family Values, Wendy Cope

From a motorway service area to her ambivalent relationship with religion, Wendy Cope covers a wide range of experience in her new collection. Her mordant humour and formal ingenuity are in evidence, even as she remembers the wounds of a damaging childhood; and in poems about love and the inevitable problems of aging she achieves an intriguing blend of sadness and joy. Two very different sets of commissioned poems round off a remarkable volume, whose opening poem sounds clearly the profound note of compassion which underlies the whole.

Opened ground: Selected poems 1966 – 1996, Seamus Heaney

Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996 comes as close to being a ‘Collected Poems’ as its author cares to make it. It replaces his New Selected Poems 1966-1987, giving a fuller selection from each of the volumes represented there and adding large parts of those that have appeared since, together with examples of his work as a translator from the Greek, Latin, Italian and other languages. The book concludes with ‘Crediting Poetry’, the speech with which Seamus Heaney accepted the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded to him, in the words of the Swedish Academy of Letters, for his ‘works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth’.

The poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem

This comprehensive and authoritative edition of Robert Frost’s poetry brings together the full contents of all eleven of Frost’s books of verse – from A Boy’s Will to In the Clearing.This handsome volume, comprising more than 350 poems, was prepared under the editorship of Edward Connery Lathem, a Frost scholar and friend of the poet. In his notes, Mr Lathem records extensive bibliographical information about the publication of Robert Frost’s poetry during nearly three-quarters of a century – from 1894, when his first poem appeared in a national publication, to the final volume Frost worked on just before his death in 1963.

Penguin’s poems for life

Ranging from Chaucer to Carol Ann Duffy, via Shakespeare, Keats, and Lemn Sissay, this book offers something for each of those moments in life – whether falling in love, finding your first grey hair or saying your final goodbyes – when only a poem will do.

Loop of Jade, Sarah Howe

In her exquisite first collection, Sarah Howe explores a dual heritage, journeying back to Hong Kong in search of her roots.With extraordinary range and power, the poems build into a meditation on hybridity, intermarriage and love – what meaning we find in the world, in art, and in each other. Crossing the bounds of time, race and language, this is an enthralling exploration of self and place, of migration and inheritance, and introduces an unmistakable new voice in British poetry.

The world’s wife, Carol Ann Duffy

From Mrs Midas to Queen Kong, from Elvis’s twin sister to Pygmalion’s bride, they’re all here, in Carol Ann Duffy’s inspired and inspirational collection, The World’s Wife. Witty and thought-provoking, this is a tongue-in-cheek, no-holds-barred look at the real movers and shakers across history, myth and legend. If you have ever wondered, for example, how exactly Darwin came up with his theory of evolution, or what, precisely, Frau Freud thought about her husband – then this is the book for you, as the wives of the great, the good, the not so good, and the legendary are given a voice in Carol Ann Duffy’s sparkling and inventive collection.







Easter Holidays

Two whole weeks off of school leaves you with a lot of entertaining to do, but at Hampshire Libraries we have a whole range of activities and events that are fun for all ages. So bring the children down to your local library, and whilst you’re here you can browse, borrow and read while the younger ones are busy having fun.

Here are just a few examples of the wonderful entertainment on offer over the Easter period:

Easter family art workshop at Fareham Library

Family art workshop for children aged 3 to 7, 19 March, 10am to 12 noon.

Be creative as a Family and create and make Easter themed projects to take home. All materials will be provided. The workshop is free but £3 will be payable to the tutor to cover the cost of materials. Booking is essential, so contact the Library, call the Booking Line on 01329 284902 or visit to guarantee a place.

Make an Easter bunny at Fordingbridge Library

Tuesday 29th March 10am – 12pm.

Hop to your local library and make an Easter bunny! No need to book, just turn up, it’s that easy!

Easter storytime and crafts at Totton Library

Thursday 31st March 11am-12pm

Hop along to Totton Library where there will be fun stories and crafts between 11am and 12 noon. Contact us for more information and tickets.

Family ukulele workshop at Gosport Discovery Centre

Tuesday 29th March 10am – 12pm.

Get started on the ukulele with a fun workshop for you and your child. Learn your first few chords and play some fun songs together. The session will take place in a friendly group atmosphere and introduce beginners to basic strumming and chord fingering in order to play popular songs.

Booking is essential as places are limited. For more information contact Gosport Discovery Centre or call the Booking Line: 02392 523463. Cost: £8 (Concessions apply).

Charlie’s story telling parties

Monday 4th April at 10am

Join children’s entertainer and actress Charlie Sanderson for a super interactive 45 minutes storytelling party including singing, a giant parachute, bubbles and more. Ages 3+ Spaces are very limited and advance booking is essential. Cost: £3.

For more events search here!



The Full cupboard of life by Alexander McCall Smith

About the book

Mma Ramotswe, who became engaged to Mr J.L.B. Matekoni at the end of the first book in this series, is still engaged. She wonders when a day for the wedding will be named, but she is anxious to avoid putting too much pressure on her fiance. For he has other things on his mind.

Reviewed by Solent U3A

Enchanting and enjoyable book, very descriptive with lots of warm characters and good humour.

Star rating ***

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The No 1 ladies' detective agency by Alexander McCall Smith

About the book

The No. 1 LadiesDetective Agency is one woman, Precious Ramotswe, working out of a breezeblock office in Botswana. A cross between Kinsey Millhone and Miss Marple, Precious makes an unlikely heroine as she embarks on a very African mystery.

Reviewed by Titchfield Abbey WI

We all enjoyed this charming book. It held our interest right from the start when Mma Ramotswe solved the mystery of the bogus “Daddy”. The details of Mma Ramotswe’s early life and that of her father’s was cleverly woven into the story. We liked the descriptions of Botswana, the atmosphere of the land itself, seemed quite magical – so different from our own. We look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Star rating ****

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Espresso tales by Alexander McCall Smith

About the book

In Espresso Tales, Alexander McCall Smith returns home to Edinburgh and the glorious cast of his own tales of the city, the residents of 44 Scotland Street, with a new set of challenges for each one of them. Bruce, the intolerably vain and perpetually deluded ex-surveyor, is about to embark on a new career as a wine merchant, while his long-suffering flatmate Pat MacGregor, set up by matchmaking Domenica Macdonald, finds herself invited to a nudist picnic in Moray Place in the pursuit of true love. Prodigious six-year-old Bertie Pollock wants a boy’s life of fishing and rugby, not yoga and pink dungarees, and he plots rebellion against his bossy, crusading mother Irene and his psychotherapist Dr Fairbairn.

Reviewed by Bidbury Mead WI

An excellent book for our first read. Kept most of us turning the pages avidly. All of us sympathised with Bertie – the trip to Glasgow/meeting with Lard O’Connor our favourite section. We could have done without Ramsey Dunbarton’s memoirs.

Star rating ***

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The Accidental by Ali Smith

About the book

The Accidental is Ali Smith’s dazzling novel about a family holiday and a stranger who upends it. Arresting and wonderful, The Accidental pans in on the Norfolk holiday home of the Smart family one hot summer. There a beguiling stranger called Amber appears at the door bearing all sorts of unexpected gifts, trampling over family boundaries and sending each of the Smarts scurrying from the dark into the light.

Reviewed by Bridewell Beauties

The narrative didn’t flow. Virginia Woolf did it better. As a group we did not enjoy the book. A disappointment.

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Moo by Jane Smiley

About the book

Brilliantly funny satire set in a contemporary American university. Deep in the wheatfields of the American midwest, Moo University is in a state of disarray…In this witty and biting comedy of manners, Jane Smiley turns her wryly perceptive eye towards a community where men and women, the innocent and the cynical, thinkers and careerists, live and work together – in complete disharmony.

Reviewed by NWR

This is one of those books where there are so many characters and interweaving plots that it’s easy to lose one’s way. There are many interesting characteristics and observations of campus life and a good deal of humour but it is not an easy book to discuss in a group and a bit of a slog to get through.

Star rating **

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A Thousand acres by Jane Smiley

About the book

Larry Cook’s farm is the largest in Zebulon County, Iowa, and a tribute to his hard work and single-mindedness. His decision to hand the farm over to his 3 daughters is out of character, and Caroline, who has misgivings, is immediately cut out.

Reviewed by Friends of Farnborough

One person thought this was wonderful. A few thought it was quite good but most of the group gave it a two star rating. It was well written but the characters were not that believable.

Star rating **

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