Books with Cats to Share

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Many children are attracted to soft, fluffy things: their favourite blanket, teddy bears, daddy’s jumper, touch-and-feel books, the list is endless.  They particularly like warm, soft and fluffy and this often means animals.

Whether or not you have pets at home, there are plenty of books around to introduce your youngsters to the animal kingdom.  This month we have chosen some of our favourite books about cats for you to share!

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Black Cat, White Cat – Silvia Borando

This is the story of two cats: Black Cat, who only goes out in the day, White Cat, who only goes out at night, and what happens when they meet.

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A Cat’s Day – Rebecca Rissman & Becka Moor

If you are looking for a picture book with a difference, this could be it. Start the book at one end and read the story of a boy’s day – start at the other end and find out what his cat is doing. The two stories meet up in the middle pages.

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A Dark, Dark Tale – Ruth Brown

Although this book may seem a little bit spooky, the illustrations provide plenty of opportunities for discussion and, sometimes, to try and find the cat. It has a surprise ending that made me laugh out loud.

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Hairy Maclary Scattercat – Lynley Dodd

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy is always good fun – but the cats in this story don’t think so. Will our hairy friend meet his match?

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I love cats – Emma Dodd

All kinds of cats prowl and purr through this delightful rhyming book, but one cat is best of all.

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The King Cat – Marta Altés

A cat’s life isn’t always easy. One day you’re king of the house, then the next day everything changes. A story about getting used to changes at home.

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Matilda’s Cat – Emily Gravett

Matilda likes playing with all sorts of things. She is certain her cat likes the same things. The cat is not convinced, but there is one thing Matilda’s cat really loves.

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Me and my Cat – Michael Dahl

A book that introduces young children to living with and loving your cat. Includes a note from the cat with a list of things they would like their new owners to remember.

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Mog and the Baby – Judith Kerr

Mog’s peaceful day is shattered when a baby comes to visit. “Mog loves babies,” says Mrs Thomas – but Mog isn’t quite so sure!

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Naughty Kitty! – Adam Stower

Lily had always wanted a doggy, but Mum said a kitten would be much less messy. After all, how much trouble can one tiny tabby get into? A great book for children who lived ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’.

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Tabby McTat – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Fred the busker and his cat, Tabby McTat, are purr-fectly happy, singing together all day long. But when Fred gives chase to a thief, the two are separated. Will they ever find each other again?

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There are no cats in this book – Viviane Schwarz

Have you come to play with the cats in this book? The thing is Tiny, Moonpie and André have gone out to see the world. Haven’t they…?

Counting Books to Share from Bookstart Bear

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Baby Bookstart Bear reading a book

Sharing picture books with children is a great way to introduce them to the skills, ideas and concepts they will require in later life.  It’s not just about words and reading.

This selection of books will help your children to discover the world of numbers and counting.  Once they get the idea from books, you can encourage them to start counting everywhere: in the supermarket, at the park, in the library.

If your child has a favourite counting book, please tell us about it in the comments section.  We always love to receive recommendations.

 

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1 2 3 Under the Sea – Martina Hogan & Frankie Jones

This simple, easy to handle board book lets you and your little one count under sea creatures together.

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10 Little Circus Mice – Caroline Stills & Judith Rossell

A charming picture book that makes learning to count fun. A group of mice set out to do their morning chores, but one disobedient mouse is more interested in playing. Who wants to sweep the floor when you could be flying high on a trapeze? But, watch out, there’s a kitten lurking nearby.

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Fruits – Valerie Bloom & David Axtell

How much fruit can one small girl eat in a day? In turns out, quite a lot!  Count from one to ten, learn the names of some Caribbean fruits, and find out what happens after eating a cocktail of mangoes, bananas and more.

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Guinea Pig Party – Holly Surplice

Count to ten and back again as you join in the Guinea Pig Party.  Like many toddler parties, it all goes a bit wrong.  Don’t worry, it all ends happily with party bags all round.

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Maisy’s First 1 2 3 – Lucy Cousins

Maisy Mouse is counting her favourite animals. Help her count one, two, three, four, five. Butterflies, tortoises, fizzy fish, swirly snails and one stripy tiger will guide you through your first numbers.

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My Granny Went to Market – Stella Blackstone & Christopher Corr

Granny races around the world on a magic carpet, visiting many different countries to do her shopping. A light-hearted counting book with a multi-cultural theme.

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One Mole Digging a Hole – Julia Donaldson & Nick Sharratt

This basic one-to-ten counting book is brought to life with zany illustrations and ridiculous rhymes.  Sure to make you and your little one giggle as you find parrots pulling up carrots and bears picking pears.

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One, Two, That’s My Shoe! – Alison Murray

A simple rhyme introduces the numbers from one to ten as we chase the dog through the books.

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Six Little Chicks – Jez Alborough

Hen tries to keep track of her little chicks. You need to keep counting to make sure they are all safe – especially when there is a hairy, scary fox on the prowl.

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

A small and very hungry caterpillar eats one apple on Monday, two pears on Tuesday, and more food every day until, on Saturday, he has an enormous feast. The caterpillar grows into a beautiful butterfly and at the same time manages to nibble his way through the pages of this book

(Nearly) Wordless Picture Books to Share from Bookstart Bear

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Baby Bookstart Bear reading a book

Sharing picture books with children is a wonderful way to bond, spend quiet time together and introduce your little ones to the big world beyond your arms.  The stories can be funny, informative and comforting and the illustrations help guide the child through the book, encouraging them to work out the words for themselves.  But what do you do when there are no words; or just one or two?

The following books are some of my favourite (nearly) wordless picture books.  They offer you and your child an opportunity to ask questions about what the pictures are showing and, using imagination and creativity, develop your child’s own stories and ideas.  They are great for developing empathy and can be enjoyed by everyone – especially useful for people who are not confident readers or for those who don’t have English as their home language.

 

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Stick! – Andy Pritchett

This delightful book about fun and friendship only uses six different words, but it is very clear what is happening.  The backgrounds are all very simple and uncluttered and the story makes me smile every time I read it.

Some authors have created a range of wordless picture books. You may already be familiar with the board books produced by Helen Oxenbury. If not, you might like to look at these three.

Dressing    book cover

Friends       book cover

Playing       book cover

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Red Sledge – Lita Judge

There are words in this book, but not very many and they are more like guidelines to help you create sound effects.  If you have a young child who has been slow in speaking, encourage them to make the sounds with you.

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Clown – Quentin Blake

I know that some children find clowns a bit creepy – and so do some grown-ups – but this book might help to change that.  It starts as a sad story, but develops into a tale full of friendship and hope.

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Archie – Domenica More Gordon

Archie is a very enterprising dog. The busier he gets, the more words appear on the page, but they are all single words, not sentences. Word of Archie’s talents spread – who do you think will be his most important customer?

Another author who specialises in wordless picture books is Alison Jay.  There are no words at al in her books, unless they are on sign.  Each page takes you a step further through the story.  The pictures are bright and busy, but very clear and often amusing.  At the end of each book you will find some pages of information or suggestions to help expand a message from the pictures.  Try these three and, if you like them, look for more of her titles on the library catalogue.

Bee – & – Me                 book cover

Out of the Blue             book cover

Welcome to the Zoo     book cover

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Mr Wuffles – David Weisner

I have to confess that this is one of my favourite picture books of all time. It contains, cats, aliens and insects and, although words are used, only one of the characters speaks English. The other languages are truly alien. It is an exciting story and great fun, especially for slightly older children.

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Moonlight – Jan Ormerod

I’m ending this collection with a beautiful book about a family’s evening and how they prepare for bed. I’m certain the images will strike a chord with many a tired parent, but it is also useful for promoting discussions about bed time with your young child.

If you have a favourite wordless (or nearly wordless) picture book for young children, please let us know in the comments.  We’d love to get some new ideas.

Books About Families to Share from Bookstart Bear

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Baby Bookstart Bear reading a book

For most of us, our family is the one big constant in our lives.  They provide a safe place for us to learn and grow in a loving environment.  But families come in all shapes and sizes.  Our family may be very different to those of our friends.  Even our own family doesn’t always stay the same.

The following books are just a few suggestions that introduce young children to the diversity of family life.  You will find lots more in your local library.  If you can’t find what you are looking for, ask a member of staff.  If they don’t have something suitable on the shelves, they can always request something for you.

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Baby Baby blah blah blah! – Jonathan Shipton & Francesca Chessa

Emily’s mum is expecting twins and Emily makes a list of good and bad things about babies so the family can talk about what life will be like after the twins are born.
Age: 3+

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Don’t let the Aliens get my Marvellous MUM! – Gillian Shields & Liz Pichon

This little girl can’t imagine what her life would be like if her mum wasn’t there to do all those wonderful things that mums do!  An out of this world book with simple text and bright illustrations.
Age: 3+

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Ella Moves House – Angela Hassall & Caroline Ewen

Simple story of Ella whose Mum has a new partner. They are all moving in together, but Ella isn’t happy about this until Jo saves the day and rescues the situation.
Age: 5+

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Families, Families, Families! – Suzanne Lang & Max Lang

This book introduces a whole host of silly animal families, who all carry the same message. It doesn’t matter how your family is made up – if you love each other, then you are a family.
Age: 3+
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Flora’s Family – Annette Aubrey & Patrice Barton

This book uses a simple rhyming text.  Flora finds out she is adopted and her parents explain what that means. Useful notes for parents and carers at the back.
Age: 4+

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My Mum Goes to Work – Kes Gray & David Milgrim

A child’s perspective on how much a working mum misses him, and how she makes up for it when they are together.
Age: 3+

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My Two Grannies – Floella Benjamin & Margaret Chamberlain

Two Grannies, two cultures, but only one grandchild.  The competing Grandmas learn to celebrate their differences through their shared love for their granddaughter.
Age: 4+

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Silly Baby – Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

When all the family fusses over the new baby, Beth feels excluded but Gran spots the problem and helps her change her mind.
Age: 2+

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The Great Big Book of Families – Mary Hoffman & Ros Asquith

A fresh, optimistic look at contemporary family life.  Drawing on the huge diversity of families, this book highlights their similarities as well as their differences.  Featuring homes, jobs, holidays and much more.
Age: 5+

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When Daddy’s Truck Picks Me Up – Jana Novotny Hunter

A bouncy, rhyming and exuberant story about Dad’s anticipated arrival at preschool having been working away.
Age: 3+

Fairy Tales and Fables to Share from Bookstart Bear

Bookstart Bear reading a picture book

For many of us, the stories we remember most from our childhood are fairy tales, fables and traditional stories.  Those stories may vary, depending on our backgrounds and heritage, but they all play a big part in developing our imaginations and building a sense of wonder.

In your local library you will find a wide variety of fairy tales.  Many follow the traditional stories handed down from generation to generation.  Others put a new spin on those tales, or combine them in unlikely ways.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

 

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The Lion & The Mouse – Jerry Pinkney

The only words in this version of Aesop’s tale are animal noises.  Beautifully illustrated and ideal for encouraging children to tell their own version of the story.

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Each Peach Pear Plum – Janet & Allan Ahlberg

A much loved picture book which introduces young readers to characters from traditional and nursery tales.  It is exciting for children to try and guess who will be next and they are assisted in this by the gentle rhyming format.

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The Great Fairy Tale Disaster – David Conway & Melanie Williamson

This amusing book has the Big Bad Wolf bringing chaos to lots of well known fairy tales.  A great book for encouraging discussion with children who are familiar with the original stories.

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Princess, Fairy – Penny Dale

A modern story with a Princess, a frog, some magic and a happy ending!  It is very ‘girly’ – ideal for fans of pink, glitter and sparkles.

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The Emperor’s New Clothes – Susanna Davidson & Mike Gordon

An amusing retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s story.  The pictures are especially good.

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Cinderella – Nick Sharratt & Stephen Tucker

This is one of the traditional Cinderella stories, but it’s told in rhyme.  The illustrations are fabulous and there are lots of flaps to lift and explore.  It may be a bit on the wordy side for very young children.

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The Giant Turnip – Henriette Barkow & Richard Johnson

This modern retelling of a traditional story is available as a dual language books.  There are more than a dozen different community language versions available from Hampshire Libraries.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears – Nicola Baxter & Ailie Busby

Another modern retelling of a well loved story.  This version has a rhyming text and lots of word repetition – brilliant for encouraging emerging readers.

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The Three Billy Goats Fluff – Rachel Mortimer & Liz Pichon

This book gives a funny twist to a classic fairy tale.  Like all the best stories, it ends with everyone living happily fluffily ever after.

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The Elves and the Shoemaker – Lorna Read & Jan Lewis

A lovely retelling of a traditional tale.  Ideal for reading aloud and sharing with young children.

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.