Daddy is My Hero by Dawn Richards, Illustrated by Jane Massey


Daddy is My Hero  (Affiliate Link) is a book of an ordinary-looking dad who is a superhero in the eyes of his child. Daddy can be a cowboy, a knight, a pirate and even flies a spaceship. He also fends off night monsters to protect his child.

However this dad does not only play heroic roles in the child’s fantasy world, he is also portrayed as a hands-on Dad who does the shopping, cleaning, cooking and gives the child baths.

In today’s world, more and more dads have the opportunity to play an active role as caregivers for their children. Dads are also sharing more childcare responsibilities with mums these days. This book is particularly brilliant in portraying dads having a nurturing role in the family.

It is definitely a heartwarming tale of a child who simply adores his dad even when there are times when they get cross at each other.

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Let Your Child See You Reading 

As parents, we’re role models for our children. These little beings look to us for guidance while they try to figure out everyday life. If we have to lead by example to make sure they learn good manners, have great values and so on, we should also show our kids that we’re readers ourselves if we would like them to be one themselves. 

Take your book and sit down and read in front of your child. Give him/her a pile of picture books to look through. It doesn’t matter if he/she flips through a couple of pages before diving into another book. The whole point of letting your child see you read (your own book) is to show that reading is fun and that it’s part of family time spent together. 

We tried this out and it worked so well. Without a doubt, Theo can’t read by himself. However when he sees us taking our books to sit and read, he runs to his bookshelf to get himself some of his favourite books and joins us on the sofa. He proudly exclaims, “Thedore reads! Theodore reads!” 


Do not expect uninterrupted reading time because toddlers will do a million things to try and get your attention. In our case, he might attempt to rip a flap off a book or simply point out a random animal on the page. When Theo tries to describe something on the page, we respond why asking him questions and letting him take his time to answer (sometimes he doesn’t even answer!). It’s all about ENCOURAGEMENT at this stage, I believe.

The Beeman by Laurie Krebs and Valerie Cis


Children’s books are fantastic – they allow us to enter a different world, where everything is magical, and they let our imagination run wild. But there are times when I want to actually teach my son some facts too. 

Back to when I was a child, I learnt facts from textbooks, flashcards, newspapers and encyclopaedias. While the latter can be interesting, the child needs to be able to read and/or understand quite a bit before benefitting from them. Therefore, I’m all for NON-FICTION picture books.

They are educational yet engaging enough for toddlers. In The Beeman, the little boy introduces us to his Grandpa who is a beekeeper. The entire process is of course simplified, but it covers areas such as equipment used, how a beekeeper dresses, how to care for a hive, the different types of bees, how honey is collected and enjoyed. At the end of the book, there is even a muffin recipe to try. 

The rhyming text is a hit with my son. He’s at the age where he loves completing familiar sentences from books he has read. The vivid illustration of bees excite him too. For educators, there are additional informative pages at the end of the book should you decide to use this book for a classroom activity. I personally find them very useful to talk to my son about bees when we see them flying around.

The Lion Who Wanted to Love by Giles Andreae

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Leo is a brave young lion who has been asked to leave the family by his mum as he takes no interest in hunting other animals. Unlike other lions, Leo just wants to befriend other animals. He is different.

I tend to like children’s fiction that features a character who is different to others. It sends the message to children that everyone is different and that’s perfectly alright. We should not mock or think that someone different is lesser.

Instead of simply fitting in, Leo sticks to his believes and befriends the other jungle animals, winning them over with his big, loving heart. The is a beautifully written rhyming story with bright illustrations that will capture a toddler’s attention.

5 Tips for Raising Readers

  
“My baby won’t sit still and read.”

“My baby just chews on books.”

“My baby is too young to understand.”

“I sound silly reading aloud to my baby.”

These are the top most common statements I hear from parents who don’t read daily with their children. Often, these parents know that reading is important for a child to develop literary skills and they do want their children to develop good reading habits. However, the reasons they give stop them from reading daily with their little ones. 

Whenever my friends tell me any of the above reasons, I urge them not to give up and simply keep trying. 

1.  Start young

I never quite understand why it’s too early to read to babies simply because they won’t understand. It’s not as if we stop talking to babies because they won’t understand us. The whole point of speaking and reading to them is so they get used to our voices, pick up vocabulary as they grow and learn communication skills. It’s NEVER too early to read to the little ones. If they won’t sit still to look at the pages, so be it. They haven’t got the attention span but they can still hear you speak the words. 

2. Make it a routine

To encourage reading, make it part of their daily lives. Many people encourage reading at bedtime. I recommend reading whenever your child is in the best mood for it. It could be in the morning, afternoon or before going to bed. In our home, I try to do it 3 times a day. We have two piles of books by the bed which we read in the morning and night time. It’s really nice to snuggle up close to read a few books before starting the day. In the day, we read by the bookshelf in the living room and we spend about 30 to 45 minutes just reading and looking through books. 

3. Let your child pick the book

I make sure my son has easy access to his books. He’s free to pull them off the shelves and flip the pages. Paperbacks are placed higher up and can only be read under adult supervision because he is not exactly the most gentle being on earth. He gets to pick whatever book and I’ll read them to him. It doesn’t matter if he decides on a different book after I’ve read a couple of pages. I let him take the lead.

4. Make it fun

Go beyond the print on the pages! Make silly noises because kids love it when you make a fool out of yourself. Be animated, and ask questions. Even if you’re reading to a baby, ask questions and provide the answers. One fine day, he or she will respond positively and you’ll feel so rewarded. 

5. Keep reading

Don’t give up just because your child doesn’t seem interested. Who cares if you sound or look silly reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar out loud surrounded by your own four walls? If you do it often enough, you’ll soon know what your child likes and dislikes, and how to get his/her attention. 

Bear in Sunshine by Stella Blackstone

 
The Bear titles published by Barefoot Books is one of my favourite series. In Bear in Sunshine, bear enjoys different fun-filled activities in the various seasons. From singing in the rain to painting when it gets misty, each page opens a wide range of topics to discuss with children. 

My son LOVES balls. Anything that’s round is a ball to him. The first thing he spotted on the cover page was bear carrying a ball. Using the ball as an object of interest, I’ll ask him to point out the ball to me in the book. The bear series is fantastic for playing I-Spy with little children. There is always something to spot in these vibrantly illustrated pages. 

This is also a good book to introduce little readers to the four seasons and weather changes. It offers lots of room for discussion on what your little one might like to do on a rainy day or a windy autumn day. 

I Love You Through and Through By Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

  

My son’s nickname is “Teddy” even before he was born. Therefore, we have the tendency to get clothings with bears on and books that feature bears as the main characters. He has recently learnt to be more affectionate towards his cuddly toys so I was thrilled to come across this book which features a little boy with his teddy bear.

The story is essentially very simple yet meaningful. It lets your little ones know that you love them for being them – love their top side, bottom side, fingers, toes, inside, outside  and so on. When I read it to my son, I point to the various body parts so he knows where they are. It reinforces that every little bit of them is being loved. 

Given that it’s a really short and simple book to read, young ones won’t get easily distracted and will probably enjoy sitting on your lap to let you read it through. I love the ending where you tell your little one that you loved them yesterday, love them today and will love them tomorrow too.