Tag Archives: books

The Ultimate Christmas Booklist

As regular readers will know, I review lots of books for children and parents on this blog. Which means I read a lot of books too! So, in my continual efforts to make your busy lives just that little bit easier, I have done all the hard work for you and come up with a Christmas list of the best books to buy for all the children and parents in your life. Think of it as my Christmas gift to you ūüôā

For teenage girls

It has to be Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It’s just brilliant, trust me. And while you’re at it, buy a copy for your sister and best friend too. It’s technically a ‘Young Adult’ book, but it was the best book I’d read all year when I discovered it. (See Best brave novels to inspire your teenage daughter for more suggestions). Continue reading

Children’s books that celebrate diversity

Differences really matter to children. Young children have to make sense of the world in a very short space of time. To do that, they use a lot of categorical thinking in which they allocate people or things into groups. This has huge advantages in terms of being able to organise information efficiently in their brains but it can throw up some very direct questions (“What’s wrong with that boy’s hand?“) and some incorrect assumptions (“Amrita’s skin is brown because her mummy stayed out in the sun too long.“) while they try to work through it all.

Children’s books that celebrate diversity in an active and warm way are hugely helpful for An example of children's books that celebrate diversity: Different is Awesometalking to children about diversity issues and for promoting an inclusive mindset. Not only can these messages help children value the people around them, they also send a strong signal about their own personal value as uniquely different individuals, helping to build self-esteem and confidence as well as friendship and emotional skills.

Here are my personal favourite children’s books that celebrate diversity. (If I have left your favourite off the list, please do comment below and share it with us all!). Continue reading

Books to help children cope with change

Change can be difficult for children. Children’s life experiences are much more limited than ours so they may not have learnt strategies for facing change confidently. And they often don’t have the reassurance of remembering previous occasions when they have faced big changes and adapted successfully. Young children, especially, thrive on predictability so can be stressed by even minor changes to their routine (see Helping children cope with change). Reading story books to help children cope with change can offer reassurance that change is ok and help start conversations about how children are feeling.

Here are my recommendations for reassuring and conversation-starting books to help children cope with change:
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Put a book in his stocking this Christmas (books for fathers and sons)

I know it is not¬†just¬†me who finds men and boys so much harder to buy gifts for. Having been outnumbered by¬†the males in my family for so long, I find myself increasingly desperate each Christmas to come up with new ideas to put in their stockings. My husband’s solution is to¬†opt for joke presents¬†but I can’t help striving for something that might actually do the kids some good and not end up in the bin by the end of the day.

Books are, of course the ideal solution. Educational and pocket-sized they are ideal stocking fillers. But choosing a book that¬†will actually be read and won’t just gather dust isn’t so easy. I know there are boys who love reading but there are also lots who will only pick up a book if forced…

So, whether you are buying for dads, sons, uncles, nephews, brothers or friends, here are my top recommendations for books to put in their stockings that they will love and that you will feel good about. Continue reading

Books for raising confident girls

Little girls often have a bit of a thing about princesses. Which¬†can¬†be a problem if your aim is to raise your daughter to believe she can be anything she wants to be (rather than encouraging her to sit around looking pretty and helpless until rescued by a handsome prince). But fairy tale princesses don’t have to be pathetic, it all depends on the story.

Here is my selection of books for 2-6 year olds that feature sassy princesses, with attitude and intelligence, perfect for empowering your little girls.

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Best books for raising empathetic boys

A quick glance through the shelves of the children’s section in the library is enough to know that the majority of male figures in children’s stories adhere firmly¬†to gender stereotypes: dads work, boys are brave and none of them do the housework. Not much help if one of your parenting aims is rebalancing gender bias and raising empathetic boys!
So I set out to find some picture books that might provide younger children with a few counter-cultural images of men as caring, emotional, gentle and patient.

This is my selection – I can’t guarantee that you will succeed in raising empathetic boys just by reading these books together (that’s a lifelong endeavour) but at least you will be exposing your young boys to the idea that there is more than a one-size-fits-all approach to being male. (Got a girl? Try these Books for raising confident girls!) Continue reading

Book Review: The Teenage Brain (Frances E. Jensen)

If you are a bit of a brain geek (like me)¬†and a parent of teenagers (or nearly-teens) then this is the ideal book for you. It charts the changes that take place¬†inside teenagers’ brains and how the differences between teenagers’ and adults’ brains can explain typical teenage behaviour (such as¬†impulsivity, risk-taking, mood swings, lack of insight, forgetfulness, and poor judgement).

For a parent of teenagers, The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults¬†is both an enlightening and a frightening read. It will help you¬†understand why your¬†teenagers behave the way they do (and why they can’t control it) but also just how dangerous that teen thinking and risk-taking could¬†be. A teenager’s brain is basically a recipe for disaster: a hormone flooded, jacked up, stimulus-seeking explosion¬†incapable of weighing up risks or making mature decisions. It’s amazing any of them survive at all…. Continue reading

Books for preparing toddlers for new babies

Books are a great tool for preparing toddlers for new babies. There is so much about babies that toddlers can’t anticipate¬†and sustaining a sensible focused conversation with a toddler is never easy.¬†So that precious time when you are snuggling up for a good story is a wonderful opportunity to introduce new ideas and prompt conversations about feelings and upcoming changes (see¬†tips on Preparing your child for a new baby).

Whether you are just about to tell your toddler there is a baby on the way or have¬†already welcomed your new bundle of joy, these are¬†my personal recommendations of books that help young children cope with the arrival of a sibling. But be warned, talking to toddlers about new babies can throw up some probing¬†questions about how the baby got into Mummy’s tummy in the first place – so you might also want to check out these Top 10 Books for talking to children about sex¬†too! Continue reading

Books for talking to children about emotions

It takes time for children to learn to recognise and manage¬†their feelings. Talking to children about emotions can help this process. Talking is usually¬†best done when everyone is calm and no-one is overly emotional. Reading a book together can help young children to reflect on feelings (their own and other people’s) and can prompt conversations about how emotions are expressed.

Here are my favourite books for talking to children about emotions – I hope you find them useful. Continue reading

Triple P parenting self-help workbooks

Triple P parenting self-help workbooks are an ideal solution for parents who want to learn more about positive parenting but who can’t attend a parenting course.

Triple P parenting self-help workbooksThe books cover all the same material as the acclaimed 8-week Triple P parenting courses Рhelping parents to discover and implement positive parenting strategies for managing, educating and caring for their children Рbut with the added convenience of being able to read it on the train or dip in and out as time permits. The workbooks guide parents through a 10 week series of reading, thinking and practice tasks designed to build good relationships with children, encourage their learning and development and manage their behaviour in a positive way. There are three Triple P parenting self-help workbooks to choose from, depending on the age and needs of your child: Continue reading

Best books for teenage boys

Keeping teenage boys engaged with reading isn’t always easy. At a time in their lives when instant gratification thrill-seeking instincts are in the driving seat, books for teenage boys have to compete with the higher adrenalin kicks and quicker pay-offs of sport and computer games, the social approval of hanging out with peer groups¬†and the no-brain-input-required of easy watching TV box sets. The odds aren’t good.

best books for teenage boysTo compete with those alternatives, books for teenage boys need to offer thrills, excitement and the kind of page-turning compulsion that keeps them reading even when the technology is calling. Not to mention, stretching them to new emotional levels and providing insight into themselves and the world they are about to inherit.

This is my list of¬†books for teenage boys that simply cannot be dismissed as boring! As long as¬†you can get him to start one of these books, he won’t want to put it down! (Got younger boys? See these recommendations!) Continue reading

101 ideas for supporting your child’s development

We all want our children to do well – at school and in life – and to reach their full potential. But battling over homework and bribing them to complete extra maths booklets isn‚Äôt always the best way of supporting your child’s development. supporting your child's developmentYoung children are like scientists. Their play is a series of experiments conducted on the world to find out how it works. Play helps children master key skills and develop neurological pathways in their brains: the more they use those pathways, the faster and more established they become.

The internet is jam-packed with practical ideas for busy parents to stimulate their child‚Äôs learning whilst also having fun. But most of us are too busy to wade through it to find the best ideas! So – to help out all you busy parents – I have compiled a handy resource list of articles and websites that cover all the bases when it comes to supporting your child’s development. From 2-minute games to 2-week projects, this resource list¬†gives parents concrete do-able¬†ideas¬†for using learning through play to optimise their children‚Äôs development at different ages across key developmental areas: Continue reading

20 ideas to boost children’s reading skills (that don’t involve them reading books!)

There’s no doubt that if you want to boost children’s reading skills the best thing you¬†can do is to encourage them to read. Lots and lots. boost children's readingBut not all children are quick to discover a love of books and many children (especially boys) go through periods when reading books just doesn’t float their boat (see Books to make boys love reading!).

When pushing¬†your child to read books is more painful¬†than¬†pulling teeth, it’s time to find some new ideas to engage them in reading! Books are not the only way to boost children’s reading¬†skills and inspire¬†them with a love of words and stories.

Here’s 20 ways parents can help¬†boost children’s reading skills that don’t involve them actually reading books: Continue reading

Top 10 books for teaching children about sex

Talking to children about bodies and bits and how they fit together isn’t always easy. The earlier you start and the more relaxed you are about it, the easier it will be (see Talking to children about sex, bodies and relationships). The hardest bit is getting started. Luckily, there are some great books for teaching children¬†about sex, bodies¬†books for teaching children about sexand families, which can make launching into those conversations much easier. There’s no need to buy them – your local library will have lots of books for teaching children about sex (and that way you can check them out and find exactly the right one for your family).

To help you along, here’s my top ten list of the best books for teaching children about sex, puberty and relationships (and other things we don’t like talking about). Continue reading

Books to make boys love reading!

Getting boys to read isn’t always easy. Reading has to compete with far more enticing and sociable activities such as computer games and football where the pay-offs are much quicker. Not all boys will¬†sit still long enough to get hooked by a¬†book. If they are reluctant readers or find themselves falling behind, then being forced¬†to read dull babyish books can make the situation worse. A boring book is¬†never going to inspire him¬†with a¬†love of reading.

So if you want to set your son’s¬†imagination on fire, here’s my personal list¬†of the best books to make boys love reading (8 years and upwards) – reluctant readers or otherwise. Each one of¬†them made a real contribution to my own boys’ progress and enjoyment of reading – I hope they do the same for yours! Continue reading