Category Archives: Books

Book Review: The Children’s Meditations In My Heart

When I was pregnant I really got into yoga and meditation; although I no longer attend sessions, I do some stretches at home and I meditate when I can. Recently I’ve been reading the heart meditations from The Children’s Meditations In My Heart book to my son before bed; both of us have benefited from sharing these lovely meditations.

The Children’s Meditations In My Heart is a book by Gitte Winter Graugaard, a Danish writer and mindfulness instructor. The book has four heart meditations for you to read to your child, or children, as well as advice on how to make the most out of the meditations in the book. The meditations are designed to help your child unwind and drift happily off to sleep.

Book Review: The Children's Meditations In My Heart

My son has always struggled to fall asleep and he’s recently started taking part in a stretch and relaxation class after school. After the classes he is very relaxed and happy, which can only be encouraged. As part of the sessions, the children take part in a meditation and because of this, I knew he would respond well to the heart meditations in the book.

Before you read the meditations to your child, it’s worth sitting down and reading the introductions so you know the idea behind them. There are also instructions on how to read it and what you can do to encourage mindfulness at home. Nothing is more calming for your child before bed than listening to your familiar voice reading a story about your great love for your family.

The first meditation guides your child into their heart to teach them to fill their heart with love. In the following meditations, you teach your child to send and receive love at a distance, to catch love from a little love cloud, and to send love into the universe. It’s a special feeling sending your child to sleep with their heart full of love. 

What we do is snuggle down at bedtime and he closes his eyes. Then using a calm voice, I read the meditation to him; pausing when indicated and using his name when there is a space in the text for his name.

Book Review: The Children's Meditations In My Heart

Each meditation is completely lovely. As well as filling him up with love, they fill me up with love too. This book is a wonderful way to verbalise your feelings for your child and to encourage them to love themselves; which in turn helps to grow in confidence and resilience. The meditations take them off into a calm faraway land and helps them to visualise their heart and see and feel it being filled by love. It really is a special book and an equally special thing to do with your child.

The book and the meditations within it are suitable for all ages of child and adults too. The Children’s Meditations In My Heart by Gitte Winter Graugaard was an immediate hit in Denmark. Graugaard’s book has since been translated into English and is now available in the UK.

I love this book. It’s beautifully illustrated and easy to read and understand. It really helps my son wind down after a busy and energetic day at school. I really enjoy reading them to him and reminding him gently how loved he is. It’s a wonderful book and a great introduction to meditation for children.

The Children’s Meditations In My Heart is available from Room For Reflection for £14.95 for an illustrated hard-back copy.

Win a copy of The Children’s Meditations In My Heart

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3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
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5. The winner will be sent a copy of The Children’s Meditations In My Heart.
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Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has always been a firm favourite of ours. It’s the classic story of a hungry caterpillar who munches its way through all kinds of healthy and unhealthy foods. He then gets a tummy ache and eventually turns into a beautiful butterfly. With it being such a favourite, it is the perfect base for a bit of educational play. I put together a little game to help to really cement the alphabet into the heads of little ones, so here’s my The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

The alphabet game is really simple to play. Just print out the two sheets which you can download for free here. If you can, print the game onto card, it’ll last longer that way.  Once it’s printed out, take the card with the letters on and cut them all out. There’s a little card with instructions on there too if you need them.

You can either work with your little one to put them in the right order on the board, or you could put some of the letter cards in the right places and get them to fill in the gaps. It’s a really good way of helping to get the alphabet fixed in their heads.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

It’s ideal for younger children, but my 7 year old couldn’t resist having a play with the alphabet game too. It was a good confidence builder for him. He knew what he was doing and where the cards needed to be. Like many children, he sometimes just needs to do something fairly basic every so often to build confidence in his own ability.

It wasn’t part of my original plan for the game, but once he’d completed the board he moved on to spelling out words with the letters. This can only really be encouraged, it’s all good learning and reinforcement of what he knows already.

Not only was he practicing his alphabet, he was also exercising his hand eye coordination and his fine motor skills. We also had a good chat about The Very Hungry Caterpillar and talked about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, it’s all good learning and pretty fun too!

Download The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game for free here.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like my Squash and a Squeeze Story Book Bag.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

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Five Books about the Environment for Earth Day

Taking care of our environment and doing our bit to look after our planet is something we’ve always talked about with our son. We’ve always been keen recyclers and I’m known for being a bit frugal with the gas and electricity. Over the last few months the boy has been learning more about the environment both at school and at Beavers. It doesn’t hurt to reinforce the message at home too, so we’ve been doing some reading about the subject. We’ve got lots of great books about he environment and with Earth Day just around the corner, here are our five favourites.

Five Books about the Environment for Earth Day

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers. Like all of Oliver Jeffers’ books Here We Are is a beautiful, heartfelt story, it’s about the wonder of our planet and about how we should love it and care for it. It’s a simple story with a big message and one which children will enjoy reading and sharing with you. It’s a book about kindness and respect and care.

Five Books about the Environment for Earth Day

Compost Stew: An A-Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals. Composting is one of the first environmentally friendly things I learned to do as a child. It’s a really easy introduction to learning more about the environment and climate change. How do you start a compost pile? What’s safe to include? This book is perfect for Earth Day reading and provides answers for children and families looking for simple, child-friendly ways to help the planet.

The Coral Kingdom by Laura Knowles and Jenny Webber celebrates the beauty, diversity and fragile ecosystem of the coral reef. This visually stunning picture book has a strong ecological message about the need to protect this most precious environment. Follow and explore the life cycle, diversity and colour of the coral reef ecosystem; learn about the threats the reef faces and what we can do to save it. Each beautifully illustrated page is packed full of delightful sea creatures to discover and enjoy. A beautiful book with a powerful message.

Look out for Litter by Lisa Bullard is part of the “Planet Protector” series. This Look out for Litter book shows how little pieces of litter and rubbish can become a big problem. Find out how to deal with litter responsibly and learn how to reduce, reuse and recycle.

This is Our World by Emily Sollinge. This lovely board book for smaller children is printed on recycled board and uses vegetable ink! Take little ones on a fun interactive journey learning to clean the air, reduce pollution, recycle, and much more. It’s never too early to learn to care for the environment!

Do you have any favourite books about the environment you like to read with your children? 

If you enjoyed this, you might also like my Five Superb Books About Science.

Five Books about the Environment for Earth Day

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Children’s Books: Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

I write about our love of dinosaurs quite a lot on this blog. We have toys, games, dino figurines, DVDs and stacks and stacks of books about dinosaurs. We have a good selection of non-fiction books about dinosaurs, but we also have a couple of fiction books about them too, like Dinosaurs love Underpants. For this round-up we’ve chosen five of our favourite non-fiction books about dinosaurs; because if there’s one thing we love, it’s a big book of dinosaur facts!

Children's Books: Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

Lift-the-flap Questions and Answers about Dinosaurs by Katie Daynes has been one of our favourite dino books for a year or so now. It’s beautifully illustrated and wonderfully engaging. This interactive flap book will answer all kinds of questions. It’s great for young readers, my son sits for hours reading and lifting the flaps. It’s a real favourite!

Dinosaur Number Crunch! by Kevin Pettman is a snappily written, fact-packed overview of the world of dinosaurs. It’s jam-packed full of colourful, well-illustrated facts. It contains all the essential info that dinosaur fans need to know; such as where they lived, what they ate, how big they were, how fast they could run, how many teeth they had and their key weapons. You can read our full review of this book here, but it’s one of our favourites!

National Geographic Kids: Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine D. Hughes is for children aged 4- to 8-years-old who LOVE dinos! This fact packed book brings the prehistoric world to life with dinosaurs small, big, giant, and gigantic. The book is easy to read and contains lots of age appropriate information, better still, there’s an interactive element, so if you want to find out more, you can do!

The Complete Book of Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon is the ultimate guide to 355 dinosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. It includes more than 900 illustrations, maps, timelines and photographs. It is the ultimate dinosaur guide for children who want to take their knowledge to the next level.

Usborne Pop-Up Dinosaurs by Fiona Watt is perfect for littler ones. This adorably illustrated book is ideal for mini dino fans. The book features all kinds of dinosaurs which pop up and move. Learn a little more about each dinosaur, from the long-necked Brachiosaurus, the triceratops with sharp horns, and the most famous dinosaur of them all, Tyrannosaurus Rex! It’s simply written and a delightful book to share with small children.

We are always looking for new books about dinosaurs to read at home. Have we missed any that we absolutely must get? Please let us know in the comments.

Children's Books: Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

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Children’s Books: Five Brilliant Books About Spring

Believe it or not, it’s spring (as I type this there is snow on the ground and the heating is on full blast). Spring is one of our favourite seasons; with the first garden flowers of the year popping up; some blue skies, and the birth of new life. We always like to visit a local farm in spring, helping to feed the orphan lambs is a particular joy. As ever, we like to keep our reading seasonal too, so here are five sensational books about spring we love…

Five Sensational Books About Spring

Spring by Gerda Muller is one of a series of four books without words, which lead the young child through the seasons of the year. Full of fun and active illustrations, this chunky board book shows the joys of playing with lambs, sowing seeds, painting Easter eggs and watching baby birds. It’s the most wonderful book to share with little ones this spring!

Children's Books: Five Sensational Books About Spring

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. Join the tiny seed on an adventure as it becomes a giant flower! In autumn, a strong wind blows flower seeds high in the air and carries them far across the land. One by one, many of the seeds are lost. They are burned by the sun, fall into the ocean, or eaten by birds. But some seeds survive the long winter and, come spring, sprout into plants. The delicate plants face new dangers; being trampled by playing children or picked as a gift for a friend. Soon only the tiniest seed remains, growing into a giant flower and, when autumn returns, sending its own seeds into the wind to start the process over again.

Little Baa by Kim Lewis. For me, spring isn’t spring until I’ve seen and preferably snuggled a lamb. This book is perfect for lamb-lovers like me! One spring day, Little Baa jumps, skips and runs in the field. Soon he leaves his friends far behind – and his Ma too; but Little Baa’s Ma misses him and searches for him. Will she ever find her Little Baa?

Animal Seasons: Rabbit’s Spring Adventure by Anita Loughrey. Animal Seasons are a beautifully illustrated series of picture books for young children and emerging readers and they are great for learning a little more about the natural world. In this spring adventure, Rabbit leaves his warren and discovers that the woods are full of new life. There’s so much to discover that poor Rabbit loses his way, but who will help him find his way back home?

A Year in Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklam. When I was a child, I was completely enchanted by the Brambly Hedge stories. I still have my little collection of books today. The mice of Brambly Hedge have many beautifully illustrated adventures throughout the year. They mark the seasons with feasts and festivities and, of course, the mice never miss an opportunity to have a little party. This wonderful collection would make a great gift for any child and it really is a collection to treasure.

If you enjoyed these books about spring, you might also enjoy my five classic books about bears.

Children's Books: Five Sensational Books About Spring

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Children’s Books: Five Superb Books About Science

One of my son’s favourite things is science. We can often be found at a science museum, or experimenting at home. He also loves to read books about all kinds of science; with a particular focus on dinosaurs, space and the earth sciences. I’ve picked out five of our favourite books about science, each one is a great introduction and resource for science mad kids!

Here are my Five Superb Books About Science –

First Encyclopedia of Science by Rachel Firth published by Usborne is a lovely basic introduction to science. Suitable for younger children this children’s encyclopedia is packed with easy-to-read text and lively illustrations which  introduces a broad range of basic science topics. It’s a great first step into science for younger children!

Children's Books: Five Superb Books About Science

Bug Hotel by Libby Walden and illustrated by Clover Robin is a beautiful book aimed at 3-6 year olds. Each page details the hotel habitat where creepy crawlies of all shapes and sizes can find a place to stay. Lift the flaps to find out facts about your favourite garden insects and learn how a bug hotel can create a sustainable, safe environment for insects and mini-beasts.

365 Science Activities by Minna Lacey is jam-packed with fun science activities and experiments. With a different activity or experiment for every day of the year, this book is filled with hands-on science you can do at home with everyday things you’ll find around your home. This book is perfect for inspiring future scientists!

Astronaut Academy by Steve Martin is a wonderfully fun book for aspiring astronauts. This activity book will test their ability to manage life in space, working on their hand-eye coordination and putting them through obstacle courses; building a balloon rocket, learning basic first-aid skills, how to deal with weightlessness, and doing fiddly things while wearing big gloves! The book also includes stickers, a poster, board game, press-outs, and a model space shuttle; in fact everything an astronaut needs to get started!

National Geographic Kids – Everything Volcanoes and Earthquakes by Kathy Furgang. The National Geographic Kids series is fantastic for explaining things in ways children will understand. We are big fans of the Nat Geo books and Everything Volcanoes and Earthquakes is one of our favourites. Packed with incredible photographs and facts, this book takes a fun approach to science; introducing kids to plate tectonics and the tumultuous forces brewing beneath the Earth’s surface. 

Do you have any favourite books about science you read with your children? 

Children's Books: Five Superb Books About Science

Make A Squash and a Squeeze Story Book Bag

Encouraging a love of books and a love of reading in some children can be a harder job that you’d imagine. It can be really fun and useful to try to bring a story to life. You could use silly voices, or act out the story with puppets, or put together a story book bag. A story book bag is a great way to bring a story to life. I’ve done one with one of our favourite books – A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson.

A Squash and a Squeeze is the story of a little old lady lives all by herself in her little house but she’s not happy. Her house just feels too small, but what can she do? She seeks out the help of a wise old man who advises her to bring in a flappy, scratchy, greedy, noisy crowd of farm animals. When he eventually advises her to evict all of the animals, he house suddenly feels big again.

Make A Squash and a Squeeze Story Book Bag

A Squash and a Squeeze is a lovely story to read out loud. Like Julia Donaldson’s other books, it’s wonderfully rhythmic and really enjoyable. The illustrations in the book are fab too, full of life and action, though for copyright reasons I used royalty free images instead of the iconic Axel Scheffler illustrations from the book.

Story book bags are a lovely thing to make up. We chose one of our favourite books – A Squash and a Squeeze. I printed some suitable images onto card; cut them out and stuck them onto lolly sticks. I also gathered a few suitable props, like an egg and a jug and popped them in the bag alongside a copy of the book A Squash and a Squeeze.

You can download my story prompt cards here.

Make A Squash and a Squeeze Story Book Bag

My son absolutely loved the story book bag. It really helped bring the story to life for him. He loved using the props and acting out the story as I read it out. He enjoyed it so much, that once I’d finished reading he went on to make his own fun story using the characters.

Make A Squash and a Squeeze Story Book Bag

I’m really pleased that such a simple thing really brought the story to life. I’m delighted that it also encouraged my son to do some creative storytelling of his own. Do I have a future author on my hands? I hope so.

A Squash and a Squeeze is widely available from all good bookshops.

Make A Squash and a Squeeze Story Book Bag

Children’s Books: Five Fabulous Cook Books for Kids

Cooking isn’t really something which happens in schools much these days, so it’s even more important to get children cooking at home. I learned to cook by “helping” my Grandma in her kitchen. She was a school cook and a pâtissier, so I learned to love cooking and baking from her. I’m as keen as mustard to pass on some of that love to my son. Thankfully he loves cook books almost as much as me, he likes to go through them with me and pick out things we can make or bake together. Here are five of our favourite cook books for kids…

Children’s Books: Five Fabulous Cook Books for Kids

Five fabulous Cook Books for kids

Jolly Good Food: A children’s cookbook inspired by the stories of Enid Blyton by Enid Blyton and‎ Allegra McEvedy. This gorgeously jolly cook book for kids contains 42 recipes designed by chef Allegra McEvedy; each inspired by Enid Blyton’s stories; do you fancy a picnic with the Famous Five or a midnight feast with the Malory Towers girls? This is an easy to follow, fun cook book, perfect for Blyton fans young and young at heart!

I Can Cook by Sally Brown and‎ Kate Morris is the spin-off book from the popular CBeebies series I Can Cook. I Can Cook and presenter Katy Ashworth have been inspiring pre-schoolers and their parents for years. The series and this book are a great way to get children and families talking about food and cooking up a few recipes of their own. The book contains over 50 recipes to try at home. Packed with simple step-by-step pictures and easy to follow the instructions; kids can learn to make all kinds of delicious meals, such as cheesy lasagne, breakfast muffins and chunky banana bread. It’s the perfect first cook book for little ones!

Gruffalo Crumble and Other Recipes by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. My friend Liz recommended this book to me, her girls love to cook up a Gruffalo themed feast. This book contains 24 recipes, each inspired by the goings on in the deep, dark wood. If you’ve always wanted to try Gruffalo Crumble, then this is the book for you!

The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and‎ Fizz Carr is one of my favourite cook books full stop. It’s written for slightly older children and contains easy to follow recipes which are family friendly. The fish pie recipe is the best one ever and my family will happily devour it in one sitting! The book explains a little more about food, where it comes from and gives some tips on getting the best out of your ingredients. I’ts the perfect gift for cookery curious kids!

Children’s Cookbook: Delicious Step-by-Step Recipes by Katharine Ibbs and‎ Catherine Saunders is an excellent and comprehensive cook book for children. This book contains over 50 simple recipes and helpful tips and tricks, which will have you whipping up brilliant meals in no time at all. This children’s cook book has a lovely varied selection of recipes, it might be just the thing to get children to try new things and explore different kinds of food!

What areyour favourite cook books for kids? Do you cook with your family? What’s your favourite recipe?

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy my other children’s book round ups!

Children’s Books: Five Fabulous Cook Books for Kids

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Book Review: Dinosaur Number Crunch!

It’s well documented that the boy loves dinosaurs. He loves playing with them almost as much as he loves learning about them. His favourite books at the moment are “non-fiction books about dinosaurs” and every week he seems to bring a new one home from the library. His current favourite is the newly published Dinosaur Number Crunch! by Kevin Pettman.

Book Review : Dinosaur Number Crunch!

Dinosaur Number Crunch! is a snappily written, fact-packed overview of the world of dinosaurs. It’s jam-packed full of colourful, well-illustrated facts. It contains all the essential info that dinosaur fans need to know; such as where they lived, what they ate, how big they were, how fast they could run, how many teeth they had and their key weapons.

Book Review : Dinosaur Number Crunch!

Each fact is based around a number, creating an entire book of easy-to-digest information that will hook even the most reluctant of readers. For example…

“Ankylosaurus had 2 horns on the top and 2 horns on the side of its head. These 4 horns protected its head and eyes from predator attacks.”

Dinosaur Number Crunch! is written to be enjoyed by children aged 8 and up. My son is 7 and such a big dino fan that he’s had no trouble at all reading and digesting the facts in the book. He does struggle to pronounce some of the names, but I’m 41 and I can’t pronounce them either!

This 96 page, hardback book covers a wide range of dino topics including “Clash of the Killers”, “Under the Sea”, “North verses South” and “Brill Bones & Fab Fossils”.

It’s very much the kind of book you can dip in and out of and absolutely perfect for fact fans like my son. It’s very well put together. I like the themed pages and it means you can find the facts you want quickly. It’s probably the most informative and interesting dinosaur book we’ve read, and we’ve read an awful lot of dinosaur books!

Dinosaur Number Crunch! is published by Carlton Kids and costs £9.99. It’s available in all good bookshops and online now!

If you enjoyed this review, you might also like our selection of five roarsome books about dinosaurs!

Book Review : Dinosaur Number Crunch!

I was sent a copy of Dinosaur Number Crunch! in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are my own.

Children’s Books: Five Lovely Books About Love

When my son was just 3 months old he had his first Valentine’s Day. To mark this occasion I bought him a copy of the much-loved classic, Guess How Much I Love You. I’ve read it to him regularly ever since (and he’s 7 years old now).  Guess How Much I Love You and the phrase “I love you to the moon and back” has stuck with us and grown over time; he now loves me to the moon and the stars and the planets and back; and I love him all of that and a little bit more. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here is my selection of five lovely books about love…

Five Lovely Books About Love

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is an absolutely gorgeous book which perfectly sums up how much a parent loves a child. Featuring Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare; they take it in turns to try to measure how much love they have for each other. It’s lovely, it’s heartwarming and it’s about the most famous book about love you could think of, for good reason too!

Children's Books: Five Lovely Books About Love

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle. Eric Carle’s books continue to be adored by children, their illustrations are so beautiful and unique and the stories are appealing. The Very Quiet Cricket is one of his lesser known books, but one we all enjoy reading. It’s a wonderful little story of a tiny cricket who can’t make a sound. As he grows, he meets lots of different insects and can’t chirp hello; until he meets a lovely lady cricket and in the moonlight they chirp hello, hello, hello to each other. It’s a lovely, heartwarming story with a chirping surprise at the end!

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury is gorgeous little picture book about babies from all around the world. One thing they all have in common is they have ten little fingers and ten little toes. My son loved me to read this to him, probably because he liked to look at all the children, but I liked reading it because it was really about how much I love my baby.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams’ timeless picture book classic has been read and cherished by many generations of children and their parents. The Velveteen Rabbit is the sometimes sad story of a stuffed rabbit’s wish to become a real rabbit; something he can only achieve this through the love of his owner, a sickly little boy. The book was first published in 1922 and remains loved by generations of children.

I Love You Just The Way You Are by Tammi Salzano is a story which will make mums of boys go all gooey inside. The story follows a day in the life of a mother and son. Their day is packed with activities such as dressing-up, reading, painting, having a bath and saying goodnight. The story has a lovely rhyming rhythm which is great to read aloud. It’s the perfect story to read with your preschooler before bed.

If you’re looking for a lovely book about love for Valentine’s Day; or if you just want to share the most wonderful feeling in the world with your child; then this selection of books about love is a pretty good place to start. What’s your favourite book about love?

Children's Books: Five Lovely Books About Love

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy my other children’s book round ups!

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