The amount of books out there for your children is quite bewildering but we are very lucky here at Dragonflytoys to have access to some beautiful books for the very young and confident readers. What do I look for in a book for young children? The first thing I look at is the beauty of the book…the illustrations must appeal to both me and the child. The images should be full of innocence and, for the young child, full of images they can readily recognize. I prefer the colours to be soft and muted (no bright bright colours please) and the illustrations preferably done in pencil or watercolour. Steiner believed that children are sensory beings and are readily affected by the colour so drawings done in pastel colours would suit them best.
For the very young child a board book is a wonderful first gift and one that they can pick up and carry around with them and grow to love. The Gerda Muller books on the seasons are perhaps the best board books we have because of the illustrations and the lack of words. The books encourage engagement with their parent as they point out different aspects of the season that the child can recognize and enjoy. In Autumn the children play in the fallen leave and often need their rain coats and umbrellas. Words are not really important in a book but children aged two just love to sit on a lap and ‘look’.
Young children have such a lovely natural connection to the earth.
Sharifer Oppenheimer in her book ‘Heaven on Earth’ writes it perfectly;
“Tell your three or four year old stories of the large and loving extended family of Nature, peopled by Mother Earth, Father Sun, Brother Wind and Sister Rain, as well as her cousins the Rain Fairies. These stories enlarge your child’s growing sense of family”.
A book I love to give young children is the board book version of ‘The Story of the Root Children’. Sibylle Von Olfers stories always offer an expert eye in simple and beautiful natural observations. She relates to the natural world in a way young children can readily understand. Earth is mother earth and the flowers are her ‘root’ children who put on their colourful dresses as Spring time nears. The imagery is delightful and will stay with the children.
Moving away from board books, another of Sibylle Von Olfers books that is beautiful for young children is ‘Little Billy Bluesocks’…told in rhyming verse, it tells the simple story of a little boy’s day. “Little Billy Bluesocks/ Wakes one sunny day/ Flowers smile and swallows fly “Good morning world.” they say.
Loek Koopmans’ books are wonderful books for children who have started to take an interest in simple stories. Repetition and a simple narrative with the addition of large and beautiful illustrations make his books enduring best sellers. ‘Any Room for Me’ is the story of a dropped woolen mitten and how many animals find a warm home within it. ‘The Pancake that Ran Away’ is a simple play on the traditional story of the gingerbread man.
Three old ladies decide to make a pancake but it runs away and is chased by all sorts of characters but saves itself for the hungry children that have been playing in the forest all day. Whatever book you choose to read make it a time you both enjoy and not another task to complete.