Children’s books: not just for bedtime reading

We know about bedtime books but what about children’s books to read first thing in the morning, snuggled up in bed or over breakfast? Founder of Smallprint Books, Jenny Thomas recommends seven books for mornings…

Traditionally story-time takes place in the evening, often when our children are their most agitated, tired and strung-out. After a long day and a growing jobs list, we can also be flagging in enthusiasm which results in a slightly lacklustre performance.

At the weekends we like to make the most of our slow mornings and find it can be a great time to share books. As booksellers and book lovers, we focus a lot on their interactive qualities so that there is always something to explore and talk about. A lot of the time it prevents stories from feeling stale even when they are favourites that have been read night after night. To celebrate World Book Day we have picked a few of our favourites to enjoy at any time of the day, read on for a little inspiration.

1. Who is Happy? By Jarvis

Our five year old has a well developed sense of emotional wellbeing, suffice to say she can express herself fully and share her disappointment, jealousy and anger. Sometimes school can be a catalyst for upheaval, so we like to dip into Who is Happy? which is a new book all about feelings. Children can observe the expressions and the surroundings and talk about who is shy, who is nervous, who is excited. It is a great way of moving on to talk about other times you might feel angry or embarrassed and say that it’s ok!


A book for preschoolers…

2. Book of Colours by Sarah Dyer

Our youngest has a fairly slow grasp on language but has recently shown a massive interest in colours. We spend a lot of time looking at Sarah Dyer’s Book of Colours, the daytime is best as he is quite an active kid and likes to bounce around whilst he reads! Sarah’s drawings are really charming and we love this book because it is a bit different to the rest and easy for him to handle himself. Emotions have colours, the night-time has a whole array of colour and there are common items such as food or vehicles. The perfect introduction for an 18m+.


A book for inquisitive minds…

3. Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Maps is a great book for an inquisitive child who wants to know the inner working of everything. We have the UK road map to show how far away family members live, but the idea that there are other countries blows her mind. It is great to have so many detailed illustrations to discover the whole world and talk about it, diversity is so interesting to a developing mind and it is great to get the iPad out to find videos of communities in different countries around the world.


Children’s books can be magical…

4. What’s Hidden in the Woods by Aina Bestard

To help keep the idea of real magic alive, we like to read to read a special book that shows how pictures can disappear. Best read in daylight, What’s Hidden in the Woods requires three different coloured lenses which alternate to show hidden creatures, plants and trees. When you look through the red you see the animals, take it away and they vanish! It is a book that also gets us really excited as well so it’s a lovely one to share.


Children’s books can be wordless

5. Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Some of our favourite books are wordless because there are no rules about where the story can go. As our daughter is honing her dance talent at the moment the Flora books are great, Flora and the Flamingo is very pink so that ticks two boxes! Beautiful illustrations, detailed expressions and flaps to help you imagine the movement of the characters, the rest is up to you. What are they thinking? Who else is there? Where are they going? Loads of open questions to chat through if you just open your imaginations a bit.


Fact-filled books are great for learning…

6. Creaturepedia by Adrienne Bardman

Creaturepedia is another big favourite because it is full of animal facts and bursting with colour. Animals are grouped according to character traits or similarities and include the Architects, the Big-Eared and the Spotted. Much more than an A-Z you can learn some really great info and the pictures are great for copying or inspiring craft ideas. It is such an addictive book, it is best shared during the day so you don’t run out of time!


How do you define ‘children’s books’?

7. So Awesome by Marc Martin

Not strictly a book but just as brilliant, we are the sole UK stockist of wallet cards from So Awesome, a family run business in Michigan, US. They are hugely popular and our sets are often used throughout the day by both of our children. The alphabet ones are the current favourites, our youngest uses them to learn words and our eldest lays them out flat and randomly selects five to make a short story from. Lots of fun and they are also wipeable so we tend to use them to keep bottoms on seats at breakfast!


Jenny Thomas is the founder of Smallprint Online, and more recently opened a brilliant bricks and mortar shop in Forest Hill, south east London.

Which children’s books do you like reading with your kids in the morning?