Billy’s Reading Recommendations

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Billy loves to read. In fact it is one of the ways she connects with people, calms down, and entertains herself. Books make up most of our days. There is the potty time reading as seen above – although this tradition is kind of flying out the window now that Billy knows how to push things along on her own. There is mama making dinner so I’m going to flip through all my Sandra Boynton books ‘reading’. There is, ‘I’m feeling overwhelmed so to centre myself I’m going to lay down in the bed with someone and have them read to me’ reading. There is Monday & Friday story time at Where The Wild Things Are. And then there is her favourite – night time reading with aba.

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All this reading! Why?!? Well Billy likes it. Billy isn’t into deep cuddles and kisses. In fact is you go in for a big old smooch you can see her cringe slightly. When she does kiss its kind of like me hugging. You can see her thinking ‘ok this is how I do it right?’  – awkward in the best way. Too much physical cuddling just doesn’t tickle her fancy. And that’s ok. However if you grab a pile of books she’ll crawl up under your armpit, rest her head on your chest, and stay glued to you for as long as you are reading. It is the best.

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With reading being such a big part of Billy’s life, and consequently my life, I thought I’d write up a quick ‘n’ dirty guide to our favourite books. It is not fancy. My grammar is atrocious. And I will surely find meanings that were either not intended or simply don’t exist. However, these books are incredibly special. They are loved for a reason and I’d love to share that with y’all if you’d let me. I’m going to insert links as often as I can for the authors. If you live in Brisbane please check out Where The Wild Things Are as a place to buy books. The women who run this store are incredible – they are an invaluable resource in finding just the right book for you and your family.

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A Quiet Girl

The description on author Peter Carnavas’s website is:

“Mary is a quiet girl. Her family makes so much noise they hardly notice her – or anything else. Until Mary, in her own gentle way, shows them what they’ve been missing.”

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My partner took Billy to meet the author and hear him read this book at Where the Wild Things Are. It seemed like the perfect book for Billy. Billy is a bit of a dreamer, and pretty quiet around most people so it was nice to find a book featuring someone like her. That’s a common theme you will see in these books – they give visibility to either us or the people in our lives. A bit of a longer read for 3+ unless your teeny tiny one likes to sit and listen. I find it very important to give children literature where they can see themselves and the people they love. I think it helps, especially when they are kids/teens, to remind them that there is a place for them and those they love in this world.

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Little People, Big Dreams

These books, written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, are fantastic books that summarise the lives of famous men and women throughout history. We’ve purchased David Bowie, Frida Kahlo, and Amelia Earhart’s stories. They are to the point, and do an excellent job at making the individuals relatable….while not entirely sugar coating who they were/are. For example they address illnesses, gender, disability, death, and a host of other topics that are helpful to introduce to kiddos. I recommend the board books for anyone who likes a quick read as the other versions are a little bit longer and can sometimes take more time to get through.

I love how the Frida Kahlo book shows Frida in a wheelchair working. My partner is in a wheelchair, and I really really love finding books that feature individuals with disabilities. Especially if the book doesn’t focus on the persons disability entirely. Its just a part of their life, and teated as something normal. Or how the David Bowie book addresses how David Bowie (I can’t call him David…it feels weird) was very androgynous naturally. Theres no long explanations as to what androgynous is. There is no long drawn out message about disability. Its just: here is a thing, its who they are, and onto the next thing. No fuss no muss. Thank you!

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Julián is a Mermaid

The description on author Jessica Love’s website states:

Julián is a Mermaid is Jess Love’s acclaimed debut picture book, published by Candlewick Press.  Julián is a Mermaid is a story about a boy and his Abuela. It is a story about revealing ourselves, and the beauty of being seen for who we are by someone who loves us.”

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I can’t get enough of this book. We were originally introduced to the book by some of our lovely friends. We later went to drag story time, hosted by Rainbow Families QLD & Where The Wild Things Are , where the book took on a whole new meaning. Mr Punch put such a beautiful emphasis on how lovely, and unique the bodies in this book are. And he was right. Every time I open that book the colours, and bodies leave me smiling.

There is also a moment, when Julián has bravely stepped into his own, and you see his face and how happy he is. Again. The illustrations are amazing and take this book to a whole new level. I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone who hasn’t read it – so please pick up a copy. I imagine if you have a little one who is really talking, and loves asking questions and discussing answers that this book would be great. Great for starting conversations. Great for discussing ideas. Great for seeing what your kiddo sees in this book that maybe you don’t. The book isn’t cluttered with lots of text, like a perfect piece of art, leaving you to interpret and dream your way through it….if you like.

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Music Is for Everyone

Written by Jill Barber this story:

” is sure to get you excited about making music Singer-songwriter Jill Barber takes her young readers through many different kinds of music–hip-hop, jazz, classical, folk–and instruments in an energetic, rhyming tour. Sydney Smith’s gleeful illustrations capture all the joy that comes from making music in all its forms.”

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I grew up with music, a lot of music, in my life. I am a bonafide band geek, orchestral flautist -and piccolo if I’m pressed-, church choir when I was younger, pianist, and all around lover of moving to the groove’n tunes I’m hearing. My partner..not so much. He can however tell you almost any 90’s song OR female power ballad while only hearing the first couple of notes. This book was perfect for our family. No matter if Billy is a musically talented lass or if she just appreciates listening, this book shows a wide range of tuneage she can love. This book is a bit longer but only includes a sentence or so on each page making it an easy read. The sweet drawings also include some lovely characters – Billy’s favourite being the pages featuring Jazz.

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ABC Coqui

Written by Maria Alou:

“ABC Coquí is a fun and colorful alphabet book with a Puerto Rican twist. Typical Puerto Rican words are illustrated in bright and vivid ways to engage readers of all ages while teaching them about Puerto Rico’s rich and wonderful culture!”

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I have both ABC Coqui & ABC Parranda. They are fantastic. Growing up in Chicago it was always easy for me to connect with my Puerto Rican heritage. My abuela was there to tell me stories and cook with me. On top of that my cousins in Puerto Rico are amazing. To this day I am closer with them than my aunt or uncle from that side of the family. My cousin Coraly bought these for Billy this past Christmas.

Billy was born, and up until this point raised in Brisbane, Australia. We took our first trip home this past January to meet and greet with all the people I love. One of our favourite legs of the trip was with Coraly. We hit up Florida & Puerto Rico. It was the best. Billy absolutely loved the island and everything it had to offer. She was also a big fan of Coraly’s papi as well. Nothing like a super tall perch to view the world from.

Anywho -tangent about my awesome familia aside- there isn’t any Puerto Rican culture here in Brisbane from what I can tell. Maybe I’ve missed something but in the several years I’ve lived here I haven’t been able to find anything. These books have been awesome to help make the P.R. culture a part of her childhood. She even knows the words ‘piragua cart’ and thinks that the official title of this toy cart she pushes around…while I yell out “Piraguas…piraguas de parcha y tamarrrrindoooo!” She laughs and runs around selling her piraguas. If this was all confusing to you pick up a copy of this book! You will learn so many words that are unique to Puerto Rico & I would wager a guess that you don’t have to be very good at spanish to love and appreciate this either. My partner just gives the words a hebrew spin and Billy still loves it.

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We’ve got the whole world in our hands

A beautifully written by by Rafael López – if you click on his name here you can read about his inspiration for this book. This book as summarised by Where The Wild Things Are:

“Award-winning illustrator Rafael Lopez brings new life with his adaptation of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” saluting the lives of all young people. The rhythmic verse and repetitive emphasis on “we” and “our” encourages inclusive communities and the celebration of unity and diverse friendships all around the world.

“We’ve got you and you got me in our hands.
We have the whole world in our hands.”

Come and read along and sing along as we celebrate the magic of unity. From the rivers to the mountains to the oceans and to the sea — we’ve got the whole world in our hands.

As an added bonus the sheet music is included in the back of the book for piano, guitar, and recorder for classroom, library, and home sing-alongs.”

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Neither my partner nor I are religious. We don’t celebrate religious holidays -unless you count making and eating traditional foods-, and we don’t attend a place of worship. This book does a fantastic job at taking the spirit of a beautiful song and extending it to everyone no matter what faith -or lack thereof- they happen to practice. The illustrations are fantastic and include people, animals, and places from all over the world. Each page has part of the song, and enough illustrations that you can discuss them and look at them for minutes at a time. Billy’s favourite pages include the stars. I don’t remember the last time her night time routine hasn’t included this book too. Not to mention there is nothing like a teaching your lil one about unity from an early age.

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Teddy Took The Train

Written by Nicki Greenberg she describes it on her website as:

“But Teddy is a brave bear. What wonderful adventures will he have when he rides away on the train? Will there be picnics? Will there be parties? Will he have time for a nap? And most importantly, will he find his way home to Dot – or will she never see him again?

A story about courage, kindness, resilience and imagination. Great for kids aged 3 to 6 – and for anyone who loves their teddy!”

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This was the first book I bought that featured a character in a wheelchair without the entire story being about a wheelchair. And here’s the thing – there is a need for both types of books. It’s great to have books that tell you what it is like to be in a wheelchair, how they work, who uses them, and how to talk to someone who uses one because….well there are a lotta people who don’t seem to understand that. However, this book has a wonderful mama who is in a wheelchair and you’d never know it unless you looked at the illustrations. Allowing a woman in a wheelchair to be just a normal part of everyday life. Yay! Love it. Despite the story being long it has a great flow that younger kids can appreciate too.

My partner reached out to Nicki after he read this for the first time and thanked her for writing a book like this one. She thanked him and asked if she could send his letter to her publishers so they might be inclined to support more projects like hers. I love this. Its great to allow people with disabilities the chance to be just another person like everyone else in the context of a story about a lovely teddy bear.

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Love Your Body

Jessica Sanders has written a book that all young men and women should read. It shows a variety of bodies that are all wonderful. I opened this book and within moments was at the register buying it. You can tell this was written by a woman who has experienced, either personally or via friends/family, the lifestyles women are told they should live. As a result of they women women are told to be there are pitfalls along the way for many. Books like this encourage true love of yourself, and others, and who doesn’t want that for their little one? I would recommend this one for kids who are talking and able to have a conversation. Billy is different in that she loves to just sit and listen to stories, so if you have a lovely squirmy wormy skip this one for now or buy it for when they are older as it isn’t a short book.

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Young Dark Emu

As described by Where The Wild Things Are, by author Bruce Pascoe:

“Bruce Pascoe has collected a swathe of literary awards for Dark Emu and now he has brought together the research and compelling first person accounts in a book for younger readers. Using the accounts of early European explorers, colonists and farmers, Bruce Pascoe compellingly argues for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. He allows the reader to see Australia as it was before Europeans arrived a land of cultivated farming areas, productive fisheries, permanent homes, and an understanding of the environment and its natural resources that supported thriving villages across the continent. Young Dark Emu A Truer History asks young readers to consider a different version of Australias history pre-European colonisation.”

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As I’ve mentioned Billy is born and raised in Brisbane, Australia. It was important to us that she have an accurate understanding of the place she comes from. When I read the description of this book I immediately knew this would be the book she could reference as she got older. This is a fantastic book, written by an Australian Indigenous writer, from the Bunurong clan, of the Kulin nation. A book that all young Australians should read to give them a clearer understanding of where they are from.

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All The Ways to be Smart

Davina Bell has written a lovely rhyming book for young children:

“From the award-winning creators of The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade and Under the Love Umbrella comes this joyful ode to all the unique and wonderful qualities that make children who they are.”

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We loved this book as it hits on something important to me. Allowing kids to be smart in their own way. I don’t care if Billy is a doctor, an artist, or if she bags groceries her entire life. The ways in which she is smart isn’t limited to the jobs she gets, or the schooling she takes on, or the career path she desires. This book shows lots of ways you can be smart and it shows characters that are not all little white children. It shows diversity in appearance and smarts and that is important. Children -and adults- need to see themselves in all sorts of capacities, and this book knocks it outta that park. The whimsical illustrations get Billy every time – especially the space scene. NOTE NASA start making more female space suits please.

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Izzy Gizmo

Pip Jones wrote just the book I was looking for when thinking of a lil gal inventor:

“Izzy Gizmo is a girl who LOVES to invent gadgets and machines. But the trouble with things that have dials and switches is that they don’t always work quite the way they should – and that makes Izzy really, terribly CROSS! One day, she meets a crow with broken wings. The only way to make him happy again is to invent him some new ones, and soon Izzy realises (with help from Grandpa), this time, she simply CAN’T give up trying.”

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I wanted a book about a girl inventor. Bam insert Izzy Gizmo. I know this seems like a very niche book. It is. But there is a reason. Billy loves screws and tools. She loves to look at water drain covers. She loves to open boxes. Yes this isn’t unique to Billy. Children love to fiddle. However, I wanted a book that showed how fiddling can lead to inventing. This book has a lot of love as Izzy is forced to move beyond her frustrations to help a newly made friend. A long read so best for lil dreamers or slightly older kiddos 4+.

And not to throw shade but if you want a fantastic rhyming book like Dr Seus but you want a fantastic story line and author grab this book. Izzy Gizmo’s rhymes are the best! Your kiddo will walk away with a sense of curiosity, wonderment and a bomb ass vocabulary.

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Amazing

Zibbo -my partner and I cannot agree on pronunciation for this one- and his friend shine in this fun book by Steve Antony:

A joyful new picture book by the award-winning Steve Antony, creator of the bestselling Please Mr Panda.

A little boy and his pet dragon are the very best of friends. They laugh, they sing, they dance, they snooze. They are both amazing – just like everyone else!

A celebration of friendship and being yourself with a positive message about celebrating diversity. The perfect platform to start conversations about the importance of understanding and acceptance.

Steve Antony is the winner of the Oscar’s First Book Prize and has been nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.”

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I went to Where the Wild Things Are not long after Billy was born and said, “I would like books. As many as you have. Featuring characters in wheelchairs. But I don’t want the book to focus on the wheelchair. What do you have?” This was one of those books.

I’ve read a bit about the author and in one of his interviews he mentioned that growing up he didn’t realise he was gay for a long time as he never saw himself in books that way. He didn’t have a childhood book featuring a gay character that made him go “whoa thats just like me!” He said this fuels a lot of his writing. Trying to help create content so kids see themselves and can come into their own from an earlier age. This book just talks about a little boy and his dragon. The little boy uses a wheelchair to get around – but you’d never know it was there. Steve also manages to show how many things people with disabilities are able to do in a sneaky way. The young boy and his dragon do EVERYTHING – all whilst he’s in his wheelchair. Books like this are great for kids as it helps them to see just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean they can’t participate in all the fun things they too enjoy. A book with short sentences and lovely illustrations to keep your kiddo moving along with you as you read.

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Yoga Whale

When you are a yoga mama and you want some asana ideas brought into your kiddos life look no further than Sarah Jane Hinder’s book:

“This delightful board book invites children ages 0–4 to join in a fun series of easy yoga poses. Whale, Jellyfish, Dolphin, Starfish, and six more friendly sea creatures show the way.”

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There are a number of lovely books that Sarah has on her website. I know that kiddos pick up things around them. Billy sees me, or my partner doing yoga every day. I wanted to have a sweet lil book with some cute yoga influence in it. If you are looking to add to your mindfulness or body awareness practice at home, and include your kiddo check out her books. Beautiful illustrations that will capture their attention too – Billy loves the sea urchin and octopus best!

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I Love Me

Thank you Sally Morgan & Ambling Kwaymullina for writing this lovely book:

“Acclaimed creators Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina celebrate individuality and joyous self-esteem, in bouncy, rhythmic prose and riotous colour.”

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This is another book for Billy that will remind her of her Australian days. The book features beautiful illustrations. It features Aboriginal characters, and the illustrations are Aboriginal in influence as well. It also spells out the concept of loving yourself in all different ways – loving yourself no matter what you look or feel like. Giving kids the vocabulary to explain different parts of themselves both physical and emotional. Again if you are Australian I would highly recommend buying this book!

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Mem Fox

There are three Mem Fox books pictured above. Possum Magic. The Magic Hat. This & That. Mem Fox is an iconic writer of children literature. Here in Australia she needs no introduction. The books she writes are lovely. That is exactly how I would describe them. They are sweet tales with strong Australian overtones. I would have to say that The Magic Hat is Billy’s favourite. In part because I’ve memorised the entire book. I recite this book whenever she is acting up, crying, or getting distressed. Once she hears “One fine day from out of town and without any warning at all there appeared a magic hat” she freezes. I then have the duration of the story to clip her nails, change her clothes or do whatever short task I was attempting to do earlier.

Possum Magic is one I would recommend if you aren’t from Australia as you will pick up a lot of lovely lil cultural nuggets. You can tell Mem’s life journey -growing up in Australia, Africa, & the UK- by reading these lovely tales. She is the Sandra Boynton of Australia. Short books. Great for small kiddos.

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This post took so much longer than I expected! I hope I referenced everyone correctly, and connected the best links possible! I love to give credit where credit is due. These artists, authors, creative minds will give you some awesome reads to share with your kiddo. Please take a look at them and if you like ’em buy ’em. Again if you are in West End, Brisbane (or close by as they have an online store) order from Where The Wild Things Are. If you didn’t see anything on the list that resonated with you go to Where The Wild Things Are either in person or to their website and get a recommendation from them. I have never been disappointed yet! With that I’m off to relax while my partner finishes up story time with Billy. As always scroll all the way down to find my Instagram to get more updates – reach out to me if there is something you’d like me to post about or if you wanna say hey.

 

 Much Luv, Laters

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Annette J Steinbarth says:

    Beautifully written Ladybug!

    Like

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