Category Archives: Children

Posts about children’s literature

Top Activity Books for Children

Like many parents, I am always looking for fresh ideas for my boredom-busting toolkit – interesting and meaningful activities, preferably requiring minimal supervision. I’ve really needed them during the current school holidays, and they’ll be helpful as we spend more time indoors during the cooler months. Anything to stave off moans about Being Bored, or battles about too much screentime! These terrific activity books fit the bill – they offer lots of open-ended ideas that encourage kids to play, think, reflect and create.

Usborne Design Activity Book by Alice James, Tom Mumbray and Petra Baan

Usborne has been publishing excellent children’s activity books for years – you may remember books about spycraft / origami / cooking from your own childhood. This Design Activity Book is another great example, and should offer plenty of fun and inspiration to kids who love art and visual design. Project ideas range from the more traditional, such as hand lettering, and designing logos and book covers, to more complex ones such as developing a board game, developing a website, and applying branding to a collection of items. Each idea is supported by lots of prompts and useful tips that draw upon the different steps of the design process. For ages 8+.

Chill Out: My Mindfulness Activity Book by Josephine Dellow

This activity book is not only fun and inspirational, but being based on mindfulness, can also help to support young people’s wellbeing in the longer term. Chill Out offers a good range of activities, puzzles, games and crafts, created with and for 5 – 8-year-olds; each activity encourages children to focus in on a task, settle the mind, and help to create a peaceful moment in their day. Chill Out is published by Ups!de Down Books, an independent publisher specialising in positive, age-appropriate and accessible titles around mental health and wellbeing. For ages 5-8.

Ninja Life Hacks Journal for Kids by Mary Nhin

This journal is a companion volume to the Ninja Life Hacks series, which are bite-sized, colourful books that aim to help children develop life skills. It covers topics such as managing emotions, developing resilience and learning respectful interactions.  The Ninja Life Hacks Journal turns these messages into goal-setting exercises that nurture a growth mindset: how to look past failures and learn from mistakes, practise positive self-talk and ultimately, develop grit and resilience.  Not only is it a useful workbook, it can become a great keepsake.  For ages 3-11.

101 Things for Kids to do Screen-Free by Dawn Isaac

Are you constantly trying to limit your kids’ screen time? Screen time is a big issue in so many families – especially during holidays –  so Dawn Isaac’s new book caught my eye right away. Dawn’s previous books on Outdoor activities and Rainy Day activities are both terrific resources, and this is no exception. The 101 Things described in this book range from the creative (no-sew sock creatures), to the silly (hands-free eating challenge) to the impressive (backyard mini golf).  There are crafts, recipes, outdoor challenges, games, and projects; most require few or commonly-found materials; some can be done on your own, while others are great for groups.  For ages 4-11.

The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play by Laura Brand

Laura Brand may not be well-known outside the UK – yet – but her great ideas around engaging with nature, creative crafting and the importance of play, deserve a wide audience. The Joy Journal offers fifty simple, engaging and open-ended play ideas that will appeal to a range of ages, including toddlers under supervision. Most of the projects are no-cost or low-cost, and use common household items, or scavenged natural materials such as flowers, leaves and twigs. Laura champions messy play, but offers helpful tips and “messiness ratings” for parents who may be more hesitant. The beautiful photograps and friendly chatty text means the book is a pleasure for the parent-reader as well! For ages 2+.

Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Bold Engineers by Andrea Beaty

Rosie Revere, Engineer is a firm favourite with both kids and adults, for its fun introduction to the engineering process, and its stereotype-busting story.  Now you can further nurture the inventiveness of your budding engineer with a Rosie Revere project book. With full-colour illustrations, Rosie Revere encourages readers to design and prototype solutions to everyday problems using commonplace items, and to learn from, rather than be discouraged by, failures and flops. The 40+ featured projects include designing a better bicycle, build a simple catapult, construct a solar oven, and more.  For ages 5+.

Cooking up a storm with Booko: We Can All Eat That

We Can All Eat That serves up creative, delicious and informed ideas and recipes for introducing allergens to children.

Hey science teacher – make it fun

Science teacher Tyler DeWitt thinks science textbooks are impossible to understand. He delivers a rousing call for science teachers to ditch the jargon and make science fun in this Ted Talk.


Our favourite children’s books on the market

Ahh… children’s books. We love their ability to share big ideas in fun, engaging ways; tell tales of mischief, feelings and friendship; bring characters to life through unexpected adventures; delight budding imaginations and inspire little people to become life-long readers. 

We have scoured the internet to find six of the most delightful and heart-warming children’s books that we know you are going to love reading these school holidays. 

Oli and Basil: The Dashing Frogs of Travel by Megan Hess 

Meet Oli and Basil, the dashing frogs of travel, in Megan Hess’s first World of Claris story! Two frogs dream of flying, but don’t realise that they’ll need each other to take to the skies. Oli is an artist who dreams up wild, fabulous machines, but he doesn’t know how to build them. And Basil is a master craftsman who can build anything from scratch, except he doesn’t know what to build. If only there was a way that these two dashing frogs could become friends. From the beloved creator of the Claris stories comes this heart-warming adventure about the joys of newfound friendship. You can see Megan’s other books here.

Malala Yousafzai (Little People, Big Dreams) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara 

When Malala was born in Mingora, Pakistan, her father was determined she would have every opportunity that a boy would have. She loved getting an education, but when a hateful regime came to power, girls were no longer allowed to go to school. Malala spoke out in public about this, which made her a target for violence. She was shot in the left side of her head and woke up in hospital in England. Finally after long months and many surgeries, Malala recovered, and resolved to become an activist for girls’ education. Now a recent Oxford graduate, Malala continues to fight for a world where all girls can learn and lead. This powerful book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the activist’s life. You can read Malala’s own story here.

Bedtime is Boring by David Campbell 

Billy Bunny REALLY doesn’t want to go to bed. He’s NOT tired! Not even a little bit. It may be bedtime, but Billy is NOT going quietly… See if Billy wins the bedtime battle in this hilarious sequel to Stupid Carrots, written by (a quite tired) David Campbell.

Maybe…by Chris Haughton 

Chris Haughton is a fan favourite in our household. Maybe is another funny, suspenseful and keenly observed cautionary tale about pushing boundaries and indulging your more mischievous, cheeky side (when nobody is looking). Three little monkeys, and their big monkey, are sat high up on their branch in the forest canopy. “Ok, monkeys! I’m off,” says the big monkey. “Now remember. Whatever you do, do NOT go down to the mango tree. There are tigers down there.” Mmm . mangos! think the little monkeys. They LOVE mangos. Hmm … maybe . maybe they could just look at the mangos? That’d be ok, right? You can see Chris’ other books here.

With a Little Kelp from Our Friends: The Secret Life of Seaweed by Mathew Bate 

Did you know that feeding seaweed to cows can reduce the methane in their burps and farts by more than half? Or that a forest of kelp absorbs more carbon than a tropical rainforest of the same size? We can even make edible bioplastics from seaweed! Beyond the tideline, there are around 10,000 types of seaweed. An essential ingredient for life on Earth, seaweed has sustained animals and people for many thousands of years. From ancient history and mythology to modern uses in food, health and medicine, discover how seriously cool seaweed is, and how it can even help tackle climate change. Complete with a guide to common seaweeds and foraging guidelines, this charmingly illustrated picture book will educate and inspire, and encourage respect for the natural world.

Reggie Red by Josie Layton 

With freckles and curls so big and so red, Reggie felt worried…’Just look at my head! Others have hair that is brown, blonde and flat, How can I make MY hair look like that?’ Reggie Red tells the story of a little girl who discovers that beauty is far more than what you see on the outside.

Enjoy!

Ted Talk: What adults can learn from kids

Child prodigy Adora Svitak says the world needs “childish” thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and especially optimism. Kids’ big dreams deserve high expectations, she says, starting with grownups’ willingness to learn from children as much as to teach. This is an inspiring ted talk to watch.