Our Picture Book Party 2014

29th August 2014 1 Comment

We were all really thrilled to be invited a Picture Book Party again this year. Last years picnic was so much fun! Walker Books provided a little box of party goodies and books to assist with the party and so we were all ready to go.

For a change I thought I’d tackle my latest on going parenting problem which is basically how I encourage the boys in the house to take a keen interest in books by making them seem exciting to them. I find that Fifi is easy engaged with books and will happily pick them up and read at any moment that it takes her whim. The boys take a bit more cajoling. So this time I thought I’d send Fifi off to her friends house and invite my eldest son’s friends over for a bit of a play and reading.

The boys had loads of fun playing with balloons and eating pizza to start and then we settled down for a look at the books. The selection was:

Help! We Need a Title! By Herve Tullet 
Bruno and Titch By Sheena Dempsey
The Zebra Who Ran Too Fast by Jenni Desmond 
Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif 
Vanilla Ice Cream by Bob Graham 

Almost immediately the two oldest boys grabbed Help! We Need a Title! by Herve Tullet. At one point I thought there might be a full scale punch up over the book, such was its appeal. I must admit to be rather pleased about that, I mean, who’d have thought a book could cause such a fracas! Its a book which is quite hard to explain but it basically encourages children to use their imaginations to invent a story. A brilliant idea and very engaging for my creative 7 year old.

Be warned though, this is a book which requires the purchase of an additional plain paper sketch book and some nice colouring pencils. At least it did in our house!

The other book which really captured the boys imagination was The Zebra Who Ran Too Fast by Jenni Desmond. I think they really identified with the story and even the smallest (Ned) seemed to enjoy the lovely artwork. The story is basically about friendship, doing your own thing and being a bit stubborn. Its one of those ones which you can read over and over again and never tire of. 

I was surprised how captivated the boys were by Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif. This is a beautifully illustrated story about a little girl who loves dancing and needs to find some confidence. I read this book later with Fifi and she was enchanted by it too. I think its a wonderful book which I’ve really enjoyed reading to the children. I think its very important as an adult that you enjoy the books you read with your children and I think it make a real difference to the way you read them. I loved this book, partly because I loved the illustrations, party because I know exactly where Francis Dean is coming from with her shyness.

There are clearly loads of things you can do for activities with Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance. At our party which had a little impromptu disco, but later on in the day we went to the park and fed the ducks bird seed, trying to create her dancing as we threw it for them. I must admit that was the best fun I’ve had in ages!

We are huge fans of Bob Graham in this house and Spirit of Hope is one of those books which we have read over and over again, so it was rather exciting to receive Vanilla Ice Cream.  This is a quirky story, however it didn’t really work for us because the idea is too abstract for the age group for which it was aimed at. As an adult the book it actually works rather well and is nice to dip into as an allegorical story, however, I think things need to be spelt out to kids a bit more. We also thought the book needed a few more

Bruno and Titch by Sheena Dempsey was a fantastic book and the boys really enjoyed it. My two boys have asked to read it several times and little Ned could have read it over and over all day long. Its the story of a guinea pig who finds an owner who really is his new best friend. The books has some lovely illustrations and the story is wonderful. We really liked this book a lot. Its a story which any child who has a met, or dreams of having a pet can identify with and which also made me laugh. I’m just waiting to see what sort of junk models my children make for their pets as a result of this story….

I can’t implore you enough to use this idea of a party or picnic as a way of engaging children with books. It works so well because there is a little bit of peer pressure, its exciting and it demonstrates to them that books are fun. All the boys came away without realising how much they had read and listened to. I think my eldest also realised that books can be really desirable and cool.

We had a lovely time and I’m still using these books for activities and will be doing so for a while. Over the past year I’ve tried really hard to think of add on activities for each book we read either in the daytime or at bedtime and its brought a whole new dimension to the stories. I’d like to thank Walker Books for sending such a lovely selection. Walker Books really do produce some of the best books for children in the UK make sure you check out their website.

This blog was written as part of the Picture Book Party Blog Tour 2014, you’ll find some other great posts on these wonderful blogs listed here, but dont forget to check out the website for loads of activity sheets to go alongside the books!

Claire Walsh

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1 Comment

  • Sheena 30th August 2014 at 11:25 am

    What a lovely picture book party! Thanks so much Being a Mummy!

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