combining the excitement of real letters (yes, real letters!) with the fun of fairytales is a winner for little kids

 
 

Few things are more exciting for children than receiving mail—just for them. The joy of knowing that someone is thinking of you and the excitement of finding out what’s inside makes checking the mailbox a treat. The Jolly Postman combines that with the fun of fairytales!

This was one of my favourite books growing up and it's still a hit whenever I read it aloud.

The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters is the clever story of a postman whose job it is to deliver letters to some of our favourite fairytale characters.

There’s a note of apology to the threee bears from Goldilocks, a letter of warning to the big bad wolf from Red Riding Hood's solicitor and a postcard from Jack to the giant:

'Soon the Jolly Postman,
We hear tell,
Stopped at a door with a giant bell
And a giant
Bottle of milk as well,

With a postcard for . . . guess who?'

The postcard reads:

Dear Giant Bigg,
Having a nice time—me, my mom and your hen what lays the golden eggs. (It’s better than travellers cheques.) Saw a bloke as we was flying down—he was bigger than you! I’ve took note of his address. Take care of yourself—and your talking harp—I’ll be back for it one of these days I shouldn’t wonder.
Bye for now—your (very) little pal,
Jack

The letters are creative and funny, with some obscure fairytale connections that older kids will enjoy.

It’s fun to see how all the stories weave into each other—and it's a good jumping off point for kids to try their hand at writing their own jumbled fairytales. You might like to check this post for ideas.

The Jolly Postman is a great gift and yes, there are actual letters tucked into envelopes for little fingers to pluck out!

Amazon  -  Book Depository


Book Depository has free postage anywhere in the world and great pricing, but Amazon might be cheaper for North American readers.

THE JOLLY POSTMAN or Other People’s Letters
by Janet & Allen Ahlberg – William Heinemann, 1986
ages 3 to 7 years / picture booksfunny, imagination 
 

Names in this book – Jack

one to make you laugh—a clever take on before and after

Enjoy the unexpected! This is such a clever and concise book
 
 

Before and after photos are something of a modern obsession—weight loss, home renovations, teeth, hair, even cars (think Pimp My Ride)! We just seem to love looking at change.

My Pictures After The Storm feeds that innate human fascination in a way that is laugh out loud funny. It's fundamentally cheerful and offers such a clever and witty look at life. This is a book that's full of humour, bursting with life and colour, and terrific for thinking about change.

Each spread features some pictures on one page, then on the opposite page the pictures change to reflect what happened after an event such as a storm, an elephant, lunch, magic, correction— and more.

It’s funny stuff and reminds me of the That’s Disgusting series, especially because my teens got just as big a laugh out of it as the littler kids we’ve shared it with.

3 ideas for playing with this book:

If you're reading it with pre-readers, it’s fun to try to guess the event. Some are relatively easy (like ‘after swimming’) and some take some serious imagination (like ‘after the elephant’).

Try coming up with new words to describe the after pictures. The ‘after lunch’ page has ‘yogurt’ on the before page and ‘dregs’ on the after page—maybe there’s another way to describe mostly-eaten yogurt? (Trash, left-overs, remains, or something smarter or unique to your family?)

Enjoy the unexpected! This is such a clever and concise book. In just a few words (mostly nouns at that) a whole story unfolds. On the “after some magic” page a snarky big brother becomes a frog, a handsome prince appears, an annoying teacher gets her comeuppance and dad … turns into a fork! Why? How? What happens next? All fun ideas and questions to explore.

As well as being highly recommended for developing a sense of humour and for growing storytelling abilities, this book makes a great baby shower present. A baby shower book goes over best when there’s something in it for the parents as well as for the future child—and this book is perfect for that. There’s lots to enjoy as an adult, and even more fun awaits when it’s time to share with a child.

Amazon  -  Book Depository


Book Depository has free postage anywhere in the world and great pricing, but Amazon might be cheaper for North American readers.

MY PICTURES AFTER THE STORM
by Eric Veille (translated by Daniel Hahn) – Gecko Press, 2017
ages 2 - 8 years  / picture books + coffee table, funny, language

a YouTube channel to try + 5 favourite picture books by Japanese authors

a YouTube channel to try + 5 favourite picture books by Japanese authors

Have you seen the YouTube channel Rare Earth by Chris Hadfield and Evan Hadfield? 

The first series is set in Japan—there are seven relatively short videos (usually 10 minutes or less)—and series two on Cambodia has just started. I’m sure you’ll find both really interesting.

My family has been watching and loving the Japan series. They're fascinating, sometimes unsettling, always thought provoking. Here's one we liked: 

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a stereotype-smashing story + Ivy & Angus in their Book Week costumes

a stereotype-smashing story + Ivy & Angus in their Book Week costumes

ages 2 to 7 years
We recently went through all our books trying to find the perfect costume for our playgroup's Book Week parade. There were many contenders, but in the end Ivy chose A Proper Little Lady.

She saw it and proclaimed "This will be the perfect book, I’m so excited!". I was pretty excited too and not just because it was a costume that required no sewing! This was one of my favourite books when I was Ivy's age and I feel a special kind of closeness in sharing and enjoying 

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Carl Sagan on reading + 8 books on pathways to literal and metaphorical freedom

Carl Sagan on reading + 8 books on pathways to literal and metaphorical freedom

Generally, for kids aged about 4 to 12 years.
Perhaps you have a special book that represents freedom to you—or perhaps freedom came as an accumulation of many books. Either way, reading is both a gateway to freedom and a freedom in itself. 

Here are 5 books about the path from literal slavery to freedom, they're books that also illuminate the path to freedom from metaphorical slavery, making them particularly wonderful for kids and adults alike. These are books that tell the truth and invite moral thought, with words and pictures that entrance and intrigue.

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a book to grow skills in spotting fake news—and to fuel a love of history

a book to grow skills in spotting fake news—and to fuel a love of history

ages 4 to 12 years (and older!)
Fake news is such a fraught and difficult topic! No matter which side of politics (or life in general) we align with, fake news can lead us astray.

It’s an issue for kids too, making skills like critical reading, viewing and listening increasingly important. But no one wants to overburden them or take the joy out of learning—and this book is a terrific help. It teaches critical thinking and watching skills and it’s heaps of fun for kids and adults to work on together.

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a story to encourage new perspectives and herald the blessings of difference

a story to encourage new perspectives and herald the blessings of difference

ages 2 to 8 years
Sometimes our own little quirks or difficulties can be a blessing. To us and to others.

In this tremendously fun story a cute little cat with a crick in his back walks through a town, surprising people everywhere and causing them to tilt their heads as he walks past.

That simple act leads to changes in perspective, new lifestyles, decisions and even new architecture.

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an edible (ish) mud farm + a few fave books make for a perfect spring day

an edible (ish) mud farm + a few fave books make for a perfect spring day

ages 0 - 6 years
Spring is finally here and while it's still quite cold in Tasmania, the sun is out and we're loving being outside. I'm always on the lookout for new ways to make mess and have fun with the kids, especially outdoors, and found a bit of inspiration while spring cleaning the shed—a shallow plastic container that looked like the perfect size for a mud farm.

I'd had my eye on a muddy farm sensory play activity from The Imagination Tree for a while, so thought I'd give it a try, with minor adjustments to this original recipe: 

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a meditation on the realities of war, enemies, and the profound value of seeking understanding

a meditation on the realities of war, enemies, and the profound value of seeking understanding

ages 4 to adult
Having an enemy doesn’t always require a war, but always (always!) requires separate camps! Those camps could be foxholes, but they could also be duct tape lines across a shared bedroom floor, places to sit during lunch at school, or even a divided family.

In this book, 'There’s a war on.', and two soldiers are facing each other from holes in the ground. Just one soldier speaks to us, but we see both

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