Handa’s Surprise, Eileen Browne
Handa’s Surprise is a very simple tale of friendship with a juicy twist at the end. When I am not sure what each day has in store a bag of seven fruits from the story can go a long way. From size ordering, weighing and ‘favourite fruit’ survey’s in Maths, to growing activities and research into finding out where the fruits are from in Understanding the World. There are also obvious links to healthy eating and an opportunity to reflect upon friendship. What isn’t surprising is that Handa’s Suprise always inspires a lively day of teaching in the EYFS.
Only One You, Linda Kranz
When I first shared Only One You in the Reception classroom, I wasn’t sure if I had made the right choice – there are some pretty big concepts for little people to grasp – but I decided that’s what teaching is about! Though the children may not understand the depth of each bit of advice Mama and Papa fish give to their little one they always enjoy the lively pictures of smooth pebbles painted to look like fish. I often choose one of the pages to talk about in-depth and ensure that I explain the concept in a child-friendly manner, introducing new thoughts and ideas. It’s one of those children’s books that speaks perfectly to adults too, read it to the other adults supporting in your setting I’m sure it will give them a lift for the day! For some follow-up ideas and activities have a look here.
Beautiful Oops, Barney Saltzberg
In my teaching practice, I like to celebrate mistakes as opportunities to develop and believe that creativity is something we can all learn so when I found ‘Beautiful Oops,’ it immediately became one of my staples. This interactive pull-out, pop up, flap book is full of wonder and as each page is turned a series of small mistakes are transformed into something special; no longer a mistake but an opportunity to create. A great message for any Early Years classroom.
I’m Going to Eat This Ant, Chris Naylor – Ballesteros
A super special and surprising first read, I’m Going to Eat This Ant is a great one for phonics with alliteration throughout and a wonderfully witty ending involving a tongue and the ‘S’ sound. A very hungry ant-eater imagines all the ways he can eat ‘this ant’ but the little ant gets the better of him. The clever ending in this story is one of my favorites for hitting the spot with little readers who, more often than not, ‘get it.’ I’m Going to Eat This Ant is a great read to promote humor and laughter in the classroom.
Oh No George, Chris Haughton
I absolutely adore ‘Oh No George,’ a warm and charming read with fantastic character. George is an extremely loveable dog who is always trying to do the right thing but sometimes he gets it wrong. George encapsulates the daily behavior challenges of an Early Years learner perfectly – it’s hard to make sensible choices when you’re three (or so) the world is so fun and exciting! For me, Oh No George subtly reminds the adult reader of childhood and what it is like to be small – a reminder that sometimes we all need. It’s a supportive story, that reassures small children, it’s hard to be good, but just like George, they will get there in the end.
Ten Black Dots, Donald Crewes
Ten Black Dots is a simple concept that provides an obvious opportunity to be creative with numbers. To accompany the book Ten Black Dots I have purchased a circular punch and before I visit a setting, I sit in front of the telly punching lots of black dots. after sharing the story, which has pages full of pictures made from different quantities of black dots, I then model and encourage the children to make their own pictures. I love how this book instills creativity in maths and the follow-up activity allows children to play with their own symbolic representations of numbers. A very simple but very effective Shape Space and Measure and Number activity rolled into one.
Julian is A Mermaid, Jessica Love
This celebratory tale of Julian’s desire to become a mermaid is beautifully illustrated and with few but impactful words there’s lots of ‘space’ to enjoy their magic. This book is absolutely perfect for the Early Years classroom where, regardless of gender, children always enjoy dressing up. Societal stereotypes mean that even at the age of five this can be noted and I have seen adults try to talk boys out of dresses stifling expression, creativity, and identity. This story allows children to ‘be’ and I always feel that by sharing it I am very clearly promoting an inclusive and accepting space. I like that it doesn’t try to answer questions Julian is a Mermaid. He just is and he likes it.
Diary of a Wombat, Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
Diary of a Wombat is hilarious, or I think so. These stories really tickle me – perhaps I was a wombat in a former life! Diary of a Wombat is a great title when learning days of the week as the story follows a wombat from one day to the next. These wombat stories provide plenty of opportunities for keeping and writing diaries. The author is inspired by her own pet wombats, why not introduce a pet to the setting? Obviously, no one would thank a supply teacher for this but perhaps a day-to-day alternative could be a cute cuddly toy that can only whisper in the teacher’s ear? There are lots of books in this series including ‘Christmas Wombat,’ which is certainly one of my Christmas staples and offers a welcome alternative in the middle of the madness that is Christmas in EYFS.
Lion Vs Rabbit, Alex Latimer
I came across Lion Vs Rabbit on the hunt for a good Philosophy for Children stimulus that would respond to a class who were struggling with teamwork and I wanted to develop a sense of community. Its message is just as impactful when on a day of supply as there’s always the odd little person that finds it tricky to see the benefit of being part of a team – ‘the greater good,’ is a pretty large concept after all. Lion Vs Rabbit is a tale of a bullying lion who is stopped by a team of clever and triumphant rabbits. This tale of togetherness translates the impact of working together in a very child-friendly way.
Press Here, Herve Tullet
Press here is genius, by navigating the pages and following instructions the reader is actively involved, reacting, playing with and directing the dots. I like Press Here because it’s a simple concept for children to replicate, with a great link to Expressive Art and Design ask the children to create their own pages together. There’s also ‘Mix it Up’ which is based on the same concept but instead, the children are asked to smudge colours together on the page, when they turn over the outcome of their actions is revealed.