Doing the bedtime story is often a ‘dad job’ in families as it gives them a rare window of quality time with a child after work and before bed.
So I decided to ask a father friend Chris, who we met on our NCT course, to share his best reads.
Chris is currently taking shared parental leave to look after his son G while his wife works and he is blogging about the highs and lows at 100daysofdad.com. Although it’s actually 365 days because G turned a year old today!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, £6.99, Puffin
“This is a real classic that I’m sure most young children have read, and for very good reasons. I reckon this is my little boy’s favourite book, and I don’t blame him.
“The story is simple, the illustrations are colourful, and it teaches basic counting, but I think the cleverest part is the way the book is laid out: the staggered pages covering days one to five of his feast are ideal for him to play with and flick through, and he loves to stick his fingers in the holes. Simple pleasures.”
Fox’s Socks by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, £4.99, Macmillan
“This should probably start with a confession: I’ve never read The Gruffalo. I’m sure I will soon, but not so much because of its worldwide reputation – simply because reading Fox’s Socks is recommendation enough for it.
“My son loves pop-up books, and there seem to be thousands of them out there, but for me this is the best. It’s the epitome of what a children’s book should be, and I can’t help giggle at the sheer silliness of its endearing series of rhymes.”
“This book is brilliant. We came across it randomly in the shops just after it came out, and bought it for my niece for her birthday.
“A couple of weeks later we bought it again for my niece on the other side of the family for Christmas – it’s simply so good we had to recycle the idea. And we’ll be buying it for my boy too, as soon as he’s a couple of years older.
“It’s a great book: it’s history (hooray!), made fun (double hooray!) and inspirational for all kids (triple… you get the gist). The style isn’t a million miles away from the Horrible History series, which are also a cracking read, but as a standalone book it’s unbeatable.”
“I distinctly remember reading this book when I was in hospital aged around 11 and the story of a prowling cat searching for its owner (thereby providing a narrative link between people’s Blitz-damaged lives) made me cry.
“Now I don’t like cats, I never have done – but this book was captivating.
“I was always interested in war when I was a boy and this was probably my pathway from comic-book war stories to more adult books, like Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series. It’s not unlike Goodnight Mr Tom and Robert Westall also wrote another book, The Machine Gunners, which I can also still remember 25 years later – the true sign of a good book.”
“Don’t laugh. I read all the Famous Five books, all the Secret Seven series, and both the Malory Towers and St Clare’s books (I had an older sister, so they were her choice originally but I devoured her hand-me-downs).
“When I put it like that, it makes me sound like some kind of Enid Blyton junkie – and maybe I was.
“It’s easy to mock these books now, and I do laugh at the modern sarcastic re-writes – but as a kid they were the perfect story to feed your imagination: buried treasure, crime mysteries, midnight feasts. I had none of these, but they were a thrilling idea.
“The books may feel a bit dated now and not particularly reflective of 21st Century Britain – but they weren’t very reflective of my childhood either. Admittedly I’ve picked this particular one at random, because I can’t remember any of the individual stories – they were pretty much all the same. But any one of them (or all of them) would be a great read for budding bibliophile.”
Read more of Chris’s musings on parenting life at 100daysofdad.com