Sunday, June 10, 2012

Julia Donaldson (Awesome Women)

Now that E is getting a bit older and starting to read more on his own, I'm feeling a little nostalgic for all the old picture books that we used to love and read together all the time.  Obviously we still read lots of picture books and will still for awhile yet, but it feels like the beginning of the end. 

And as many great picture books there are out there, Julia Donaldson has always been a firm favourite in our house.  So today, I thought I'd write a bit about her but also about the effect her books have had on the boys and me. 

I actually really love the sound of Julia Donaldson's life so far - growing up in a house full of family in London then going off to university.  Spending time busking with her husband in different places.  Which leads to a career in song-writing and writing books. It sounds such fun and very creative.  Until June 2013, Julia is the current Children's Laureate, championing libraries and reading aloud.  She encourages children to act out stories and perform, as well as linking music with books.  

For our family, it started off with One Ted Falls Out of Bed.  When I was expecting E, we went out and started buying children's books.  We'd read somewhere about babies recognising voices when they are still in the womb, so N took to reading the bump a story every now and then.  One of the first books he read was One Ted Falls Out of Bed and now I'll always associate this book with a baby E.  It's still a book we return to quite often. 

Then of course, is The Gruffalo.  It is a favourite of both boys.  They love the rhyme that comes with a Julia Donaldson story and I find the illustrations by Axel Sheffler to really stand out.  The Littlest had a Gruffalo birthday cake recently, we've all sat and watched the BBC adaptation on the telly (of both The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child) and both boys can recite The Gruffalo by heart.  I love that.  The Gruffalo character really seemed to inspire E.  In the same way that he's been interested in Roald Dahl's books and Dr. Seuss' books, E was first excited and inspired by Julia Donaldson.

There's a local theatre company who regularly puts on plays based on children's books and a few years ago we took the boys to see their production of Room on the Broom and it has quickly become MY favourite of her books.  It's just so much fun to read.  I'm not normally one for putting on different voices for different characters (that's N's speciality!) but even I get into the spirit with this book and put on a voice for the dragon as he decides to have witch and chips for his tea.  It was a wonderful thing seeing this book performed live and I don't know why we haven't thought about acting out more of our favourite stories with just our little family.  It'd be lots of fun!

The book of Julia's that seems to get the most reading time in our house these days though, seems to be Night Monkey Day Monkey.  The boys STILL giggle at some of the things each of the monkey is confused with.  And somewhat embarassingly, it was only the other day that I realised that when one of the monkeys is explaining about 'the fireflies that wink and blink in the night' that they actually meant fireflies.  I always just thought they were mistaking the stars for fireflies.  Ha! One of the things I particularly like about this book is that the rhymes are very easy to notice and the boys love it when they figure out which word comes next and chimes in. 

I always have great fun reading her stories. We have nearly all of them, A Squash and a Squeeze, Tiddler, Charlie Cook's Favourite Book, and on and on and on...

To find out more about Julia Donaldson, please visit Julia Donaldson's official website

Do you have a favourite Julia Donaldson book? Or a favourite picture book? 


  1. Great post. I heard her talk at this year's London Book Fair and need to go and discover some of her books, think I'll be making a list from this post!

    1. I think her books are wonderful! And I'm sure she was pretty entertaining at LBF :) Hope you enjoy her books as much as my boys and I do!


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