Tiny Tin Bird celebrated his fourth birthday yesterday. Instead of my usual emotional waffle about how I can’t believe he is another year older, I thought I’d tell you about one of the things we do on our children’s birthdays. Each birthday we give them a book and write a birthday message inside it, and the date of course. It’s not a big thing, but it feels special and I hope that it will become something they look forward to about their birthdays in future. Quite often we give more than one book, but there is always one that is the “Book for your birthday” book. Here are TTB’s four books so far:
For his first birthday we gave him the original Hairy Maclary story, by Lynley Dodd. We have almost all of these stories now, and they are all much read and enjoyed by both children. I remember making the Scarface Claw noise so many times in the weeks after TTB’s first birthday!
The rhymes are just so fluid and perfect that they roll off your tongue and they are very comfortable books to read. They’re good for counting (we count all of the dogs) and talking about how the dogs all look different. We often see Bottomley Potts (covered in spots) dogs around town and that never fails to make TTB excited.
For his second birthday, we chose “On The Way Home” by Jill Murphy. This was one of my favourite childhood books, by the same author and illustrator of “The Worst Witch” series, which I adored.
I really like this story: it follows Claire on her way home with her bad knee and she shows it to all her friends, inventing fantastical stories to explain how she did it, all of which put her in extreme danger but of course she bravely fights free and lives to tell the tale with only a bad knee to show for it. There’s lots of opportunity for expressive voices and actions when we read this!
Then when Claire arrives home to her mum, she reveals that she actually injured her knee by falling off of a swing, and all her bravado disappears. I think it’s a very sweet story and one of the things we talk about when we read it is how it’s ok to cry and that things do hurt, but that I’ll always give him a hug and make him feel better.
For TTB’s third birthday we went to Salts Mill for lunch and I chose this book for him while we were there. I vividly remember his birthday trip there as he came down with a high temperature during lunch and Andy had to leave me with my 6 month old baby and a raging hot, floppy 3 year old while he went out into Saltaire to find some calpol. Not the best way to celebrate a birthday but these things happen!
I chose “It Might Be An Apple“, by Shinsuke Yoshitake firstly because the illustrations and the limited colour palette really caught my attention, and when I read through it a couple of times I thought that it might be a good way to develop TTB’s imagination and get him thinking about things in a different way.
Is the apple really an apple? Are things always what you think they are going to be?
“It might be a huge cherry. It might be filled with jelly. It might be all peel, with no apple inside. Or it might be half apple and half orange. It might be a red fish, curled up into a ball.”
The book is filled with imaginative, fantastical possibilities as to what the apple might be. There are lots of talking points in this book and lots of pictures that we take our time over and explore every detail, but TTB’s favourite page is this one:
“Billy, Jilly, Frilly, Milly Silly. Whirly, Twirly, Curly, Pearly, Shirley.
Rocky, Blocky, Vicky, Tricky, Ricky, Bingo, Wingo, Jingo!
Dusty, Rusty, Crusty, Twisty, Misty. Wibble, Nibble, Squibble, Dibble, Jibble!
Queenie, Greenie, Meanie, Teenie, Knotty, Spotty, Dotty!
Droopy, Scoopy, Loopy, Hoopy, Gloopy, Mingo, Mongo, Mango, Mungo, Bob!”
These names never fail to have him in uncontrollable giggles. It’s brilliant for playing with rhyming and we like to make up other silly rhyming names for things too. I think he finds it particularly hilarious that after all of the rhyming names it ends with “Bob”! It’s a great book and we’ve had a lot of fun reading it. When I was looking up the links on Amazon I saw that there is another book by the same author, “Can We Build Another Me?” which I think I shall get him for Christmas.
That brings me to his fourth birthday, for which we bought him “Grandma’s House“, by Alice Melvin. Years ago I bought myself a copy of Melvin’s “The High Street” and it sat in a drawer all nice and safe for a couple of years until TTB found it. He knows it’s a special book and he has been so careful with it. Honestly, I haven’t seen him enjoy a book more than this one. He is just fascinated with the detailed illustrations and it’s sparked so many conversations about what things are, resulting in one evening where we just sat and watched youtube videos of what different instruments are and sound like. He loves it. So I thought that “Grandma’s House might be a similar hit, because the drawings are the same, beautifully detailed, style.
Based on Melvin’s memories of her grandma and her house, it’s a wonderful tour throughout the house with accompanying rhyming text. Lifting the half-page flaps reveal more of each room, until eventually she finds Grandma in the garden, ready for a party tea.
We haven’t read this with him yet as he only got it yesterday, and naturally TOYS are much more exciting than books initially. He typically takes a few days to be interested in the new books but that’s understandable when you have a new Brio ferry to play with.
TTG has only had one birthday book so far as she’s only had one birthday. I couldn’t find it to take a photo, but we chose “Nothing” by Mick Inkpen, the story of a little soft toy who is left behind in an attic when the family of the house moves away. It is so threadbare that it doesn’t know who it is. It all ends happily though!
I’m hoping that 4 years is old enough to show an interest in Where’s Wally? books. I think he’ll enjoy looking at the pictures and noticing lots of things even if he can’t find Wally yet. Andy and I both liked these as children!
Found him ;-)
(This is still one of my favourite things I’ve ever made and I really should make some more squares and increase the size. I love it despite it being incomplete!)
OH! It’s only two more sleeps until Yarndale! Are you excited?
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