I’ve loved reading ever since my third grade teacher, Mrs. Roe had her husband build our class a reading castle. It was the most glorious castle, compete with a drawbridge and filled with pillows and cushions. We were allowed to enter the fortress at any time and curl up with our favorite book. I immediately got lost in all of the books. Today, I still love to read; though if I’m being completely honest, my favorite books are always children’s books.
There are so many amazingly wonderful children’s books out there, and I’d thought I’d share the most recent to hit my must-read list. It is a British story called The Gruffalo. Apparently, it’s been around for 15 years (clearly I’m late to the party), and has won several awards and even was voted the UK’s favorite bedtime story. The sweet English family I work with introduced me to it and I just can’t get enough!
The story, created by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, follows a sweet mouse who takes a stroll in the deep, dark, wood and encounters several forest creatures along the way. In order to escape from their traps he tells them of a mean, terrible Gruffalo who he happens to be meeting in the forest. Will his plan of tricking the fox, owl and snake work? What will happen with his made-up Gruffalo?
There is also a film version of The Gruffalo featuring the voices of Robbie Coltrane and Helena Bonham Carter (or Hagrid and Bellatrix to most). It was nominated for an Academy Award and perfectly brings the story to life. I absolutely recommend checking it out; it’s beautifully done and can help inspire ways to read the story to your children. Here is a little snippet of the film:
My favorite story time tips:
Don’t be afraid to use silly voices! Nothing captures the attention of your little ones like a change in tone, using accents and distinct voice for each character.
Whisper…when you suddenly lower your voice it helps build anticipation and allows your little one to hone in on their listening skills.
Use gestures and be animated – make the story jump off the pages!
Create your own play or performance of the story using props, costumes and music. Putting on plays can help build confidence and foster creativity in young children.
Bring the story into other areas of play. Let them paint a picture of The Gruffalo, build a forest out of legos or blocks, or make up a song about the story. Be creative and have fun with it!