We all know that reading has several benefits for children, especially when you start them young. It can build their social and cognitive development, improve concentration levels and language acquisition, encourage their wellbeing and overall mental health. But mid-to-long-term benefits aside, what differences can you see on a day-to-day basis?
1. Empathy development - when reading a book, we tend to put ourselves in the shoes of the characters. This helps us develop empathy, and understand how they feel. For children, this is a a great starting point to understand emotions and learn how to express them. With time, reading with your little ones will also build stronger relationships and increased feelings of affection and reassurance.
2. Increased understanding - books take us to a whole new world, and give us a chance to learn about other people, places, and cultures. Well-written books can teach children about the real world and encourage an open mind. At the same time, they will learn new words, pronunciations, reading behaviours and a faster grasp on language.
3. Boosted creativity - most children's books are fiction, and as a result help create curiosity, drive imagination, and result in whimsical playtime adventures. Picturing the characters and their environment, children can learn to guess what's coming next or even create a story with ideas of their own!
With that being said, I'd love to share with you my top 5 favourite NZ kids book to check out in 2021:TU MEKE TUI
Tu Meke Tūī is a beautiful story of friendship and courage written by Malcolm Clarke. It is lavishly illustrated by Hayley King, aka Flox - known throughout New Zealand for her distinctive native botanical and wildlife inspired murals, stencil and street art. Tu Meke Tūī’s motto of ‘there’s more to being a bird than flying’ teaches children that often in life it’s our differences which make us truly special. The illustrations are gorgeous, vibrant, and will keep your little audience completely captivated. Tu Meke Tūī is also available in Te reo.
KUWI THE KIWI SERIES
We’re in love with the utterly adorable Kuwi the Kiwi’s bestselling and award winning series of kids’ books by Kat Merewether. There are currently four different books available - KUWI’S FIRST EGG, KUWI’S HUHU HUNT, KIWI’S VERY SHINY BUM and KUWI’S ROWDY CROWD - as well as a Māori picture dictionary, and Te reo editions of each. Kuwi the Kiwi is the perfect quirky and quintessentially Aotearoa series that will get your children discovering Te reo Māori, whilst enjoying Kuwi and friends' cute adventures. What’s more, 20c from every book sold goes towards the Kiwi for Kiwi fund, to help with the ongoing protection of our most iconic native bird and mascot.
THE WHEELS ON THE BUS
Everyone knows the tune and now the popular song that your kids love to sing, The Wheels on the Bus gets a Kiwi makeover in this fun and vibrant version by Donovan Bixley. Join a selection of iconic New Zealand creatures as they tiki-tour through Aotearoa - from cape Reinga to Milford Sound – taking in famous parts of the kiwi landscape along the way. Beautifully illustrated, with vibrant and fun images - your preschoolers will love joining in with this book and helping to find the distinctly New Zealand wildlife that makes up the passengers: kiwi, penguin, tuatara, fantail and many more.
THE LITTLE YELLOW DIGGER
Betty and Alan Gilderdale
So much of a kiwi classic, that you could call it the onion soup dip children's books, Betty and Alan Gilderdale’s The Little Yellow Digger has been enthralling and entertaining generations of New Zealand kids since 1993. A fantastic picture book for kids learning how to read - The Little Yellow Digger has a simple and clear text with a solid rhyming scheme, awesome bright pictures, and a practical message that children will pick up with ease. Perfect for the truck, car, bus and transport loving kids in your life (we all know one!) - The Little Yellow Digger will feed the imagination of children all ages.
STOMP! is an exciting dinosaur follow-the-leader story that children love. Follow Ruth Paul's colourful and vibrant dinosaurs as they HOP, STOMP and ROAR their way through the pages of this beautifully illustrated book. You kids will love tiptoeing, roaring and stretching their way through this fun and captivating adventure that encourages interaction, engagement and movement.Your little dinosaurs will be exhausted in no time!