Inspiring our children to read with Penguin Random House Children's

Whether you're a big reader or not it's hard to argue with the fact that getting your children to read classic children's books (or you reading to them) is a good thing. Stories like Treasure Island, Oliver Twist, and Black Beauty inspire a generation of readers and (hopefully) writers. I have loved reading since I was a child and the Hubby gets through at least one book per month. The types of books don't particularly matter either, I love anything from romance to science fiction and the Hubby loves non-fiction as much as he loves fiction. As reading parents we're hoping we can inspire our children to enjoy reading as much as we do.

diary of a young girl by anne frank, Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson, Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher, and The Witches Vacuum Cleaner by Terry Pratchett

Books we loved as children


A couple of favourites that come to mind are Black Beauty and The Diary of a Young Girl. My nan gave a copy of Black Beauty when I was around 10 years old, it was a gorgeous deep red hardback cover with no pictures. I remember it being very small and the text was tiny. I started reading Black Beauty one Christmas when we were staying with my Nan and I fell in love with the story. Written from the perspective of the horse I found it intriguing and I truly empathised with the horse. The descriptions of having a bit shoved into its mouth and how it felt to have someone climb on its back moved me. While I lost the book (boohoo!) many years ago the story will always be one I'll remember.

We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.

Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

The Diary of a Young Girl is Anne Frank's diary and it's another one that will stay with me. At the time I read the diary I had no idea what it was about, I didn't realise it was about her time during the war. I was still quite young, around 11 or 12 I think, but again the story moved me. Because it was a diary I found it easy to read and was drawn in. Anne's descriptions of some of the more difficult times made me cry and I wished I could've helped. I still have a copy of The Diary of a Young Girl, it was in a Reader's Digest compilation and it's so old that some pages have gone missing. I will keep that book for as long as I can because not only do I love the story (so much I'm getting it on my Kindle) but it provokes memories that make me smile.

Just one short passage from the book.

I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains. 

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

While my boys wouldn't be interested (or at least I don't think so) in reading Black Beauty or The Diary of a Young Girl my love for the books will stay and I hope that at some point I will be able to pass these stories on to my granddaughters.

The Hubby

When I asked the Hubby to tell me about two books he loved reading as a child he said, The Lorax, because it's awesome, and The Hobbit for the same reason. Asking him to say something more descriptive resulted in him laughing at me. But having read both books myself I can do the describing for him!

The Hubby read The Lorax when he was about 7 or 8 years old and I'm sure the language was the most enjoyable part. Dr Seuss' use of rhyme and funny words is entertaining for young readers but the story in The Lorax teaches too. I love the last few lines and having read the book to LP I know he loves them too. 

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues. 

Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

At 11 years old, during the first year of High School (or Secondary School - whichever you call it!), the Hubby read The Hobbit. A teacher read a passage out in class and the Hubby decided, from hearing the passage, that he'd like to read the rest of the book. 

I first read the Hobbit when I was around 28 I think, I'd never heard of it until that point. I loved it though, and having seen the movies I still prefer the book. I always enjoy reading the chapter with the barrel rides. If you haven't read The Hobbit, you really should.

So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings. 

J. R. R. Tolkein, The Hobbit  

I have read The Lorax to both our boys and they loved it. I must've read that story to LP hundreds of times and I'm sure it will stay with him long enough that he will want to read to it to his children too. The Hobbit is a little too complex for LP at the moment but give it a few years and I'm sure he'll read it, it's a classic and I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't get him to read it!

Getting our children to read

Big Prince

When BP was a baby I read to him all the time, from nursery rhymes to short tales I spent hours reading. As he lost interest in the nursery rhymes I moved on to longer stories but he always seemed to want to either play while I read or he fell asleep. At the time I thought his falling asleep while I read was a good thing but I don't think it was. Because he fell asleep he missed out on the story and by the time we got around to reading again he'd forgotten what was happening. Whether it was the sound of my voice or that he didn't like the stories his introduction to reading put him to sleep, did that tell him he didn't like it? 

These days BP doesn't like to read, we asked him to read The Hobbit recently and we had to keep reminding him to read. He doesn't do it by choice. We've spent money and time trying to convince him that reading is good but we haven't managed to find the book that will pull him in yet. 

Little Prince

LP loves reading. I went through the same routine with LP that I did with BP, I read to him every day. When he was in bed and settled I would sit next to his cot and read nursery rhymes and LP would lie awake and listen to every word. It wasn't until I left the room that he would sleep. As he grew up and we moved on to more complex stories he would ask questions as I read and if he didn't understand a word he would ask what it meant. It's only been in the last few months that he's been more interested in reading to himself rather than me reading to him, but he does still enjoy the occasional story from me.

I've read many Dr. Seuss books, The BFG and other Roald Dahl books, and lots of other stories to LP and he's benefitted from it. His vocabulary surprises us sometimes and I can only put that down to how much I have read to him. 

New books

It's not just the classics we should be encouraging our children to read, newer books are important too. The newer stories incorporate new technology, talk about things that may not have been in books in the past, and the stories are more diverse. From boy spies to investigative teams of children the stories inspire our children and show them they can do anything, I love that. 

Penguin Random House Children's publishes a wide range of fiction, picture books and children's classics and some of the worlds favourite authors including Eric Carle, Roald Dahl, Jeff Kinney, Jacqueline Wilson, Rick Riordan, Cathy Cassidy and Terry Pratchett and popular character brands such as Peppa Pig, Peter Rabbit and The Snowman.

A Christmas Present Challenge

Working with Penguin Random House Children's this Christmas season is brilliant. Like me, they think that books make the best Christmas presents, with incredible adventures and unforgettable characters the stories can last a lifetime. 

When they sent me a package with three books inside I wasn't sure what to expect.

Would I be given books my children would love?
Would I have to find some other child that would love to read them?
Would I want to keep the books for myself?

The package arrived in wonderful Christmassy packaging; a sparkly purple envelope. I tore it open and pulled out the books, they were all new and I didn't know anything about them but I was excited.

The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner - Terry Pratchett

Fourteen fantastically funny stories from master storyteller Sir Terry Pratchett, full of food fights pirates, wizards and crooks!

Poor Mr Swimble is having a bad day. Rabbits are bouncing out of his hat, pigeons are flying out of his jacket and every time he points his finger, something magically appears - cheese sandwiches, socks... even a small yellow elephant on wheels!
It's becoming a real nuisance - and he's allergic to rabbits. His friends at the Magic Rectangle can't help, but the mysterious vacuum cleaner he saw that morning may have something to do with it...

This story sounds brilliant. I judged it by its cover (naughty, naughty!) and thought it wouldn't be a story for LP but I having read the blurb I've changed my mind. I'm sure LP would love to read this story and others and I'd love him to enjoy reading Terry Pratchett books because I know there are so many of them to choose from! I'll be giving The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner to LP for Christmas.

The Christmasaurus - Tom Fletcher

The magical, moving and bestselling first children's novel from Tom Fletcher.

Forget everything you thought you knew about the North Pole, and set off on a Christmas Eve adventure with a boy named William Trundle, an elf named Snozzletrump, Santa Claus (yes! The real Santa Claus!), a nasty piece of work called the Hunter, and a most unusual dinosaur...

Snozzletrump and the Hunter made me certain that this book is perfect for LP. While some might know Tom Fletcher from his time in the group McFly I know him from his amusing stories about The Dinosaur that Pooped. LP loved those books and we have read them time and time again. Once LP finds out that Tom is now writing stories for children his age I'm sure he will be eager to read The Christmasaurus.

Clover Moon - Jacqueline Wilson

Introducing the brilliant and brave new heroine from the wonderful world of the bestselling and award-winning Jacqueline Wilson. 

Clover Moon's imagination is her best escape from a life of hardship in poverty-stricken Victorian London. When tragedy plunges her into a world of grief, Clover realizes that everything she loved about the place she called home is gone. Clover hears of a place she could run to, but where will she find the courage - and the chance - to break free? And could leaving her family be just what she needs to find a place that really feels like home?

I have never read any Jacqueline Wilson books, or at least I don't remember doing. And unfortunately I don't think this one sounds like something LP or BP would want to read but luckily I have a niece that it would be perfect for. I'm sure she will love reading, it sounds like a great book for the girls. 

I'm so glad I decided to take part in this challenge, giving books for Christmas makes me feel good because I know they'll be used time and time again.

What stories did you love as a child?

I was sent the 3 books new books listed free of charge as part of the Brit Mums and Penguin Random House Children's Books Christmas Present Challenge. All opinions are my own.