Do ALL of my stories begin with “I first met So-and-So on Instagram….?”
It’s really starting to feel like it.
So, I first met Claire from @alittlebookhabit when we bonded over the Chris Haughton board book “Oh No, George!” Claire shares fantastic book recommendations via her ‘Gram, and has recently started a blog to share all her bookish passion with the world.
Her enthusiasm for books and literacy (she’s a teacher) is contagious.
Thanks for hanging out on my blog, Claire!
Hi everyone, I’m Claire from alittlebookhabit and I’m feeling very honoured and excited to be guest blogging for my wonderful instapal Shannon today. Big shoes to fill, but I’ll give it a whirl…
If I was to ask people to think of something they associate with their favourite children’s books I think a lot of people would say rhyme. From Janet and Allan Ahlberg to Julia Donaldson, everyone seems to use it. There’s a good reason for that. As children listen to the story they can use the rhythm of the verses and the rhyme to help them remember the words and as they get older it can help them predict what’s coming next. It makes new books seem familiar and makes children feel like readers without having to actually read the words on the page, building book confidence along the way.
There is another feature which is used almost as often but is not necessarily mentioned as often- repetition. Repetition functions in many of the same ways as rhyme- it makes a text accessible, gives children a hook to join in with and makes the reader and listener feel like they are part of the story. When I was teaching Reception (4/5year olds) we used to spend a specific part of every day reading stories which were heavy on repetition and it was so amazing to see them using phrases from these books in their play and then eventually in their writing. Repetition was helping them to internalise the structure of stories and gave them a starting point for making their own.
I have no doubt that if you have even a small selection of children’s books at home you will find some repetition in there. (It’s one of those things that you’ll notice everywhere now you’re thinking about it!) However, if you are looking for a bit of inspiration below are some books which are full of fantastic examples of repetition and are tried and tested favourites in our house. Enjoy!
‘Little Rabbit Foo Foo’ by Michael Rosen and Arthur Robins
Little Rabbit Foo Foo is a naughty rabbit who likes nothing better than to ride round all day on his motorbike with a mallet bopping creatures on the head. Luckily, the highly unconventional Good Fairy (an old lady with a magic handbag) is on hand to make sure he learns his lesson and isn’t allowed to terrify the unsuspecting forest creatures. It is arranged into four sections and only a couple of words change in each part so it is highly repetitive and perfect for joining in with. This book is pretty bonkers and really quirky and I’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t find it hilarious. It also has the added bonus of really detailed pictures so there’s plenty to look at as you go along.
‘On the Way Home’ by Jill Murphy
My copy of this book has been with me since my seventh birthday when my best friend bought it for me because it had a main character called Claire. Claire has fallen and cut her knee and as she meets different friends on the way home she comes up with more and more fanciful stories about how she did it- dragons, gorillas, witches- until she gets home and tells her mum the real story. Each page starts and ends with the same phrases and I’ve used it in class with children up to the age of 7/8 and they’ve all enjoyed it. A really interesting feature of this book is that it’s set out a bit like a cartoon strip on each page so its really attractive to look at and as a result will appeal to a wider age range. I love Jill Murphy’s illustrations and looking at the pictures now makes me feel all nostalgic and I have that lovely sensation of being seven again.
(As I was writing this my little one swooped on this and begged me to read it to her right away. Surely proof of a good book!)
‘Wow! said the Owl’ by Tim Hopgood
This is a shorter text about an owl that decides to stay up during the day to see the colours that he misses at night. It’s got a really good balance of text and pictures and each page contains the phrase ‘Wow! said the owl’ which even the really little ones can join in with. The illustrations are a delight, it helps consolidate colour learning if that’s the stage your child is at and the colours used are really vibrant and eye catching.
‘Oh no, George!’ by Chris Haughton
Meet George, a dog that really wants to be good but finds it very hard to control himself especially around things like cake and soil. When he gets left alone he makes some very bad choices and ends up in big trouble. Everyone is sure to find this book hilarious, especially if you have a mischievous dog of your own. The illustrations are amazing and unique, I love the way Chris Haughton uses colour to give each of his books its own personality. I’m a huge fan of this author/illustrator and he is a master of repetition so anything by him will definitely have you joining in and having fun with words.
‘Where Bear?’ by Sophy Henn
I have a bit of a Sophy Henn obsession and it started with this book! When a boy’s pet polar bear grows too big he ends up having to find somewhere else for it to go- but where? This story has a really simple plot and the text is quite minimal with all the extra details and excitement coming from the amazing illustrations. Again, it has a repeated phrase on every page which even early talkers will be able to have a go at joining in with and the two characters are so sweet that it’s impossible not to fall in love with them. It ticks the box for repetition and for so many other things too and looks wonderful on a shelfie as well! (You could also check out ‘Pass it on’ by Sophy Henn which again is very repetitive and equally beautiful).
So there we have five great, repetitive books. I specifically chose ones where repetition is at the heart of the story but there are many more which incorporate both rhyme and repetition. I could go on all day… If you have a repetitive favourite, please get involved and share it below. I’m always on the lookout for something new and exciting and I love getting recommendations from other book lovers. Thanks for reading!
Images (except first) by: Claire, alittlebookhabit