Earlier this month, we recommended a list of children’s bookstores for your family’s book-picking and browsing pleasure. Today, Team makchic shares with you our kid-approved books that you might wish to add to your child’s (ever-growing) book collection. Check out our favourites that help to instil great values, encourage conservatism and awareness about the world, and tickle our funny bones!
Author and Illustrator: Francesca Sanna
Recommended Age: 3+ (on Amazon and Barnes & Noble) / 7+ years old (by BookTrust UK)
Told through the eyes of a young child, this book explores the harrowing journey of a family forced to leave their home in the midst of war, as they set off on foot, in trucks and on bikes, boats and trains to a country far, far away. It’s a story of resilience and perseverance- heartbreaking, yet still hopeful, with the child remarking near the end of the journey, “I hope one day, like these birds, we will find a new home. A home where we can be safe and begin our story again.”
I first read this book with my son when he was 5 years old and struggling to read. He kept his focus on the beautiful, yet powerful illustrations, pointing out details I missed when reading the story. It was an emotional read. He didn’t understand the concept of war and safety, but the illustrations stayed with him- he would ask me days after reading the book, if the family was okay, and if they did find a safe haven at the end.
We revisited the book recently when he was 8 and he could read the simple story on his own. His questions were more difficult to answer- “Why do they have to pay the man when they cross the border?” and “Why are they running from the guards?” The book allows us to explore an often painful topic with sensitivity, and in light of recent events, invites our children to think about the issues of forced migration with greater empathy and compassion.
Endorsed by the Amnesty International UK, as a work of fiction that explores human rights, you may find a guide on exploring the Journey together, here.
Author and Illustrator: Isabella Bunnell
Recommended Age: 4 to 11 years old
As a big fan of animals, this beautiful search-and-find illustrated book was a huge hit with my son at 4 years old, and remains a firm favourite 4 years later. The animals are wonderfully hidden among the beautiful, vibrant and detailed landscapes, with the glossary at the back of the book providing more information on the endangered species- where they can be found, the size of the remaining population, and why they are endangered. It’s a fun and engaging way to raise awareness at a young age about the diversity and fragility of our ecosystems- from the ocean, rainforest, desert and mountains. Plus, my son truly got a kick out of the amazingly weird animals listed in the book (Tip: try googling “purple pig-nosed frog”!)
Lu Sean’s Pick
Author and Illustrator: Raina Telgemeier
Recommended Age: 8 to 12 years old
“Why Did I Ever Ask For A Sister?!” asks Raina Telgemeier in Sisters, a comic memoir which has been read and re-read many times by my 9 and 6 year olds. They adore the lovingly drawn colourful illustrations, especially the hilarious expressions of Raina and her siblings —Amara and Will. While my 6 year old enjoys the comic depictions of how wrong things can go, my 9 year old appreciates the nuances of siblings, and how they are never what we expect them to be.
This charming and relatable story of dashed hopes and sibling dynamics is set upon the backdrop of an epic summer road trip. Note that it touches upon unemployment and the possibility of divorce. Also highly recommended are the author’s other memoirs, “Guts” (about suffering panic attacks) and “Smile” (about surviving middle school).
Author and Illustrator: Trace Moroney
Recommended Age: 3 years old and up
Ask me what type of literacy I find important, and emotional literacy would top the list. (Our tiny kids sure need help navigating those big emotions they experience!). That’s why my favourite books are those from The Feelings Series by Trace Moroney. This 10 book series covers a complete range of basic emotions we all experience, such as love, jealousy, anger and disappointment.
The layout and content of the books are engaging and relatable, written in a lighthearted and easy to understand tone, making it suitable even for younger tots. The books often begin by explaining the body’s possible physical responses when faced with a particular emotion, then move on to show unhelpful and helpful ways to address the (negative) emotions at hand. The beautiful illustrations of a lovable fuzzy bunny and the books’ heartwarming endings also make it a memorable read, so learning points will (hopefully!) stick.
I never expected a book to give me immediate ‘returns’ too- until one day, my daughter was furious at discovering her prized artwork destroyed by her younger 2 year old brother. Both kids were screaming after the confrontation. I decided to ask my girl to take the ‘When I’m Feeling Angry’ book, move to a quiet corner, and take her time to go through it. She walked back to the room in less than 10 minutes, completely calm and composed!
Author: Abyan Junus-Nishizawa and Farah Landemaine
Illustrator: Cecilia Hidayat
Recommended Age: 5 to 8 years old
I enjoy reading this book with my 5 year old for 3 reasons:
It’s about a little Sumateran Rhino called Ronda who doesn’t like to try new things. One day, she finds herself on an adventure that seems scary at first, but turns out to be a day where she learns that trying new things is perhaps not so bad after all. I always encourage my children to try new things but my 5 year old in particular is a little more on the hesitant side – so this story of courage and adventure is a perfect read for us!
2. The Local Flavour
The illustrations are adorable, but what’s more notable is the use of animals that are closer to home – something the kids won’t usually see portrayed in their cartoons (lions are majestic, but also overrated!) – as well as endangered.
3. Ronda’s Leaf Collection!
I’m an avid plant mama, and have gotten the kids to help out with watering the plants (under my supervision, of course – I am not crazy). The story also features Ronda’s leaf collection, along with their plant names, making it fun for us to identify them and guess which ones we have at home. There are some activities also included at the back of the book that teach little ones about conservatorship, adventure and a couple more fun ones.
It’s a short, sweet story with plenty of messages we can revisit every time we read the book!
Author and Illustrator: Helen Hancocks
Recommended Age: 3 to 7 years old
This book is always a popular request during bedtime in our household. It is an action-packed tale of a cat named William (yes, cat) trying to solve the mystery of a missing painting from a museum in Paris. We follow William, as he ponders the case and picks up clues around the city.
Author and Illustrator: LeUyen Pham
Recommended Age: 3 to 6 years old
Over 2 years in and in some parts of the world, the pandemic feels like a distant memory. To others however, it’s a reality we continue to grapple with. Many of us have learnt to soldier on, our lives inextricably altered to accommodate the new big C of our generation: Covid-19.
This stunningly illustrated picture book by Caldecott Honoree, LeUyen Pham, movingly captures the moment in time when the world collectively stood still at the height of the pandemic in 2020- when people everywhere were asked to leave the outside world and stay indoors as frontliners fought fires to save lives, and we all did our bit to keep each other safe. Some might prefer not to remember those often dark days, but others (like me) value this testament to humanity’s strength in times of trial.
Through lyrical prose and lush illustrations, Pham’s “Outside, Inside” commemorates this significant season in global history, imbuing the same with grace, sensitivity and above all, hope. I’ve used this book to explain the pandemic to my young child, address his questions and concerns, and discuss themes ranging from grief and loneliness, to joy, unity and new growth.
Caution: be prepared to grab a pack of tissues once you’re done reading this deeply moving book (trust me, you’re going to need it!).
Team makchic’s Pick
Of course- this list of ours wouldn’t be complete without our team’s personal favourite – our very own What If? (excuse our biasness!) 😉 Written for children aged 3 to 8 years, this picture book, beautifully illustrated by Delia Razak, delivers concepts of personal safety, consent and body boundaries through engaging rhymes and delightful Malaysian characters.
If you would like to get your hands on a copy, a list of stockists can be found here.
Happy World Book Day, #makchicmumtribe – and happy reading!