Sunday, 18 June 2017

My Little Book of Big Freedoms - Review and Giveaway

When this small yet incredibly important book arrived in the post this week, I was extremely excited and I could not wait to share it with the Mini Reviewers.

My Little Book of Big Freedoms portrays the 16 different freedoms of The Human Rights Act in a series of enchanting and very beautiful pictures. Each picture is accompanied by simplified text taken from the act itself. The book has been illustrated by awarding winning writer and illustrator and former Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell. It has been published by Buster Books in partnership with Amnesty International UK, the world's largest human rights organisation.

As a former lawyer, I am impressed at how effortlessly this little book conveys the importance of The Human Rights Act and explains how the special rules look after all of us, keeping us safe and free. Although aimed at children, this is a book to inspire generations and I cannot see how anyone, young or old, could fail to be moved by such poignant illustrations.

This special little book is undoubtedly my favourite release of the year so far and I can see it being read in homes and classrooms up and down the country.

My Little Book of Big Freedoms is available from 22nd June 2017, RRP £9.99. If you would like to win your own copy please enter the giveaway below:

My Little Book of Big Freedoms

*We received a copy of My Little Book of Big Freedoms for the purpose of this review, all opinions are as always our own.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Bamboozled by PHONICS? Read with Fonics App - Review and Giveaway

Until Mini Reviewer, Izzie, started school in September, I am a little embarrassed to admit that I was bamboozled by these "PHONICS" everyone was talking about. When I learned to read we used sight words - basically repeating the same word over and over again until we could remember it! Of course, I knew what the letter sounds were and had taught these to Izzie but that was pretty much the extent of my phonics knowledge! I now know that learning to read using phonics (sounds) is a much simpler method than using sight words as there are only 44 sounds to learn. Once these sounds are understood then most of the English language can be decoded so it gets children reading more quickly. Sounds easy, doesn't it?

Well fortunately for the most part it has been (phew!) but I am always looking for new ideas to keep learning fun and so when we were asked to review a new phonics app, I jumped at the chance!

Designed by teacher, Sophie Cooper, Read with Fonics is a fun new app to help children learn to read. It is aimed at primary school children aged 4-7 years old (Reception - Year 2). The app consists of a series of games for the different letter sounds that when completed unlock further sounds. There are four stages or worlds to complete: 1. Water World; 2. Forest World; 3. Lava Land; and finally, 4. Jelly City. The sounds in the stages get progressively harder.

Over the past few weeks Izzie has enjoyed working her way through the different stages of the app with Albee the Alien. Initially I was concerned that the games were a little repetitive as it is the same format for each sound. However, this has not bothered Izzie in the slightest, in fact, I think it has enabled her to get to grips with the app quicker and allowed her to work through the later stages independently. The games help to improve recognition, comprehension, segmenting and blending. They consist of finding the correct sound; completing words; matching words to the correct pictures; and, in the later stages, identifying nonsense (pseudo) words from real words. The app keeps track of progress and so it has been easy to identify any areas that Izzie has found more difficult.

I have also had a little play with the app and I found it to be extremely user friendly and the games easy to follow. I particularly like that the font is very clear and the voice used has good pronunciation in UK English. My three year old has also been able to complete some of the easier games and there is this fantastic phonics song available online, which is also great for younger children:

Overall we have been incredibly impressed with the app and, as we approach the end of Izzie's first school year, I am pleased to say we are all getting to grips with our phonics!

Sophie wanted to create "the ultimate learn to read resource for the classroom", however she has created an app that is perfect for home use too. So if you have a child starting school this year or are a bit bamboozled by phonics, I really recommend that you take a look at the Read with Fonics website. As well as the great song, there is also a free phonics guide and resources for parents and you can of course purchase the brilliant app for £7.99. 

Now for the best bit... I have three codes for full access to the app (Google or Apple) to giveaway to three lucky readers! See below for entry details:

Read with Fonics App Giveaway

*Disclaimer: We received free access to the Read With Fonics App for the purpose of this review. All opinions are as always our own.
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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Unique Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

At the beginning of May, Independent Children's Publisher, Nosy Crow launched a new range of books with The British Museum. The range, aimed at ages 0-12, includes these two incredibly interesting and unique board books:

Filled with fascinating photos of items originating from all over the world and from throughout time, these robust first concept books are designed to introduce children to letters and numbers. Although aimed primarily at babies and toddlers, Mini Reviewer, Izzie (5) found the images very engaging and she desperately wanted to know all about the different items on each page. Fortunately we were able to scan the QR code to find out a little more - although apparently not enough for Izzie! She particularly liked the collections of different keys, dolls, beads and kites and was in fact more interested in the books than her two younger siblings!  Although they too enjoyed looking at the pictures; counting the objects; sounding out the letters; and, of course, turning the pages themselves. Below are just a few of the images we found to be the most eye catching:

Friday, 19 May 2017

Five Favourite Colourful Books #top5friday

This week we've been considering our favourite books about COLOUR prompted by our #top5friday twitter chat with The Happy Book Club and Acorn Books, boy do we have some amazing titles to share with you!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Cultural Diversity in Children's Books

In our search for diverse and inclusive books we came across Lantana Publishing, a London-based independent publishing company that champions cultural diversity in children's books. Last week the company's Founder and Publisher Alice Curry won the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize, which recognises the achievement of women in publishing. Therefore we thought this would be the perfect time to share our round up of Lantana's beautiful and inspiring stories.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Five Favourite Train Stories #Top5Friday

Mini Reviewer, Theo (3), likes anything with wheels but he really, really LOVES trains. We are incredibly lucky to live close to the National Railway Museum in York and we have made many a trip to look at the "giant wheels". On Theo's second birthday we even managed to see "The Flying Choo Choo" otherwise known as the Flying Scotsman!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Once Upon A Time Book Bundles - Review and Reader Discount

We were delighted to be contacted by Kelly from Once Upon A Time Book Bundles to review a bespoke book package. Kelly has recently set up her online book service to provide children's book bundles for all ages. Her customers include parents, as well as, childcare providers and businesses. She offers a variety of book packages but ensures that each bundle is suitable for the recipient's age, interests and reading ability.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Books to make you ROAR (like a dinosaur)! #top5friday

This week we are joining The Happy Book Club along with some other book lovers on Twitter for #top5friday and we are discussing the best dinosaur books around. We thought we'd share our top five choices as selected by Mini Reviewer and dinosaur fan, Theo (3). We hope these get you roaring...

Thursday, 27 April 2017

One Silver Summer: A modern fairytale for teens

One night last week I stayed up especially late to finish One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman. Now although this modern fairytale for teens is not the usual type of book I review, as it is aimed at children much older than my own, I felt that it really deserved a special mention. So as my five year old would say "here is the blurb..."

"After losing her mother, Sass is sent to live with an uncle she barely knows. Far from her native New York, the rocky Cornish shoreline seems an unlikely place to hide her grief. Yet when she stumbles across a silver horse in a sunlit meadow, Sass feels a surprising sense of peace... only to have it broken by a boy with a secret."

Books to Beat the Bedtime Blues #BathBookBed

Sleep deprivation has to be one of the hardest things to deal with as a parent and, with three children of my own, it is safe to say I have endured plenty of sleepless nights over the past 5 years. When we have had a bad night, parenting the next day seems so much harder. In fact everything seems so much harder! My patience levels hit rock bottom and I end up on autopilot fuelled by tea and biscuits.

In my sleep deprived state I have been known to drive to the wrong place, to find my car keys and phone in the fridge and I have even discovered (half way through the day) that my clothes are on back to front AND inside out! A sleepless night also means grumpy, tantrum prone children and the morning school run becomes a battle of wills. So a good night's sleep not only benefits the whole family but also anyone else that is unfortunate enough to encounter us the next day! 

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Getting desperate?

Over the past few years there have been times that I have gone to somewhat desperate lengths to settle my little ones. I have rocked, sang and fed them to sleep. I have carefully transferred them to their cots and beds. I have loving held their hands through the cot bars and even slept next to their beds on the floor. My funniest bedtime memories are of covertly creeping out of their rooms on all fours whilst desperately trying to avoid the dreaded squeaky floor boards. There was also that time I climbed over the cot bars and actually sat inside with my eldest daughter. Simply ridiculous and, if you are wondering, no it didn't work!

Establishing a routine

The BookTrust has recently launched this year's Bath, Book, Bed campaign by publishing their simple steps to achieve a better night's sleep with guidance from, parenting expert, Jo Frost. You can read all about their Bath, Book, Bed routine here. Establishing a similar routine certainly helped my children know what to expect at bedtime and therefore settle more easily on a night. Here are our tried and tested tips for a successful bedtime:
  • Keep bedtime as calm as possible, everything you do should take the children one step closer to falling asleep. 
  • Dim the lights where possible and, if children require a light to fall asleep, use a nightlight. We also have blackout blinds in the children's rooms.
  • Choose a bedtime story that is good to snuggle up with. I try to keep our choices engaging yet not too exciting. You can find our recommendations below. I let each child choose a book and then we read them all together.
  • Try white noise if little ones still struggle to settle. I'm not sure whether this is controversial but it has worked wonders for us. When our youngest was a baby I noticed she liked the sound of the vacuum cleaner and hairdryer so we started to use a white noise app to help her drift off to sleep. Now she is a little older (almost 18 months) she has a Sleep Tight Puppy that we programme to play the noise of waves. The best part about this is she has learned to touch its tummy to restart the waves if she wakes in the night.
  • Finally, once you find a routine that works for you and your family, stick with it as consistency is key.

Now for the best bit, our favourite bedtime books. For those of you that regularly read our blog you will know that we love stories, all types of stories but at bedtime I have started to try and keep our choices to books that are as calming as possible. Here are some of our current bedtime favourites:

1. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd 
2. Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
3. Pip and Posy The Bedtime Frog by Axel Scheffler
4. Goodnight Digger by Michelle Robinson and Nick East
5. The Last Book Before Bedtime by Nicola O'Byrne
6. The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark by Jill Tomlinson and Paul Howard

You can find many more bedtime book recommendations from the BookTrust here

Have you tried the #BathBookBed routine? 
What helps you get a better night's sleep? 
Please do share your bedtime tips 
and especially your favourite bedtime books in the comments below. 
We love to hear from you!

*Disclaimer: This post is part of the TOTS100 #bathbookbed blogger challenge in conjunction with The BookTrust. All opinions are, as always, my own.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

What's So Special About Dinosaurs?

Do you have little ones that love Dinosaurs? Then you may be interested in this fantastic series of non fiction books by Nicky Dee. Each book is packed full of information about a different dinosaur. The fun facts are presented in an engaging and accessible way with lots of exciting illustrations. There are currently 8 titles available: Megalosaurus, Diplodocus, Leaellynasaura, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Coelophysis, Ankylosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex. The layout of each book is exactly the same so you can easily compare the stats of the different dinos - everything from their height and weight, to just how they measured up when it came to speed, braininess and even scariness! Eek!

Last year we were lucky enough to visit the Natural History Museum in London as well as also the summer dinosaur exhibition at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Since then I have been keen to find interesting dinosaur books that are very reader (mummy) friendly. We received two books from this series to review and so we have been able to compare the huge, plant eating Diplodocus with the much lighter, quicker and scarier, meat eating Megalosaurus. 

Initially I thought The Mini Reviewers (5, 3 and 1) may find the images in these books a little frightening but, no, instead they loved them! They took great delight in placing the books side by side to compare the different dinosaurs as they looked at each page in turn. It is safe to say that the kids' thought the books were fantastic and even though they are a little young to fully appreciate all the information, I think they will learn more and more from this series as they get older. I am also pleased to tell you there is even assistance in pronouncing the dinosaurs' names making the books extremely reader (mummy) friendly so we can ALL enjoy our dino education together!

We have also signed up to the What's So Special Club which is completely free and you get sent regular fun activities, such as colouring sheets and puzzles, to compliment the books. To find out more about the series and the What's So Special Club click here.

*Disclaimer: We received What's So Special About Megalosaurus? and What's So Special About Diplodocus? for the purpose of review. All opinions are, as always, our own.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Storytelling Fun #WorldBookDay

What's better than reading a story? Well how about playing with one? Sharing stories in a variety of creative and imaginative ways can really help children with their early literacy skills and speech development. So to celebrate this year's World Book Day, here are just a few of our favourite ideas for storytelling fun.

1. Story Stones
There are lots of different versions of story stones about - just take a look on Pinterest!  There are beautifully decorated ceramic pebbles and even stones that have been decorated using magazine pictures. If you create the stones yourself they can be as versatile or as specific you wish.  Our own very basic stones were created from pebbles we collected in the garden. We then decorated these using acrylic paint before sealing them with varnish. They are great for playing with in a group or alone. We usually put them in a basket, take them out in turn and as we do, we each add a little to the story.

If you don't fancy making your own story stones, stunning sets can be purchased from The Story Spoon Company. (This is not an affliate link!)

2. Story Cubes
Similar to story stones, story cubes can be used to get your creative storytelling juices flowing. We have been playing with the Rory's Story Cubes for a few months now. As The Mini Reviewers are still very young, they just interpret the pictures how they wish and we have found the best way to play is to create stories together. The sets of Rory's Story Cubes can be purchased from Amazon (affliate links below) but if you fancy making your own then check out this great post from Red Ted Art.

3. Storytelling Baskets
Storytelling baskets are such a fantastic way to play with stories. We recently had fun with this little basket of goodies to help us retell the traditional tale of The Three Little Pigs. As well as a set of finger puppets, the basket contained shredded paper for straw, lollipop sticks for the wood and Duplo blocks for the bricks. We had fun building the three houses as we shared the story together.

Story baskets are again very versatile and can be adapted to suit any age. Here is a very simple story basket created for the youngest Mini Reviewer.

4. Take to the stage (well sort of!)
Why not grab a puppet or a mask and practice your best voices before acting out your favourite story? We find costumes, masks and props really do help to bring books to life. All three Mini Reviewers love getting into character so we've had lots of storytelling adventures including: hosting a "The Tiger Who Came to Tea" tea party; making a shoe box theatre; taking a trip around London; and exploring some twisted tales with puppets.

5. Finally - Get arty!
Not everyone's cup of tea, but grabbing your craft supplies and getting messy can be a great and fun way of exploring stories together. We have been taking part with some of the #KidArtLit challenges on Instagram where we have chosen a book and accompanying craft activity to fit a particular theme. Below are a few of our photos (1. Penguins 2. Diversity 3. Snow 4. Chinese New Year). Do take a look at the #KidArtLit community on Instagram as some of the choices are so inspiring!

So have a Happy World Book Day and we hope you all enjoy some storytelling fun! 
Please do share any storytelling activities with us, we'd love to hear from you. 

And if you are wondering, we thought we'd leave the World Book Day costume inspiration to the experts, as we are still trying to finish off this little creation... argh!

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Spotting Mr Panda at Edinburgh Zoo - Our Top Tips!

Those of you who follow us on social media will almost certainly know that as well as books, we love a good competition. In the past we have been fairly lucky winning all sorts of things from family days out and weekend breaks to books and toys and even a children's birthday party. In fact I could easily dedicate an entire post to the joy of comping and perhaps one day I will!

Anyway thanks to one of our comping successes towards the end of last year we took a trip to Edinburgh Zoo. Now did you know that Edinburgh Zoo is the only place in the UK where you can see Giant Pandas? Well we did and that is why we really, REALLY wanted to visit.

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You see the Mini Reviewers have a bit of a thing about pandas. It all started because they LOVE the Mr Panda picture books by Steve Antony and, if I'm honest so do I! If you haven't come across these books already, I cannot recommend them enough. I'll explain why these books are so fantastic later on but first let's get back to our panda spotting adventure.

We spent almost an entire day at Edinburgh Zoo, which is pretty easy to do as it is a big park and there is plenty to see. But before our visit I didn't realise that a panda sighting is not always guaranteed. Apparently pandas sleep a lot and we happened to catch Mr P on a very sleepy day. It was only on our third (and slightly desperate) trip to the panda enclosure that our patience was finally rewarded with a sighting. Mini Reviewer, Theo, was absolutely delighted and he was also totally convinced that it was the "real" Mr Panda!

So now that we are "expert" panda spotters I thought I'd share our top tips for visiting Edinburgh Zoo just in case you ever fancy seeing a panda in the UK:

1. Take the bus. We hopped on the bus from the centre of Edinburgh. There is a stop right opposite the zoo. It was a short and stress free journey and was a lot cheaper than a taxi!
2. Book your panda viewing ticket in advance. It does not cost any extra but without an allocated time slot you will not be able to see the pandas. Also be prepared to return to the panda viewing area throughout the day.
3. Make the most of the scheduled talks. We only listened to one talk and it was fantastic. I really wished we had timed our route around the zoo better to catch a few of the others.
4. Wear comfortable shoes and plan your route. The zoo is large and very hilly! The signage was also quite poor so we covered far more ground than was necessary. It was extremely hard going with three young children especially when they got tired.
5. Read the Mr Panda books before you go (obviously)!

So what is so great about the Mr Panda stories? 
Well the trio of stories are perfect to remind little ones about the importance of good manners and patience. They are full of humour and the illustrations are fantastic. In the original story Please Mr Panda, Mr Panda has a tray of doughnuts. He offers them to all of his friends but it is only when the enthusiastic lemur says "please" that Mr Panda parts with his tasty treats. In the second book I'll Wait, Mr Panda, Mr Panda is baking a surprise. Only one of his friends, a little penguin, is patient enough to wait to find out what the surprise will be. Will his patience be rewarded? Of course it will.

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In the latest book Thank you, Mr Panda, the endearing, if somewhat grumpy, little chap is back and has chosen presents for all of his special friends. He even goes to great lengths to deliver some of them. Unfortunately most of his friends do not appreciate his unusual gifts and he has to remind them "It's the thought that counts!" This book is just as funny and possibly even more  imaginative than the first two stories. It again teaches little ones the importance of being polite.

I am sure that Mr Panda will remain one of our firm family favourites as the Mini Reviewers grow up. In fact Mr Panda is so well regarded in our house that I find myself regularly asking the Mini Reviewers to think of him when they forget to say please or thank you! So when it comes to parenting advice and setting good examples, move over Supernanny because Mr Panda's in town!

We're always of the look out for new books to read and review. If you have any suggestions, please do get in touch!

Disclaimer: We did not pay for entry to Edinburgh Zoo and we received a copy of Thank You, Mr Panda from Hodder Children's Books for the purpose of review. However all opinions are, as always, our own.
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Read With Me

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Parragon's Perfect Books for Preschoolers #StartLittleLearnBig

Over the past week we have been trying out the Start Little LEARN BIG range from Parragon Books. These colourful board and activity books are aimed at preschoolers age 3-5 and are designed to make learning fun. As Mini Reviewer, Theo, is very nearly three and has just started preschool, we were delighted to be able to take a look at some of the range. 

The first book in our box was I CAN SHARE, a sturdy board book which introduces little ones to over 150 everyday words. It teaches children about playing and sharing in the context of a preschool setting. The brightly coloured pictures are packed with lots of interesting things to spot and talk about. It really kept Theo engaged and prompted him to talk about his own experiences of preschool. He told me how he should "play nicely" and share with all his friends. Let's just hope he remembers to put that into practice when he's there!

The second book we received is COLOURS, a great lift-the-flap board book and, with several flaps on each page, there is loads for little fingers to explore. I thought this may be a bit straightforward for Theo but as well as introducing basic colours such as blue, red, yellow and green, the book also includes purple, orange, pink, gold and silver. My favourite thing about this book is that the images used are of the world around us so it gave us plenty to talk about when looking at this book together.

Finally we received a copy of NUMBERS I KNOW, a wipe clean board book to help preschoolers start writing numbers up to 20. The book is full of colourful pictures and there are numbers to trace as well as things to count. The little pen neatly attaches to the book and there is a carry handle so you can easily take the book on your travels. Theo LOVES this book, perhaps because it has dinosaurs in it, or maybe just because he is allowed to write in it! After only a short time he is starting to understand how to write over the dots to form the numbers. The fact that it can be wiped clean, means it will be used over and over again and, for us, it will the most useful book as Theo gets older.

This fantastic range of colourful books really do make learning fun. I have been very impressed with the quality of the books and also the variety of content. We think they are the perfect choice for preschoolers but, if you still need convincing, just take a closer look at how Theo got on... Oh, and if you are wondering, yes, he is roaring like a dinosaur!

Disclaimer: Thank you to Parragon Books for sending us these books for the purpose of review. Our views are, as always, our own.

Read With Me
Mudpie Fridays

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Screen Time Success - KidloLand Review and Giveaway

Screen time for preschoolers always seems to be a bit of a taboo subject. One of those topics that you dread to raise on any parenting forum for fear of the backlash! Now before I had the Mini Reviewers I was totally against screen time for little ones. Then I had my second child and I quickly realised that the tablet was going to be essential if I ever wanted to get anything done!

I confess that I usually resort to YouTube when I need 5 minutes to load the washing machine, put the shopping away or jump in the shower! So when we were approached by KidloLand to review their app I thought it was a great opportunity to try something different.

Photo Credit: KidloLand
If you haven't already come across KidloLand, it is an app specifically designed for under 5s and offers over 1000 stories, songs and educational activities and games. Once downloaded, these activities are all available offline. The subscriptions range from £4.99 for 1 month to £39.99 for 12 months. There is also a 7 day free trial option currently available. The good news is, if you would like to try the app for yourself, we are giving away three 3 month subscriptions!

Our thoughts...
Initially, I confess, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content! The educational games seem to cover everything you could possibly think of including colours, shapes and numbers. However, as the app is fairly user friendly and there are lots of different categories, it is relatively easy to find exactly what you are looking for.

We have now spent several weeks trying out the app and getting to grips with the different activities, so we thought it was time to share our favourite features with you:

Theo (2) has learnt to do the dot-to-dot activity by himself. He can now trace from one number to the next to complete a picture. This is really helping with his counting and number recognition. 

There is a whole section of the app devoted to tracing letters (upper and lowercase), numbers and shapes. This has been particularly helpful for Izzie (5) who is left handed as it helps correct her letter formation.

Jigsaw puzzles
Theo loves "proper" jigsaws so I wasn't surprised when the puzzles on the app quickly became his go to activities. He seems to get huge satisfaction completing these colourful pictures!

Seasonal Content
One of the best things about the app is that the content is regularly updated. During the Christmas holidays, the seasonal songs, stories and games were a fantastic boredom buster!
Izzie and Theo decorating Christmas trees
As you can see the app has been very popular with the Mini Reviewers. Even Poppy (1) has enjoyed some of the nursery rhymes. The interactive activities have proven to be very engaging and, most importantly, it allows me to get the dinner cooked!

We would love to hear your thoughts on screen time and, if you would like to give KidloLand a go, why not enter our competition below?

Buy it here:

*Disclaimer: We received a 12 month subscription in exchange for this review. All opinions are as always our own.

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Sunday, 15 January 2017

What's in the box? #LittleLearnersRelaunch

Early last week we received an amazing book buddies' box from Parragon. I already knew that it was going to contain a selection of books from the newly relaunched Little Learners range. These sturdy board books have been especially designed for babies and toddlers to encourage them to learn through play. I was really keen to see just how engaging the books would be and also whether they would withstand being "explored" by the youngest two Mini Reviewers

Theo (2) and Poppy (1) obviously had no idea what was in the box so it was a bit like Christmas all over again! Why not take a look at them unwrapping the parcel and see what a huge hit the books were from the start?

Now that you have had a good giggle at our rather wobbly video, I'm going to tell you a little more about the five books we received. After the initial unboxing both little ones enjoyed playing with the books and the tissue paper (of course!) for quite some time. We then returned to the books many times throughout the week and explored them together. We all certainly developed our favourites so here are our thoughts on each title...

Mummy and Me (RRP: £3.99) is a delightful rhyming storybook with a cute finger puppet elephant. Poppy was seriously amazed to see the elephant wiggle! The small size of this book makes it perfect for little hands to hold and it is also fantastic for popping in your changing bag.

Ring-a-Ring o'Roses (RRP: £6.99) is definitely Theo's top choice, which will come as no surprise if you watched our unboxing video! Not only does this book play music, there are four buttons to press and these all light up! The pages contain the text of the nursery rhyme and there are cute illustrations of the animals doing the actions to the rhyme. Here it is in all its glory, take it away Theo:

123 Count with Me (RRP: £4.99) is a simple and very sturdy first numbers playbook. The text and pictures are very clear so your little one can easily spot the animals and learn to count to five. The small cut out in the corner of the book makes it great for you to hold, while your child looks at the pictures.

Eyes, Nose, Ears, Toes (RRP: £5.99) is described as a "peek-a-boo playbook". This is both my favourite and Poppy's favourite book of the selection. I found it brilliant for helping me really engage with Poppy. There is a question on each page such as "where is your nose?" and "can you blink your eyes?" The animal characters also play peek-a-boo through little holes in the book, which is a fun addition. However the reason Poppy loves this book so much, is it has a handle and she can carry it everywhere!

My First Shapes (RRP: £5.99) is a touch and explore book. It is a very simple tactile book and introduces the following shapes to little ones: circle, square, triangle, diamond and star. Poppy and Theo immediately started to trace the cutaway shapes with their fingers when we explored this book together. This would make a great first book.

Little Learners
Overall the Little Learners range have gone down extremely well with the Mini Reviewers. We have thoroughly enjoyed sharing them together. The books really have been cleverly designed to promote learning through play. We love that the range is so varied and the books are very tactile and engaging for little ones.

Do you have any favourite books for your little learners?

*Disclaimer: We were sent a selection of books from the Little Learners range by Parragon Books in exchange for this review. All opinions are, as always our own.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

366 Books In 366 Days: Spreading The Love #BookGivingDay

Happy New Year to you all! On 31st December we completed our 366 books in 366 days reading challenge, and how did we celebrate? Just as we started, with a tweet of course!

Throughout 2016 we discovered new authors and illustrators; developed a love of wordless books; and found some truly beautiful and inspiring reads. (I am sure that I will blog about all of these things in due course!)

Reading a different book each day was very much a family activity, something for us to do together. Therefore I was a little stunned by just how interested and supportive our friends, family and later the blogging communities were. I confess I only started the Instagram posts as a reminder of the books we had already read!

Although there won't be a different book each day in 2017, we will certainly continue to spread our love of reading and I can't think of better way of doing so than by joining in with International Book Giving Day.

Celebrated worldwide on 14th February, International Book Giving Day is designed to encourage an enthusiasm for reading in young people by getting books to as many children as possible. This year marks the fifth anniversary of this fantastic volunteer based initiative and so far children all across the world have received books. 

Today we are delighted to be able to share this year's poster, designed by writer and illustrator, Marianne Dubuc. Here it is in all its glory and I'm sure you'll agree it is fabulous!

This is such a lovely and simple idea, so why not spread your love of reading this Valentine's Day and give a book? More information and plenty of book giving inspiration  can be found at:

Here are a few of our own ideas for Book Giving:

1. Send a book to a young family member or friend because every child loves getting post!
2. Gift a book to a new mum or even a mum-to-be to start their baby's library. It really is never too early to share a book!
3. Leave a book on a bench or even the swings at the park. What an exciting discovery that would be!

Remember books don't have to be brand new, and if you do join in, why not let us know here or by tweeting @bookgivingday using #BookGivingDay.

Happy Book Giving!