Loft treasure no.6 – vintage Child’s Play books

I recently posted about an amazing book called ‘Rabbityness’ (you can read the post here), which is published by Child’s Play.  I have to confess that I don’t always remember who has published the books that I love and it’s something that I need to start noticing and recording more diligently.

Anyway, having clocked the publisher this time, something clicked in my mind and I trotted over to peruse the bookcase where I keep the books from my own childhood.  Sure enough, there were oodles of Child’s Play books!

I then visited the Child’s Play website and realised that their aims and values closely reflected my own and thus those upon which I’d like to base Story Seekers.  The following quote illustrates this perfectly:

“Books play a vital role in building the foundations for learning, and exposure to quality books from an early age helps to develop an enquiring mind and a lifelong love of reading.”


Child’s Play are also passionate about filling their catalogue with books that celebrate the rich diversity of our modern world and ensuring that people from all walks of life are equally represented, so that children grow up knowing that there is no one ‘normal’ but instead an infinite variety of different ‘normals’.

However, the vintage book I’d like to share first is ‘There were ten in the bed’, illustrated by Pam Adams and published in 1979.

This book is over 30 years old and yet still features non-white children amongst its characters (albeit in somewhat stereotypical guises, but they are there nonetheless).  I was only just born at the time and therefore am probably not best placed to comment upon whether this was usual practise for children’s books at the time, though my guess is that it probably wasn’t.  I certainly remember that when I started reading the book a few years later, it encouraged me to ask questions about why all people didn’t look the same (I grew up in a small village with no non-white people living there until I was secondary school age, so relied on books to open my eyes to the wider world).

I remember Mum being very good at discussing things with me (perhaps she had bought the book for that very reason) and then us seeking out further information from the library on various countries and cultures around the world.

The text in the book is simply the lyrics to the well known children’s song of the same name, but the very cool, interactive element is a dial at the side that allows you to make one person ‘fall’ out of bed at each appropriate moment:

Books that encourage this active participation, both by turning the dial and by singing along, are a great way to get children involved in the reading process and for them to experience how magical and fun the world of books can be.   I loved sharing these books with my parents and grandparents as a child and C and H certainly seem to feel the same way now.

Both boys are particular fans of the next type of book that I found – those featuring a soft, squashy ‘mystery’ object.  First up is ‘Who’s your Furry Friend’, written by Arnold Shapiro, illustrated by Karen Avery and published in 1978.

The children explore a series of nonsensical ideas as to who the furry friend could be, which reminded me of ‘The Foggy Foggy Forest’ by Nick Sharratt, a book C adores…

The second of these makes me smile,as it’s not often you see a reference to alcohol in children’s books – in fact, the only other book I can immediately think of that mentions it is ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’, by Judith Kerr, which is certainly not modern (first published in 1968, I think).  It’s not that I feel in any way that children need to read more about adults drinking alcohol, it just reminds me that despite knowing ideas must change and move on, we can still celebrate books that were ‘of their time’.

The following was a big favourite of mine – I just LOVED the final illustration 🙂  It’s called, ‘The Fuzzy What-Was-He’, written by Peter Seymour, illustrated by Karen Acosta and published in 1982.

It’s particularly exciting to see yet more examples of non-white children’s book characters again:

though I can’t help the fact that I always want to rush straight to end to meet this gorgeous creature again!

The final loft treasure I’m sharing actually comes from my husband’s loft, not mine.  When he started searching (or to be more accurate, asking his parents to search) for his own childhood books, this was one of the first titles that he enquired after.  He himself would admit that his memories of his formative years are often hazy at best, but for some reason, ‘Dudley: The Dragon You Can Count On’ (written by Arnold Shapiro and illustrated by John Strejan, published in 1983) had stuck in his mind as something truly wonderful.

I think it’s amazing and exciting that I don’t yet know which of the many, MANY books I read with C and H will have a profound impact on them in later life.  My husband sometimes questions the amount of children’s books we have accumulated as he thinks that too much choice won’t allow C and H to really *love* a book because they are exposed to so many.  I disagree, as we don’t have all the books out at once (hence part of the thinking behind a seasonal book box!) and still let the boys choose their own stories, without ever forcing them to read a certain book.  We have some very well-worn friends already – we are onto our second copies of ‘You Choose’, ‘Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site’ and ‘Father Christmas Needs A Wee’, for example!  I know there will be many book lovers out there who face a similar situation, so where do you stand on this debate?  Can you ever really have too many books?

Sorry, I’ll get back to the point!

Although this book probably falls somewhere between the respective mathematical abilities of C and H, they both enjoy it very much.  Any book that squeaks is sure to be successful with pre-schoolers and the rhyming instructions interspersed within the prose help pick up the pace and move the story along.

I think it’s fantastic that C and H are able to share in their parents’ literary heritage and I hope to continue this practice for many years (the boxes upon boxes of loft treasures still left for me to search through would indicate that this won’t be a problem).  I am also particularly excited when I come across books to share with babies and very young children, as I believe that early exposure to reading is so beneficial and anything that helps parents to do this (such as the awesome Bookstart programme, for example, as well as other ways of sharing fun, exciting and high quality books) can only be a VERY good thing.


One comment

  1. These posts make me wish I still had my children’s books. I remember feeling very sad at around age 9 when my mum ditched a huge box of picture books that I wanted to keep really. We had no space (just downsized from 3-story, 5 (huge) bed, 1/4 acre gardens to 4 bed on account of parents divorce, my new bedroom was 9’x6′) so any old stuff disappeared around then as nowhere to keep anything *sniffles*! Er, yes, sorry, ignore the whinge! I do really love these old book posts though 🙂

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