My top five books to read in early childhood and beyond


Faculty: Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
School: School of Education
Course: BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies
Category: Student blogs

4 May 2023

I’m Mitzi, a third year Early Childhood Studies student at ARU and self-published children’s author. Here are my top five children’s books that inspired me throughout my childhood as well as currently influence me as an author and early childhood student.

My previous blog drew on the importance of books in early childhood, with current access being limited. With organisations and councils operating change initiatives that broaden access to books, here are some great stories that will grow your mindset.

1. Little Bear Lost by Jane Hissey

Book cover for "Little Bear Lost"

This book was a firm favourite from my early childhood. I used to love ‘reading’ it myself and even took it in the bath one night, which resulted in my favourite book getting extremely soggy! I enjoyed looking at the different characters, giving each one their own name. I loved teddy bears and recreating this story in my play. Little Bear is such a comforting protagonist and when his game of hide-and-seek went a little wrong, I prayed his friends would help find him. This book taught me a valuable lesson of never to give up and always be there for your friends.


2. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Book cover for "The Snowman"

This book was what made Christmas so magical for me. As a child, I loved creating my own characters and would pretend I went on adventures with them, so this book captured the entire essence of my childhood. Narrated entirely through pictures, it is a story that evokes power and implies how you do not need to always use your words to tell a story. I still relive this wonder and innocence of childhood through inventing my own children's book fantasies.


3. Cinderella by Charles Perrault

Book cover for Cinderella

This traditional fairy-tale transformed my childhood. Cinderella has sweet qualities that children are able to resonate with and worship throughout the story. As well as the traits of the protagonist, this tale contains narrative moves, such as a ‘happy ever after’ and a ‘handsome prince’ that children embed into their own play. I have observed this first-hand in the classroom, as children’s helicopter stories always end with: ‘and they all lived happily ever after.’

Furthermore, the story inspired me to publish my own book: Cicerella: A modern fairy-tale, which reinvents the narrative moves present in Cinderella, to create a wholesome tale of love, ambition, and courage.

4. I can catch a monster by Bethan Woolvin

Book cover for "I can catch a monster"

I read this book recently to Foundation Stage children whilst on my degree placement. I set up my own storytelling club and read this book first with the children. I found that the book reflected modern changes in society and the narrative echoed qualities such as determination and bravery. It also sent a powerful message about not judging by solely appearance as the story encounters several ‘monsters.’ The protagonist, Bo, invents her own alter ego ‘Bo the brave’ which really stuck with me as we progressed through the story.

I set a task for the children to create their own alter egos, which helped them with their personal, social, and emotional development.

5. The Story Machine by Tom McLaughlin

Book cover for "The Story Machine"

As a children’s author, I am passionate about encouraging children to become avid storytellers. After research conducted in my dissertation found that storytelling exists in multimodal formats, I feel that is important to express this inclusive approach to children. This children’s book invents the fantasy concept of a storytelling machine, that allows Elliot to tell stories through just pictures. In the narrative, Elliot expresses how he isn’t very good with words and letters, but this story sends a message that is everyone has a story to tell and can do this in a way that they desire.

Mitzi Harris studies BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies at ARU. Find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.