Jen is pretty much still a big kid himself. A teacher for the past 6 years, he has made hanging out and learning from kids his profession. For as long as he can remember, he's always had two steady influences in his life: team sports and books and he is a firm believer in both being able to enrich and educate unlike few other things.
Here are a selection of Jen’s favorite books from our Collection.
Book 1: I'm Going To Eat This Ant by Chris Naylor Ballesteros
I loved this one on sight because it took me back to a cartoon from my own childhood where a blue anteater was constantly after this little wily ant but it all only ended in hilarious mishaps. This one's for the slightly older young crowd, if that makes sense because the ways in which the anteater would like to consume the ant isn't exactly for the squeamish ("seared like steak"). Regardless, it's such a hilarious story and the little ant - of course - has got a solid plan to escape. I'm going to eat this ant has everything to keep kids entertained and perhaps the adults as well.
Book 2: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Let me know if you've heard this one before in a children's book: An animal loses something and asks the other animals if they've seen it. Yes, it's a classic, built on repetition but I want my hat back is more than just another version of this staple of young readers' concepts. So in this one a bear cannot find his hat but he's intent on getting it back, as the title indicates. No surprises there. But just as the bear starts to give up, a deer comes by and asks the one question that sparks the bear's memory and he finds his mojo again. A great story, with superb illustrations and even the not-so-young crowd will find a laugh in it.
Book 3: Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman
The fact that Neil Gaiman penned this book should be the winning argument either way, at least for me it was. Sure I may be biased but that aside, it's a story which allows young girls to find a hero in a princess who pursues education rather than a charming prince. So, Cinnamon's a princess in a sweltering kingdom, framed by jungles and mountains but she can't see and doesn't speak, leaving her parents clamouring for hope and trying to find someone who can teach their daughter to. Many people come and try but they all fail. That is until one day a tiger shows up, and enters the palace with the confidence only the king of the jungle could possess. An amazing read!
Book 4: The Things I Love About Trees by Chris Butterworth
Anything which can make children learn from a young age to appreciate the beauty of nature and our planet these days will make my heart skip a beat because it is so, so important. The things that I love about trees wonderfully shows kids that there is so much magic and the extraordinary in the trees around them. Kids travel through the seasons and discover how much there is to love about trees! Beautiful illustrations complement and complete the beauty of the story - one of my favourites already!