NHM Readers: Recommended books for a nearly 7 year old

I recently asked the Friends of my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook “I’m looking for some more books to read Miss NHM (nearly 7) at bedtime, especially some book boxsets, and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations?”

Many thanks for your responses, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers recommend books for a nearly 7 year old

“The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks

Ruth said “The Wishing Tree? There are two more books with it in a set, it’s Enid Blighton if i recall…”

Susie said “We’ve struggled with these. Although I loved the books, it’s very old fashioned & my 7 year old questions a lot about what different things mean. Shall try again when she’s older.”

Katie said “The Works had some really good book sets the other day. I got my son 1.”

Eleanor said “My 7yo is loving the Worst Witch box set.”

Yvette said “Anthony My 5 year old loves Roald Dahl”

Rebecca said “Narnia!”

Kelly said “My son is 7 just read Nania and loved every minute of it.”

Elizabeth said “Charlotte loved The Worst Witch.”

Charlotte said “Wishing Tree and Faraway Tree. Famous 5, Some of the younger Roald Dahl’s”

Emily said “I’ve just got an Enid Blyton box set for my niece for Xmas, it’s got the Faraway Tree etc in it, they were my absolute fave when I was that age”

Claire said “Clarice Bean are good and they move onto the Ruby Redfort series”

Yvette said “My 6 year old loves Roald Dahl. The Book People online is so cheap for boxsets”

Marie said “Anything by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Terry Pratchett”

Lisa said “David Walliams books and the Mr Gum series – they always make us laugh”

Melody said “The Chronicles of Narnia are a firm favourite, and for some non fiction, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls”

Helen said “Zoe’s Rescue Zoo”

Sarah said “Cressida Cowell’s How to Train your Dragon series are fantastic. I think David Tennant reads the audio books and they are fab!”

Fiona said “The Magic Faraway Tree. The Famous Five.”

Fiona said “https://bookloverjo.wordpress.com Jo is brilliant at recommending books”

Sue said “Magic Faraway Tree”

Amanda said “If you haven’t read the Christmasaurus or the Creakers I would recommend them”

Natalie said “Holly Webb is a fav in my house all animal based adventures (also often on sale in The Works) also can’t beat the classics Roald Dahl or Enid Blyton!”

Fiona said “Gangster Granny”

Heather said “The Witch Wars series are popular with my 7 year old and all the Lauren Child books (Clarice Bean particularly)”

Hannah said “Roald Dahl had been a bedtime favourite in this house. That and the Faraway Tree books.”

Anne said “Check out Pamela Butchart (Baby Aliens Got my Teacher), David Solomon (My Brother is a Superhero), Emma Carroll (Letters to the Lighthouse), Robin Stevens (Murder Most Unladylike), James Nicol (Apprentice Witch), Lorraine Gregory (Mold and the Poison Plot). And Kathryn Rundell (The Explorer), Matt Haig (A Boy Called Christmas), Mary Alice Evans (Who Let the Gods Out). There are loads of recent fantastic authors writing for this age at the moment!”

Wendy said “My son loved the Great Hamster Massacre, there’s a series of them if you enjoy it. Captain Underpants and anything by Dav Pilkey are also good.”

Christine said “Roald Dahl (Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are favourites), Mirabelle (the chapter books not the abridged ones) by Julia Donaldson – we read them when she was 5 but they’re a firm favourite still, Stella Batts box set was very popular, Rainbow Magic (although quite boring in my opinion but my 6 year old enjoys them). We’re going to try the Worst Witch next”

Sarah said “The Rainbow Magic Fairies are great each one has a different girls name and they are available in box sets too. Winnie & Wilbur books are quite good too.”

Kate said “Jack and the Flum Flum tree”

Helen said “Roald Dahl- anything they’re fab. The Secret Garden. The Worst Witch. A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch. Judy Blume – Fudge, Super Fudge, Sheila the Great. The Indian in the Cupboard. The Borrowers.”

Susan said “James started with Harry Potter at age 6. We read them together…”

Liane said “How to Train your Dragon, anything by David Walliams, Enid Blyton’s Famous 5, Worst Witch, all really great box sets.”

Leah said “Rainbow Fairies series. Animal Rescue series. Wishing Chair & Faraway Tree series. The Works is great. And also the Book People. And Waterstones – you get discount too online/card”

Fiona said “http://www.worldbookday.com

Rebekah said “David Walliams books are all firm favourites in our house.”

Susan said “Just William went down well, but some of the language, and the concept of having a cook as well as a mother, might need explaining!”

Susan said “Naughtiest Girl in the School. Alex Ryder for action/spy stuff. Mrs. Wildings book corner is the answer, I think! She has a Facebook page. Young James Bond by Charlie Higson. Excellent series.”

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‘What’s Inside The Box?’ Interactive story times with KIM – TODAY!

Each week is based on a different story and theme followed by an interactive session around the book with Kim from Routine Riots.  We take a look inside the box to find clues, which lead us to the story! The session in very interactive and lots of fun, and includes dancing, singing with the ukulele, rhyme times, drama activities, music, puppets, parachutes, games and more. Stories can be from favourite, well known books or indeed Kim’s own stories that she has written.

The sessions are aimed at predominantly 2-6 year olds, though siblings are welcome to join in the fun too!  The cost is £4 for one child, £6.50 for 2 siblings. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Teas/coffees and Squash/water are available for a small donation.

Booking is ESSENTIAL! Please contact Viables Community Centre directly on 01256 473634 or email office@viables.org.uk if you would like to come along for some fun.

The NEXT ONE………. Thursday 3rd May 2018, 1-2pm – ‘PIRATE’ Story Time

Calling all shipmates…….Join Kim for her ‘What’s inside the box?’ PIRATE story time. A 60 min interactive session based around the book ‘Helping Polly Parrot – Pirates Can Be Kind’ by Tom Easton and Mike Gordon. Find the clues within the box to discover the theme of the story. Poor Polly the parrot doesn’t have a home on board the ship and she’s expected to be a great look out. Find out what happens to her, does the ship crash? Get ready to go on a treasure hunt and bring a hearty set of lungs for some pirate singing. With games, dancing, fun and much more! Yaharrrrgh!

The sessions are currently running every two weeks but Kim would love to expand this if the sessions prove popular.  To keep up to date with all the story time events and details you can join the Routine Riots (‘What’s Inside the Box?’ Story times with Kim) group on Facebook

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My Experience: Y1 Phonics Screening Check

This may or may not be a controversial post…

Miss NHM has her Y1 Phonics test next week. Apparently it is a 5-10 minute check of words that is done with a teacher that is “known” to her.

We haven’t done any preparation for the test. I’ve read all sorts of horror stories about parents who are hiring experts to “coach” their children for these tests. The parent Y1 Facebook group was all of a flurry during half term, with parents spending a couple of HOURS going through the “phonics workbooks” that were sent home at the end of term. (Workbooks for 6 year olds. Phonics for HOURS during half term. Seriously???!!!)

(My favourite bit on the facebook group is when parents post up the list of spellings for the week, because there is invariably some child who didn’t get their spellings that week, with their children’s answers next to them. All written perfectly of course.)

In the past week I’ve read LOTS of stuff about the Phonics test, what it involves and why it’s being done. I really don’t understand why the Department of Education feels the need to test 6 year olds on anything and that ANY child, under the age of 13 can be listed as having “failed” at anything. A great way to make the parents AND child feel like failures.

Anyway, my understanding is the reason for the phonics test is to try to increase the number of children who read?

I’m sorry, but am I missing something here? It seems obvious to me that the best way to get children to read is to switch off the TV and technology!!

Just switch off the TV!

Why do we insist on making things so complicated? Why do we have these overly complicated tests that cost a fortune to run, when we should be trusting teachers to do their jobs and parents to invest in their children by switching off the TV and encouraging them to read or listen to audio books?

Personally, I had never heard of a digraph or trigraph before Miss NHM’s homework a few weeks ago. I understand that teaching techniques have changed considerably since I was a child but if I’ve managed to get through THE WHOLE OF MY LIFE without knowing what a “trigraph” is, then why is it so important that it be drummed into my daughter?

Honestly, the more I see and experience about our current education system in the UK, the more I slap my head repeatedly.

Er, so maybe a bit controversial and maybe a bit ranty too but that’s the perk of having your own blog! 😀 😀 :-D.

I know you won’t hold back but what are your thoughts on the Y1 Phonics test?

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Inspirational Mum’s: “The Boppypants and the pants that blew off”



I would like to tell you a bit about what me and another local mum have been up too.

Wendy and I have been working since November on creating a children’s story book based on a story Wendy wrote over a year ago.

We have made her dream words on paper turn into a fab (if I do say so myself) children’s book called “The Boppypants and the pants that blew off”.

On Thursday we received a order of 50 of our books and launched our website and Facebook page …. today we have sold out! And have a second delivery of 50 coming Friday!!

This story is the first in a series of books we are going to be writing with the second coming out end of march hopefully.

The website is www.boppypants.com and the Facebook page is www.facebook.com/Boppypants

You will find images on both and a sneak reveal of the book on the website.


Illustrator of The Boppypants

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Review 2016: FitMama book

Emma sent me a lovely message asking if she could publish her FitMama book review on NorthHantsMum.

I hear great things about FitMama. I know of lots of local Mum’s who have read the book and done the course (based in Basingstoke!) and they rave about FitMama!

With hindsight I wish I’d signed up!

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Review 2016: FitMama book

I recently decided that after 2 years since giving birth, I should actually get my body checked to see how it had recovered. This led me to book an appointment with Marie Behenna aka ‘The Fitmama’. I wrote about some of my experience of this in my blog Getting my body back to it’s best.

Through chatting, Marie told me she had also written a book for Mum’s to be and new Mum’s. I was intrigued by this as I was pretty useless during my pregnancy , I didn’t enjoy most of it, I was uncomfortable and achy and I didn’t even attend an antenatal class! So I bought a copy from Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/FitMama-Method-complete-confidence-fitness/dp/0285640860/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462882817&sr=8-1&keywords=fitmama+method+book

The book opens with a testimony from an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist who had first hand experience of using the Fitmama™ Method six weeks after giving birth. This is somebody who knows from her own work what effect pregnancy and birth can have on your body, yet she still needed to seek further help and advice from Marie.

‘Not only did Marie’s postnatal pelvic floor repair class encourage me to get back safely into pre-pregnancy shape, it also provided me with social interaction with women in similar circumstances’.

Marie explains so heart warmingly why she is so passionate about her work and pregnant women. I got the real sense of her being somebody you could trust and that her book was going to be full of genuine, backed up advice and not just a new ‘fad’.

‘I witness the miracle of developing life on a daily basis. My life with these women was not an accident! It was born of a desire to give women what I wanted during my pregnancies: knowledge, choice, confidence and fitness for child birth’. 

She is an advocate for exercising during pregnancy; it is now known that it is beneficial to both Mum and baby. It strengthens the body during a strenous time and can aid in a better labour and birth. However, she also believes in listening to your body’s needs so if it is telling you to rest, you must do just that. It isn’t about being an athlete, but about remaining fit and healthy.

The book includes great colour photo’s throughout which demonstrate how to correctly carry out exercises, moves, stretches and to get your body positions right. All exercises have been used by Marie for over 10 years and are all suitable to carried out during the whole of the pregnancy. She focuses on keeping the pelvic floor strong, allowing better breathing for Mum’s when the baby becomes larger and also provides techniques for during labour.

Good nutrition is vital during and after pregnancy. Did you know that your diet can have a lot to do with the development of stretch marks?! Marie has included an eating plan for during pregnancy and then there are healthy recipes at the back of the book which have been provided by Barbara Bradbury, a naturopathic nutritional therapist.

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The book also includes quotes from women who have used the Fitmama™ Method and who have attended classes by Marie. They offer first hand advice and tips which gives the book a more personal feel.

Not only does Marie provide advice for the Mum’s to be but she also offers it up for the birthing partners and emphasises how important it is to be there for the woman during her labour; plus to say the right things!! haha. I love that tips include to pack snacks for the partner as they are so often overlooked during the hospital stay, it just goes to show how she really does think of everybody.

The relaxation techniques were so in depth and soothing that I even felt myself drifting off as I was reading them! I could have most definitely done with these during my labour, my stress and worry was a little too high- maybe with techniques such as these I may have had a smoother delivery?

As the book comes to an end I absolutely love the fact that she stands by the opinion that baby comes first and that they need you so much more than your skinny jeans do! So many women think they need to bounce straight back into shape after having a baby and they need to somehow ‘impress’ others. It is important to remain fit and healthy but after having a baby your body needs to heal, rest and recover. Her whole outlook is about doing what is best throughout pregnancy and post-partum, it is not about looking your best.

I am most definitely going to re-read this book during my next pregnancy and use all her tips and advice to try and have a more comfortable pregnancy and, fingers crossed, a natural birth.

I will leave you with Marie’s final word:

‘My final message to you before you deliver your precious child, no matter what mixed emotions you may be feeling, can only be this:

Go with the flow

Don’t rule anything out

Give yourself permission to change your mind

Be yourself, don’t be afraid to make a noise

If you need help, take it, don’t be a martyr!

And most of all, accept the many moments labour presents you with: this is progress to the greatest achievement of your life.

Go on girl, you can do this! And we are all behind you!’

You can find out much more about Marie’s methods on her website.

written by Emma Reed

If you want to read more of Emma’s blogs and see her book ideas please follow her on facebook: www.facebook.com/emmareed.net or https://emmareed.net

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My Usborne Story

11041515_676633912437900_7065935953017932022_nI discovered Usborne Books when my daughter was a baby and quickly fell in love with the That’s not my….series. I discovered that I could become an Usborne lady myself when I attended a home party then signed up on my daughter’s 1st birthday. I initially joined to buy my own books at discount but after catching the Usborne magic 7 years and 2 more babies later I’m now a full time Usborne Team Leader!

I love the books and am always excited by the new and imaginative titles which arrive each month – the novelty of the books certainly hasn’t worn off! My girls are now 8, 5 and 2 and love helping unpack the boxes (and steal their favourites!)

My latest mission has been to improve my daytime offering by finding something different to my usual ‘pop-up bookshop’. After some market research from friends and past hosts, I came upon the idea of an Usborne Storytime & Craft Party. With such a wonderful selection of Usborne Books to choose from the hardest part is selecting the story! These parties have quickly become very popular and give the mums a chance to browse my selection of books in peace whilst I entertain the children

storytime pic

My biggest problem now is to fulfil all the requests for my time so I’m busy looking for like minded Mum’s to join my Team of organisers and help get more of our gorgeous books into the hands of children. I will mentor you and help develop your own business to fit in with your other commitments.

If you would like to place an order, host a party, book me for an event, join my team or simply ask any Usborne related questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Katie Book Lady

Katie Slingerland – SLI27775
Independent Usborne Organiser
Tel: 01252 545 043 or 07963 960 887
Email: katiebooklady@gmail.com




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Top Tip: Reviews and Age Ratings of Movies, Games, TV, Apps, Books, Music…

I’ve always been really worried about exposing Miss NHM to technology stuff that isn’t age appropriate.

I mentioned this to a fabulous friend of mine recently and she sent me the link to this FANTASTIC website.

If you are looking for suggestions of age appropriate Apps to download or which films are suitable, etc. I recommend checking this website out.


Thanks very much fab friend :-D.

Our favourite books

Books have always been important to us. We’ve made a concerted effort to read to Misss NHM as much as possible. Mr NHM read the Gruffalo to Miss NHM on the day she was born.

When Miss NHM was very tiny I borrowed as many of the “That’s not my…” books from the library and purchased them from Nearly new sales and read them to Miss NHM. She also had a black and white book that a friend bought for her birth present which Miss NHM loved. Black and white books are supposed to be good for small babies.

I have always been a huge fan of our local library and going to the library when I was on maternity leave and after was a regular activity for us. They have a great selection of books of wonderful variety. Plus, you can order books online for the bargain price of 50p which is much better than paying full price for a book. I’m very conscious that we have a small house and as much as we love books, they sometimes turn into clutter!

It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Usborne books. When Miss NHM was six months old I bought the Apple Tree Farm box set from the Basingstoke NCT Nearly New sale (normally in March/April and October)) for £5 (total bargain!) and read them to Miss NHM every day. By 13 months old she could spot the usborne duck on most pages. I was amazed that she could do this as such a young age. The first page of each book in this box set is always the same and “Rusty” is still the name for all dogs for Miss NHM! Lol.

When Miss NHM was 15 months old I purchased another Usborne box set called the Phonics Readers from the Basingstoke Original Nearly New Sale (next one is this weekend!).

I also continued to read the Gruffalo to Miss NHM and have perfected the voices of the characters. Lol. When Miss NHM was 17 months I purchased “Monkey Puzzle” by the same team as the Gruffalo and this has also been a favourite book. Mr NHM has some favourites that he reads to Miss NHM such as Bear Snores on.

In Miss NHM’s bedroom she has a bookshelf with books that are hers and that she can “read”. She went through a stage of tearing the pages in her books which really irked me, but that stage didn’t last long and the books were repaired. I now often find her asleep in her bed surrounded by her books. She reads them our loud to herself and to her bedroom toys. It’s very important to me that she has access to her books in her room so she has control over what and when she reads.

When Miss NHM was 2 3/4 I persuaded her paternal Grandparents to get her the Very first Reading boxset from Usborne for Christmas (her only present from them). It was on special and priced at £30 for 50 small books. She absolutely LOVES this box set and is now “reading” the stories on her own. She memorises them so fast it amazes me. The books are very simple stories that progress in difficulty but range from classic stories to ones from around the world. Miss NHM’s favourites at the moment are “The Phoenix and the Dragon” a Chinese story and “Old Mother Hubbard”.

I recommend finding your local Usborne book lady and asking her to email or give you a copy of the promotional leaflets that are released every season. You can find some wonderful bargains on these leaflets.

The other evening I caught Miss NHM with her monitor in bed, with the light on, using it to read one of her books to her teddys. I was SO proud of her! Lol.

I’ve tried to read to Miss NHM every day for at least 30 minutes, I know this is a perk of not having a TV and of Miss NHM being an only child, but if I do anything for my daughter, I want her to have a love of reading. A love of reading opens up a world of education and possibilities.

Below is a list of other favourite books that we have, that you also might enjoy reading to your little ones. I encourage you to read to them as soon as they are born. You never know what they will absorb and where it might take them when they are older.

  • Hairy McClary books
  • Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes Boxset
  • Wow Said the Owl
  • The Gruffalo
  • Monkey Puzzle (same people as The Gruffalo)
  • The Hungry Caterpillar
  • Ten Wriggly Wiggly Caterpillars and Five Tiddly Widdly Tadpoles
  • Usborne Phonic’s Reader collection
  • Usborne Apple Tree Farm boxset
  • Wendy the Wide Lipped Frog
  • Usborne Very First Reading boxset – 50 books
  • Bear Snores on
  • Dogs don’t do ballet
  • Stories for 2 year olds/Stories for 3 year olds

What are your children’s favourite books?

Usborne Books in North Hampshire

I LOVE Usborne books. I was bought up on them and still have my first cookery book and gardening book, both of which are Usborne.

If you’ve never seen an Usborne book, I totally recommend looking out for them. I love that they have books for each age range and I love the baby books, especially the bath books.

I’m probably going to shoot myself in the foot with this, but we always scour every baby and children market or nearly new sale for cheap Usborne books. We picked up a bargain with the Apple Tree Farm books for £5 and the Phonic’s Reader books for £10.

I’ve been reading both to my little one since she was 10 months old. She could spot the duck on most pages by the time she was 14 months.

I also love the children’s story books. For older children there are a huge variety of subjects. We bought the first dictionary for my little one and she’s loved it since she was tiny. I really hadn’t expected her to pick if up, but she loves sitting there and pointing to the pictures and saying the words.

When she was tiny I would point to the words and she would try to say them. I’ve recently acquired the Spanish version of the first dictionary, so I can practice my Spanish whilst my little one practices her English!

The Usborne team don’t advertise publicise what they do, it’s all done via word of mouth. There are several Usborne “lady’s” in the area. Each month there is a deal on the books.

One of the best ways to get access to the books is to ask one of the lady’s to come and do an Usborne party for you. I loved these as a child as it meant my Mum got the yummy chocolate biscuits in for the other Mums!

I really recommend having a look at the Usborne books. Once we’ve moved house and have some more space, I’m really looking forward to having an Usborne Party. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with my friends and have a good nose through the books and get some birthday and Christmas presents sorted.

You can’t go wrong with an Usborne book, I can vouch that they last for years 😀



Bookstart is a national programme that encourages parents and carers to enjoy books with children from as early an age as possible.

Bookstart gives the gift of free books to children at three stages in their early life, along with guidance materials for parents and carers.

The scheme enjoys sponsorship from around 25 children’s publishers, Red House Books and government funding via the Sure Start Unit.

Bookstart Book Crawls

For children aged 0 – 4 years old.
You will be given a collector’s card when you join the Book Crawl and a sticker for the card each time your child visits the library.
When your card is full your child will qualify for a Bookstart Book Crawl certificate, which may be presented at a special event.


Fun and free Rhymetimes for babies, toddlers and their parents or carers are organised in many libraries around the county.  They aim to encourage parents and carers to share action songs and rhymes with babies from birth onwards.