What is the best way to get adults to read? Get them to read when they’re kids – and there’s no better place to start than Unity’s bestselling children’s books.
Give us a children’s book any day of the week. We don’t even need a child to go with her. But make it bold. Children (including your inner child) are dark by nature – they are adventurous, curious, and extremely capable of finding their way into big, stressful ideas. The best children’s books honor this ability and shamelessly lead us into the unknown. And they do it with a wonderful sparkle in their eyes. Danger, surprise, comedy, chance. If more adults read children’s books as bravely as children, the world would be a better place. There we said it.
1 come By Gavin Bishop (Puffin UK, $40, all ages)
This year’s best-selling children’s book. Atwa won first prize at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young People. And rightly so. The extensive illustrations and vivid language drawn by the bishop captivate from the depths of Te Kor to Te O Marama and the enticing beginnings of Atwa Maori.
2 noisy book By Soledad Bravi (Gecko Press, $25, 0-3 years)
traditional. Our copy is barely alive, held together by duct tape and jam swabs. The sometimes disarming illustrations make this book deceptive in its simplicity in more ways than one.
3 Maui and Other Myths: 8 Classic Tales of Aotearoa by Peter Gossage, (Penguin, hb, $40, 4+)
Peter Gossage’s amazing and imaginative world is a right of passage for all the children of Aotearoa. Essential on all bookshelves.
4 big book of words and pictures by Ole Könnecke (Gecko Press, $30, +1)
Wizard. With Ole Könnecke’s playful style, you’ll find yourself gliding in gorgeous parachutes.
5 Spark Hunter By Sonia Wilson (Cuba Press, $25, 10-14 y.o.)
We love this YA story about fairies in Fiordland. You can read about the childhood adventures that inspired the book here. We also appreciate this comment from Sophia (11 years old) on Kete Books:
“The book made me think about how cruel we treat the wildlife in New Zealand. The book filled with nature made me go out and look at the trees a few times. I would recommend it to someone who loves bush walks and nature.”
6 Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy By Alain de Botton and Anna Doherty (Avirm Press, $40, 9+)
From the School of Life website: “Big Ideas for Curious Minds are designed to harness and develop children’s spontaneous philosophical instinct by presenting some of the most vital and fundamental philosophical ideas from history. The book takes us to meet prominent figures in philosophy from around the world and from all ages—and shows us How their ideas continue to matter.”
Sounds good for adults wanting to hone their philosophy skills as well.
7 first pop-up dinosaurs by Owen Davy (Walker Box, $23, 4+)
A worthy introduction to Jurassic Park. The T-Rex’s mouth opener pops right off the page in a satisfyingly aggressive manner. While you wait for the time to introduce your child to Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Angel Jeff Goldblum, this book will fulfill that curious need for kids to know all the brands of dinosaurs and say the word Pachycephalosaurus before their teeth can say.
8 a wonderful wonderful day with friends By Philip Waechter (Gecko Press, Hbk $30, Pbk $20, 3+)
rustic delight. We all need the arrival of spring more than ever. This book avoids this winter’s apocalypse in delightful and relaxing ways. Lots of cake.
9 Years Full of Stories: 52 Folk Tales from Around the World By Angela McAllister (Francis Lincoln, $28, 6+)
The gift that keeps on giving. Folktales live for a reason: they are deceptively complex, memorable, and at times unsettling. I love good picks that can be dipped in and out and revisited over time.
10 Bedtime Animals Book Peek at over 50 of your favorite animals (Dorling Kindersley UK, $30, 3+)
Realistic and fictional at the same time. This helps fill the child’s world with the magic of animal life. If only we stuck with that as we got older. Another one can be for adults too. To remind us of the wondrous and wonderful crawl in which we share the planet.
1 Atwa: Maori Gods and Heroes by Gavin Bishop (Penguin, $40, all ages)
2 Adventures of Gloves: Wellington’s Famous Purr-Sonality by Silvio Bruinsma (Penguin, $20, 3+)
I mean definitely. But he now lives in Auckland. cruel.
3 A group of stars, a group of stories: Matriki around the world By Ranji Matamwa and Miriyama Kamo (Scholastic, $35, 4+)
There is something totally magical about the universe, and the way the stars connect our stories from Aotearoa all the way around the world. Written by two of the greatest conductors of our time, this book is a generous and beautiful addition to the growing expanse of literature on Matariki.
4 waiver by Lisa Weimer (Random House, $24, 12+)
A thrilling YA novel about two teens who stand up to a history teacher when they are asked to defend an untenable mission. Fast-paced and plot-driven, it comes with a content warning: Contains anti-Semitic and hate crime images.
5 count the creatures Written by Julia Donaldson (Two Hoots, $25, +4)
Vibrant illustrations and paintings of raising little hands, from the author of The Gruffalo et al.
6 Princess of the Lighthouse By Susan Wardle, Drawn by Rose Northee (Bovine, $18, all ages)
A beautiful water adventure with a feminine heart.
7 great feelings and what they tell us by Rebekah Ballagh (Allen & Unwin, $30, 2+)
A very useful book for all ages. From School Library News: “One of the best books I’ve seen on feelings. Rebecca goes beyond associating feelings with colors or naming them, but she also describes how you make your body feel and how to manage them. I highly recommend this book to all parents and teachers.”
8 McCleary’s poetry from Donaldson’s Dairy Council book by Lynley Dodd (Puffin, $16, Kids+)
The Spinoff recently released this documentary about Lynley Dodd and her beloved creations. Everyone deserves the chance to read “Yeeoooowwwffttzzz” out loud at least once and instill in the child the ultimate piety of Scarface Claw. See also Tara Ward’s rating of all creatures in the world of Hairy.
9 Amorangi and Millie’s Journey Through Time by Lauren Keenan (Huia Publishers, $26, 9+)
A time travel adventure. Amorangi and Millie have to save their mother from the mysterious depths of history, and this makes a fascinating hypothesis with which to learn about Aotearoa’s past and how far we’ve come.
10 boy, mole, fox and horse by Charles Mackesy (Ebury Press, $40, all ages)
A collection of those mysterious illustrations you’ve probably seen everywhere.