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Story Journeys to Share as a Family

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Stories take you deep, and sharing these journeys with the whole family is a beautiful and nourishing way to connect and grow together.

It always warms my heart to see a young child in the lap of an adult sharing a story together. Often I’ve wondered, is it the story itself holding them there, or is it the connection between two people delighting in the magical world of story together that keeps the child coming back for book after book after book?

And what joy when we find a series or book that not only delights our children but also ourselves, and maybe even our whole family, and here’s just a few of our really special ones.

All of the story journeys below have woven themselves into the tapestry of our family life, each one planting images and metaphors that already have become powerful reference points for our every day experiences of family life.

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So please enjoy our family list and don’t forget to post your own much-loved family story journeys in the comments box below – I’m always looking for story tips!

A note about librarians: Pretty much every title on our list has come to us via our much-loved school librarian. She is an absolute gem and an unbelievable wealth of story knowledge so make sure you connect with your own local ‘keeper of stories’ who can always recommend the perfect book for your family. 

1. Brambley Hedge: Autumn, Winter, Spring & Summer Story by Jill Barklem

Ages: 3 – 6 year olds

“Brambly Hedge is on the other side of the stream, across the field. If you can find it, and if you look very hard amongst the tangled roots and stems, you may even see a wisp of smoke from a small chimney, or through an open door, a steep flight of stairs deep within the trunk of a tree. For this is the home of the mice of Brambly Hedge.”

We loved journeying through the seasons with these clever little mice, especially when my children were quite a bit younger, and it was always such fun imagining their adventures and tiny little houses. The pictures are really sweet too and perfect for the younger child who appreciates having something to look at while they digest the story.

2. The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, Willow Farm & More Adventures on Willow Farm by Enid Blyton

Ages: 5 – 8 year olds

I’m sure many of you have loved (and possibly over-loved) Enid Blyton’s wonderful way of connecting with children’s hearts through story. When we found this series I really wasn’t sure either my partner or I could handle another Enid Blyton book (even though we absolutely adored The Magic Faraway Tree Series and The Wishing Chair series). This series however totally won us over with the perfect mix of adventure, mischief and learning about life on an early 19th century farm. And my boys especially couldn’t get enough of Tammylan the ‘wild man’ who lives in a cave in the forest surviving by his wits, nuts, berries and kindness. A good four years on and the boys still talk about him!

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3. The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Ages: 5 years & older

When my big boy really started reading for himself around 8 years of age he took off into the world of literature like a wildfire! As parents, it was incredible to watch as he devoured CS Lewis, Roald Dahl and pretty much anything he could get his hands on. And for a little while, our family reading time was down one. He was discovering whole worlds by himself and we understood this was a hugely important stage in that gentle unfolding of ‘child’ into ‘individual adult’. And of course we longed (quietly to ourselves) to have him back again.  

Then we started reading The Little House series each night and something magical started to happen to all of us. I can honestly say this series changed our lives forever more. For nearly 8 months, not one of us ever missed a night (If either parent was out we agreed to read something else so they wouldn’t miss out!) We sang, we laughed, we sobbed and we breathed in every simple joy, every sadness and every challenge Laura and her family faced. In a way, these books taught us how to be a family through thick and thin. After a while we found ourselves naturally turning off all the lights in the house at bedtime to read by candlelight – a completely spontaneous and unspoken ritual – and I will always look back on that time as one of the most precious in my life.

4. The Little House Picture Books by Laura Ingalls Wilders 

Ages: 5 years & younger

My youngest actually really enjoyed looking through the pictures in these books after we’d finished reading the full Little House series. We all really missed each of the characters when we finished the 9th book in the original series, and I think reading the picture books helped my child to meet that feeling of loss. I think they’d also make a lovely introduction for younger readers to this deeply nourishing series.

*A note on sexism and racism in these old books: All the books I’ve recommended so far definitely contain levels of sexism and racism, ideas that were firmly ingrained within the time and place they were written. Each parent needs to decide for themselves how to work with these elements. When my children were younger I either skipped or changed these parts however, as they mature some of these outdated and culturally unacceptable beliefs have made fantastic talking points in our family home. I remember I was caught out reading one of the Enid Blyton books one day and before I could stop myself I blurted out one of the boys saying “….what good ideas you have for a girl!” My boys burst into laughter, both incredulous that the hero of the story would say such a ridiculous thing! It was a heartwarming response and good to note that our children’s ideologies come from what we model in our home life.

 

5. Swallows & Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Ages: 6 years & over

How could a series of books about a family of children allowed to spend their entire Summer camping on an island in a lake and sailing their own boat not be thrilling! From rowing to the dairy each morning for milk to meetings with the ‘natives’ these books have given my children a taste for good wholesome adventures with just the right amount of danger.  

6. The Kingdom of Silk Series by Glenda Millard

Ages: 7 and older

A tear comes to my eye just looking at the covers of these beautifully tender and child-centred books. Glenda Millard writes with such an honouring sympathy for the ‘real world’ through the eyes of a small child, seeing the wonder and magic in everyday life. The books cover very real family experiences – death, grief, bullying, sibling rivalry and understanding our own special place in the world – each theme dealt with in the most gentle and child-appropriate way. The emotional content was never too heavy, just the perfect amount of joy, challenges, tears and laughter and a very deep sense of knowing that no matter what the world brings, as a family, we can face anything.

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With the exception of the last title, each of these series are set in the ‘old days’, and I’m grateful for the awareness they have brought to my children of a very different kind of world. Books like these are important because in every page they softly breathe out a slower pace of life from a time where children or adults didn’t need technology, constant communication, convenience foods or even playgrounds to have a good time. They have taught us all to appreciate the ease of modern-day living as well as note all the ways we can possible slow down – a priceless gift for us all.

So I hope you find some inspiration in the list above and I’d love to hear some of your favourite family story journeys in the comments box below x Annie

 I’m a storyteller & musician from Mullumbimby, Australia and I love sharing my seasonally-inspired stories and songs for children at live performances and on The Seasonal Collection of Winter, Spring, Summer & Autumn recordings. You can have a listen to my audio stories and songs below or click here to find out more.   
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2 Comments
  1. Hi Annie, Thank you so much for your post and for these recommendations. We listened and cried and laughed at all the Little House books (I love hearing how you had a ritual with the candle), and are going through the list with gratitude. So much warmth and reverence in these books. We are enjoying the connection and the journey together.

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    • Hi Jenny,

      Thanks so much for your comment and so nice to hear your family enjoy the story ritual and relationship it brings too :-) Many blessings to you all xx Annie

      Reply
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