Eimear Hutchinson: The perfect last minute stocking fillers

Looking for a last minute stocking filer? Pick a book, says EIMEAR HUTCHINSON, who says reading plays a huge role in her family’s life
Eimear Hutchinson: The perfect last minute stocking fillers

Books are a huge part of Eimear's house. Picture: Stock

I know it sounds a cliché, but books are a huge part of life in our house. They have formed an integral part of the bedtime routine for all of the girls from a very early age, and my husband and I both read a lot too.

I know most people might have their Christmas presents bought at this point, but books make a great stocking filler, so this might strike a chord with people who are on the hunt for the final little gift to add in.

I know there are so many books, series and authors out there that we all know and love — from Julia Donaldson to Roald Dahl, David Walliams to JK Rowling, so I want to go a little left of centre and suggest some that might not be on everyone’s radar.

I believe that probably the most read book in our house is actually one my husband had as a child called My Day by Lynne Bradbury, and you can still buy it. 

It was originally published in 1983 and despite it being that old, it is still as relevant today as it was then.

It is the most simple, basic book depicting a day in the life of a family, but there is something hypnotic about it because it has captured the hearts of each of our girls from the age of around one to two and a half years old. My husband and I estimate we have read it quite literally thousands of times each!

I know I said I would steer clear of the mainstream authors, however, my favourite children’s book of all time is in fact written by Julia Donaldson but it is not one of her more well known books. The Paper Dolls is a book with a difference — it starts off as a simple story of a mother and daughter creating a line of paper dolls and follows the adventures the dolls embark upon, but it has an unusual twist for a children’s book that you won’t see coming and a beautiful ending that gets me every time.

HerStory is a fantastic collection of stories about inspiring women down the ages — there are a number of books along these lines out now such as Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World but HerStory is the one that absolutely captivated my seven-year-old. She was so drawn in by it, she read it almost obsessively, but it was hugely inspiring. She learned so much about different eras in history — the book gives two pages per woman and strikes the perfect balance between history and personal facts about the women it documents.

The Questioners is a three-part series that includes the books Iggy Peck, Architect; Rosie Revere, Engineer; and Ada Twist, Scientist and they all have a focus on engineering and construction. I am somewhat biased in that I am a Civil Engineer myself; that said, the girls really like these books too. The drawings are quirky, the stories are really nicely told... a great introduction to STEM concepts for girls and boys from around five years and up.

A friend of mine sent me Ruby Red Shoes by Kate Knapp and it is one of the most beautifully written books we have. 

The story follows a rabbit with red shoes on her adventures in London, Paris and her home country of Australia. The words flow through the book with such poetry, it is just beautiful, and the illustrations are just fabulous.

Another rather old-fashioned series of books tells the story of the Large Family — a family of elephants, four children, a tormented mother and a busy working father. I love Mrs Large though, my personal favourite of the series is called Five Minutes Peace and let’s just say that I read it with much enthusiasm some days!

Belfast-born, New York- based author Olivier Jeffers is gaining much popularity over the last few years and if you haven’t discovered him yet you are in for a treat. He has several different series and stand-alone books, but our favourites include the adventures of ‘a boy’ in books like How to Catch a Star, Lost And Found and The Way Back Home. He has also written a really lovely book called Here We Are, a fantastic introduction to the planet, caring for the environment and looking after everyone no matter who they are — big concepts but beautifully portrayed, making it suitable for children from around 5 upwards.

For younger children under the age of around two and a half, you can’t go wrong with lift the flap books like Oh Dear and The Zoo by Rod Campbell and the series Tales from Acorn Wood by Julia Donaldson.

I feel like I could keep writing for pages and pages on this topic! 

I just find books have the potential to be so inspiring and have the ability to subtly introduce concepts like diversity in the world, caring for the planet, STEM, and many more topics from a young age, that will help mould the future generations into kind and compassionate humans.

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