5 A Day Books: Week 1

5 a day books

It’s been a very long time since I have written about this and I have decided to start this up as a regular slot each Monday as it’s such a powerful tool for early literacy skills.

About 5 years ago my early years colleague and I went to an inspiring conference about developing literacy with 2-6 year olds. It was run by two very wonderful specialist early years consultants called Sue Palmer and Roz Bailey who have a wealth of experience between them and an amazing understanding of how young children learn. They understand, what many EY professionals still don’t, that children need to be children, first and foremost and that the best way for them to develop is through a playbased, child-centred, emergent curriculum. 

While there we picked up their publication called The Foundations of LiteracyIt contains many brilliant, child-centred, fun, exciting ways to get literacy embedded in children from a young age and we immediately loved it! It has a strong emphasis on starting with TALK and LISTENING skills, rather than going straight for the technically advanced skills of reading and writing. We essentially re-wrote our approach to teaching literacy based on this and implemented many of the ideas contained within the book.

One of the nicest of these ideas, and also the most simple, was what they term “5-A-Day-books”. The idea is that you choose 5 titles from among your usual books (or from the library) and read them every single day for at least a week. They suggest choosing short picture books which feature strong rhythm and/ or repeated refrain so that the children can quickly memorise the words and join in with the story-telling. This empowers them to be able to “read” and re-tell stories from a young age, and also makes them very fluent in a range of text types and literature styles. 
It worked brilliantly with the children in my class, and after a term of switching the 5-a-day books each week, they had memorised a huge number of books and developed a real love for the pictures and characters within them.

Now that I am no longer teaching I have an audience of only two children instead of thirty, but we still follow the 5-A-Day idea together! We began this with Cakie when she was around 12 months old and she loved the familiarity of reading the same books every day. With a house move, new baby and other huge life-changes over the past year we essentially forgot all about it, but in the past couple of months we have begun again in earnest and I have been in awe of how effective it has been! Cakie (now 31 months) can already re-tell at least three stories by memory and can join in with the familiar, repetition or complete the rhymes of many, many more. 

So, how do you do 5-A-Day-Books with your own children at home or school? Simple! Choose 5 texts that are simple, short, appealing and which tap into whatever your child is interested in. Try and include at least two books that have rhyming text or a familiar, repeated refrain as studies show that children exposed to plenty of strong, rhythmic text/ song from a young age become more literate. But that’s a whole separate post for another day!

If you try this idea and enjoy it, let me know either through a comment or an email and maybe we could get a 5-A-Day-Books link up going each Monday where we can swap ideas for which books to use. I’m always on the look out for new and exciting books to read to my children!

So, I shall call this Week 1, and these are the books we are reading:

Chocolate Mousse For Greedy Goose (Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt)

A very silly, very funny rhyming book. Cakie can retell most of this by heart already (it’s been on our 5-A-Day list a few times!)

 Dogger (Shirley Hughes)

An absolute favourite book of mine from childhood. I can still hear my Mum’s voice reading this to me. It brings back wonderful memories of a happy childhood and is beautiful in so many ways.

 Faster, Faster, Nice and Slow! (Sue Heap and Nick Sharratt)

Absolutely BRILLIANT and perfect for young children! Funny, silly, bright pictures, rhyming text, predictable and child-centred. I can’t recommend this author-illustrator duo highly enough!

 Norman The Slug With the Silly Shell (Sue Hendra)

We’ve only just discovered this and I love it! Very silly and funny story about a slug who tries a range of shell substitutes until he finds the perfect donut! I’m already planning some art ideas around this book!

The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Judith Kerr)

An absolute classic text. There is something about it that just captures children’s imaginations and wonder. Cakie asks for this at least three times a day and she can re-tell parts of it word perfectly, event hough it’s not rhyming or repetitive. All about a very greedy tiger who turns up for tea one day and eats everything on the table! 
Can’t wait to share again with you next week and let me know if you are going to give it a try!

**Edited to say: As many people have told me they are going to give this a go, I have added a link up list below. If you have blogged about your list, please add a link so that we can read about your book choices! I’m not expecting this to be a big linky like It’s Playtime, but it would be great to spread this idea and get the challenge going! **


  1. says

    Hi Anna, we would love to join you on your 5 a day book journey! We usually pick out different books at bedtime each night but id love to see how 5 a day impacts my miss 3 and even my master 3 months may listen in when he is awake!
    We will start with
    Brown Bear,Brown Bear-Eric Carle
    Mozzie and Midgie-Doug Macleod
    Green Eggs and Ham-Dr Seuss
    Funny Face-Nicola Smee
    Postman Bear-Julia Danaldson
    Will keep in touch,Enjoy your books!

  2. says

    Hi Anna

    I agree with you 100% we read and read and read the same books over and over, if I got a word wrong my son would correct me and sometimes he’d read the book just from memory… I used to track with my finger across the page for him too so his eyes would get used to direction we read. Learning to read was a walk in the park.

    As a result I now write children’s picture books in rhyme, they are all about endangered species …we try to make them fun and educational with a touch of magic… take a look at my website if you have the time

    Kind regards

  3. says

    Hi Anna!
    I am so excited to try this challenge, I do find my oldest DD can retell a few of her stories just frim reading them often but I’ve never thought to read five everyday for at least a week
    Here are the books I chose for the first week (can’t wait to see everyone else’s books for ideas)
    The Little Red Hen~A Golden Book
    Put Me in the Zoo~Robert Lopshire
    Dr. Seuss’s ABC
    Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
    One Duck Stuck~Phyllis Root

    I’m going to share this on my blog too, when I get it posted I’ll share the link :)

  4. says

    My son looooves to read and I think this is a great idea! I think we will try
    One Duck Stuck– Phylis Root
    Barnyard Dance– Sandra Boynton
    Kiska and Kobuk– Pam Clifton
    Who is Coming to Our House — Joseph Slate
    The Sleepy Little Alphabet — Judy Sierra

  5. says

    We do this informally but doing this will might allow a change from Amazing Machines by Tony Mitton! Realistically, it might just get added.

    First week’s choice is
    Ten in the bed by Penny Dale
    Hairy Maclary’s caterwaul caper by Lynley Dodd
    Just like Floss by Kim Lewis
    Webster’s walk by Jill Dow-ducks are a bit of a favourite around here
    We’re going on a bear hunt by Rosen and Oxenbury

    When I get a few minutes, I plan to blog about this.

  6. says

    Oh, yes please! We would love to join in! My two love books and my 3 1/2 year old can spend hours reading every day (it’s often hard to get her to do anything else!). Sounds good, right? But, she has had a slight obsession with one particular book series for about the past year, and its been really difficult to get her to read anything else. This might be just the perfect way to do it! We will choose our 5 books right now!

  7. Helen from Adventures @ Play says

    Yep – definitely give this a go and will encourage the parents I’m teaching on play and interaction to do so too!

  8. says

    I am on board! I usually let my daughter pick out the books we read every day and she generally chooses the same ones to read over and over. She just turned 15 months and already she is beginning to retell stories to herself.

  9. gill barron says

    Count us in! I will have to go and look at their many books now, we have so many as we love reading, this is such a great idea!

  10. says

    What a great idea! I always get excited when i ffind new books that my kids might like, so now i am on my way to Amazon! :o)

    We will begin the 5 a day tomorrow with these books:
    We’re Going On A Bear Hunt – Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury
    That’s Not My Train – Usborne
    Smelly Socks – Robert Munsch
    Each Peach Pear Plum – Janet & Allen Ahlberg
    Room on the Broom – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler


  11. gill barron says

    our chosen books are@
    Hoppity skip little chick (Jo Brown)
    wheres that cat? (Dan Crisp)
    Dougal the digger (Benedict Blathwayt)
    Clip-Clop (Nicpla smee)
    One mole digging a hole (julia Donaldson)

  12. says

    We would love to participate. I have a 4 year old girl, two year old boy and a one year old girl. I will blog about this and add it to your linky.

    I am looking forward to sharing our selection of books and learning about books from other bloggers as well.

  13. says

    Don’t blog so can’t link but my chosen books for my 16 month old are:
    Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
    Postman Bear by Julia Donalson/Axel Scheffler
    Baby Touch: Squeaky Book by Ladybird
    Elmer’s Weather by David McKee
    Spot Bakes a Cake by Eric Hill

    Enjoy it so far!

  14. says

    Anna, this is a wonderful idea! We are definitely joining in for this one :) One of our TEN members just started a ‘Singer of Songs, Tellers of Tales’ group to share great children’s books, songs and literacy ideas. I’m going to link to this weekly challenge and hope you’ll pop on over and share some great stories. The more the better so we can get a great children’s literacy resource going.

    Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/hCPxBp


  15. says

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Sue Palmer & Roz Bailey are so well known that this will be a hit with teachers I know! Thank you for linking to RC & hope you link this each week!

  16. says

    What a great idea! So glad I found this since I have a post all ready to go on monday for our Learning Spanish fun week. This is something I am definitely going to start with my 4 month old in a couple of months!

  17. says

    Anna, Love the idea. I have often found myself reading and reading books in my childcare and encouraging parents to do at home also. Love the more set approach you have here with the 5 a Day Books. We have just started our summer part of the year and I’m taking a college class in children’s literature. Thinking both would fit nicely together, so we’ll be starting this next week. I’ll be posting on my blog – http://countryfun.edublogs.org and will plan on linking here.

  18. says

    Our school has incorporated the 5 Day Vocabulary plan. Each teacher picks a book for each week that is read daily. Teachers select vocabulary words to emphasize from each book. I teach Early Childhood Special Education. This is wonderful for my students. Many students would ask for the dictionary to find out what a word means. What a great idea!!

  19. says

    I’m going to try this with my son. At 20 months, he’s speech delayed and we’re in the process of getting him into speech therapy through early intervention. We read every night and I’m hoping that this approach may help him try to be more verbal in anticipating the next words. If not, at least it will enforce his already strong love of books and reading!

  20. says

    Ah Shannon, I completely missed your question, so sorry! YES, choose 5 titles to read every day for a week, then 5 new ones the next week. I find we repeat books every couple of months, but never in the same combination.

  21. says

    Nestler, that’s really interesting and I can see how effective that must be with young children! I hope you find this scheme very beneficial too. They should be able to memorise or at least join in with the retelling of many books, over time!

  22. says

    Renee I really hope it does help him! Try choosing really active books that require jumping, clapping, pointing, twirling etc as well, so that he can link individual words to movement. I’m so glad to have you join in!

  23. says

    I love this! I am an usborne book consultant…I sell usborne books and do reading workshops and reading seminars…as well as keep up a reading website and blog. I would love to read the book you mentioned. I will likely be incorporating this into my work shops and seminars. I would also love to blog about this and give you a shout out as soon as I do. I will let you know. Thanks for your great idea.

  24. Fiona says

    This is almost what we do with library books as we tend to keep them upstairs and read them at least once a day for the week (or two). Maybe we need to do it with our own books though. That said my 2yr old does have phases of wanting the same few books over and over again, and she can join in with some.

  25. says

    I’d love to join in too. I just found your site and I have a 3 year old and a 10 month old. We are homeschooling and I’m so grateful for the ideas on your site. Thanks so much, I’ll start the challenge tomorrow.