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A 5-Year-Old's Guide to Fairy Stories

Without Enid Blyton's fairy stories, I would never have been a reader. They caught me, by the scruff of my four-year-old imagination, and infected me with a life-long desire to escape the ordinary, to fly beyond the boundaries of reality, to read just one more story.

People talk about the gift of reading, the value of it as a tool for entertainment and education. It's more than that. If a child can learn to suspend disbelief, and they all can, they hold in their hands the key to an alternate universe. 

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There is a precious juncture when a child begins to read their own bedtime stories. It is my belief that this is the time to feed their fancies and allow the small reader free rein in choosing the books they most want to read. Life is made all the easier when they discover a series of books that they know they like and feel confident about reading.

This is a list of story books, craft books, and book series, for those early readers who might be going through a fairy phase. Every book here comes with the endorsement of my own bewinged five-and-three-quarter-year-old.

The Real Fairy Storybook

I have long ago lost count of how many nights I have pressed play on this lovely audiobook and crept away to snatch a half hour’s peace. The stories are engaging, the writing crisp as a fairy’s gossamer wing, but the real winner is the delightful voice of Emma Chambers. You might remember her as Alice in The Vicar of Dibley or Honey Thacker in Notting Hill and if you do, you’ll know how brilliant she is at provoking a laugh.

‘There I go again! Your name has gone in one ear and out the other. Go on, introduce yourself.’

Blossom, the Royal Dressmaker, speaks directly to the listener as she sews seed pearls to the Fairy Queen’s ball gown. While she stitches, to pass the time, Blossom tells stories of Sea Kelpies, and Tooth Fairies, Robber Elves and wasted wishes.

‘If we can tempt you to come to the ball, YOU will be our special guest. We’ll even arrange for you to sit next to the fairy queen! Yes, really. She will be so pleased to meet you when er,...we have made you a little smaller. You won’t mind shrinking, will you? Just for one night. It’s not the least painful and you’ll grow again in the morning.’

The Secret Fairy: The Secret Fairy In Fairyland

‘As told by the Fairies to Penny Dawn and Claire Freedman.’ When the authors are willing to hand credit over to the fairies, you know you are on to a good thing. This is a lovely little pot pourri of stories and activities presented in a seasonal fashion by an array of flower fairies. Spring, in Fairyland, begins with a dancing competition but the queen has lost the special necklace which was to have been the prize. Readers can help the queen by following the instructions to make feather necklaces, spangly bangles and glitterbug brooches. There follows a lesson in the basics of fairy ballet with Blossom, an introduction to the bugs who inhabit fairyland, recipes for strawberry ladybirds and fizzy fairy pop, multiple choice quizzes, fairy horoscopes and, as they say, much more. In contrast to The Real Fairy Storybook, which pretty much allows Mum to go for a nap, The Secret in Fairyland demands a little participation from a grown-up or, ideally, and older child. The projects are simple, don’t require any weird or whacky ingredients, and are probably manageable by most children of three or over. This is a great book to have on hand for any day, of any season, when the dreaded I’m-bored-fairy strikes. The Secret Fairy in Fairyland would also be an absolute treasure trove of ideas if you thought of planning a fairy-themed party. Oh, and I almost forgot, it comes with sparkly stickers!

The Felicity Wishes: The Great Fairy Balloon Race

Emma Thomson’s Felicity Wishes series make the most attractive of beginnings for children who are just moving beyond pre-school picture books or who can read independently. Felicity and her fairy friends have a slightly vintage vibe which reminds me of Enid Blyton's brilliant boarding school books. 

The text is clear and easy to read while the colourful illustrations are an absolute joy. 

The Great Balloon Race is a special book. It's a bit more expensive, but pop-up books hold their own particular magic. This would make a stunning gift for any fan of Felicity to treasure.

Rainbow Magic: Ruby the Red Fairy

Take a BIG breath before you launch into Daisy Meadows’ phenomenally popular Rainbow Magic Series as there are more than 200 books to get through! Ruby the Red Fairy is the first of the original Rainbow Fairy books. Rachel Walker is introduced to her best friend Kirsty Tate and together they take their first trip to Fairyland to do battle with wicked Jack Frost.

‘Of course we’ll search for your sisters,’ Kirsty said quickly. ‘Won’t we, Rachel?’

Rachel nodded.

‘Oh, thank you,’ Ruby said happily.’

The Rainbow Fairies, after seven books, make way to the Weather Fairies, followed by the Party Fairies, and on and on until you are quite prepared to strangle Jack Frost yourself! Each book runs to around 70 pages, with clear, double-spaced text and simple line drawings on almost every page. Each of my three girls has adored these books and read dozens of them. I think it’s fair to say that Daisy Meadows taught my daughters to read independently. 

Fairy Dust

Reaching to around 140 pages of text with a only scattering of simple but charming line drawings, Gwyneth Rees’s fairy series are ideal chapter books for confident young readers.

Rosie’s Mum doesn’t believe in fairies but Rosie has seen the evidence with her own eyes:

‘Suddenly she noticed something moving in the long grass on the other side of the road. She saw Angus darting forward and thought he must be trying to catch a butterfly again, but then she heard a loud squeal and a frightened voice shouting, ‘Help!’

Just because they are fairy stories, shouldn't mean they can't be credible. Rees presents a nice blend of reality and fantasy with plots which are solid enough to convince readers of 7-8 years old.

Fairy Things to Stitch and Sew

Suitable from around age six to adult beginner (i.e., me!). Each of the fifteen projects is illustrated across a double page spread of step-by-step drawings and photographs. The book begins with simple collages of fabric glued to card to make fairy pictures and moves on to pretty handbags made from felt and decorated with appliqué. A useful guide is included to the basic running, cross and blanket stitches as well as instructions on how to attach buttons and sequins. You couldn’t find a more delightful introduction to sewing and stitching than this one.

How To Draw Fairies and Mermaids

Another of the brilliant Usborne activity books. 

‘Step 1. Use watery paint to paint a circle on a piece of paper...’ That’s how easy it is. This is an excellent guide to get aspiring artists started with confidence. Using paints, chalks, pencils and a little bit of what we like to call ‘cutting and sticking’ to make charming fairy and mermaid pictures. Children of any age will learn from this book and adapt it to suit their abilities. P.S. Includes a double page sheet of very pretty stickers with which to adorn your artwork.

The Magic Folk Collection

This is the real deal; proper old-school stories from the Grand Dame of bedtime tales. Naughty pixies and brownies abound with plenty of mischief mixed in with magic. Each story is only 3 or 4 pages long meaning a brave beginner can have the satisfaction of reading a whole story. There are only a few, sparse, line drawings but sometimes, when sleep is near, that can be a good thing. These are the fairies I grew up with and re-reading feels like introducing my children to the friends of my childhood. 

Irish blogger and book reviewer. Official contributor to Bookwitty.com and author of Bookwitty's monthly 'Cooking the Books' feature. Erstwhile microbiologist with an MSc in Food Science, she ... Show More


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