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Our favourite Le Toy Van toys...

Posted by Bethan de Mel on

Throughout April we've been promoting Le Toy Van as our supplier of the month! We love their ethically-made, Montessori-style wooden toys. As play reflects our daily life experiences, these toys provide wonderful opportunities for expressive play whilst reinforcing meaningful language in each stage of play development.

Don't forget you can spend £10 and receive 10% off all Le Toy Van toys! (*discount automatically applied at checkout; offer expires midnight 30th April 2023)

We asked our Play Therapist, Sylvie Veber, to share more about her favourite Le Toy Van toy... 

Play Therapists use many different toys to help children process their emotions and/or life events. One of these essential toys is the doctor's kit. I love these kits for a variety of reasons. Children can use them to learn about their body parts, learn spatial concepts, follow single and multi-step instructions, reduce fear of the doctor, and process traumatic experiences related to medical conditions.

The Le Toy Van doctor set makes it easy to develop skills in all areas of play development. Let us look at some examples of how this familiar set can grow with your child.
Doctor's Set

Relational Play

During this stage, babies learn to open and close containers, put things in and take things out, and they explore the cause and effect. Many children at this stage are still exploring toys with their mouths, so it is important to keep this in mind with any small parts in the set. Babies also follow single-step instructions at a basic level and begin to explore the rules of their environment. Their development of logical thinking is at this single-step level, and we simply link causes to actions.

When your child is in the Relational Play stage, the doctor's kit can be used to foster curiosity to explore and test the different actions of each piece. This will also bridge to functional play as babies test the individual parts against each other.

At this stage, babies are simply thinking about the cause and effect of the toy. They are learning to associate actions with meanings to meet their needs. As they learn how these pieces work, they can begin to give them deeper meaning and move into the Functional Play stage.

Functional Play

In functional play, children begin to use toys with meanings. They have learned that their actions have meaning, they can design a plan to get help, and even begin to understand 2-step instructions. They form patterns and sequences of actions with their toys to engage with their immediate environment. Children's logical thinking shows them how to put these simple patterns together and use others to meet their needs, such as asking mom for help to get a snack.

At this point, we can start using the doctor's kit in a way that is more like role play. Take the stethoscope and say "bump! bump!" as it rests on your child's chest, encouraging him to take turns using it. Use the otoscope (the tool used to look in the ears and mouth), and show how to use it properly. pretend to see something, or say emphatically, "All right!" Encourage your child to look for missing items. You can also pretend that you ate something that made you sick... maybe you cut yourself... What tools will your child use to solve these problem?

At this stage, children use toys in a functional way for themselves. They have not yet grasped the concept of symbolic representation and therefore will not yet engage in a doctor dialogue or have their teddy bear examined. Pretend to be sick and begin to introduce other characters to build skills for the next stage of development.

Pretend/Symbolic Play

As your child begins to develop symbolic representations, you will find that he is able to "diagnose" and "experiment" with the doctor's kit. They no longer just wants you to be the patient. They are able to use multiple steps and link longer sequences together to solve problems. They are able to determine what might be wrong based on your clues; you might say, "Oh no, Teddy's leg is hurt. He fell. Let us put a bandaid on him!"
Doctor's Set
Symbolic play allows our child to develop ideas and compare those ideas to the laws of the world around him. It is important for parents and caregivers to be creative at this stage. Make sure the ideas flowing and challenge your child with questions like "And then what?!" and "How and why?" so they can continue to explore and elaborate on their ideas. Give your characters emotions and show they are scared, nervous, and even refusing the doctor's help! How will your child deal with these feelings?
Regardless of what age your child is, I would highly recommend this toy as children can benefit from playing with it in so many ways.
 
And in case you're wondering - which of Le Toy Van's collection is our favourite for language development?!
Play Set
It would have to be their Outdoor Play Set - a fantastic toy for developing early symbolic play - with the swing, slide, see-saw and skateboard early language learners can re-enact a visit to the play-park. We can also introduce early verbs such as slide, climb, push, pull, roll and prepositions such as up, down, under, over. As therapists working with children's early language we love to incorporate toys and familiar and favourite experiences into our language work and this set has become a favourite with our children. 
Tool SetShopping SetPet Set 
Le Toy Van creates other beautifully crafted wooden toys perfect for early symbolic play experiences, such as pet play, supermarket play, a tool box and many more... Happy play days!

Read more

Our favourite Le Toy Van toys...

Posted by Bethan de Mel on

Throughout April we've been promoting Le Toy Van as our supplier of the month! We love their ethically-made, Montessori-style wooden toys. As play reflects our daily life experiences, these toys provide wonderful opportunities for expressive play whilst reinforcing meaningful language in each stage of play development.

Don't forget you can spend £10 and receive 10% off all Le Toy Van toys! (*discount automatically applied at checkout; offer expires midnight 30th April 2023)

We asked our Play Therapist, Sylvie Veber, to share more about her favourite Le Toy Van toy... 

Play Therapists use many different toys to help children process their emotions and/or life events. One of these essential toys is the doctor's kit. I love these kits for a variety of reasons. Children can use them to learn about their body parts, learn spatial concepts, follow single and multi-step instructions, reduce fear of the doctor, and process traumatic experiences related to medical conditions.

The Le Toy Van doctor set makes it easy to develop skills in all areas of play development. Let us look at some examples of how this familiar set can grow with your child.
Doctor's Set

Relational Play

During this stage, babies learn to open and close containers, put things in and take things out, and they explore the cause and effect. Many children at this stage are still exploring toys with their mouths, so it is important to keep this in mind with any small parts in the set. Babies also follow single-step instructions at a basic level and begin to explore the rules of their environment. Their development of logical thinking is at this single-step level, and we simply link causes to actions.

When your child is in the Relational Play stage, the doctor's kit can be used to foster curiosity to explore and test the different actions of each piece. This will also bridge to functional play as babies test the individual parts against each other.

At this stage, babies are simply thinking about the cause and effect of the toy. They are learning to associate actions with meanings to meet their needs. As they learn how these pieces work, they can begin to give them deeper meaning and move into the Functional Play stage.

Functional Play

In functional play, children begin to use toys with meanings. They have learned that their actions have meaning, they can design a plan to get help, and even begin to understand 2-step instructions. They form patterns and sequences of actions with their toys to engage with their immediate environment. Children's logical thinking shows them how to put these simple patterns together and use others to meet their needs, such as asking mom for help to get a snack.

At this point, we can start using the doctor's kit in a way that is more like role play. Take the stethoscope and say "bump! bump!" as it rests on your child's chest, encouraging him to take turns using it. Use the otoscope (the tool used to look in the ears and mouth), and show how to use it properly. pretend to see something, or say emphatically, "All right!" Encourage your child to look for missing items. You can also pretend that you ate something that made you sick... maybe you cut yourself... What tools will your child use to solve these problem?

At this stage, children use toys in a functional way for themselves. They have not yet grasped the concept of symbolic representation and therefore will not yet engage in a doctor dialogue or have their teddy bear examined. Pretend to be sick and begin to introduce other characters to build skills for the next stage of development.

Pretend/Symbolic Play

As your child begins to develop symbolic representations, you will find that he is able to "diagnose" and "experiment" with the doctor's kit. They no longer just wants you to be the patient. They are able to use multiple steps and link longer sequences together to solve problems. They are able to determine what might be wrong based on your clues; you might say, "Oh no, Teddy's leg is hurt. He fell. Let us put a bandaid on him!"
Doctor's Set
Symbolic play allows our child to develop ideas and compare those ideas to the laws of the world around him. It is important for parents and caregivers to be creative at this stage. Make sure the ideas flowing and challenge your child with questions like "And then what?!" and "How and why?" so they can continue to explore and elaborate on their ideas. Give your characters emotions and show they are scared, nervous, and even refusing the doctor's help! How will your child deal with these feelings?
Regardless of what age your child is, I would highly recommend this toy as children can benefit from playing with it in so many ways.
 
And in case you're wondering - which of Le Toy Van's collection is our favourite for language development?!
Play Set
It would have to be their Outdoor Play Set - a fantastic toy for developing early symbolic play - with the swing, slide, see-saw and skateboard early language learners can re-enact a visit to the play-park. We can also introduce early verbs such as slide, climb, push, pull, roll and prepositions such as up, down, under, over. As therapists working with children's early language we love to incorporate toys and familiar and favourite experiences into our language work and this set has become a favourite with our children. 
Tool SetShopping SetPet Set 
Le Toy Van creates other beautifully crafted wooden toys perfect for early symbolic play experiences, such as pet play, supermarket play, a tool box and many more... Happy play days!

Read more


Our Favourite Orchard Toys

Posted by Bethan de Mel on

Throughout March we've been promoting Orchard Toys as our supplier of the month! We love their colourful characters and think their games are fantastic for stimulating language, learning and communication. 

Don't forget you can spend £10 and receive 10% off all Orchard Toys games! (*discount automatically applied at checkout; offer expires midnight 31st March 2023)

We've asked a couple of our specialty team to review their favourites for you! Here's what they say - 

 

Eva Galova, Special Educational Needs Teacher

"Early readers love Orchard‚Äôs ‚ÄėMatch & Spell‚Äô game. First CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words on reversable word cards, with and without a visual help. It is a great learning tools to be used by parents at home or teachers in early years settings. My children were always very happy and keen to work when I took it out.

Match and Spell Game

I also used it for my autistic pupils as part of their independent work tasks. We added some Velcro on the letter tiles and the word cards and the children practised their spelling independently after the initial modelling. Small letter tiles are perfect for little hands and in-hand manipulation. You can also use the letter tiles on their own, searching for the matching letter to its sound when practising letter recognition.

To make it more fun and involve all senses in multisensory learning, the letter tiles can be hidden in a rice or sand tray or spread around the room for a searching game. You can play a swap game, exchanging just one or two letters to create a new word. You can differentiate by giving children only the letters they need for each word or as they progress in their phonics knowledge, give them a larger letter selection.

Children learn to recognise letter shapes and match them correctly to a word on the word card. They learn the meaning of the word from a picture printed on the card. Once they match the letter tiles to the letters on the word side of a card few times, they will start to memorise the spelling and can progress to spelling the word on their own on the other side of the card. This side can also be used to teach children spelling from the sound talk and then blending the sounds together. They have a picture of an object to help them. Have fun learning phonics and spelling!"

 

Natalie Fletcher, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

"Orchard Toys' 2 and 3 piece puzzles are a wonderful addition to any nursery with children of 2 years or younger or for children who take just a little longer to reach the next step away from inset puzzles or shape posting.
Pets PuzzlesTransport Puzzles  In My House Puzzles 
They are chunky and easy for children to handle and easy for an adult to support as they bring the pieces together. My particular favourites are the Pets, which the children love, and the 'What do I do?' 3 -piece puzzle set, which include professions such as builder, doctor, firefighter, postman and policeman along with some of their tools, which is delightful!
What do I do puzzles  Farm Four Puzzles

Children are so proud of being able to put these puzzles together and the lively pictures spark conversation and gestures as the characters are mid-action - just about to post a letter or cement some bricks. Farm Four is also brilliant for children who progress to the next stage or for mixed ability groups and happy sibling play! Thank you Orchard Toys."

Our Orchard Toys stock is moving fast this month so please let us know if you can't find what you're looking for. You may want to borrow from our Toy Library whilst you wait!

Read more

Our Favourite Orchard Toys

Posted by Bethan de Mel on

Throughout March we've been promoting Orchard Toys as our supplier of the month! We love their colourful characters and think their games are fantastic for stimulating language, learning and communication. 

Don't forget you can spend £10 and receive 10% off all Orchard Toys games! (*discount automatically applied at checkout; offer expires midnight 31st March 2023)

We've asked a couple of our specialty team to review their favourites for you! Here's what they say - 

 

Eva Galova, Special Educational Needs Teacher

"Early readers love Orchard‚Äôs ‚ÄėMatch & Spell‚Äô game. First CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words on reversable word cards, with and without a visual help. It is a great learning tools to be used by parents at home or teachers in early years settings. My children were always very happy and keen to work when I took it out.

Match and Spell Game

I also used it for my autistic pupils as part of their independent work tasks. We added some Velcro on the letter tiles and the word cards and the children practised their spelling independently after the initial modelling. Small letter tiles are perfect for little hands and in-hand manipulation. You can also use the letter tiles on their own, searching for the matching letter to its sound when practising letter recognition.

To make it more fun and involve all senses in multisensory learning, the letter tiles can be hidden in a rice or sand tray or spread around the room for a searching game. You can play a swap game, exchanging just one or two letters to create a new word. You can differentiate by giving children only the letters they need for each word or as they progress in their phonics knowledge, give them a larger letter selection.

Children learn to recognise letter shapes and match them correctly to a word on the word card. They learn the meaning of the word from a picture printed on the card. Once they match the letter tiles to the letters on the word side of a card few times, they will start to memorise the spelling and can progress to spelling the word on their own on the other side of the card. This side can also be used to teach children spelling from the sound talk and then blending the sounds together. They have a picture of an object to help them. Have fun learning phonics and spelling!"

 

Natalie Fletcher, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

"Orchard Toys' 2 and 3 piece puzzles are a wonderful addition to any nursery with children of 2 years or younger or for children who take just a little longer to reach the next step away from inset puzzles or shape posting.
Pets PuzzlesTransport Puzzles  In My House Puzzles 
They are chunky and easy for children to handle and easy for an adult to support as they bring the pieces together. My particular favourites are the Pets, which the children love, and the 'What do I do?' 3 -piece puzzle set, which include professions such as builder, doctor, firefighter, postman and policeman along with some of their tools, which is delightful!
What do I do puzzles  Farm Four Puzzles

Children are so proud of being able to put these puzzles together and the lively pictures spark conversation and gestures as the characters are mid-action - just about to post a letter or cement some bricks. Farm Four is also brilliant for children who progress to the next stage or for mixed ability groups and happy sibling play! Thank you Orchard Toys."

Our Orchard Toys stock is moving fast this month so please let us know if you can't find what you're looking for. You may want to borrow from our Toy Library whilst you wait!

Read more


help us to help more

Posted by Bethan de Mel on

help us to help more image

  • 1 in 7 children are suffering with Mental Health difficulties
  • 1 in 10 children struggle with Speech, Language and Communication Needs
  • 12% of local children have Special Educational Needs or Disabilities
    a child needs help
    These are our most vulnerable children, disproportionately affected by the pandemic, having missed education and waited too long for essential healthcare services. 
    Pictologue is helping to bridge the gap. This year we provided over 500 therapy appointments - 82% more than last! We currently provide therapeutic support to over 80 local families and your donation will make a life-changing difference to each and everyone.
    helping image

    Sadly, the cost of living crisis has further impacted our families, with 60% now experiencing financial difficulties (compared with 10% pre-pandemic). Additionally, our income from grants and funding has reduced by 34% reflecting the increasingly competitive context for fundraising at this time. 

    Now, more than ever, we need your help to continue our work. We need to raise £10,000 to survive or £25,000 to thrive - please help!

    Your support enables us to offer free and subsidised therapy services and specialist toyboxes for our families in most need.

    Every little bit makes a big difference.

    Donate now via CAF

    From our heart to yours - thank you!

    Read more

    help us to help more

    Posted by Bethan de Mel on

    help us to help more image

    • 1 in 7 children are suffering with Mental Health difficulties
    • 1 in 10 children struggle with Speech, Language and Communication Needs
    • 12% of local children have Special Educational Needs or Disabilities
      a child needs help
      These are our most vulnerable children, disproportionately affected by the pandemic, having missed education and waited too long for essential healthcare services. 
      Pictologue is helping to bridge the gap. This year we provided over 500 therapy appointments - 82% more than last! We currently provide therapeutic support to over 80 local families and your donation will make a life-changing difference to each and everyone.
      helping image

      Sadly, the cost of living crisis has further impacted our families, with 60% now experiencing financial difficulties (compared with 10% pre-pandemic). Additionally, our income from grants and funding has reduced by 34% reflecting the increasingly competitive context for fundraising at this time. 

      Now, more than ever, we need your help to continue our work. We need to raise £10,000 to survive or £25,000 to thrive - please help!

      Your support enables us to offer free and subsidised therapy services and specialist toyboxes for our families in most need.

      Every little bit makes a big difference.

      Donate now via CAF

      From our heart to yours - thank you!

      Read more


      Valentine's Appeal February 2023

      Posted by Bethan de Mel on

      Happy Valentine's Day!

      Today is a day to contemplate love - those we love, those who love us and those we want to love more...

      10 years ago I wrote this:

      "The expression of needs, wants and preferences is vital; the look of understanding is priceless; the ability to share something with someone is the foundation of all relationships.

      This is the essence of communication and yet for many it is a confusing and closed door."

      Lonely bear

      Pictologue opened its door for the first time in Autumn 2013. As we look forward to celebrating ten wonderful years, we feel deeply privileged to have been able to share in the journey to better communication for hundreds of local families - each and every one is special to us. 

      We provide free and subsidised therapy services for families in need and this past couple of years we've seen applications for financial help double... and triple...

      Donate via CAF

      So we need to ask you if you can help us... help Pictologue to survive... and thrive... so that we can keep going with our life-changing therapies supporting those in greatest need.

      It is thought that 14% of children (that's 1 in 7) are struggling emotionally, with a recent surge in mental health needs; periods of lockdown have greatly impacted on the developmental needs of all children, especially those who have learning and communication needs.

      This Valentine's Day we invite you to join your heart with ours to give a parent the chance to help their child connect and communicate and to give a child the chance to be understood... to say 'I love you'... 

      Donate via CAF

      Thank you for your support.

      Donate via CAF         QR code Donate Now

      Bethan de Mel

      Founder

      Read more

      Valentine's Appeal February 2023

      Posted by Bethan de Mel on

      Happy Valentine's Day!

      Today is a day to contemplate love - those we love, those who love us and those we want to love more...

      10 years ago I wrote this:

      "The expression of needs, wants and preferences is vital; the look of understanding is priceless; the ability to share something with someone is the foundation of all relationships.

      This is the essence of communication and yet for many it is a confusing and closed door."

      Lonely bear

      Pictologue opened its door for the first time in Autumn 2013. As we look forward to celebrating ten wonderful years, we feel deeply privileged to have been able to share in the journey to better communication for hundreds of local families - each and every one is special to us. 

      We provide free and subsidised therapy services for families in need and this past couple of years we've seen applications for financial help double... and triple...

      Donate via CAF

      So we need to ask you if you can help us... help Pictologue to survive... and thrive... so that we can keep going with our life-changing therapies supporting those in greatest need.

      It is thought that 14% of children (that's 1 in 7) are struggling emotionally, with a recent surge in mental health needs; periods of lockdown have greatly impacted on the developmental needs of all children, especially those who have learning and communication needs.

      This Valentine's Day we invite you to join your heart with ours to give a parent the chance to help their child connect and communicate and to give a child the chance to be understood... to say 'I love you'... 

      Donate via CAF

      Thank you for your support.

      Donate via CAF         QR code Donate Now

      Bethan de Mel

      Founder

      Read more


      Books we love for speech and language development

      Posted by Hannah Strang on

       

      Looking at books is such a fantastic way to help children with their speech and language development for lots of reasons, here are just a few:

      • It is the perfect way to introduce lots of new words and vocabulary, especially words for things your child wouldn‚Äôt necessarily see or hear in day-to-day life (especially during lockdown when it is tricky to introduce them to lots of new experiences!).
      • Children learn best when they are interested, and books with exciting pictures will usually draw them in, or you can find books which suit their interests.
      • Books help children to match the news words they hear to the pictures they see - this can help children to learn the meaning of lots of new words. For example, the meaning of words such as ‚Äėtall‚Äô, ‚Äėgrumpy‚Äô, ‚Äėbehind‚Äô or ‚Äėwhisper‚Äô can be clearly demonstrated in books in a fun, engaging way. ¬†
      • Books can be a brilliant way of introducing or talking about different topics, for example emotions, starting at nursery/school, friendships or cultural diversity, as well as helping to stimulate imagination and play.
      • If your little one is not too keen on reading books at first, try looking through books with real photos, or with flaps they can lift. You don‚Äôt have to read the full sentences at first, you could point to the pictures, or make sound effects (like animal noises for a book about animals for example).

      There are so many brilliant children’s books out there, with a range to suit every child’s interest, but here are just a few of my current favourites:

      Books with real photos:

      These can be really eye catching for young children, and gives you an opportunity to look through and label lots of different things for your child. It can be tempting to ask your child ‚Äėwhat‚Äôs this, what‚Äôs that‚Äô, but they will likely learn a lot and enjoy you pointing and telling them what the pictures are, and especially labelling pictures they are pointing to. ¬†¬†

                

       

      Lift the flap books

      There are so many brilliant lift the flap books, some of my favourites include Dear Zoo, Where does Pig Live and Where’s Spot. These books are great because there is lots of great vocabulary, they are engaging, and children who are not yet using words can participate by opening the flaps while you name the animal. They are repetitive too, as the child becomes more familiar you can try leaving a word off the end of the sentence to see if your child wants to fill in the word.

       

          

      Books based on songs

      This can be another appealing way to encourage little ones to enjoy books, especially if they already enjoy a particular song.

           

       

      Books for busy children

      Any of the Eric Carle books are great but the book ‚ÄėFrom Head to Toe‚Äô, or any other books which encourage children to copy the actions in the book can be useful for engaging children who prefer to move around lots. Brown Bear is another lovely lift the flap book.

       

      Finally, for slightly older children the ‚ÄėYou Choose‚Äô book (or any in that range) by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt is a wonderful, interactive book. It is helpful for a range of speech and language skills including promoting vocabulary, conversation, questions and decision making. ¬†Another very appealing book which I love for supporting interesting chat is called ‚ÄėWelcome to our World‚Äô, all about the different traditions, languages and ways people live around the world.

         

      If you have any favourite books you would recommend let us know, we love to try new books!

      Read more

      Books we love for speech and language development

      Posted by Hannah Strang on

       

      Looking at books is such a fantastic way to help children with their speech and language development for lots of reasons, here are just a few:

      • It is the perfect way to introduce lots of new words and vocabulary, especially words for things your child wouldn‚Äôt necessarily see or hear in day-to-day life (especially during lockdown when it is tricky to introduce them to lots of new experiences!).
      • Children learn best when they are interested, and books with exciting pictures will usually draw them in, or you can find books which suit their interests.
      • Books help children to match the news words they hear to the pictures they see - this can help children to learn the meaning of lots of new words. For example, the meaning of words such as ‚Äėtall‚Äô, ‚Äėgrumpy‚Äô, ‚Äėbehind‚Äô or ‚Äėwhisper‚Äô can be clearly demonstrated in books in a fun, engaging way. ¬†
      • Books can be a brilliant way of introducing or talking about different topics, for example emotions, starting at nursery/school, friendships or cultural diversity, as well as helping to stimulate imagination and play.
      • If your little one is not too keen on reading books at first, try looking through books with real photos, or with flaps they can lift. You don‚Äôt have to read the full sentences at first, you could point to the pictures, or make sound effects (like animal noises for a book about animals for example).

      There are so many brilliant children’s books out there, with a range to suit every child’s interest, but here are just a few of my current favourites:

      Books with real photos:

      These can be really eye catching for young children, and gives you an opportunity to look through and label lots of different things for your child. It can be tempting to ask your child ‚Äėwhat‚Äôs this, what‚Äôs that‚Äô, but they will likely learn a lot and enjoy you pointing and telling them what the pictures are, and especially labelling pictures they are pointing to. ¬†¬†

                

       

      Lift the flap books

      There are so many brilliant lift the flap books, some of my favourites include Dear Zoo, Where does Pig Live and Where’s Spot. These books are great because there is lots of great vocabulary, they are engaging, and children who are not yet using words can participate by opening the flaps while you name the animal. They are repetitive too, as the child becomes more familiar you can try leaving a word off the end of the sentence to see if your child wants to fill in the word.

       

          

      Books based on songs

      This can be another appealing way to encourage little ones to enjoy books, especially if they already enjoy a particular song.

           

       

      Books for busy children

      Any of the Eric Carle books are great but the book ‚ÄėFrom Head to Toe‚Äô, or any other books which encourage children to copy the actions in the book can be useful for engaging children who prefer to move around lots. Brown Bear is another lovely lift the flap book.

       

      Finally, for slightly older children the ‚ÄėYou Choose‚Äô book (or any in that range) by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt is a wonderful, interactive book. It is helpful for a range of speech and language skills including promoting vocabulary, conversation, questions and decision making. ¬†Another very appealing book which I love for supporting interesting chat is called ‚ÄėWelcome to our World‚Äô, all about the different traditions, languages and ways people live around the world.

         

      If you have any favourite books you would recommend let us know, we love to try new books!

      Read more