Last week, I went to a neuroscience-meets-psychology seminar in London about infant-parent relationships. It was delightful to be reminded how even the smallest babies are ready and eager to engage with the adults in their world and to tune into what is being shared with them. In the wake of this experience, I was very happy earlier this week to read the news from the American Association of Pediatrics that it will now be a requirement for health professionals to give guidance to young parents of the value of reading to their new babies.

A book is a baby’s first theatre. Among the many benefits of reading with your baby is the way this kind of sharing gives the baby space, intimacy and a shared, multisensory experience all at once. Babies may well want to treat the books in their own way – chewing and bashing them a bit is all part of the fun and is not to be discouraged. But the sound of a carer’s voice, the security of being held, the colours and contrasts in the art, all combine to lay strong foundations. This is not just about literacy, it’s about bonding, and it’s about emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing – for both parties.

Many of our board books are great for sharing with babies, but here are my current favourites:

‘Big and Small’ (US/UK)
‘Fast and Slow’ (US/UK)
The Bear books (US/UK)
The Cleo books (US/UK)
The Clare Beaton rhyme books (US/UK)

Also, read a commentary from ‘The Guardian’, where ‘Bear on a Bike’ is warmly recommended – hurrah!

Happy sharing!



You’ve probably heard the term “brain drain” tossed around in the media. What is it? Is it a real phenomenon?

Brain drain, also known as summer learning loss, summer slide, or summer holiday ‘unlearning’ refers to students’ loss of skills and knowledge during the summer weeks when school is out.

Unfortunately, summer learning loss is very real. Research shows that:

  • Students lose an average of one month of school learning over summer vacation/holiday.
  • Some students — especially from disadvantaged backgrounds — lose up to three months of learning.
  • Summer learning loss is greatest in math computation, reading and spelling.
  • Teachers of all grade levels often need to spend the first several weeks of each school year reteaching what students learned the year before.

Why do students lose learning over the summer? Limited access to books and a lack of positive reading experiences are two of the main reasons. The good news is that, according to the research, there are some clear solutions. Educators and parents can help:

  • Reading just 6 books with your children over the summer can help retain learning from the preceding year.
  • Build your home library. Have a selection of books on hand from which your children can choose — children are more engaged when they select the books they read.
  • Include books that reinforce basic learning concepts, especially math.
  • “Unpack” the books through discussion and activities.

Our summer reading list below gives some great suggestions for building your home library and keeping the dreaded brain drain at bay. Want to extend the books further? Download our “Book Report” printable (US version/UK version), which gives children of all ages a chance to practice their writing/language skills and explain why they love a book!


Barefoot Books Summer Skill-Building Reading List

Ages 0+

Big and Small (opposites)
Cleo’s Color Book (colors)
Fast and Slow (opposites)
Octopus Opposites (opposites) US / UK

Math and Shapes
Bear in a Square
Cleo’s Counting Book
Counting Cockatoos
One Moose, Twenty Mice
Ship Shapes US / UK

African Animals ABC
Alligator Alphabet
Cleo’s Alphabet Book
Zoe and her Zebra US / UK

Summery Science
Secret Seahorse (ocean animals) US / UK

Ages 3+

Math and Shapes
Shape Song Swingalong US / UK
We All Went on Safari USUK

Summery Science
A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea (food chain) US / UK
Island in the Sun (conservation) USUK
Out of the Blue (conservation) USUK

Thesaurus Rex (synonyms) US / UK

Ages 5+

The Real Princess US / UK

Anthologies to Read Together
The Barefoot Book of Animal Tales
The Barefoot Book of Buddhist Tales
The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales
The Barefoot Book of Jewish Tales
The Barefoot Book of Pirates
The Barefoot Book of Princesses
Indian Tales
Tales from Old Ireland
The Wise Fool US / UK

Early Independent Readers:
Monster Stories #1: The Feathered Ogre US / UK MS #2: The Mother of Monsters US / UK
MS #3: The Abominable Snowman US / UK
MS #4: The Terrible Chenoo US / UK
MS #5: Rona Long-Teeth
MS #6: Grim, Grunt, and Grizzle-Tail US / UK

Check out more of our early independent readers: US / UK

Ages 8+

Brush up on the Classics!
The Adventures of Odysseus
Demeter and Persephone
Orpheus and Eurydice US / UK Theseus and the Minotaur US / UK

Check out more of our classics: US / UK

What are you doing to fight Brain Drain this summer??


In Out of the Blue, children comb the beach for seashells and other treasures, which they then use to create art. Where do seashells come from? How many different types of seashells are there? In this activity, learn fascinating facts about seashells, work on early math skills with sorting games and create a beautiful, beachy keepsake.

Buy the Book: US / UK

Download the Activity: US / UK


Our best selling illustrator, Clare Beaton, was kind enough to create an activity just for us. It is such a treat to see her hand-drawn instructions!

In this craft, you will create your own sparkly seahorse inspired by her illustrations in Secret Seahorse. Experiment with bright colours and quirky beads for a unique under-the-sea ornament!

What to find:

  • Brightly colored felt
  • 8″ or 20cm wool or ribbon
  • Sequins and buttons
  • Tracing paper or vellum
  • Scissors
  • Pins and glue

What to do:

1. Download the instructions with the seahorse template: USUK. Trace the seahorse outline found on the second page onto the tracing paper.





2. Adult helper job: pin the paper onto the felt and cut through both layers along the outline. Unpin and repeat with a different colour if you’d like!




3. Glue the two seahorses together, first placing the ends of the ribbon in between the layers at the top of the seahorse. Tip: For fine motor practice, sew the seahorses together instead. Punch evenly spaced holes around the edges and sew together with lacing thread.



4. Decorate both sides with sequins and buttons, and hang it up once the glue has dried!


Download the PDF: USUK
Buy the Book: US shoppersUK shoppers

Browse our other activities!




I love the way books travel; the way they crop up in quite unexpected places. But when I went over to New Zealand last month to tread in my grandmothers’ footsteps, I never expected to encounter our very own Barefoot bear! You can probably imagine my surprise and delight when I learnt that Bear on a Bike was the very favourite book of two three-year-old twins whose Mum works with my cousin Jeremy Jones in Blenheim. Here are the twins, Isabel and Alice, with me and their grandmother and of course, Bear!


Our favourite events each year have to be our annual Barefoot Books Ambassador Conferences. These weekend-long events in Oxford, England and Concord, Massachusetts are a great opportunity for Ambassadors from all over the globe to gather as one and experience the joy of Living Barefoot. Our Ambassadors represent the Barefoot mission and work hard to build businesses of their own. This year our Conferences are in May and we can’t wait for the sound of our community celebrating, laughing and bonding—it’s the true sound of spring for us!

Photo Courtesy of Niyam Raj Shrestha Kathmandu and Angel Chitraker Laliptur

Light for All is the campaign slogan for the solar tuki project in Nepal. I came across it when I was thinking about writing a story on ‘green issues.’  As I read about solar tukis I felt I had the basis for a story of a family living in a remote village in Nepal.  At first the story was to be about Chandra, the girl with the ‘moon name.’ But then I thought it would be nice if she had a big sister, Deena, and they would contrive together to get a solar tuki for the family. And then came baby Akash. The sisters have honey and herbs for Akash’s cough on their shopping list. So when Chandra discovers the solar tuki in the market, her first thought is for baby brother Akash and his bad chest.

Try this craft from Micha Archer, the illustrator of Lola’s Fandango, and make your very own Lola doll! This craft suggests using red and white materials to recreate Lola’s costume from the book, but feel free to get creative with your colors and patterns. Let your duende move you!

Today is the first annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day, designed to shine a light on great books for children that feature stories from around the world.
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One of my favorite things about working on Chandra’s Magic Light has been learning so much about Nepal. We tried to capture the essence of this incredible country while also telling a compelling story about two resourceful big sisters working together to help their sick baby brother. We did a lot of research to integrate the culture, beauty, and some of the challenges facing Nepali people today into this book. Here are some Nepali details in Chandra’s Magic Light: