12 great books for kids
Fed up of the eternal struggle with your kids of book time versus screen time? Here are 10 great reads that should keep them engrossed.
As a prolific reader, I’m always on the lookout for good books that the two mini muds will enjoy reading. It can be a bit of a struggle sometimes though (the eternal battle for book time from screen time), and although our bookshelves are lined with books, some of which have become family favourites (the entire Harry Potter series comes to mind, as does anything with Roald Dahl’s name on it the cover), others have barely a crease in the spine (the classics). What a good excuse for me to use Muddy Surrey’s (the lovely Amber) blog on some faves and I’ve added a few of Muddy Cambridgeshires too.
Emily Adsett-Raggett from The Haslemere Bookshop was more than happy to give us her tips on the top 10 books for children, but compiling just one list was always going to be tough; how do you put a toddler’s picture book alongside one for a 12-year-old? So Emily has given us two lists: in this post she has compiled the top 10 chapter books and here are the top 10 picture books. This passion is no doubt the reason The Haslemere Bookshop has made the British Book Industry Awards’ regional shortlist for Independent Bookshop of the Year.
But now it’s over to Emily…
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone JK Rowling
No list of children’s books is complete without Harry Potter. Being among the original Harry Pottergeneration, I may be a little biased but I’ve seen so many non-readers converted by this wonderful series (including my husband!) J.K. Rowling has created such an incredible detailed world that it’s impossible not be drawn in to Hogwarts and tales of magic and friendship. With brilliant, believable characters like Harry, Ron and Hermione, everybody can find something to relate to.
Bloomsbury Publishing £6.99
The Dreamsnatcher Abi Elphinstone
This book has a bit of a spooky beginning – Molly is lured to the middle of a forest in the dead of night by the scary Dreamsnatcher. Along with her wildcat Gryff, Moll must go on an adventure filled with secret and magic, in order to fight the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic! Abi Elphinstone is a true story teller: she gave a talk in our shop – I’ve never seen children so engaged. She believes in properly researching her books, and recently spent time in Mongolia learning how to hunt with eagles in preparation for her new book, The Shadow Keeper. Her enthusiasm and passion come across in her writing, leaving you feeling totally inspired.
Simon & Schuster £6.99
Flying Fergus Chris Hoy
A new release by cycling hero Chris Hoy. Fergus is given a rusty old bike for his birthday and, after cleaning it up, he is transported to a magical world where he has an amazing adventure – bunny-hopping on his bike over the Swamp of Certain Death, arriving back in the real world in time to compete in the trials to join his local cycling team! There aren’t many children’s books about cycling and this one very much fills the void. With Chris Hoy’s brilliantly funny writing and cycling becoming more and more popular, I expect this series to be a huge success.
Templar Publishing £4.99
Billionaire Boy David Walliams
All of David Walliams books have been hugely popular; he is always our bestselling children’s author at Christmas, so it was hard to narrow it down to just one title. In the end I consulted the experts, my niece and nephew, who are his biggest fans. They think that Billionaire Boy is the best because “it’s hilarious and has a very meaningful story” and also makes you aware that “new toilet rolls can make your bottom purple”! The story is about Joe, the wealthiest twelve-year-old in the land. Joe has absolutely everything he could possibly want. But there’s just one thing he really needs: a friend…
HarperCollins Children’s Books £6.99
Murder Most UnladyLike Robin Stevens
I can personally vouch for this one as the Muddy Cambs mudlet is loving this book. She has been happily wafting her way through most of the The Dork Diaries series but I was keen to try and entice her into waters new. Reluctant at first, I now find her avidly reading at night – so a big thumbs up from Cambridgeshire! When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. Then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the gym. She assumes it was a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. A brilliant murder mystery set in boarding school, with two clever, strong female protagonists. Robin Stevens is very vocal on Twitter about the importance of her books being read by both girls AND boys.
Penguin Books Ltd £6.99
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit Judith Kerr
Last year we ran a competition to find Haslemere’s favourite book – this was my choice. I have read and re-read this book so many times and each time I get something new from it. When Hitler stole Pink Rabbit is the semi-autobiographical account of a family’s escape from Nazi Germany. Told through the eyes of nine-year-old Anna, the story has a beautiful innocence, and the family’s travels through Europe are seen as quite an adventure and there are some wonderful humorous moments.
HarperCollins Children’s Books £6.99
The Northern Lights Philip Pullman
I have a confession. I haven’t actually read Northern Lights. I keep meaning to – I even have a copy – but I just have never got round to it. Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford, during their adventuring they stumble upon an attempted murder. They find themselves in frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Lyra’s extraordinary journey will have huge consequences, far beyond her own world. My colleague, Helena, loves the series and says that it has an emotional intensity which never leaves you and the best world-building this side of Harry Potter.
Goth Girl Chris Riddell
Ada Goth is the only child of Lord Goth. The two live together in the enormous Ghastly-Gorm Hall. One day William and Emily Cabbage come to stay at the house and, together with a ghostly mouse called Ishmael, they and Ada begin to unravel a dastardly plot that Maltravers, the mysterious indoor gamekeeper, is hatching. Ada and her friends must work together to foil Maltravers before it’s too late! Chris Riddell is the current Children’s Laureate and is keen to put the emphasis on illustration as well as writing. All of Riddell’s books are filled with his stunning drawings, and he illustrates for many other authors too.
Pan Macmillan £10.99
BFG Roald Dahl
Phew – this was a tricky one! All of Roald Dahl’s book are so wonderful it was hard to pick just one (though I always found The Witches to be completely terrifying, so that ruled that one out). So, with the film coming out this summer, it had to be The BFG. One night Sophie is snatched from her bed by a giant; luckily it is the Big Friendly Giant and he only eats snozzcumbers, not little girls. The BGF and Sophie must work together to stop the evil giants who really do eat “human beans”. I think this is my favourite Roald Dahl story because, as a child, it truly amazed me and the images it conjured up are still vivid in my mind.
Penguin Books Ltd £6.99
Percy Jackson and The Lightening Thief Rick Riordan
The mini mudder loves all the Rick Riordan books as they are full of adventures, fighting and battles – right up an eight year olds street! But, when I asked him to nail his favourite The Lightening Thief came in in first place. Percy was just a normal kid going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual – until he accidentally vaporised his maths teacher and goes on to spend his time battling monsters and generally trying to stay alive. When you’ve finished all the books in this series you can move on to the Heroes of Olympus where Percy continues his adventures. That should keep them quiet for a while.
Puffin Books £6.99
Comet in Moominland Tove Janson
First published in the 1940s, the Moomins have gone on to reach almost cult status among some. I agree with Philip Pullman when he says that the Moomin series “seem to grow in wisdom and delight” every time he reads them. Comet in Moominland sees a “star with a tail” in the skies above Moomin Valley: unsure of what it might be, the family hide in a cave, found by Snufkin, and wait for the worst. I completely adore all the Moomin books – they have a quirky humour and are wonderfully philosophical.
Penguin Books Ltd £6.99
Artemis Fowl, Eoim Colfer
This one has been around for years but never seems to fail to enthrall. My nephews both chewed their way through this book and the mini mudder is also half way through. This is the first book in the series and tells the story of Artamis’ first encounter with the fairy people, how he discovered a world below ground of armed and dangerous fairies, farting swars and mind-blowing technology.