BEST SUMMER READS FOR 6-8 yr olds, 9-10 yr olds and 10-12 year olds.
If you follow us on Instagram, you will know by now that we love books. With the summer holidays nearly here, we thought we’d help you with a list of what we recommend to help with summer holiday packing. If you read Eleanor Marshall’s fantastic audio book recommendations you will be delighted that we have compiled this list together. Here are our top reads for 7-8, 9-10 and 10-12 year olds to help keep your children busy this summer.
6 – 8 year old Book Recommendations:
Michael Morpurgo The Early reader Series has been brilliant. ‘Mr Skip’ (about a magical gnome) captured my 7 year old’s imagination away from his Lego and we went on to read ‘Tom’s Sausage Lion, The Fox & The Ghost King and The Mudpuddle Farm Series.
13 STOREY TREEHOUSE Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton (7yrs) (read out aloud to 6yrs + or very early on in the read alone stage) One of the good ones to get early readers reading independently as it has plenty of illustrations and is pitched to appeal to a young imagination. Who wouldn’t want a marshmallow making machine in their treehouse?!
HARRY POTTER- from 6/7yrs with adult. Its phenomenal record-breaking books sales speak for themselves.
The Royal Rabbits of London, Santa & Simon Sebag Montefiore. We cannot praise this story enough for it was Shylo Tawny-Tail, the timid country ‘bunkin’ that unlocked the joys of reading for my 7 year old. I have been reading to him since he was in his cot and usually he plays quietly and rarely engages with the actual story. He wants me to be there but is too tired really to be interested or (which is what I have always believed) we just haven’t found something that sparks his imagination. This was it! He ADORED all the accents, he was totally capitvated by Shylo’s adventure and was jumping up and down at the end when Shylo becomes a hero. BOTH books have been adored by all 3 boys (5yrs, 7yrs and 10yrs).
The Racehorse Who Couldn’t Gallop- Clare Balding. I confess I was nervous of such a highly respected TV Personality becoming an author but I was very quickly proved wrong. I had 3 boys gripped by this story, willing Noble Warrior to become a champion and we virtually broke the bed they were so excited by the final race, superbly commentated (if enough oxygen is taken at the very first line….!). A lot of fist-pumping at the end followed by, ‘can we buy the next story too Mummy?’
DICK KING SMITH- ‘Foxbusters’ is the favourite in our household, closely followed by Harry’s Mad and the Queen’s Nose. (reading aloud 7yrs). Some farmyard chickens become so infuriated at their family being eaten by foxes that they become wily, learn to fly and hatch a plan to outwit them.
The Fantastic Flying Journey by Gerald Durrell (2nd hand only available on Amazon). A perfect one for those interested in animals and who like facts as it is a very clever balance between the two. It’s an exciting adventure AND full of interesting facts about the animals they meet.
The Abominables, The Secret of Platform 13, Eva Ibbotson- She never disappoints, these two of her early reader series have been extremely popular in our house.
8-10 years Book Recommendations
ALEX RIDER SERIES by Anthony Horowitz (8/9 yrs) This deserves a special mention it has been the first series to capture our boys’ attention AND they have persevered throughout the series (unlike the Beast Quest for example). This is sure to ignite the imagination of future James Bond devotees.
WOLF WILDER- Katherine Rundell (8 yrs), THE EXPLORER (Current Costa Children’s Book of the Year Winner) These represent the ultimate modern child’s read, for unlike the Enid Blytons of yesteryear, they have a pace that today’s child expects and doesn’t get bored of. The characters have been crafted brilliantly and you feel you genuinely know them. Both stories are entirely absorbing (the first in snowbound Russia, the second in the tropical rainforest) and they both linger on afterwards in your mind. Highly recommended.
PERCY JACKSON SERIES, Rick Riordan (9/10 years)- Another well-known series but still worth a mention. These books are fast-paced and funny, with a cracking adventure to drive the story. The premise is that the Greek gods are alive and well, and living in New York, and you will find your child becomes quite the expert on classical myths and legends from reading this. Another plus is that there are bazillions of them. If your child gets hooked (mine did), they can go on to read the Heroes of Olympus series (about the Roman gods), the Kane Chronicles (Ancient Egyptian) and the Gods of Asgard trilogy (Norse). The last trilogy isn’t complete yet but there’s still plenty to keep them quiet all summer long (and expect to learn a lot of interesting nuggets of classical trivia at the dinner table).
THE NOWHERE EMPORIUM, Ross Mackenzie (8yrs) Blue Peter Award Winner (Read alone and was utterly gripped by it, finished in a few days). A good one for Harry Potter fans.
TOMS MIDNIGHT GARDEN, Philippa Pearce – Read with an adult to an 8/9yr old. One cannot help but feel compelled to continue with Tom on his mysterious journey in this children’s classic. Left us discussing the multiple meanings for days after we had finished.
THE ISLAND OF ADVENTURE- Enid Blyton. Much as we all adored Enid Blyton and didn’t flinch at all the cherry pop and ginger ale loving fun, my 10 year old my 10 year old has struggled to read this on his own as it isn’t quite fast-paced enough but we read this to 7 & 10yr old together and the boys loved the adventure. We even have a guinea-pig named after Tufty so I can honestly say that this one did triumph in our household. Smugglers and underground passages in Cornwall; the stuff that holiday memories are made of.
BOY/GOING SOLO, Roald Dahl Assuming all the early reader Roald Dahls have formed part of most family’s reading arsenal, these were considered adult books when we were younger but we have discovered there are some brilliant ‘Just William’ type anecdotes which can be identified with and as ever Roald Dahl’s engaging style is as compelling as ever. Our boys were fascinated by where the idea for Charlie & The Chocolate Factory came from for example.
GIRL OF INK & STARS (Kiran Millwood Hargrave) – A spellbinding adventure, a modern day myth. A child’s page-turner in every sense.
JOURNEY TO THE RIVER SEA (EVA IBBOTSON), Dragonfly Pool, Star of Kazan – A great storyteller, Eva Ibbotson has all the ingredients to keep us entertained; characters we love and empathise with, colourful places to lose our imaginations in, a gripping storyline that always finishes with an element of the unpredictable but always a happy one which makes for an untroubled night’s sleep. These stories are probably within our top three authors so far, we recommend to friends all the time and ALWAYS are thanked. If you haven’t already, you MUST! Don’t be put off by the girl heroine, Mothers of Boys because there are plenty of good boy characters and we have really loved these.
Letters from a Lighthouse & SkyChasers- Emma Carroll Both read alone (could be read aloud to the younger age bracket). Both lovely stories written in a very engaging way with plenty of action and characters to empathise with.
Nancy & Plum, Betty Macdonald – A superb children’s classic recently reprinted and will go on being adored by generations of children. Mrs Monday’s horrid strict, boarding house where there are no Christmas presents and no Christmas dinner houses Nancy and Plum, two sisters who value friendship and loyalty and whose father has no idea how cruelly they are being looked after. Can they escape and find a happy ever after… This was recommended by the boys Grandmother who loved it herself as a child and lent us her copy - adored by the 3rd generation of readers.
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe- C.S Lewis – this was the book that turned my 7 year old into an independent reader. I was reading a chapter aloud every night and found one morning that she had read ahead by herself as she was so hooked on the story. It stands the test of time surprisingly well, with very little archaic vocabulary or phrasing and some very immediate imagery which will capture your child’s imagination. Don’t worry if the Christian allegory isn’t your thing - the story really stands alone without it and your child probably won’t even notice.
Time Travelling with a Hamster, Ross Welford - Read VERY quickly and I hear my 10 year old constantly recommending it to his friends all the time, a real hit. Don’t be deterred by the title, he literally didn’t put it down.
My Side of the Mountain- Jean Craighead George. About a boy who is one of many siblings, living in a cramped New York apartment and runs away to the Catskill mountains and survives by hunting and foraging and living in a tree. Highly recommended especially if ‘fantasy and fiction’ isn’t engaging enough, this is a gritty, factual survival story for real boy/girl scouts. One of the few books that I held onto tightly from my own childhood as the story stayed with me for so long after and has given a truck load of pleasure 30 years later all over again.
The Ruby in the Smoke – Philip Pullman. A rattling adventure set in Victorian London with some very tense moments.
Wolf Brother – Michelle Paver. The opening of this sees a 12 year old boy set off alone on a perilous journey through a dangerous primeval forest, set thousands of years ago. There is magic and mystery and bags of excitement. Expect them to smuggle a torch under the duvet so they can keep reading this one.
Ingo – Helen Dunmore. A thrilling story about a child who discovers the world of the merpeople…and that the fairytale view of ‘mermaids’ could not be more wrong. Beneath the Cornish sea lies a mysterious and dangerous society. She and her brother have a critical role to play there, but they can never feel safe, not least because the beguiling world of Ingo means they risk leaving their lives on land behind forever. Helen Dunmore is an adult novelist and poet, and this is beautifully written with an exciting storyline.
10-12 years Book Recommendations
His Dark Materials Trilogy (Northern Lights)- Philip Pullman. There are multiple layers of complexity within this book, but I find that children just see what they are ready to understand and ignore what they don’t. This leaves ‘Northern Lights’ with a cracking story and plenty of child-friendly adventure. A strong reader may get a lot out of this aged 8 or 9, though the older they read it, the more they will understand.
Cherub Series – Robert Muchamore. Alex Rider-esque series about teenage spies. Very pacey with some tension and violence.
Blood Ties – Sophie McKenzie (11-12). A complicated but gripping science fiction adventure. Theo finds out his father, whom he’d been told was dead, is still alive and is determined to find the man he thinks abandoned him. His path crosses with loner Rachel and together they find their lives turned upside down. Exciting plotline with lots of twists, raising interesting questions about genetic engineering.
Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett (11-12). If your child has a strong sense of the absurd, give the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett a go. ‘Wyrd Sisters’ is a good starting point as it is a spoof of ‘Macbeth’ which your child may well have come across by this age. Even without any knowledge of ‘Macbeth’, it has a gripping adventure and lots of good laughs, and again if they enjoy it there are plenty more to choose from.
Holes (10-11) – Louis Sachar. This used to be a favourite class reader but is now falling out of fashion a little bit. Don’t be put off – it was popular for a good reason. Children love the story of Stanley Yelnats, unfairly imprisoned at Camp Green Lake, who gradually digs not just holes in the desert but to discover the truth.
Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian (10-11). Another popular class reader, but if your child hasn’t come across it already it really is a great read. Set in the Second World War, it deals with William, an evacuee who comes from a challenging home in London to what seems a challenging life in the country with Mister Tom. However, as curmudgeonly Tom warms to him we learn more about William’s life and watch his journey of self-discovery. The book deals with some difficult issues – child neglect, mental health, death, anti-Semitism – which is part of what makes it such an interesting read but may not be every parent’s choice.
My Swordhand is Singing – Marcus Sedgewick (12+). A contemporary vampire story but a million miles away from ‘Twilight’. This is a dark and creepy story but a very exciting one.
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman (11-12). Again, a creepy premise here of a boy who has been raised by ghosts following the murder of his family. It’s not actually as scary as it sounds, though it does get quite tense and there is plenty of page-turning adventure. Neil Gaiman is a wonderful adult science fiction writer, so you know you are in for a well-crafted and interesting narrative.
Un Lun Dun – China Mieville (11-12). Another adult science fiction writer writing a children’s book, and as you’d expect it’s a corker. A wonderfully imaginative and fun story about a strange mirror-image London (UnLondon) which is at risk. The writer has a lot of fun with puns and wordplay which adults will enjoy as much as older children.
Dragon’s Green Trilogy (Dragon’s Green (No.1) , The Chosen Ones (No 2)) by Scarlett Thomas The first in a trilogy about Effie who inherits her grandfather’s magical library and discovers you can literally become lost in a book. We’ve accessed other worlds through trees, treehouses, shops, pictures, false walls, underground passages and forests but never through books before or music for that matter. Scarlett Thomas has created an extraordinarily original ‘otherworld’ with a seemingly endless supply of new and creative ideas taking Effie and her friends on a completely absorbing adventure. A spectacular read.
The Midnight Fox- Betsy Bryars. City boy, Tom is appalled when his parents say he is going to stay with his Aunt & Uncle on a farm for the summer holidays. With little else to do, he begins to explore and become absorbed by the outdoors especially when he discovers beautiful fox with green eyes. Can he protect him from being hunted down by his own Uncle before it’s too late? I had a hard job ‘selling this one in’ to my 10 year old but like myself, years ago, Betsy Bryars has such an easy engaging style and he found himself completely drawn into Tom’s world and gripping the book keen to find out the fox’s fate.