5 books to read to your children this Summer
By: Paul Nash
I think it is important to read to children as much as possible.
Stories are one of life’s great gifts and sharing and discovering them with my family is something that I enjoy. I also get the chance as part of my job to read stories with school classes and nurseries. As a Library Assistant I am sort of in the business of promoting reading and there are lots of reasons why literacy is an important thing (as the DoE say ‘Reading helps your child’s wellbeing, develops imagination and has educational benefits too’) but, for me, the main reason to read is simply that I have found books and stories have been one of the main joys throughout my life and I want to share that as long as anyone will listen.
Here are some of the books that we have tried and tested at home – we have a six-year-old and a ten-year-old, so we try to have stories that work for both of them.
5) Best Friends by Jacqueline Wilson
This is a funny and sympathetic story about best friends Alice and Gemma – who are very different but share everything. It is written from Gemma’s point of view - a primary school girl whose best friend is moving away. I know that Jacqueline Wilson has been one of the greats of children’s literature for years – but this is the first one of hers that we have read. She has that quality of really showing it from the child’s point of view – how it is to feel powerless in an adults’ world. I think a lot of authors try to do that – but end up being patronising. It’s very touching and sweet and very funny at the same time.
4) Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett illustrated by Jon Klassen
In which Sam and Dave dig a hole hoping that something interesting happens. This is a picture book that is great for sharing with individual children or big groups. Doesn’t every child try digging for treasure? And digging through the Earth? It is one of those ones where the pictures are doing at least as much of the storytelling work as the words. I enjoy just reading the words with a straight face and waiting for the kids to point out what else is going on – and there are also some subtle visual clues that the kids will probably spot before you.
3) Julian at the Wedding by Jessica Love
In this story Julian attends an outside wedding and has a magical adventure with his friend in a fairy house. This picture book is so beautiful and joyful. It relies on the visual even more than ‘Sam & Dave’. It has very few words, but the pictures convey so much. It’s as if the author has squeezed as much love and positivity into this story as possible – at every opportunity there is something sweet happening. It is a great one just to look at and talk about with the kids. And we go to a fairy house tree just like they do!
2) The Way to the Zoo, Oi! Get Off Our Train and It’s a Secret by John Burningham
A girl finds a tunnel between her room and the zoo; A boy drives a train around the world picking up animal passengers; two children go to a secret party for the Queen of the Cats. I put these three together because I can’t separate them – they are not an official series – but my favourite John Burningham books are these night-time adventure fantasies. Amazing things happen when the parents are asleep and then it’s back to normal in the morning. They are great dreamy reads for bedtime. These are picture books that have quite a lot of words – the beautiful illustrations do enhance the stories – but it’s all contained in the words.
1) Frequently Asked Questions About the Universe by Jorge Cham & Daniel Whiteson
This is a non-fiction book that deals with things like space travel; time travel; teleportation and black holes. We like to read information books like this one that are well written and entertaining. We are particularly enjoying this one because it is very mysterious and speculative and open-ended. Space travel and exploding stars somehow feel like appropriate subjects to dream about at bedtime.
Thanks for reading and hopefully you (and the kids!) will enjoy this selection of recommendations I have put together!