Would your kids rather clean their room than read a book? If so help is at hand – below are the 10 best children’s books that are guaranteed to get them reading!
Today’s kids use the written word more than any previous generation – texting, Tweeting, and producing pages of content every day on Facebook – but getting them to read is still as big a challenge as ever.
What was your favourite book as a kid?
When The National Literacy Trust asked children about their reading habits this year, over half the kids questioned (54%) said they preferred watching TV to reading – while 17% said they’d be embarrassed if their friends saw them reading a book.
Of course, today books have to compete against Xboxes and Playstations, TV and the internet – but if you give children the right book at the right time, you can foster a love of reading that will stay with them for life.
Our top 10 picks
So below we’ve listed what we think are some of the best children’s books around. Each of them can turn even the most bored Xbox addict into a page-turning fan of fiction.
Of course, this top 10 list is just our opinion – we’d love to hear your suggestions!
We’ve gone for books aimed at those aged eight and over, as that’s the age kids tend to go off reading. We also deliberately haven’t included Roald Dahl or J.K Rowling in our list (before all you Muggles and Snozzcumbers write in to complain, it’s just because everyone already knows how great those authors are at getting kids into reading).
So if you need some reading inspiration, we hope you and your family enjoy the suggestions below:
1. Varjak Paw
S.F. Said (Ages 8-12 / adults who refuse to grow up)
A superb coming-of-age adventure story about a cat forced to fend for himself in an unforgiving and violent city. It has a memorable hero struggling to find his place in the world, dream sequences, gripping fight scenes, and a dramatic finale. It’s Star Wars with cats basically, and if that doesn’t make you want to read it, we don’t know what will.
Get it for less: just £5.03 at Amazon (RRP £6.99)
2. Clockwork or All Wound Up!
Philip Pullman (Ages 8-12)
A crazy, bizarre and brilliantly dark fairy-tale that could have been written by the Brothers Grimm. The story moves at breakneck speed and drags the reader breathlessly along with it, with nail-biting chase sequences, scheming villains and unbearable cliffhangers. Destined to become a children’s classic.
Get it for less: just £3.74 at Amazon (RRP £4.99)
3. The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkien (Ages 8-adult)
There probably isn’t a better adventure story out there, even now. Perhaps more appealing to boys than girls (though many female fans would furiously disagree) it can be hard going at first, but once you’re in, you’re in. Its fantastical storyline is still the one to beat. The recent Hollywood film has also helped get more kids than ever into reading it.
Get it for less: just £3.99 at The Book People (RRP £7.99)
4. Tracy Beaker
Jacqueline Wilson (Ages 7-11)
Unlike some other books on this list, Tracy Beaker is far from being a fairytale – our hero Tracy lives in a children’s home, having never found a foster family that she can fit in with. Sounds depressing but it’s a funny, smart, life-affirming book with a central character that kids really relate to. Children love Wilson’s infectious style of writing and re-read her novels endlessly – it’s a must buy for those who think reading’s not for them.
Get it for less: just £2.99 at The Book People (RRP £5.99)
Anthony Horowitz (Ages 9-15)
James Bond for kids – teenager turned spy Alex Rider is the epitome of cool if you’re nine. Action-packed and a real page-turner, kids will race through this in no time. Luckily, there’s a whole series of Alex Rider novels to keep them busy after that. Just be prepared for the fact that your child may pretend to be a spy after reading it, and when you ask where they’re going they’ll just mutter “I can’t talk about it”.
Get it for less: just £3.49 at The Book People (RRP £6.99)
David Almond (Ages 10-15)
A magical and moving story of a boy living in fear of the death of his sick baby sister and coming to terms with life’s messy compromises – Skellig is an unforgettable read. It’s beautifully written and blends the unreal with the everyday brilliantly. Plus it’s hard not to get sucked into a story that’s about what happens when you find an angel living in your garage.
Get it for less: just £4.91 on Amazon (RRP £6.99)
7. His Dark Materials Trilogy
Philip Pullman (Ages 8-adult)
Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy really does inspire wonder in the reader, whether they’re children or adults. This is top-drawer storytelling – for pure adventure and escapism, these books easily hold their own against anything Tolkien or Rowling ever wrote. The headstrong heroine Lyra is a great character who appeals to boys and girls alike.
Get it for less: just £10.20 on Amazon for the whole trilogy in hardback – special gift edition (RRP £15)
Louis Sachar (Ages 10-15)
A tale of survival, family and friendship that is brimming with sly humour, this is a story packed with surprises. The plot will whisk readers of all abilities along on a joyous ride, while the subtle humour and sarcasm will be appreciated by the more able and mature readers. Highly recommended.
Get it for less: just £3.49 at The Book People (RRP £6.99)
9. Tiger, Tiger
Lynne Reid Banks (Ages 10-15)
Historical novel set in Rome that follows a pair of captured tigers that get separated and the fortunes that befall them. Themes of loyalty, freedom and unrequited love are all in the mix, but what really sticks in the mind is the brilliant historical detail and the characters that the tigers encounter. And kids love the gladiator bits. (Who doesn’t love a good gladiator scene?)
Get it for less: £4.89 on Amazon (RRP £5.99)
10. Kensuke’s Kingdom
Michael Morpurgo (Ages 8-13)
Robinson Crusoe for kids. Michael’s adventures on a seemingly deserted island are, as they say, pretty cool. Then he meets Kensuke, a former Japanese soldier who survived the war and a real bond builds between the two. Kensuke’s Kingdom is a story of friendship and family in all its forms, wrapped up in a Boy’s Own style adventure (though the book appeals just as much to girls). It’s also well worth checking out Morpurgo’s other books – War Horse and The Butterfly Lion are both great places to start.
Get it for less: just £4.99 on Amazon (RRP £6.99)
What do you think are the best children’s books? Tell us below!