I’m a fanatical readerÂ – my house is literally wall-to-wall (and floor-to-ceiling in some rooms) books, so I’ve always been keen to engender a love of reading in the children by sharing books with them from an early age. There’s little more delightful than that lightbulb moment when your little person discovers the joy of reading on their own. We feature a lot of picture books on BG, but we haven’t often looked at chapter and story books for independent readers. Alfie is aÂ realÂ bookworm (currently working his way through David Walliams’ oeuvre), so I thought I’d share a few of the books he’s enjoyed.
Famous Five Colour Reads by Enid Blyton (Hodder, RRP Â£5.99). Each book is a short storyÂ featuring Julian, George, Dick, Anne and Timmy accompanied by cartoonish illustrations of the super-sleuths’ adventures by Jamie Littler. A great introduction to Blyton’s work. Set of four books, Â£9.99, Famous Five Colour Reads. Graduate from these on to Secret SevenÂ beforeÂ the full Famous Five mysteries.
Dixie O’Day by Shirley Hughes (Random House, RRP Â£5.99). It will come as no surprise that we’re big fans of Hughes’s Alfie books – Kitty sometimes likes to refer to herself as Annie Rose. The exciting escapades of dog detective, Dixie, and his sidekick, Percy are wittily toldÂ and complemented by Clara Vuillamy’s (Hughes’ daughter) funÂ illustrations.
The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon by David Almond (Walker, RRP Â£5.99). I loved listening to Alfie read this. It’s about a boy who believes the moon is a hole in the sky and endeavours to prove it. It’s beautifully written and children will love the quirky characters like Clarence, a poodle who thinks he can fly.
Explosive Adventures!Â by Alexander McCall Smith (Bloomsbury, RRP Â£5.99). This new tome contains two swashbuckling tales: The Popcorn Pirates and The Bubblegum Adventure.Â We’re also going to check out Precious and the Monkeys, an eight-year-old PreciousÂ (No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency)Â Ramotswe’s first mystery.
The Enormous Crocodile (Colour Edition) by Roald Dahl (Puffin, RRP Â£7.99). Or, in fact, any of Dahl’sÂ phizz-whizzing stories. These colour editions, with Quentin Blake’s inimitable drawings, are a brilliant, unintimidating startÂ pointÂ though – an easy transition from picture books.
Frank Einstein and the Brain Turbo by Jon Scieszka and Brian BiggsÂ (Amulet, RRP Â£7.99). This is the third in the series of books about a child genius which Alfie adores. Definitely geared towards more confident readers, they explore all manner of science concepts and are packed full of facts and experiments, alongside an exciting story.
Fox Investigates: A Whiff of Mystery by Adam Frost (Stripes, RRP Â£5.99). Alfie raced through this creature crime caper, featuring charismatic protagonist Wily Fox on the trail of a perfume thief in Venice. Wily’s second mission, A Brush with Danger, is next on his book wish list.
Mango and Bambang, the Not-a-Pig by Polly Faber (Walker, RRP Â£8.99). Also illustrated by Vuillamy, Faber’s heartwarming debut comprises four stories about the unlikely friendship between feisty chess and karate-lovingÂ heroine Mango Allsorts, and a tapir lost in the city.
The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford (Bloomsbury, RRP Â£10.99). AÂ classic from my childhood, it has been a joy to revisit the Wimbledon home of Orinoco, Bungo, Madame Cholet and Great Uncle Bulgaria with Alfie. Also a fabulous way to emphasise the importance of reusing and recycling.
Shola and the LionsÂ by Bernard Atxaga (Pushkin, RRP Â£7.99). Shola is a tenancious little dog who loves eating chips and believes she is actually a lion. Lots of giggles in this award-winning book, translated from Spanish.
There are also lots of series out there – Holly Webb’s Animal Stories are hugely popular, as are the Moomin andÂ PaddingtonÂ collections. I’m lucky enough to have a mum who kept lots of my childhood books, including The Berenstain Bears’ Science Fair and now there’s a Berenstain Bear bookÂ for every occasion.Â
What do your little independent readers enjoy? We’d love to find out – comment here or hop over to our Facebook page.