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Reading is arguably the most important academic skill a child can learn. It’s the foundation all other subjects are based on. However when our girls reached primary school age, it became increasingly difficult to find books they engaged with. This post combines new releases with old favourites that our girls are loving at the moment. Please do leave me a comment with your own recommendations, we’re always looking for new ideas.
Books for Key Stage 1
Little People, Big Dreams series
My sister bought two books from the Little People, Big Dreams series for Lia’s birthday. We have Rosa Parks by Lisbeth Kaiser and Marie Curie by Isabel Sanchez Vegara. Books about a selection of other amazing women are available too. These easy to follow books are an ideal bedtime read. They tell the story of their title character in an easy to follow way without losing the gravity of the subject. If you’re keen to make some incredible women into household names, these books are a good starting point.
Personalised book of Nursery Rhymes (gifted)
For very early readers, the personalised book of nursery rhymes from In The Book is lovely to read together. Children can look out for their own name hidden somewhere on the pages while they listen to you reading rhymes they recognise. For children starting to read on their own, the familiarity of the rhymes will help them to work out words and follow the text as they recite. I started reading this to Lia but she soon took over when she realised how easy it was.
Personalised Unicorn Adventure (gifted)
This is Lia’s favourite of the personalised books. A beautiful unicorn with your child’s name goes on an exciting adventure. They find sweets, an enchanted forest, a Winter wonderland and a desert island. This is a book to read together, despite being quite short and straight forward. Some of the writing is in a font that is a bit difficult for little ones. My seven year old can read it, but is a bit too old to appreciate the book.
Personalised Perfect Pet Dinosaur (gifted)
The final personalised book is about a person by the child’s name who decides to get a pet dinosaur. Each pet they take in is based on a real type of dinosaur. You learn a little about their characteristics and why they would make terrible pets as you go along. There is a happy ending although the pet chosen by the character isn’t the dinosaur they were expecting.
Great Women Who Changed the World
Much like the Little People, Big Dreams series, Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst is an inspirational read. With a double page spread dedicated to each person, it gives an insight into the lives of these incredible women. Narrative text about the life and accomplishments of each person is accompanied by relevant pictures and short facts. The girls were fascinated by Anne Frank. Libby had learnt about her before but this really brought home what she went through. I’m not sure whether it was glossed over at school, but Libby hadn’t realised that Anne hadn’t survived the war. She is now asking to read Anne Frank’s diary, so I think we may get a library copy to see if she’s ready to read it.
The Worst Witch Series
With the popularity of the Worst Witch on television and in theatres at the moment, it’s inevitable that children will become interested in the books. Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch series is definitely accessible for children at the upper end of key stage 1 to read themselves. However, we’ve been reading them as bedtime stories so that both girls can enjoy them together. The writing is quite large and words are generally easy to read. I’d describe the stories as gently exciting. A good precursor to the Harry Potter books.
Books for Key Stage 2
Tommy Turner’s Battle for Yorintown (gifted)
Newly released Tommy Turner’s Battle for Yorintown by Ali Seegar is the sequel to the popular Tommy Turner’s Tremendous Travels (gifted). Aimed at 8 to 12 year olds, this adventure through time takes Tommy to an ancient Maya city. There, he finds himself in a race against time to save an alien planet. With Uncle Harry and Digby to help him on his quest, Tommy needs to find a pyramid containing a secret chamber. Due to their length and quite small writing, Tommy Turner books are definitely suited to children in key stage two and upwards. However, beautiful illustrations break up the text, making them visually appealing to read. They would also be fine for a parent to read to younger children.
How to Train Your Dragon
My seven year old is somewhat reluctant to read to herself. Despite this, she has become absolutely absorbed in How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. The writing is small and many words are much too difficult for her, hence I’ve recommended it for Key Stage Two readers. That said, I’ve been amazed at how much she loves to sit quietly in her room with this book. For children who find it difficult to get into a text, being familiar with the film seems to really help. She knows the story so even when individual words are beyond her ability, she can work out what’s happening and persevere.
Harry Potter series
We’ve been reading JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series to the girls for about the past year. We take a break after each one and read something else for a while, until we feel they’re ready for the next one. Each book is just a little bit more frightening than the last. So, it’s worth either reading it with younger children or waiting for them to get a bit older. I’d recommend this for children to read themselves at the upper end of key stage two, but it’s suitable for parents to read to younger children. That said, it’s very much a judgement call depending on the child because it can get scary in parts. My two absolutely love the books and are totally engaged in the story. I love the fact that it’s a series we can read all the way through together and they’ll still want to read it to themselves when they’re ready.
Little Monster planner (gifted)
When buying books at this time of year, it’s worth considering a diary. I bought one for Libby last year when she was about to start in year two. Whilst she doesn’t remember to use it every day, I find it useful to encourage her to take responsibility for things. If there’s something she needs to remember, she jots it down in here. It’s great for teaching days and dates and improving understanding of the calendar too. This year, Libby has a cute Little Monster diary from Toad Diaries. The format is a week per double page spread, so it’s small enough and light enough to take to school each day.
Teacher planner (gifted)
Toad also make special academic diaries for teachers. I’m always reluctant to buy teacher gifts that may not be to their taste and could go to waste. So, a diary is a great option. The page-a-day format is very education focussed, with spaces to write in the class, lesson plan and homework. Each day also has a short notes section. Whilst these are aimed at teachers, they would also work for high school children as an alternative to a homework diary.
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