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This month, the girls and I are continuing on our search for engaging books for primary school children. A summer of bedtime stories has finally got us through Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Without pausing for breath we’ve moved straight on to The Goblet of Fire. Aside from that, we’ve been looking for books they enjoy reading themselves to keep up their reading ability during the holidays. Plus, audio books have helped us out on long car journeys. We’ve found some really gorgeous, engaging books this month that I’m happy to recommend. As always, please do let me know the books your children are enjoying. We’re always looking for new reading material. For more inspiration, see what we were reading back in July.
The Tap Dancing Pigeon of Covent Garden – written by Serena Hassan, Illustrated by Jon Davis
This adorable book tells the story of a young London pigeon. When it’s time to fly the nest, he searches for a place to call his own. En route, he discovers his passion for music and tap dancing. Sadly like many birds, Pigeon gets tangled up in some plastic rubbish. He’s one of the lucky ones, being found by a kind man who rescues him so he’s free to dance another day.
The Tap Dancing Pigeon of Covent garden is a story with a moral for children aged three and over. It teaches children to empathise with a creature that is often seen as a pest. There’s also a lesson there about correctly disposing of rubbish, and the damage that plastic is doing to our wildlife. My girls loved this story. The print is easy enough for my seven year old to read herself. My five year old and I read it between us. It’s an engaging short story with gorgeous pictures.
Ladybird Audio Adventures – narrated by Ben Bailey Smith and Sophie Aldred
As we generally holiday in the UK, we end up driving a long way during the summer. The girls are used to spending time in the car now, but it’s always helpful to have something to keep them entertained. Ladybird Audio Adventures were written exclusively for audio and aimed at children aged 4 to 7 years old. Each book tells a story based on a particular factual topic. Oceans, vehicles, animals, dinosaurs and outer space.
We listened to all these books in the car over the course of various journeys. Coincidentally, Libby is devoted to reading factual books while Lia much prefers a story. With their quirky characters including genius raven Missy, these books held Lia’s attention. Meanwhile, Libby was excited to learn facts about all the topics, and chip in with the facts she already knew. The CDs are now living in the glove box of our car to be revisited regularly on our long journeys.
Stars of Paradise by Mary Obozua
Another story with an educational twist is Stars of Paradise, aimed at children aged 6 to 9 years old. The two main characters are intelligent Black girls who use their incredible STEM skills to help them achieve a common goal. Throw in a carnival, a singing competition and a flying machine and you’ve got the ideal ingredients for an exciting story.
The book is published by Hashtag Press, whose female directors hope to turn the tide on the lack of diverse characters in children’s books. Their aim is for children to see themselves and other cultures represented in the books they have access to in libraries, at school and at home.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
When we started reading the Harry Potter books to the girls over a year ago, I was surprised at how engaging they were for little ones. I was fairly certain that we wouldn’t get far into the books before they became a bit too scary. Surprisingly though, that hasn’t happened so far. In the Goblet of Fire, Harry is embarking on his fourth year at Hogwarts. With the Triwizard Tournament on the horizon, I know it’s going to be an exciting read for us all. I’d recommend these books for children from the upper end of primary school and older. That said, Lia is only five and is already enjoying them. I know some of the children in her class like Harry Potter too, so I may be underestimating their appeal to little ones.
Claude – written and illustrated by Alex T Smith
Claude is an ordinary dog with an extraordinary life. The stories explore what Claude gets up to while his family are at work. At the end of each day, Claude’s family come home to find something rather unusual. A large bowl of strawberries and a tennis racket. Or maybe a family of ducks swimming in the kitchen sink. Whilst they question whether Claude might know something about it, they’re pretty sure he’s been fast asleep in bed all day.
The antics of Claude and his sidekick Sir Bobblysock (who, for the avoidance of doubt, is a bobbly sock) are fun and adventurous. The books made the children giggle but they made me smile too. I love the thought of our dog Bubbles taking part in tennis tournaments and rescuing noisy ducks while we’re out at work. This month, Claude is becoming a television star too. His debut on ITVBe promises to be one of those rare children’s programmes that parents rather enjoy too.
You Are Extraordinary by Wonderbly
It’s a bold statement but I think that every child should have a You Are Extraordinary journal. Each book is personalised with the child’s name. You can also add in your own letter at the front. This is somewhere between a book, a journal and a diary. Children work their way through it learning about themselves, building their self-confidence and unlocking their own potential.
Full of quizzes, questions and challenges, You Are Extraordinary is an engaging read. As soon as Libby received it, she started to meticulously work her way through it. Listening to her reading it and seeing how she answered some of the questions was fascinating for us. Predominantly though, it was fascinating to her. Some of her character traits that we’d already spotted were really drawn out by the journal. It’s an insightful read that really does help children to understand how unique and extraordinary they really are.
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