To celebrate World Book Day we’ve delved into our library of beloved children’s books to share our favourites with you.
From timeless classics you’ll remember from your childhood, to brand new tomes packed with weird and wonderful characters, we’ve highlighted the books and stories you and children in your care can enjoy.
At the National Fostering Agency, we believe the benefits of encouraging children to read are wide-ranging. Whether a child in your care requires your help reading, or are happy getting lost in a story by themselves; reading keeps the mind active, engages the imagination and can introduce young people to brand new worlds.
In this world of iPads, Netflix and video games; the humble book still stimulates the mind better than anything. That is why we’re such big advocates for encouraging all children to open a book, and why we’ve created this list of our top literary picks.
We’ve split our literary choices into age groups, and for each showcased a classic, an NFA favourite and a new entry for 2018. We hope these serve as inspiration if you’re trying to introduce a child in your care to the wonderful world of reading, or need something new to satisfy the bookwork in your life.
Ages 0-3: Introducing the Wonderful World of Reading
Even before children are speaking and acknowledging what you’re saying, language development has already started. It is never too early to start reading with a child, as proven by the massive market for books aimed at the youngest of children. Books with simple concepts, repetitive phrases and rhyming structures are perfect for this age group, and here are our choices.
Classic – The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Millions of children have been enchanted by the simple and colourful story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar – as he emerges from an egg, eats his way through the book and transforms into a beautiful butterfly. Simple, yet absolutely wonderful.
NFA’s Pick – We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
One of the best examples of storytelling through rhythm and rhyme. The beat of the story plods along at a pace which keeps young children’s attention, and encourages them to sound out new words.
New for 2018 – Hilda and the Runaway Baby by Daisy Hirst
Quirky, fun and colourful; Hilda and the Runaway Baby follows the charming relationship between a pig and a baby. Full of familiar figures for 0-3 year olds, this is a great addition to a child’s home library.
Ages 4-7: First Steps in Literature
Although many children of this age group will be happy reading alone, story time with a teacher or guardian is still hugely important to their understanding of words, concepts and ideas. A child’s school will often provide a reading list for this age group, but it is always a good idea to supplement these with additional suitable books.
Classic – The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
One of the most instantly recognisable characters in children’s literature, The Cat in the Hat is a wonderful mischievous creation that 4-7 year olds will immediately adore. Regarded as one of the most influential novels for promoting literacy amongst children, The Cat in the Hat still resonates today, more than 60 years after it was first published.
NFA’s Pick – Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa
Originally published in Japan, Yours Sincerely, Giraffe, has earned fans the world over since being translated into English. It tells the story of an African giraffe and his pen friend penguin. Simple, quirky and charming, the story is delightful and the illustrations colourful – perfect for the age group.
New for 2018 – Fergal is Fuming by Robert Starling
Fergal the dragon simply cannot manage his temper, often with funny and fire-filled consequences. Fergal is Fuming follows his comic adventures as he learns to curb his anger, providing plenty of laughs, and a lot of important lessons for children aged 4-7.
Ages 8-10: Great Stories and Brilliant New Worlds
At this age, children’s imaginations tend to be running wild. Capable of comprehending more complex themes and empathising with different characters, kids at this age will have developed their own tastes in fiction and reading choices.
Classic – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Already a classic, barely 20 years after first publication, the first book in the Harry Potter series is a title children of this age will be keen to read for themselves. Harry’s adventures need little introduction, with the boy wizard now amongst the world’s most recognisable characters. But, always be aware, the later books in the series get more mature in their content, so be sure to take Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone slowly.
NFA’s Pick – The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams
Comic David Walliams’ first foray into children’s literature won universal acclaim when it was published a decade ago, as well as attracting a little controversy. The story follows Dennis, a 12-year-old who loves football and fashion, as he first tries out cross-dressing. Dealing with issues not commonly found in children’s literature, critics praised Walliams for introducing the subject of cross-dressing in a non-judgemental manner.
New for 2018 – Wave me Goodbye by Jacqueline Wilson
One of the most beloved writers of children’s fiction of all time, Jacqueline Wilson is back with a new book. This is her 106th book and she’s lost none of the humour or relevancy that has made her so popular. Following wartime evacuees, the story may not be recent, but it is Wilson at her very best.
Ages 11-13: Catching the Reading Bug
Entering secondary school, many children are no longer exposed to the reading lists they were used to in primary. However, this is the perfect time to try new genres and authors, and help children broaden their literary horizons.
Classic – The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Dealing with more adult themes and complex concepts, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a wonderful book for children of this age. Children may have questions after reading this story, so be sure to read first and be ready to answer questions about the injustices presented.
NFA’s Pick – The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett
No list of books for young people would be complete without mentioning Terry Pratchett, a true master of the arts. Whilst there are literally dozens of his books we could have picked, The Carpet People is perfect for this age group – with its inventive world filled with amazing characters sure to capture 11-13 year olds’ imaginations.
New for 2018 – Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan
The first book in a new trilogy by Ireland’s answer to J.K. Rowling, Begone the Raggedy Witches creates a world of evil queens, spies and witches. Set to be a hit with this age group, the Wild Magic Trilogy is rich with characters that children will love, classic themes and surprises around every corner.
Ages 14+: Young Adult Fiction
Young adult fiction is bigger than ever, with the teenage audience now one of the biggest markets that authors and publishers want to attract. Dystopian worlds, inspiring protagonists and increasingly complex concepts make for hugely engaging stories (often found in a series, with accompanying films and fanfare). Another benefit of these franchises is the community created – providing young adults a chance to interact with like-minded peers.
Classic – Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
One of the defining books for adolescents, Judy Blume’s book covers many of the issues faced by the age group including puberty and talking to the opposite sex. Closing in on 50 years of age, the book still resonates with its audience, and continues to stimulate conversation.
NFA’s Pick – Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
The first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, Northern Lights follows Lyra Belacqua and her daemon, Pantalaimon (a physical manifestation of her spirit, in animal form) as she tries to find her lost friend. His Dark Materials builds rich worlds, and incredible characters with in-depth back stories – and has delighted millions of children since its first publication in 1995. Don’t be put off by the film adaptation, Golden Compass, either – the books are infinitely better.
New for 2018 – The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson
Mary Watson’s debut novel blends Celtic mythology with 21st-century romance and boasts one of the great YA protagonists in years, Wren. A true underdog story, The Wren Hunt follows the eponymous hero as she discovers her special powers and decides how best to use them.
We hope you have enjoyed this guide, and it has helped you find a few new books to share with the children in your life.
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