I was inspired by this blog by a librarian in America. It’s all about reaching children who can read but are reluctant to do so. Children for whom books are a bit of a chore, for whatever reason. The solution was to stock the school library with short, funny, pacy, brightly illustrated and well written books that can be devoured quickly. Shorter books mean the child doesn’t give up half way through and so they feel a sense of achievement when they’ve finished it. It also means the child becomes familiar with how a story starts, develops, gets really exciting and finally ends. Children who give up on books half way through never get that satisfaction of a whole story well told.
In the blog, most of the books given as good examples were American. No 1 was Dairy of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (see previous blog). Here are some of my favourites I think would fit the bill (UK and US) for 7-10 year olds:
Silly Cecil and Clever Cubs – Jeanne Willis illus: Tony Ross
Funny, funny story about a ‘pompous’ cat called Cecil, who thinks he’s above everyone else. Hilarious dialogue from Jeanne Willis. Boys and girls will love it.
Diary of a Killer Cat – Anne Fine illus by Tony Ross
Staying with cats – and why not – here’s the classic cat caper from Anne Fine. Short chapters, brilliant characterisation and laugh-out-loud funny. I always kept this book as a stand-by when I was on supply in primary schools. A Y4 girl once fell off her chair she was laughing so much when I read it out.
Jimmy Jelly – Jacqueline Wilson (Barn Owl publications)
Angela is mad about Jimmy Jelly off the telly but turns curiously moody when she gets chance to meet him in real life. A book that is easy to read but could lead to lots of discussions about meeting your heroes.
Super DC Heroes series
Comics in bite-size book form from Raintree publishers using all the superheroes kids know and love. Clear text on one side, graphics on the other. Great for reading out loud in a lousy American accent!
Swop by Hilary McKay with illustrations by Kirstin Holbrow.
Clever this. Twins Emily and Tom live with wicked Auntie Bess who is really a witch. She seems intent on starving them so they have to live off their wits to survive. Every time someone comes by their cottage Emily swaps something. The swaps are clever and imaginative and eventually lead to a satisfactory ending. Published by Barrington Stoke on paper suitable for dyslexic children.
Damian Drooth Supersleuth series
Great little series this from Andersen Press by Barbara Mitchelhill. All kids love solving puzzles and Damian Drooth shows them how to be a detective – though not laways a successful one. Again illustrated by Tony Ross, the chapters are short, the dialogue witty and the stories entertaining.
There’s a spell up my NOSEby Ian Whybrow. Illus by Tony Ross (does he have a monopoly on this genre?!)
This is one of Hodder’s Books for Boys series but I don’t see why boys should have all the fun. Anthing that opens with: ‘In the dark old days when Barons were brutes and castles were draughty…’ deserves to be read by girls too.
Tiara Club series by Vivian French illus by Sarah Gibb (Wot? No Tony Ross?)
As you know I’m not one for pink and fluffy but anything written by Vivian French has got to be excellent and so it proved. I read Princess katie and the Silver Pony and thought it was so sweet. The girls at Princess Academy have to learn much more than how not to slurp their soup. Enjoyable.
Marvin Redpost(series) by Louis Sachar
From the stable of Paula Danziger, Judy Moody etc comes school based stories by one of my favourite authors. Marvin is a likeable kid. The dialogue is funny, the teachers are kind and the classmates appealing to boys and girls.
Girls FC seriesby Helena Pielichaty illus Sonia Leong (Walker Books)
Well, why not? Each book begins with a ‘Star Player’ profile and team list. After that it’s pure Pielichaty magic. The books in the series follows a different character on the team so there’s no need to worry about reading the series in order. Highly recommended!!!
There are LOADS more where these came from but I’m tired of downloading images which is not the right attitude, I know. Give me a break!
Other great titles include Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer, Love that Dog by Sharon Creech, Hank Zipzer by Henry Winkler, The Secret Football Club by Tom Palmer…
I could go on but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Back soon with Halloween reads.