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Wise words: top books for children

04 June 2021

Those of you who have seen Family Action’s Creating Happy Memories summer pack will have enjoyed reading tips from top children’s authors and illustrators Fred Blunt and Fiona Woodcock. In the pack they discuss their favourite children’s books and pass on their tips for parents who want to encourage reading.

We also spoke to a selection of parents, godparents, sisters and older siblings to get their recommendations for our summer reading list, and here’s what they said:

Football Fever, by Alan Durant 

“My now 16-year-old son loved this book, he literally knew every word on every page, and if I was tired and tried to miss a few lines J he would correct me. Weirdly now he has Rugby Fever!” 

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott 

 “Absolute classic, and my favourite book when I was young”

Guess how much I love you, by Sam McBratney 

“This was one of my daughter’s favourite books growing up and she loved the affirmation at the heart of the story. It helped us through times when she was seriously ill in hospital with anorexia and, even now, we still use the quotes from the book and buy each other presents/ cards that refer to this book!”

Gangsta Granny, by David Walliams 

“I love all of the tales about the Tower of London”

Look up, by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola 

“It’s a lovely story about a little girl, obsessed with space, trying to persuade her big brother to stop looking at his phone and join her in looking at a meteor shower. It’s sweet and the pictures are beautifully done”

“I love all of the tales about the Tower of London”

Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson 

“I know that virtually everyone loves Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, but this is my favourite of hers. I’ve lost track of how many times I have shared this with children, either in my personal life or in my prior career as a primary school teacher. There’s so much opportunity to interpret the story and the characters that sometimes I feel I am actually that witch, as I get into character for the next performance.”

No Matter What, by Debi Gliori

This emotive story is so good it has got into our family diction! It’s perfect for when the chips are down and you are having that post-meltdown/episode/struggle cuddle “I’ll always love you, no matter what”.

How to be a lion, by Ed Vere

This book is about a Lion called Leonard who refuses to chomp his duck friend, Marianne. My Grandad was called Leonard, and this book caught in my throat when I first read it to my son. Life wasn’t straight forward for my Grandad, he discovered he was adopted at 21, faced hardship when he married my Catholic grandmother and was sent to work in the ‘pits’ [The Coal Mines] as he wasn’t able to fight in the war, all of which left unseen scars. Yet his family meant the world to him and he was the most dignified and principled of people. I love reading this book to my son. I think if they had met he and my son would have been kindred spirits, so sharing this book with him helps keep my Grandad Len present in our lives.

Odd dog out, by Rob Biddulph

This is a family favourite – putting ‘reading ages’ on books often means picture books get overlooked by older children, yet the messages are often really pertinent. Our 10-year-old often chooses this one to read to her younger brother, secretly I think it’s more for her own pleasure than his.  Tweens are the perfect age to be told to blaze their own trail!

If you’re looking for more fun activities to entertain your children over the summer why not checkout some of our recipes to get cooking as a family.