If you’re looking for some books for your kids to read, have a look at 8 recommendations that I absolutely loved as a kid (sorry if there is a girly bias).
- 45 + 47 Stella Street
Author: Elizabeth Honey
Ages 8-12 years
Reading this as a kid and not fully understand the line between an author and a narrator, I got a little confused for the first few chapters as to who actually wrote the book, Elizabeth or Henni. You can imagine a kid sitting there at the kitchen table scribbling it out because the voice is so authentic. The storyline, quirky dialogue and overuse of punctuation like the exclamation mark makes this one of my most fun reads to date. Henni and her group of friends spy on their new neighbours whom they nickname the Phonies and the childlike portrayal of the situation is so relatable, despite how ridiculous it is. You can read it in a couple of days (or one day if you have absolutely nothing else to do).
- Peter Pan
Author: J.M. Barrie
Age 8 +
According to several websites as well as personal experience, this classic works best as a book to be read aloud. I read this to my youngest sister a while back. It’s a story of an incredible journey that had both of us in literal tears on the last page. Prepare for more emotion than the Disney movie gives you, and for more layers to the characters and themes, which is why Peter Pan is so brilliant. The language and style of writing you don’t see very often anymore, and it combines aesthetic qualities with humour. Peter is probably my favourite fictional character because of the complexity of his desires and the myths surrounding his origins. While a child will understand the basic storyline, modern children might need certain things explained to them.
- Anne of Green Gables
Author: L. M. Montgomery
Ages 8 +
Reading Anne of Green Gables is in some ways like reading about myself, sans the carrot-red hair. Her passion for life, her creativity, independence as well as fierce loyalty and temper are all part of her charm. But probably the most inspiring thing about her is her ability to affect positive change in people and situations around her. She can turn the dullest person in the room into the life of the party (besides herself) and befriend the toughest, harshest person. To this day, Gilbert Blythe is my favourite male lead in a novel (sorry Mr Darcy) because of his schoolboy charm and his singlemindedness in pursuing Anne.
- The Naughtiest Girl in the School
Author: Enid Blyton (part of series)
Ages 6 +
Let’s be honest, anything by Enid Blyton is brilliant. The woman was a genius (although does anyone else wonder how she had the time to write as many books as she did?). From the Secret Seven, to the Famous Five, to the adventure series, 5 Find-outers and Dog, Mallory Towers, St. Claires, Mr Twiddle and Mr Pink Whistle and not forgetting Naughty Amelia Jane, Blyton had some pretty famous hits stored in her imagination. Enid Blyton is the author who got me into the genre of mystery and formed the basis of my love for reading. Her books are easy to read, and you could begin at 6 years old for her simple ones, or even younger if you’re being read to.
- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Author: Anne Frank
Ages 10 +
Where to begin? This text is unique in many ways. It is an irreplaceable snapshot of history through the eyes of one of its victims, like a still photograph in a moment of time. This diary is written entirely without hindsight or the hindrance of adult editing. Anne’s raw reflections and discoveries as she lives in a secret annex above an office in Amsterdam during World War II is informative, as well as heart-warming (and breaking). Be prepared to be attached to this little girl as you view the effects of the Nazi regime on its primary targets. Another way this text is unique is the way that Anne often side-lines major historical events in favour of recounting her latest interaction with the hunky Peter Van Daan. Her innocence is contrasted with what you know must be coming and this diary allows you to see feel the injustice of so many lives cut short. I feel like reading this was a rite of passage for me.
- Little House on the Prairie
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder (part of series)
Age 8 + (to read alone)
My mum read the whole series to my sister and I when we were younger and I loved learning about the American pioneers through the eyes of a child (with the hindsight and detail of an adult). The three of us rode the emotional roller coaster of the Ingalls family and learnt things like how to make a football out a pig’s bladder, smoke meat and deal with a bear that you happen upon in the woods. I grew up with Laura Ingalls as one of my role models, and the story of the Ingalls can teach you a lot about family relationships, as well as independence.
- The Twits
Author: Roald Dahl
This is a short, funny read showcasing why Roald Dahl is such a genius. This book has the ingredients for a classic Dahl read: a strange or mean character, some great sketched illustrations, a gross-you-out aspect or two that kids love, and of course a moral (one of which is shown below). What more could you want?
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning
Author: Lemony Snicket (part of series)
Age 9 +
The reverse psychology on the back cover is enough to get you sucked in (well played, Mr Snicket) but as it warns, these books are not for the faint of heart. However, if you like learning crazy new words, about crazy new inventions and some seriously unlucky orphans, then this serious will interest you. The writing style is different to most of what you read today, and Lemony Snicket comes up with extremely creative ways to get his point across. Some of the themes in the series are a bit serious, so just be careful if your child is very sensitive or under the recommended age.
The Mandie Series by Lois Gladys Leopard. If you love a good mystery (and want your kids to read Christian-influenced books) this series is the one for you.
Images (all sourced 23 August 2016):