If you're looking for suitable books for your 5 and 6 year old, our extensive list of expert recommendations is sure to put you in the right direction.
October 2019 Book of the Month | Written for and about “the swift and sweet ones/who hurdled history and opened a world of possible”, for those who “survived America by any means necessary. And the ones who didn’t,” this is an inspiring ode to the author’s forebears and to the world-changing feats of unforgettable Black American figures. Author Kwame Alexander’s initial inspiration for this book came in the year his second daughter was born, the same year Barack Obama became the first African American president of the USA. As a result, Alexander wanted his daughters “to know how we got to this historic moment”, which is exactly what this stirring book does. The chained slaves who kept faith, the elite Olympians, the innovative musicians, the seminal scientists, the courageous activists - people from all walks of life are celebrated in Alexander’s poetically poised words, and gloriously illustrated by Kadir Nelson, with much for young children to ponder and ask questions about. As well as being a wonderful way for parents to explore Black American history with their little ones on a one-to-one basis, this will also work well with older children in a classroom context. Indeed, this is one of those rare and wonderful picture books that defies age boundaries - a radiant, resonant unforgettable tour de force, as befits its theme.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | October 2019 Debut of the Month | A warm-hearted picture book about a special friendship in which free spirited Emily tempts anxious and pampered Frederick to brave the outdoors and enjoy some wonderful and unexpected adventures. Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations capture the magic of the children’s friendship and play perfectly.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | April 2019 Debut Picture Book of the Month | Winner of the 2019 Klaus Flugge Prize | Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2019 | Already shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal, Julian is a Mermaid is an outstanding picture book, surely destined to become a classic. Julian is out with Nana when he notices three women dressed as mermaids. In his heart of hearts – we see it described over three fabulous wordless spreads – Julian knows he is a mermaid too and while Nana takes a bath he sets out to transform himself into one. Nana’s response is life-affirming and the two head out to join the mermaid party. The illustrations dazzle and as a celebration of individuality, the imagination, freedom and love, it can’t be beaten.
Expect this whimsical and gorgeously illustrated picture book to infect children with an urge to go exploring, if not bird-spotting. Otto’s family are obsessive bird-spotters, indeed, so deep is their passion that they’ve turned their home into a hide. Otto though loves exploring and it’s on one of his trips that he finds, and secretly brings home, a very unusual baby bird. He’s able to hide it from his family because his new friend proves surprisingly good at camouflage. But, as the bird grows (and grows), Otto realises that it’s missing its family and recruits his own to help track them down. There’s lots to enjoy in the story and Graham Carter’s glowing illustrations are full of treats too, the camouflage scenes are particularly delightful. A funny, original story with satisfying underlying themes of adventure, friendship and family.
With its tongue firmly in its cheek, this is a book to delight parent and child alike. The opening pages remind us of the credentials of the Goodnight Laboratory whose staff have designed this guide: follow their advice and you’re guaranteed to see off all monsters. This advice includes things parents will thoroughly endorse like keep a clean room because no mess equals nowhere for monsters to hide, as well as things to make children giggle, such as telling silly jokes will send monsters rolling away laughing. And everyone will approve of the final bit of advice which says that closing the book will create a monster-free zone. Monsters have never seemed so silly and this will send everyone to bed happy and laughing.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2019 | Red’s mum tells her to follow the heart flowers on the safe path through the city when she sets off to deliver a cake to her grandmother. But the wolfish city soon draws her in and Red is lost. It is only when she remembers what is important to her that she can find her way again. This retelling has a strong contemporary feel.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | October 2019 Book of the Month | A young meerkat travels the world looking for Christmas in this festive card-packed picture book, perfect for fans of The Jolly Christmas Postman and the modern classic, Meerkat Mail. Sunny isn't quite sure if Christmas in the desert with his meerkat family is the right sort of Christmas - there's no snow, no fir trees and no figgy pudding! So he heads off on a journey round the world looking for the picture perfect Christmas . . . before realizing he might have left it at home after all. From the twice winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and the creator of Tidy, Cyril and Pat and Again!, Meerkat Christmas is a witty and heartwarming celebration of festive fun and family love that shows Christmas can be whatever you want it to be.
A beautifully written book that you read in your mind as to a child as you settle them into bed. It sets them up to have sweet dreams in a long sleep. The illustrations match the journey that the children take to go to bed. It is an ideal and most parents would be delighted if that happened every night. You can definitely hear yourself read it out loud as a bedtime story! Cathy Small, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
When the first passengers climbed aboard the earliest ever underground train in 1863, it would have been impossible to imagine how the London Underground would change and grow over the next 150 years. From smelly steam trains running along a single track to the innovative electric tube system speeding through a vast network of tunnels beneath our feet today, the London Underground keeps this busy city on the move. The Story of the London Underground tells the extraordinary history of the world's most famous underground railway. Explore Victorian London as the Brunels dig deep under the Thames. Take refuge in the tunnels during World War II and discover which world leader's bath was found in an abandoned station. Marvel at the famous fossil wall, deserted ghost stations and unusual spiral escalators that are all part of the London Underground's fascinating history. Published in association with TfL, this beautiful book from Blue Peter Award-winning author David Long and exceptionally talented artist Sarah McMenemy tells a captivating story of the London Underground that will delight children and grown-ups alike.
October 2019 Book of the Month | Kate Milner, winner of the 2018 Klaus Flugge Award for most promising newcomer to children’s book illustration has certainly lived up to her laurels with this delicate and subtle picturebook, which packs a real emotional and political punch. It is a cause of great shame to many, in this country and in the 21st century, that more children than ever are living in poverty and that there has been a huge expansion in the use of foodbanks. Mum works really hard and watches every penny, but today is a no money day. Her little girl, who tells the story, takes great pleasure in life from the simple, free activities they share- visits to the library and dressing up in the charity shops. Unlike her humiliated Mum, she loves the visits to the food bank for the drink and biscuits and the kind ladies to talk to. On the way home they play the maybe one day game- dreaming of pets and washing machines and new warm clothes. They go to bed and “because of kind people our tummies are full”. Nothing is laboured in text or image- the colours are subdued but still there. The despair and tiredness of the mother is evident in every expression and nuance of body language, but so is the warmth and love between them and so is the irrepressible spirit of a child who knows they are loved even if as the pictures subtly show us, she is clearly malnourished. This is a book which can be used with a very wide range of children and will encourage empathy and discussion of a very current and appalling crisis in our society.
There’s a moral to this lively tale for everyone who lives on a small island. The setting is a farm run by animals. At first, all is good: the animals work hard and are friends, free ‘to live and work where they chose’. But trouble is brewing. The geese, who reside with the ducks on a lush little island, start to resent the other animals. Their grumbling gets worse until they decide that the best thing for them to do is to leave the rest of the farm and live on their own. Despite the misgivings of the ducks, the geese destroy the footbridge to the farm. 48% of readers may not be surprised to learn that things don’t work out as the geese expect, but all readers will be glad that by the end of the book the bridge has been rebuilt. Animal farms traditionally have lessons for readers – Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury for example – and this one is delivered with impact and charm. A book to get everyone talking, but to leave them smiling.
This beautiful, atmospheric book captures the special magic of Christmas for readers of all ages. A young boy, just beginning to wonder whether Father Christmas is real, lies in bed hoping to hear sleigh bells. But instead of a sleigh, a huge train pulls up outside and takes him, together with other pyjama-clad children, off to the North Pole. There the boy meets Father Christmas and choses his present – a sleigh bell. It rings for him that Christmas and every one until he’s an old man, the sound always equalling the first gift of Christmas. This is a book that really does conjure up all that is magic about Christmas and Liam Neeson’s reading on the accompanying CD does it full justice, his rich voice full of doubt, breathless anticipation and joy. Start a Christmas tradition and enjoy this with the whole family on Christmas Eve.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | Once a month, Dad takes his son to the barbers, come rain or shine. But when Dad disappears, this little boy's hair grows big, ginormous, out of control - and so do his feelings. A touching and melodic story of family separation from a child's perspective from the author/illustrator duo who brought us the Amnesty International recommended picture book Luna Loves Library Day.
Christmas is coming! Come and join the fun as four little bunnies set off on an exciting lift-the-flap adventure. With ten little elves hidden under the flaps of this gorgeously festive board book, you'll have to run, run, run if you're going to catch them all! There are lots of Christmassy obstacles along the way, from clippy-cloppy reindeer and roaring polar bears to flippy-flappy penguins. Can you help the bunnies get home in time for bed? There will be a BIG SURPRISE waiting for them in the morning! Stuffed with festive frolics, this is the perfect Christmas gift. From the bestselling Laura Hughes, illustrator of We're Going on an Egg Hunt and Hop Little Bunnies, this jolly board book is full of wintry magic and perfect for little hands!
The laughter never ends with Oi Frog and Friends! Another brilliantly funny, rhyming read-aloud picture book, jam-packed with cute puppies and silliness. From the bestselling, multi-award-winning creators of Oi Frog! Dog is looking after some puppies. Quite a few puppies, actually, and none of them will sit! Not even on guppies, like they're supposed to! They're getting a little out of hand. But luckily Frog's got a cunning plan . . .
This hugely enjoyable picture book put a thoroughly positive modern spin on the Sleeping Beauty story. Beauty here is space princess Lex, a lively young girl whose passion is books and reading. She’s understandably miffed when, on her 15th birthday, her parents take away all her books. They explain that she was cursed as a baby by a grumpy fairy and the next paper cut she gets will be fatal. Not one to sit back and wait for help, Lex sets off to find the fairy and get the curse lifted (using reference books to help). She manages it, discovering some important things about the fairy in the process, and all ends with everyone reading happily ever after. The story is told in energetic rhyme and the space-age setting is lots of fun too. Here’s to more go-get-‘em bookworm princesses!
Book Band: Turquoise Ideal for ages 6+ | This new series from Bloomsbury Education is geared at turning children into independent readers. Not only will the books give youngsters a boost into solo reading, they’ll also make it easier and more enjoyable for the adults helping children as they come with useful tips and notes. The books are short and divided into chapters thereby breaking the story into manageable chunks. The adventures are lively and fast-moving though told via short sentences and carefully chosen vocabulary: some words are highlighted in the Tips for Grown Ups section on the inside cover, so that children can learn them and their meanings. Full colour illustrations amplify the action and make the books really attractive to look at too. Written by favourite authors, these are well worth collecting and are just the thing for children ready for reading.
Book band: Purple Ideal for ages: 6+ | This new series from Bloomsbury Education is geared at turning children into independent readers. Not only will the books give youngsters a boost into solo reading, they’ll also make it easier and more enjoyable for the adults helping children as they come with useful tips and notes. The books are short and divided into chapters thereby breaking the story into manageable chunks. The adventures are lively and fast-moving though told via short sentences and carefully chosen vocabulary: some words are highlighted in the Tips for Grown Ups section on the inside cover, so that children can learn them and their meanings. Full colour illustrations amplify the action and make the books really attractive to look at too. Written by favourite authors, these are well worth collecting and are just the thing for children ready for reading.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Joseph Coelho dedicates this lovely picture book to ‘everyone who misses someone’ and it’s particularly apposite for any child who has recently lost a grandparent. The story is narrated by a little girl who describes happy times with her grandad, ordinary everyday experiences interspersed with vivid metaphor, ‘if all the world were deep space, I’d orbit my grandad like the moon and our laughs would be shooting stars’. As the story continues, it’s clear Grandad has died, but writing down her memories ensures he will always be with her. Joseph Coelho is a fine poet and this is a joy to read aloud; Allison Colpoy’s illustrations make it beautiful to look at too and it deserves a place in every child’s collection.
A beautiful and classic picture book, debossed and foiled, the paperback edition of Christmas Comes to Moominvalley is the perfect gift for Moomin fans of all ages. This is an exquisitely illustrated and authentic re-telling of Tove Jansson's classic story The Fir Tree, in which the Moomins are woken up from their winter sleep to be told that 'Christmas' is coming. The only trouble is, the Moomins have no idea who, or what Christmas is... The sensitively adapted words in this classic picture book capture Tove Jansson's uniquely wise, perceptive and original voice, and are paired with delicate, painterly illustrations full of character and detail and based on Jansson's original drawings and colour plates. A new generation of readers will enjoy meeting the loveable Moomin family and friends, with their special values of tolerance, kindness and integrity, as they prepare for their very first Christmas and try to solve the puzzle of what 'Christmas' is really all about.
Bring the Bolds into your home for some festive fun and frolics! Julian Clary’s stories of the Bolds, a family of hyenas who live in Teddington disguised as humans, are full of fun, mischief and charm, and so is this Bolds-themed Christmas activity book. Packed with David Roberts’ fabulous illustrations it’s gorgeous to look at and the different activities featured are certain to keep everyone smiling too. Naturally the jokes are of a particularly high standard – Mr Bold’s job is to write cracker jokes after all – but there are some good riddles too as well as puzzles and, best of all, lots of chances to draw or write about the Bolds. Lots of fun and a perfect Christmas gift.
Little mouse Winston stars in a perfect Christmas adventure. Even for a mouse, he’s small but Winston’s got a big heart and when he finds a lost letter for Father Christmas he’s determined to see it delivered. His expedition is full of challenges, but along the way he’s helped by some equally warm-hearted and generous animals, including a beautiful white cat and a rat who ‘works’ at the famous Fortesque’s department store. Winston’s good deed is rewarded and the little mouse finds a warm bed and a new family for Christmas. The book is divided into 24 ½ chapters – one a day for 1st – 24th December plus a treat for Christmas morning! Interspersed are festive craft activities too and there can’t be a better book to set readers up for Christmas. Alex T Smith’s illustrations are gorgeous – big, busy and dramatic scenes but always with our little hero centre stage.
October 2019 Book of the Month | Here’s another inspiring, information-packed picture book in what’s becoming something of a series (see also Great Women Who Made History and Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World). It tells the stories of pioneering women who achieved amazing things, often in the face of prejudice or downright hostility from society. There are familiar names – Rosalind Franklin is included – plus lots that are lesser known, but just as fascinating: balloonist Sophie Blanchard for example, and Sarah Breedlove, beauty entrepreneur. Their stories are told through lively, engaging text and pictures, it’s a treat to read. Kate Pankhurst is something of a fantastically great woman herself, and there’s lots for all readers to marvel at and enjoy in this book.
October 2019 Book of the Month | Look through the green lens to see the place and its surroundings by day. See which plants and animals, buildings and cultural artefacts you can spot on the map. Use thered lens to learn about the history and real-life inhabitants of this place. Then turn the page to learn more about the cultural highlights and natural wonders in the field guide. If you dare, look through the blue lens to reveal the hidden horrors, supernatural goings on and ghosts who haunt this place. There's so much more to the world around us than meets the eye.
Independent Reading Red 2 | Developed with and endorsed by literacy experts from the UCL Institute of Education, Reading Champions are high quality, visually attractive and engaging supplementary reading resources. They are uniquely designed specifically to support independent reading alongside guided reading in the classroom. With clear exterior labelling linked to Book Bands, children can be confident that the carefully levelled text will be accessible to them. Developing readers need to build their reading confidence and stamina by extended practise within levels to embed and secure their skills while experiencing an enjoyable reading opportunity. There are at least six books in each level to offer choice and variety and they are ideal for reading practice at home. Parents and carers will feel supported by the extremely helpful guidance notes in each book on how to share and discuss the book with their child and by the opportunities to extend their learning with some enjoyable activities linked to the subject matter. Most importantly of all these original stories are lively and relevant to children’s lives. They feature a broad range of genres and contemporary topics and both the quality text and the vibrant illustrations reflect genuine diversity, so that every child can identify with characters and settings.
November 2019 Book of the Month | Not since The Snowman have readers been taken on such a magical, snowy journey of love and adventure. Phoebe lives in a gloomy orphanage run by the cruel Griselda Bone. The two clash frequently, and often over Phoebe’s creative response to her school work: Griselda does not approve of words like ‘whispery’ and ‘flumping’. Locked up in the snow overnight, Phoebe and her little dog Herb are surprised by a huge and magical snow dragon, who takes them on an extraordinary ride through the skies. Filled with snowflakes, starlight and revelling in the power of the imagination this is a gorgeous story for Christmas nights and Fiona Woodcock’s illustrations are very special indeed.
Mr Moose and Mr Brown first meet on an aeroplane flying from America to London. Mr Moose should be with his brother Monty, but absent-minded Monty has got on the wrong plane. Mr Brown, who is a famous fashion designer (as is the book’s author Paul Smith), offers to help his new friend find his missing brother. As they travel the world, Mr Moose helps Mr Brown with his fashion range, suggesting some very interesting garments – parkas for penguins, sneakers for cheetahs, scarves for giraffes. As they fit out an Alaskan bear for snow-shoes Mr Brown has an idea … It all ends with a happy reunion at a big catwalk (moosewalk?) show. It’s an engaging story and very strong on the fun and satisfaction that comes from designing things and from creative partnerships. Sam Usher paints some wonderful scenes, including a witty reimagining of Hopper’s Nighthawks, 1942.
Award-winning author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers’s simple but unforgettable fable of one man’s greed to possess everything is beautifully told in an exquisitely designed book of only a few words complimented by some striking lithographic print images. As ever, Jeffers knows how to use both words and pictures in a way that allows readers to enjoy his story as well as making it their own.
September 2019 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Matt Sewell is a passionate bird spotter as well as gifted artist and his enthusiasm shines through in this sumptuous book. He’s selected favourite birds from around the world, the exotic as well as the everyday, and each one featured is illustrated in his beautiful and expressive watercolour. The passages of text that accompany the illustrations include fascinating facts as well as information on the bird’s appearance and habitat, and some of the facts are really quirky – how the Australian Southern drongo came to provide the slang term for an idiot for example. This is a book to delight, intrigue and inspire as well as inform
Book Band: Purple Ideal for ages 6+ | This new series from Bloomsbury Education is geared at turning children into independent readers. Not only will the books give youngsters a boost into solo reading, they’ll also make it easier and more enjoyable for the adults helping children as they come with useful tips and notes. The books are short and divided into chapters thereby breaking the story into manageable chunks. The adventures are lively and fast-moving though told via short sentences and carefully chosen vocabulary: some words are highlighted in the Tips for Grown Ups section on the inside cover, so that children can learn them and their meanings. Full colour illustrations amplify the action and make the books really attractive to look at too. Written by favourite authors, these are well worth collecting and are just the thing for children ready for reading.
She may have won the Golden Acorn for eight years running but Squirrel still has a lot to learn about friendship. When a rule change for the annual Golden Acorn Hunt is announced, then Squirrel has to find a team and does not think her friends are up to it. Indeed when they set off she has to keep going back impatiently to rescue them from their comical misadventures. But eventually her need for speed gets the better of her and she zooms off. She gets to the Acorn first only to discover that it is too heavy for her to move alone. What is more there is no sign of her friends and she realises that the Acorn does not matter, she needs her friends. From the talented author and illustrator of the popular Too Many Carrots, this endearing fable about the importance of friendship and teamwork has a lovely message for young children learning all about making friends in the new environment of school or nursery.
Poems to help you change the world | Highlighted as a recommended read for National Poetry Day (3rd October), three of our best poets for children come together in this excellent new anthology with a challenge for their young audience: go out and help change the world. Alongside poems on the many threats to the environment and the natural world are poems that pose ‘tricky questions’ about how we choose to live. There are poems to make children laugh, to inspire them and inform them; above all here are poems that will provoke a reaction. It might be something practical, like deciding to change the contents of your lunchbox, or it might mean making a change to the way you understand the world. It ends with Liz Brownlee’s quiet but powerful poem ‘Snow’, a beautiful example of how the smallest things can effect change.
September 2019 Book of the Month | Room on the Broom, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s story of a kind-hearted witch is now recognised as a modern classic, a book that should be in every little child’s collection. With its rhyme and repetition, jolly cast of characters and wonderfully satisfying ending, it can hardly be bettered – except that here it can, because as well as the story and the pictures and the rhyme, there are also sound buttons so that children can join in and croak with the frog, woof with the dog and ‘whoosh’ with the broom. One to share for Hallowe’en or indeed any night of the year.
Book Band: Gold Ideal for ages 6+ | Patricia Cleveland-Peck puts a nice spin on the Cinderella story in this tale of gardening, teamwork and enterprise. Perkin is a young gardener, undervalued and underpaid by his employer, who similarly exploits her own stepdaughter, employed as the house-keeper. The gift of 7 pumpkin seeds change the two young people’s lives, and though the bit with the prince plays pretty much as it always does, the real happy ending comes with the establishment of a pumpkin pie business. The story is bound to keep readers turning the pages, short chapters dividing it nicely into manageable chunks and the full colour illustrations will make it even more appealing and easy to read. In the Bloomsbury Young Readers series this is the perfect step-up from picture books and just right for children ready to start reading for themselves.
Book Band: Purple Ideal for ages 6+ | Short, but action-packed, Chitra Soundar’s story has all the ingredients to make a tasty, satisfying story. There’s a magic lamp, seven wishes and a genie, and it all culminates with a delicious birthday cake. Manju and her cat Cumin are puzzling about what to give Manju’s mum for her birthday when they discover a magic lamp. A genie grants them seven wishes – surely they can conjure up the perfect present now, but it proves harder than they think and takes all seven wishes to get a gift that’s just right. In the new Bloomsbury Young Readers series this is a fun, accessible story perfect for children just getting ready to read on their own. A Tips for Grown Ups section and suggestions of fun further activities are helpful, an added bonus.
John Burningham won his record breaking second Kate Greenaway medal for Mr Gumpy’s Outing in 1970, which was the first we saw of the character that John claimed was a ‘prophetic caricature’ because he grew to look more like him throughout his life! So, it seems entirely appropriate that the very last book written by John features his alter ego. We last saw him in the equally popular Mr Gumpy’s Motor Car in 1973 so where has he been since? Travelling in Africa it seems, where he rescues a baby rhino who has lost his parents, killed by poachers who had stolen their horns. Kind Mr Gumpy goes in search of milk from friendly Bedouin tribesmen, decides to call his rhino Charlie and takes him on the ship home with him. He struggles to find enough food for the rapidly growing Charlie and local schoolchildren suggest he could work for the council keeping the grass down on the roadside verges. His specially made high-vis jacket and rhino at work sign are a real hit with Charlie! He repays this kindness by rescuing the school outing; taking the children on his back to the beach and then out to sea to catch the boat they had just missed- a thrilling ride for everyone! With the classic mix of soft sepia line drawings and beautifully textured full colour images this is Burningham at his best, vividly capturing landscapes and the tiny, exquisitely drawn details that bring every character to life. A real celebration of kindness and community that offers a gentle introduction for small children to discussion about conservation and endangered species. A real classic that will be as timeless, popular and hopefully award -winning, as its predecessors.
Learning to read provides the best opportunity for children to take off privately into worlds of their own.
Picture books and easy readers allow children to go solo while being read to gives a background of richer stories to further stimulate the imagination.
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