Recommended Reads for Children: From The Willoughby Book Club

As schools across the UK get ready to go on their summer holidays, are you looking for a ton of great books to keep the kids entertained as well as get their imaginations firing? Then our Recommended Reads for Children series is here to help.

For a special summer bonanza, we have a guest post from Adam and Chloe a.k.a The Willoughby Book Club, an independent book club dedicated to encouraging and promoting the idea of reading for pleasure that has tons of books to offer – including a great range of children’s selections. Just recently they donated just under 100 new books to start our young person’s library at Calderstones Mansion House – which our Caldies Creatives kids have been loving!

Here, they list their top 10 book recommendations for babies, toddlers and big kids alike (some of which you may already recognise as  TRO favourites), so take a seat, get comfy and read on – over to Adam and Chloe!

i want my hat back 1. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Walker Books; 2011)

At Book Club HQ, we’re absolute suckers for great illustration…so it’s no surprise that we adore ‘I Want My Hat Back’ by the brilliant John Klassen. It’s a simple story with a simple structure, but more importantly, it’s packed full of beautifully crafted artwork that you and your little ones can enjoy over and over again.

Just one word of advice though. Don’t ever steal a hat belonging to a very large bear…

Age range: 2-5 years

Top tip: To double your hat-based fun, pick up a copy of Jon’s follow up ‘This is Not My Hat’…

mr peek2. Mr. Peek and the Misunderstanding At The Zoo by Kevin Waldron (Templar Publishing; 2008) 

We love Mr. Peek. In fact, we probably love him more than Mrs Peek does.

One morning, Mr. Peek puts on what he thinks is his favourite jacket to start his rounds as local zookeeper… but something is amiss. This morning, his jacket feels a little tighter than usual…

Kevin Waldron’s book works equally brilliantly as an independent read for older toddlers or as a story for parents to share with even younger readers. The text is easily readable, with size and graphic design used to highlight the importance and nature of key words. In short, we think it’s a winner!

Age range: 2-5 years

Top tip: Keep your eye out for little Jimmy in every illustration along the way…

knight night3. Knight Night by Owen Davey (Templar Publishing; 2013)

By this point, you might have spotted the running theme with our selections. And if you haven’t, we’ll tell you…they’re all fantastically illustrated.

Knight Night begins with a little boy with a colander on his head, but quickly moves into a magical world of knights, dragons, castles and mountains. Reading on, we follow our young knight on his journey as he prepares for one of life’s biggest and most unwelcome challenges…going to bed.

Age range: 1-4 years (but big knights can still enjoy it!)

Top tip: Look out for Owens latest children’s book ‘Laika’, which will be released later this year.

little miss bronte4. Little Miss Bronte: Jane Eyre by Jennifer Adams (Gibbs Smith; 2012)

It’s never too early to introduce your little bookworms to the classics – particularly when they’re as beautifully produced as Jane Eyre, from the BabyLit™ range of literary board books.

This ingenious counting book uses ideas, characters and key themes from the original novel to encourage young readers in their numerical development. There are even a handful of quotes from the original text thrown in to keep Mum & Dad engaged…it’s win-win!

Right, where were we? 1 Governess, 2 trunks, 3 candles…

Age range: 0-3 years

Top tip: If you enjoyed Jane Eyre, check out the rest of the BabyLit™ range of classics

orange pear apple bear5.Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett (Macmillan Children’s Books; 2007)

We simply had to find a spot in our top 10 for our all time favourite baby book, Orange Pear Apple Bear.

Why is it our favourite? Well, we’ll tell you. Because, aside from the stunningly produced watercolour illustrations throughout, it also manages to turn a potentially complicated subject area – the correct use of punctuation – into a literary treat for you and baby.

And if a baby book about punctuation doesn’t float your boat, just trust us…you won’t be disappointed. And neither will your little one.

Age range: 0-3 years

Top tip: For a little extra fun, introduce some real fruit to the reading!

this is london6. This is… by Miroslav Sasek (Universe Publishing; 2004)

Ok, so we’re cheating here slightly. In at No. 6 is the classic ‘This is…’ series by Miroslav Sasek – and in particular, the London, New York and Paris editions.

These books were first introduced in 1959, and have been painstakingly updated for a modern day audience. Sasek’s sophisticated, elegant and utterly unique illustrations introduce young readers to the most famous and iconic landmarks from each city, guiding them effortlessly from place to place and teaching them a range of important facts along the way.

Age range: 4+ years

Top tip: Why stop here? You can also explore Edinburgh, Venice and Hong Kong…even The Moon

esio trot7. Esio Trot by Roald Dahl (Puffin; 2013)

We couldn’t compile a list of our favourite children’s books without including something by the fantastic Mr. Dahl.

It was a very difficult choice…but after much deliberation, we decided to plump for the marvellous Esio Trot. We’re recommending this book partly because it’s a warm-hearted tale of elderly romance that everybody can enjoy, but more importantly, because it includes tortoises. Any story based around tortoises is OK by us.

Age range: 5+ years

Top tip: If your neighbour has tortoises, don’t try this at home…

the storm maker8. The Storm Maker by Alex Williams (Macmillan Children’s Books; 2008)

Here at The Willoughby Book Club, we were introduced to the wonderful world of Alex Williams’ children’s novels last year, and haven’t looked back…

Our personal favourite is ‘The Storm Maker’ – which follows the amazing adventures of Madeline and Rufus Breeze, descendents of a long-line of “fantabulous fanmakers” whom have been keeping people cool for many, many years. Unfortunately, all isn’t well in the wonderful world of the Breeze family business, and their home is under threat…that is unless they can come up with a cunning plan!

Age range: 9+ years

Top tip: Once you’ve finished ‘The Storm Maker’, pick up a copy of ‘The Talent Thief’…

the haunting of hiram9. The Haunting of Hiram by Eva Ibbotson (Macmillan Children’s Books; 2009)

When Alex can no longer afford to keep his family home (which happens to be a haunted castle), he sells it to a rich Texan oil tycoon named Mr. Hopgood. There is however, one teeny-weeny stipulation…the castle must be free of all its resident ghosts.

Can Alex persuade the local ghouls to leave for good? Will the castle be dismantled and shipped to America successfully? And just who are the unsavoury characters trying to get to Mr. Hopgood’s money?

There’s only one way to find out…

Age range: 9+ years

Top tip: If ghouls & ghosts aren’t usually your thing, give it a try – you’ll love it and that’s a promise!

not bad for a bad lad10. Not Bad for a Bad Lad by Michael Morpurgo (Templar Publishing; 2012)

Our final recommendation is ‘Not Bad for a Bad Lad’ by the undeniably brilliant Michael Morpurgo.

There’s not much hope for the local ‘bad lad’ when he leaves school at 14 and arrives at the doors of Hollesley Prison. But not everybody have written him off just yet. Mr Alfie, the Stable Manager, offers him the chance to look after the horses, and to save himself from a future life of crime…

It’s heart-warming, uplifting and at a little under 100 pages, a fairly quick (but hugely enjoyable) read.

Age range: 7+ years

Top tip: Try and pick up a copy with Michael Foreman’s breathtaking illustrations…

Thanks to The Willoughby Book Club for sharing their Top Ten Recommended Reads for Children with us – there’s a lot to get reading, for all ages!

To find out more about The Willoughby Book Club, visit their website. Alternatively, you can follow them on Twitter  or via their Facebook page.

You can also find choices from our regular Recommending Reader for Children Marianne in our Recommended Reads for Children category here on The Reader Online.

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