Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Classics - best retellings for children.

I would like your help for this one, please.

My children are interested in the Greek Myths, in King Arthur, in lots of classical myths and legends.

I am wondering which versions you have found the most accessible for children. We have read a few - some with more success than others.

Please let me know which authors have made the ancient stories compelling for children.

Over to you.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Books that really make them laugh

There are lots of humorous books written for children, but which are the ones which really make them laugh? Which are the ones you know really tickle them, because you hear the giggles?

These are a few which provoke the snorts in our house. (They are all good for 7yrs+ readers who are reading to themselves, but younger children will enjoy most books if you are reading to them.)

Mr Gum (series)                            Andy Stanton
Captain Underpants (series)          Dav Pilkey

Krazy Kow Daves the World ...    Jeremy Strong

Dear Dumb Diary                          Jim Benton (like Wimpy Kid, but from a girl's perspective)

The Twits                                       Roald Dahl

Also boys love comic strips, and Calvin and Hobbes is laugh out loud, as well as touching and wise.

Please add yours.

Poetry for Children

Children are really open to poetry, in a way that many of us lose when we grow up.

This may be because so many children's books rhyme, and feel like poetry, so the leap is not so great from the rhyming prose, which they are familiar with, to poems.

It is wonderful reading poetry to, and with, children.

Here are some of the poems, poetry books, and rhyming stories that we love. Please add your own suggestions.

Poems for younger children:

Tickle My Nose (and other action rhymes)    Kaye Umansky
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish      Dr Seuss
Oops!                                                              Pennie Kidd
A Book of Things                                           Freddie McKeown
Some Dogs Do                                               Jez Alborough
Where the Wild Things Are                           Maurice Sendak (reads like a poem)
My Granny Went to Market                           Stella Blackstone
Down the Back of the Chair                           Margaret Mahy

Getting older:

Revolting Rhymes                                           Roald Dahl
The Dangerous Journey                                   Tove Jansson (Moomins) retold by Sophie Hannah

One Hundred Years of Poetry for Children     (Oxford)
Can We Have Our Ball Back Please?              Gareth Owen 
Collected Poems for Children                           Gareth Owen

Other great poets who write for children:

Benjamin Zephaniah
Michael Rosen (check out his own performances of his poems on Youtube)
Roger McGough

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Books to go back to

After I have finished reading the Orange Prize longlist, there are a couple of books I want to pick up and re-read.

I am always astonished how fresh some books remain, even when you have read them a number of times.

Ones that I will return to when the judging process is over include:

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Tales of the City - Armistead Maupin

What do you like to re-read? How many times have you read the books you like to go back to? What is it about those books that recalls you?

Orange Prize 2011 Longlist

An extraordinary, rich and diverse longlist. How many have you read? What do you think of them? Let me know your thoughts. Pluck any book from this list and have a stimulating and enriching read. 

The Orange Prize 2011 Long List:

  • Lyrics Alley, by Leila Aboulela
  • Jamrach's Menagerie, by Carol Birch
  • Room, by Emma Donoghue
  • The Pleasure Seekers, by Tishani Doshi
  • Whatever You Love, by Louise Doughty
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
  • The Memory of Love, by Aminatta Forna
  • The London Train, by Tessa Hadley
  • Grace Williams Says it Loud, by Emma Henderson
  • The Seas, by Samantha Hunt
  • The Birth of Love, by Joanna Kavenna
  • Great House, by Nicole Krauss
  • The Road to Wanting, by Wendy Law-Yone
  • The Tiger's Wife, by Téa Obreht
  • The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer
  • Repeat it Today with Tears, by Anne Peile
  • Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell
  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives, by Lola Shoneyin
  • The Swimmer, by Roma Tearne
  • Annabel, by Kathleen Winter

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Books for 8 year olds

If you have a reader in your brood, and you are a reader, rejoice. It is such a pleasure to see their little heads tucked between pages, disappearing into other worlds, their imaginations stimulated, knowledge being absorbed.

If you are not a reader yourself - my other half empathises. There are mornings and evenings when he can get no response out of our eldest, because they are being swept away with Percy Jackson, or have disappeared deep into Del on another quest.

If you don't have a reader, no worries. Here are some books that my 8 year old has enjoyed, and there is a range here that may be useful for readers and non, for you to read to an 8 year old, and for them to read alone. Please add your suggestions. It is always a pleasure for me to see what else is out there.

I have included a totally unscientific method of indicating how challenging these books are, just to introduce a scale. + means they are probably straight-forward at this age, up to ++++ which meant that even as parents we had to concentrate hard when we read them. Every reader is individual, so this scale is only a guide.


Adventure: Eva Ibbotson: Monster Mission +++
                                         The Secret of Platform 13 +++
                                         Which witch?  +++
                  Cressida Cowell: the Hiccup series ++
                  Jack Stalwart series +
                  Beast Quest series +

Fantasy:     Emily Rodda: Deltora Quest (series) ++

Comedy:    Jeremy Strong: The 100 mile an hour Dog (and many others) +
                  Jeff Kinney: Diary of a Wimpy Kid +

Real-life:    Anne Fine: How to Write Really Badly ++
                                     Goggle-eyes ++
                                      The Angel of Nitshill Rd (and many others) +
                  Malorie Blackman: Antidote +++
                                                 Cloud-busting +
                  Morris Gleitzman: Boy Overboard ++
                                                Doubting Thomas ++

Computers: Jason Bradbury: Dot.Robot (challenging at this age) ++++
                   Alan Gibbons: Shadow of the Minotaur +++

Mythology/History: Terry Deary: Greek Tales/Roman Tales/Egyptian Tales etc +
                                Rick Riordan: Percy Jackson (series) +++
                                David Grimstone: Gladiator Boy (series) +

Monday, 14 March 2011

Books for children .... for reading together

I am always on the look out for great books, interesting books, diverting books for children. I have three boys - they are currently 8, 7 and 5. The 8 year old is a great reader, the 7 year old mainly likes Horrid Henry, and the 5 year old obviously is still at the "in, and, of" stage of reading, phonics and all.

But they all love being read to.

I think that reading with and to children is one of the greatest pleasures of being a parent. Not least because for five minutes they are sitting still, rather than tearing around wrecking the place. But also because they absorb stories like sponges and for that moment you are sharing the same imaginative world.

So, I am going to blog on a selection of books we enjoy. I am going to do separate blogs for the ages, so that your recommendations are age-specific. Please add your suggestions after the relevant blogs. But here are a few books which I find are lovely for reading to all the children together.

Ponder and William - Barbara Softly
Winnie the Witch (series) - Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul
Spy Dog (series, also Spy Pups) - Andrew Cope
The Indian in the Cupboard - Lynne Reid Banks
Stig of the Dump - Clive King
Sir Charlie Stinky Socks - Kristina Stephenson
Jeremy James (series) - David Henry Wilson

The following are more challenging, but are a great introduction to their subject:

Black Ships before Troy - Rosemary Sutcliff
Usborne Illustrated stories from Shakespeare

Please add your suggestions for books for parents to read to their children.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Books books books

Well you know that I love books. I read non-stop. I am currently knee-deep in women's literature as part of my role as one of the judges for the 2011 Orange Prize. A new book every two days.

So - confidentiality means I can't talk about those books which were written by women in the past 12 months. But other books, other issues about reading, your choices and particularly recommendations for children's books are all open for discussion.

Please add your suggestions to this blog. Reid Books - for me to hear your thoughts, and for all of you who also love books.