The books for this age group are for that magical time when children, fresh off the reading scheme, realise that they can read proper paperbacks on their own. Now is the time to get them enthused about reading for themselves with books that are fast-paced, relatively short, don’t have complicated plots but plenty of good characters and fun illustrations. Funny books and books about magical happenings were always a huge hit in our house. Lots of the books on this list also make great books for reading aloud.
Me, The Queen and Christopher by Giles Andrae
A funny and touching story about a girl who is invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen. Both my sons have read this over and over again because they find it so hilarious and love the irreverence of the Queen saying things like “flippety-poo!” and dancing around her sitting room. Tony Ross’s funny illustrations really add to the humour.
Morpurgo tells Pinocchio’s story from the wooden puppet’s own point of view. It’s charming, funny and fast paced. It’s a great book to read aloud as well as for more confident readers to read for themselves. This edition is illustrated with gorgeous pictures by Emma Chichester Clark. Do take a look at Michael Morpurgo’s other books. While some of his books are better for older readers there are others that are perfect for this age range, like The Butterfly Lion and Toro! Toro!
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
The first of her three wonderful Faraway Tree books, it’s about three children who move next door to a wood and discover a magical tree full of unforgettable creatures: Silky the Fairy, the angry pixie, the Saucepan Man who hears everything wrong and Moonface who lives in a round room at the top. The children have lots of magical adventures in the lands that appear at the top of the tree. Funny, exciting and a great read.
“I absolutely love this book,” says my youngest. “I love the idea of a girl living alone with her horse and pet monkey and having lots of adventures.” Pippi Longstocking is one of those characters that children adore: she’s delightfully outrageous and she’s got superhuman strength so she can pick up a horse and throw pirates around a room with ease. What’s more, she is very good at showing up the foolishness of adult behaviour. Another great one for reading aloud.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
Mildred is the worst witch at Miss Cackle’s Academy for witches. She is always getting her spells wrong and crashing her broomstick, causing constant chaos wherever she goes. It’s very funny and Mildred is a thoroughly likeable heroine.
Both my boys thought this was a fantastic read, full of magic and excitement. Once every nine years, a secret door opens on a King’s Cross Station platform. Out of it appears a wizard and an ogre who are leading a search party to find the prince who was stolen as a baby the last time the platform opened. But the baby has become a spoilt rich boy who doesn’t believe in magic and doesn’t want to be rescued. How are they going to get him back to the kingdom before the doorway closes again?
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
This is a great book for younger readers ready to read something on their own. Stanley Lambchop was a normal boy until a large noticeboard falls on him and makes him flat. This leads to lots of hilarious adventures – he gets rolled up and sent in the post, he’s used as a kite and he helps to catch some thieves.
The first in Stanton’s series of hilarious Mr Gum books had both my boys crying with laughter. It’s about a horrible man who hates children and animals. It’s full of silly jokes and wacky characters like the angry fairy who lives in his bathtub and whacks him with a frying pan when he doesn’t tidy the garden.
Gobbolino, the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams
A sweet, old-fashioned story about a witch’s kitten who doesn’t want to ride a broomstick or turn mice into toads so he sets off on a quest to find a kind family who’ll adopt him as a common kitchen cat. His adventures along the way find him becoming a sailor’s cat, a palace cat and a performing cat.
Roald Dahl was always a must for this list as his books are so funny, engaging and exciting. I’ve picked Fantastic Mr Fox for its brilliant characters from clever Mr Fox to the wonderful nastiness of the three farmers trying to catch him.
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner
The classic story about a boy who catches a train to Berlin on his own and has his money stolen. He is so determined to get it back that he decides to turn detective with a group of boys he meets and catch the thief, the mysterious ‘man in the bowler hat’. It’s exciting and adventurous and a great introduction to detective stories.
This excellent series, which includes titles about Planet Earth, Ancient Egypt, Space and Your Body, make great first reference books for children. There are lots of flaps to lift, colourful illustrations and plenty of information. My oldest adored these when he was younger. “They allow you to learn about different subjects in a fun way and make it easy to understand,” he says. “My favourite was ‘See Inside Your Head’ as I liked imagining myself in the brain, going about all the chambers.”
The author of The Wind in the Willows’ classic retelling of the story of St George and the Dragon with the big difference being that this time the dragon won’t fight St George – he’d rather write poetry. It’s a lovely story with great illustrations by E. H. Shephard, who illustrated the Winnie the Pooh books.