Our Top Summer Reads
Our office parents pass on their top reads for you to enjoy with your little ones this summer.
We know all too well about the fantastic adventures of JK Rowling's Harry Potter, the weep-inducing properties of anything written by Michael Morpurgo and the dulcet rhymes of Julia Donaldson.
They've justifiably become a staple of many homes and are on most children's summer reading agendas, but while there's a wonderful world of other books out there, the sheer wealth of choice can make picking a great summer read daunting.
So here are some tried and tested family favourites that have been enjoyed by our team. We hope you and your children will enjoy them as much as we have...
The Book: Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C O'BrienBest For: 8+ year olds
What it's About: A life and death adventure of mice and rats with twists and turns all the way.
Why We Love It: It sounds like a soundbite, but it is honestly the best children's book ever!
The Book: Warrior Boy by Virginia ClayBest For: 9+ year olds
What it's About: A London schoolboy returns to his dead father's roots in Kenya, meeting his Maasai cousins, learning about tribal culture and elephant conservation, as well as discovering himself and the meaning of friendship along the way.
Why We Love It: A classic adventure story of boy becoming a man, yet told in an original way that's utterly absorbing and all the richer for exploring the cultural differences of being mixed race and fitting in.
The Book: Finding Gobi by Dion LeonardBest For: 8+ year olds
What It's About: The true story of a marathon runner, Dion, who is adopted by a stray dog and their battle to stay together despite living on different continents.
Why We Love It: An absolutely delightful feel-good story celebrating the bond between man and dog and detailing the real-life obstacles they encountered to stay together. With pictures too, it's real family favourite and like reviews always say, it truly is "heart-warming."
The Book: Swallows and Amazons by Arthur RamsomeBest For: 9-12 year olds
What it's About: A classic rip-roaring tale of the Walker children - The Swallows - and the Blackett sisters - the Amazon pirates - who battle it out in a series of summer adventures.
Why we love it: It was written in 1930, so is understandably a little dated in parts, but the story still utterly absorbed my kids and compelled them to keep reading. My eldest is a teenager now but this was his favourite book for years as it's so full of adventure.
The Book: The Faraway Tree by Enid BlytonBest For: 7-9 year olds
What It's About: Three children discover a magical tree in the middle of The Enchanted Wood and endless adventures ensue.
Why We Love It: One of the most popular books by one of the most popular children's authors ever. The story hasn't dated and is filled with wonderful magic, brilliant adventures and never-ending imagination. I read it to all four of my kids and they loved it... it was my favourite as a child too.
The Book: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Francesca CavalloBest For: 8+ year olds
What it's About: A brilliantly inspiring book of 100 heroic women's lives from Malala to Serena Williams and Elizabeth I.
Why we love it: It's fabulous to read about real life female heroes in an absorbing yet accessible way, opening up children's minds to the possibilities of leading fabulous lives and triumphing through resilience and determination. A good one to dip in and out of too.
The Book: The Great Dog Bottom Swap by Peter Bently and Mei MatsuokaBest For: 4-8 year olds
What it's About: An award-winningly funny book about a summer ball for dogs that goes wrong when the hall catches fire and they have to escape in a hurry- written in beautifully comedic rhyme.
Why we love it: It's got great illustrations including wonderful pictures of all sorts of dogs, clever comedy lyrics and mentions bottoms - what's not to like! A laugh-out-loud gem that we've read again and again and it still delights even though my kids are now tweens.
The Book: A Squash and A Squeeze (& anything else) by Julia DonaldsonBest For: Little ones
What it's About: An old woman is grumbling about how small her house is. A wise man gets her to fill it up with all the farmyard animals which cause chaos. Once she finally chucks them out she realises her house is plenty big enough.
Why we love it: I read it over and over with my kids when they were little. Truly great lyrics, like a rugby song but more polite and with nice pictures!
And a few cracking series that our kids have loved:
- Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon
- Witch Wars by Sibeal Pounder
- The Racehorse Who... by Clare Balding
- The Uncommoners by Jennifer Bell & Karl James Mountford
- Young Bond by Charlie Higson
- The Scar Gatherer by Julia Edwards
- The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
- And for younger children Squishy McFluff by Pip Jones