Our top picks on children's books for National Share a Story Month!

18 May, 2017 : 12:24
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Are you taking part in National Share a Story Month (NSSM)? Was there a particular book that inspired you as a child? Have you shared it with today's youngsters?

We asked staff at Parentkind for their top picks and the ideas came flooding in from timeless classics to modern masterpieces and everything in between. Do you agree with our choices? What titles did we miss? Share on social media and join the discussion!

For readers aged 0-4

Tara suggests Six Dinner Sid by Inga Moore

"It's the story of a cat who visits six different homes, and has six different dinners, with each 'owner' believing he is theirs alone. One day Sid gets a cough and is taken to the vet SIX times and his cover is blown... I loved reading this to my children - as a cat-owning family it resonated as to how cats rule the roost. It is beautifully illustrated, albeit in 1980s fashion and home decor, which to me adds to the charm.  This book was given to me by an old colleague whose three children had loved it too."

Hayley nominates Telephone Ted by Joan Stimson

"I wasn't much of a reader as a child, so this picture book was great. I absolutely loved following the story of Ted, a sad and lonely stuffed teddy bear left at home all day until the phone rings and he makes friends with the teddy across the street! Simple but great. I would love to read it to my nephew to see what he thinks."

Tracey picks We're going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

"It's a book my husband used to read with his boys. He reads it now with our granddaughters aged three and five. They love acting out the bear hunt and having 'tadcu' (that's Welsh for 'grandad') act out the loud noises with them, especially when the weather's good and they can parade round the garden looking for bears."

Nina nominates Burglar Bill by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

"It's hilarious! Who wouldn't love a story about a burglar who says 'I'll 'ave that!!' and then accidentally steals a tin of beans, along with a baby?"

Neesh nominates The Elves and the Shoemaker by Vera Southgate

"It has a great fantasy element, and there's also the strong moral of 'help is there when you need it'. I read it to my four year-old niece; she loved it so much she made me read it again straight after!"

For readers aged 5-8

Sarah picks The Gaskitt Stories (a series of 4 books including 'The Man Who Wore All His Clothes' and 'The Cat Who Got Carried Away') by Allan Ahlberg

"These stories are great – they are fun, fast-paced and a bit off-the-wall with language that entertains but isn't complicated. The illustrations are colorful and engaging and make reading even more fun. My son has loved these books, they are a great transition from picture books to chapter books, and he finds them hilarious; plus they have encouraged him to pick up to read on his own. Even my 4-year old has enjoyed me reading them to her."

Angie chooses The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

"This is the one book that I don't groan about when my daughter asks me to read it again and again.  It has such a clever storyline and I love the different personalities of the crayons.  Definitely a book where I don't surreptitiously try to skip pages! My daughter has loved this book from the age of four and she now reads it herself at seven, putting on the different voices for the crayons.  When she was little she used to believe her actual crayons mirrored the personalities in the book and would try to give her blue crayon a break and use her tan crayon more."

Liz chooses Olga da Polga by Michael Bond

"It's the tale of a loveable guinea pig named Olga da Polga who thinks rather a lot of herself and tells tall tales to her friends. It's great for bedtime because a new adventure unfolds in each chapter – it's almost a series of short stories. The characters are so well-written it was easy to find voices for Olga and her friends Noel and Fangio. I first read this book to my daughter when she was six, she's nearly nine now and still loves the stories - it's definitely a read (and laugh) out loud together book."

Ann selects the Dragonfall 5 series by Brian Earnshaw

"These were the books I was desperate to share with my son. It's a children's science-fiction series from the 1970s featuring a family of four – Big Mother, Old Elias, Tim and Sanchez, plus three squirrel-like alien translators called the Minims, and Jerk the space dog. They all live on an old spaceship, Dragonfall 5, and travel around the galaxy having adventures. The books are pretty wacky, full of ideas like walking trees, giant talking rabbits and underwater football, and have lovingly-drawn illustrations every ten pages or so.  They also have a great sense of freedom – Tim and Sanchez are probably about 11, but get to drive the spaceship, and usually end up coming to the rescue. Long out of print, I finally managed to track down a couple of them online, and read them to my six year-old son.  I could tell he enjoyed them too by the way he yelled "BOOK!" very loudly down the stairs at me each bedtime."

Rachael recommends Ramona Quimby Aged 8 by Beverly Cleary

"Ramona lives with her big sister Beezus and her Mum and Dad. Life changes when she has to go to a new school and she wonders if her new teacher likes her..."

Zaza nominates The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

"It's a great fantasy story with lots of interesting and fun characters. It encourages children to be adventurous and to use their imagination, creating the picture of the story in their own minds. It’s a classic! My children loved it! In fact, after reading it, they decided they wanted us to build a 'slippery slip' in a tree in our own garden!"

For readers aged 9 and over

Greg nominates The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

"They say don't judge a book by its cover, but the sight of all those Dalmatian puppies swung it for me. It's a timeless classic, with memorable baddies (Cruella de Vil - boo hiss!) and plenty of fun, adventure and suspense. A word of warning: I nagged my parents for a pet dog after reading it and eventually wore them into submission. We didn't get a Dalmatian, but a Springer Spaniel, who at least had spots!"

Caroline selects The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

"It's fantastic for the imagination and escapism from wartime Britain. I shared with my daughter and she loved it too!  We've also seen the Chronicles of Narnia DVDs and they didn't disappoint – a good complement to the fantastic books."

Ruth nominates Momo by Michael Ende

"I liked that it had a girl as the main character. She goes on an adventure with the help of Master Hora's (the master of time) tortoise Casiopeia, to fight the grey men who are stealing everyone's time. The story brings up some important questions on how we use out time being caught up in the rat race, and the importance of relationships, family and friends, but in a beautiful and child-friendly way."

Clare chooses The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

"I desperately wanted to find a secret garden and have a robin as a best friend.  However, I didn't want to have sallow, yellow skin and I wasn't a cross patch like Mary Lennox."

Lesley nominates Holes by Louis Sachar

"Saddled with a curse of bad luck, a boy overcomes his family history against a back drop story that is quirky, funny, bizarre and ultimately life-affirming. And you just can't put it down. Both my children loved it (read at 10 and 12). All they wanted to do was just keep turning those pages!"

Michelle chooses Carrie's War by Nina Bawden

"I struggled to get into it as a kid but found it was a great one to read aloud to my sons. It's a very moving and textured story with loads to talk about."

We also had nominations for particular authors like Jacqueline Wilson, Roddy Doyle, Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl.

For more reluctant readers

In general, boys are less keen on reading than girls. If your son finds it hard to find enthusiasm for reading, our staff recommend the following titles, depending on their age and tastes:

  • Q Pootle 5 and the Percy and the Park Keeper books by Nick Butterworth
  • The Edge Chronicles series by Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart
  • The Jiggy McCue series by Michael Lawrence
  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents / Tiffany Aching stories by Terry Pratchett.

There are also comics and magazines they may find more accessible, or which can act as a gateway to chapter books and which on their own have educational value.

  • For boys there's The Phoenix.
  • For girls there's My Little Pony and Dora the Explorer.
  • For boys and girls: Aquila (science, history and general knowledge), Whizz Bang Pop (science) and the Beano (timeless!)

Consider also the classic Asterix books. They're great fun and young readers will get into them because of the pictures and the violence. Parents will like the way they reward a decent grasp of the classics with some cracking puns.

Our blogs about reading

For further advice and support, try our blogs which cover reading from different angles.

What titles have we missed that you really love? Did you have a book you adored that your child didn't like, or one of your child's books you've also fallen in love with? Let us know on social media and share your stories with the hashtags #NSSM and #NationalShareaStoryMonth.

Keep up to date with our latest news and blogs on Twitter @Parentkind.

Our blog is a place for a range of opinions and debate on parents and their role in their schools and their children’s education. Whilst we think this debate is really important, we don’t always agree with the views being expressed.

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