Top authors share the most gripping 10-minute reads to enjoy with children

Published on: 17 September 2017

Want to read more with your child but strapped for time? Fear not. We asked some of the best authors and illustrators around to recommend their favourite books to read in ten-minute sessions to four to 11 year olds. 

This week (18-22 September), we’re launching our National Time to Read Challenge: asking families to spend ten minutes reading with their child, every day – even if they’re big enough to read themselves. 

Not only is it a brilliant way to bond, talk about the day and feed the imagination, it is also a lot of FUN. 

So, here are some brilliant reads that you’ll love as much as your child, and they’re all perfect for those ten-minute bursts… 

Time to Read

Michael Rosen 

One absolute dead winner is You Choose by Nick Sharratt. I know Nick very well and I’m very, very, very angry with him. Because I have had to read and talk about that book somewhere in the region of a thousand times. My children could never stop looking at it. I would recommend it for anybody from ages 3-11. Another one with hardly any words is Clown by Quentin Blake. This is a beautiful, moving story. I think it’s very special magic. 

For older children of seven and up, I’d go for the Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton and the Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey. These are fantastic fun. 

Lauren Child

I want to recommend Patrick Norman McHennessy by John Burningham. This is one of my favourite books and it’s lovely to read out loud. It has rhythm and repetition. It’s funny with a beautiful twist at the end, so works well for both little and older children. 

Chris Riddell

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is a lovely book to read aloud to children at bedtime. It’s a perfect story about childhood and imagination, and allows you to do one of the best things when sharing a book, which is to talk about the words and pictures and imagine all the other stories that are going on. I loved reading it to my children, and I’m sure you will too.

Nick Sharratt

How about choosing a few funny poems to read out loud together? There are loads of fantastic humorous poetry books for children. I'd recommend Spike Milligan's Silly Verse for Kids and Michael Rosen's Book of Nonsense, illustrated by Clare Mackie. They're perfect books for dipping in and out. The poems are so wonderfully daft and catchy that you and yours will soon be taking great delight in reciting them from memory, like I still can, 50 years on, with Milligan's 'In the Land of the Bumbley Boo'.   

Frank Cottrell Boyce

For children aged seven plus, start with Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O’Brien. It starts off as a charming story about talking animals, then suddenly explodes into a science fiction epic. Also try Minnow on the Say by Philippa Pearce: the great summer book, with the most beguiling opening I’ve ever read. Lastly, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which works across a wide age range.

Nadia Shireen

One of my favourite books ever is The Witches by Roald Dahl. The whole story is brilliant, but I particularly love the early chapters, where the grandmother is telling her grandson creepy tales about Norwegian witchery from her childhood. Once I start reading those bits, I can't stop, even now. 

Axel Scheffler 

I recommend Meet At the Ark at Eight by Ulrich Hub/Jörg Mühle. A slightly crazy, warm-hearted story about some penguins who smuggle a stowaway friend onto Noah's Ark, with wonderful illustrations by Jörg Mühle.

For older kids, I love The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. One of my daughter's favourites, this is the story of an 11-year old girl in Texas around 1900, who is exploring the natural world and goes against her family’s expectations of what a good girl should be like. 

Sarah McIntyre 

First of all, There are Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwarz. There really ARE cats in this book, and they're ready to play with you, the readers! I love how Viv has readers interacting with the cats, throwing them balls of wool, tucking them into bed. Together, you'll feel like you've adopted three new delightful pets. 

My second choice for older children (around 9 or 10 is perfect) is Survivors by David Long, illustrated by Kerry Hyndman. Survivors packs a punch for children who love real-life adventure and gritty realism. These powerful short bursts about people being pushed to the edge of endurance will keep children wide-eyed and attentive. It was the winner of the Blue Peter Book Award for ‘Best Book With Facts’ in 2017. 

S F Said 

My mum used to read me The Little Prince every night when I was a kid. It was something we both looked forward to all day, and it's hard to say which one of us loved it more, because it's a book you can read at any age – there's so much in it! 

Sarah Crossan 

I want to recommend the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. These books are genuinely hilarious, both the text and the pictures, and the best part is, all the text is in speech bubbles, so the books can be read out loud by two people. 

Also, The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb. A beautiful book about memory, loss and love that will make you want to sing the refrain and get going on some art projects with your little one. A story you can reread forever. 

Chris Haughton

Start with Hoot Owl by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien. A deadly-dangerous owl who hunts at night for prey. It doesn’t go to plan and Owl ends up settling for a pizza instead. Very, very funny to read aloud. I also love I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. They are two very deadpan books, with a touch of black humour, and great to read aloud. 

Do you have the best book to get parents and children reading together? Join the conversation on Twitter @BookTrust with #TimeToRead.

Time to Read

Time sharing stories is time well spent. We want parents and carers to keep reading to their child, even once they've reached primary school or started to read on their own.

If you read books together, it's a great way to bond, talk about the day, and have a lot of fun!

Find out more