8 books for kids who don't like books
Published on: 12 May 2022
To celebrate ten years of Barry Loser, author Jim Smith shares eight books for kids who don't like books.
I wasn’t a massive reader when I was a kid. I was more into comics like The Beano and Mad Magazine. So when I came to write my own books, I tried my best to make them easily digestible for lazy little tykes like myself. Here’s a short list (because long ones are boring) of other books I’d recommend if your child is a bit like I was…
Dirty Bertie by David Roberts
Unbelievably, there are 32 Dirty Bertie books. Thirty two! I’d always shied away from them because they looked a bit like my Barry Loser books, and I immediately hate anything that’s similar to them, even though I probably started writing mine after most of them were already out. Anyway, my kid came home with a couple of Dirty Berties and we read them together and they’re funny and nice and short and well illustrated and I don’t hate them at all, I love them.
Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
I’m surprised how often I mention Dog Man books to other parents and they just look at me blankly. How can they not have heard of them and bought every single one for their kids to read in half an hour flat, then start reading again from the beginning? Dav Pilkey also wrote the Captain Underpants books (how do you not know this?) and is a comedy and comix genius.
Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon
Everyone’s heard of Horrid Henry, obviously. And there’s a reason for that - they’re really funny and the characters are great and horrible to each other and it’s just a relief to read something that’s not trying to be all nice and kind and fair the whole time.
Nicholas by René Goscinny
These are translated from the famous French series, Petit Nicolas, which is written by the writer of Asterix and illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempe, who’s one of my all time favourite cartoonists. The drawings and words in Nicolas books come together to create the most perfect little world of lovely and horrible little brats getting up to all kinds of mischief.
Bunny Vs Monkey by Jamie Smart
Jamie Smart’s comic strips have been collected into book form, and my kid absolutely loves them. There’s lots of craziness and mad inventions, and the drawing jump out of the page. Sometimes my mum comes round and I get her to read my kid a few pages just so I can listen to her struggling with the insanity.
Grimwood by Nadia Shireen
My whole family found this hilarious. There’s a nice drop of horribleness in it, which is something I always appreciate. But there are lots of lovely bits too. And Nadia Shireen’s drawings are just brilliant.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
My kid’s has only just started getting into Wimpy Kid books, but they’ve really grabbed him. They’re kind of a collection of funny situations/carton strip gags stuck together with a loose story. Although you know that because everyone’s read Wimpy Kid haven’t they.
Anything at all by Dick King-Smith!
My kid’s reading through a collection of Dick King-Smith’s stories right now and they’re so charming and interesting you just want to keep on reading. You’re sucked into the animal characters’ lives completely. My books feature more inanimate objects like cans and bars of chocolates - probably because I didn’t grow up on a farm - I grew up near a shop that sold cans and chocolate bars. But sometimes you just need a story about talking pig.