A Summer Reading List: Life-Changing Children's Books

Published on: 25 July 2023

Our Writer-in-Residence SF Said knows which books spark a love of reading in children – here, he shares the recommendations.

I believe there's a book for every child out there! A book that will help them fall in love with reading, and gain all the lifelong benefits of literacy and reading for pleasure. 

But what are those life-changing books? I put out a call on Twitter, asking people to recommend books they'd seen turn kids into readers.  

I was overwhelmed with responses from teachers, librarians, booksellers, parents and carers – hundreds and hundreds of wonderful recommendations! You can see them all by clicking through to the thread.  I really do think there's something for everyone there. 

Before listing the books that were most often mentioned, it's worth saying that there were many recommendations for manga, graphic novels and comics in general. Right now, it's this kind of reading matter, more than any other, that is changing children's lives. There were also many recommendations for non-fiction books in general, and for titles published by Barrington Stoke, who specialise in books for reluctant readers. 

I was also struck by an insightful comment from a teacher who told me that 'it is often not the book but the person behind who delivers it and makes the words come alive in a child's imagination.' I think this is very true. In the end, any book can potentially change a child's life.  What matters more than anything is their response to it.   

Having said all that, here are the books and series titles that received the most recommendations: the ones people repeatedly said they'd seen change children's lives. If you're looking for ideas for summer reading, I think this is a great starting point – though I hope people will continue to make recommendations. Every child is different, and new books are being published all the time, so there can never be enough!

The Books

  • The Beano
  • The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths
  • Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Football Heroes books by Matt Oldfield & Tom Oldfield
  • Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
  • Mr Gum by Andy Stanton & David Tazzyman
  • Loki by Louie Stowell

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