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'm doing a blog for @Booktrust about LIFE-CHANGING CHILDREN'S BOOKS. Which books have you seen turn kids into readers? I want all sorts of books (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics etc) especially books that engaged kids who struggled before & kids from minority backgrounds.— SF Said (@whatSFSaid) July 3, 2023
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.
Actually, every class I’ve read from Brightstorm to Malamander has awoken a spark. Can I flip it to say it is often not the book but the person behind who delivers it and makes the words come alive in a child’s imagination. Not talking about me. Just reading teachers in general x— Ceridwen Eccles (@Teacherglitter) July 4, 2023
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 Crossover by Kwame Alexander
- Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
- Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
- The Beano
- Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
- Who Let The Gods Out by Maz Evans
- The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths
- Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
- Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick
- Diary Of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
- The Land Of Roar by Jenny McLachlan
- A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
- Planet Omar by Zanib Mian
- Football Heroes books by Matt Oldfield & Tom Oldfield
- Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
- Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
- Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
- Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
- Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
- Harry Potter by JK Rowling
- Varjak Paw by SF Said & Dave McKean
- Bunny vs Monkey by Jamie Smart
- A Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
- Mr Gum by Andy Stanton & David Tazzyman
- Skandar by AF Steadman
- Loki by Louie Stowell