Summer is here, and while we expect plenty of pool time, tree climbing, and possibly even camp activities, every now and then it’s nice to relax with a good book! We’ve called in an expert, teacher and librarian Annie Pyers of the Canadian International School (CIS), to recommend some of her top summer reading 2015 picks for littlies from Preschool right up to Primary 6.
With a reputation as one of the leading international schools in Singapore, the Canadian International School recognises the importance of instilling a need to read for pleasure amongst primary school students due to all the well-documented benefits it brings, from developing critical thinking skills and higher order reasoning, to making kids more articulate. Not to mention it can give mamas a bit of peace and quiet! The Canadian International School believes the summer holidays are a great time to take advantage of the benefits of reading for pleasure, and we know your little one will enjoy these books…
3-5 year olds
The Napping House by Audrey Wood combines funny illustrations of a snoring granny and a variety of other characters who pile on top of each other on a bed in the napping house until…. This is a great read-aloud book with plenty of predictions for kids to make about what will happen next in the storyline.
Would You Rather… by John Burningham poses queries like, “Would you rather drink snail squash or eat mashed worms?” “Help a witch make stew or Tickle a monkey?” This picture book classic from children’s author and illustrator John Burningham is full of quirky ideas that children love. Burningham’s great illustrations add to the sense of fun, and of course there’s a moral at the end of the story.
Good Boy Fergus! by David Shannon. You really can’t beat any of David Shannon’s books for a good laugh with younger children. They all involve great characters, either human or animal, who misbehave yet are truly delightful and of course in the end learn important life lessons. Children love the bright, bold, colourful and funny illustrations!
The simple, muted illustrations I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen appeal to the eye and the storyline is delightfully simple with a twist at the end. This is a great read-aloud book with the seemingly polite gentle bear showing he actually has a bite!
The composition of Stuck by Oliver Jeffers is delightful. The simple story of a kite being stuck in a tree develops into this amazing story of how Floyd tries to get it down. The script is written in a child’s handwriting and the illustrations look childish, but they are of course done by the very clever Oliver Jeffers who is a master of children’s picture storybooks. Younger readers love how the story unfolds.
6-8 yr olds
Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong by A.J. Low. Sherlock Sam is a 10-year-old detective who solves many mysteries big and small. He loves comics and superheroes and has eyes that are bigger than his tummy! The book appeals to those who like adventure and mystery and heroes who are extremely smart and funny. Set in Singapore, this series is a big hit with the children who can identify with the characters and the locations.
Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds has great appeal for children who can see the possibilities of “thinking outside the box”. Rafael is determined to win the go-cart race and with his friend Maya, come up with an amazing machine! Filled with action, this book is successful as a read-aloud, especially the build up to the last page.
Don’t Be Horrid, Henry! by Francesca Simon is an early readers’ chapter book from a series involving Horrid Henry and Perfect Peter, his brother. The books are short enough for early readers to manage alone and the illustrations by Tony Ross are a great belly laugh accompaniment to the story. Henry is horrid in a Dennis the Menace sort of way, and his behaviour is easily recognisable to many children!
Children generally love books by Roald Dahl and The BFG is a particular favourite. The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) pops Sophie into his pocket and takes her to a land of child-eating giants on a quest to rid the land of giants who eat “human beans”. Kids love the characters and especially the jokes about bodily functions. A good early reader or together read-aloud.
Clarice Bean, That’s Me by Lauren Child is one in a series written about Clarice. She is a quirky heroine living in a chaotic household where she is in search of a peaceful place to be herself. The distinctive collage illustrations and the character-specific fonts all add to the visual appeal of this book. Clarice herself is quite a character!
9 – 12 year-olds
Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman’s books range from children to adults and he’s won many literature and graphic awards. He has collaborated in this book with Chris Riddell, a wonderful illustrator. The book is visually appealing for children and has a quirky storyline that will appeal to the sense of ridiculous. Aliens, ghoulish creatures and young heroes all feature.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. There is no storyline to this picture book. There is little text. What it provides are full-page illustrations of unrelated drawings with a caption that can be interpreted however the reader wishes. The book is wonderfully illustrated and is such a fantastic opportunity for the imagination to soar. You can make up your own storyline for each page and it could be the real one!
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster was first published in 1961 and is considered by many a children’s classic. It’s a wonderful mix of Dr Who, Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz, combining whimsy, faintly macabre events and fantasy all in one.
Silverfin by Charlie Higson is the first in a series of successful books in the “Young James Bond” series. These books really appeal to the reader who loves fast-paced plots, adventure, young heroes and a strong storyline. They appeal to boys, but girls like them as well, particularly those who like the adventure genre. Recommended for higher level readers in this age group.
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell is a historical novel with a wonderfully lively storyline and a strong female character. The story begins with a baby found in a cello case in the middle of the ocean and ends on the rooftops of Paris. Sophie, the orphan, and her rescuer, Charles, set off to find her lost mother and end up meeting some wonderful characters and having many adventures while they are pursued by the “authorities”. A great read.
Do you recommend children reading these books in hardcover or as e-books?
There is a lot of discussion on this topic and there are pros and cons for both. I don’t see they should be in competition with either one being “better”. Both formats have their place. Children love the physical feel of books, and illustrations are always so much more lively and engrossing in a hardback or large soft cover picture storybook. You can’t cuddle up with Mum and Dad, turn the pages on the iPad and then point to pictures. But then again, children are becoming much more at home with reading online and they enjoy reading their books on an iPad or a kindle if they are a bit bigger. As I said, both formats have their place.
Thanks for the recommendations, Annie! To learn more about CIS and its primary school programme, click here.
Canadian International School Lakeside Campus, 7 Jurong West Street 41, Singapore 649414, Tel: (+65) 6467 1732, www.cis.edu.sg
Canadian International School Tanjong Katong Campus, 371 Tanjong Katong Road, Singapore 437128, Tel: (+65) 6345 1573, www.cis.edu.sg