Younger readers are usually five to eight-year-olds – an exciting age where chapter books become a rite of passage. Of course, there are still five-year-olds who are mastering their sounds and at the other end of the spectrum, there are eight-year-olds who have already read the first Harry Potter novel.
The following list of titles are wonderful stand-alone books. These books are probably more for 8-10 year-old readers, but can be enjoyed as a story to listen to first, then as a book to read alone.
- Brindabella by Ursula Dubosarsky – this is a truly beautiful story about a boy Pender who finds a young joey in her dead mother’s pouch. Most of the story is told from Pender’s perspective but there are a few chapters from the joey Brindabella’s point of view. It would be a lovely story to read in class or at bedtime – I can’t imagine too many children who wouldn’t enjoy listening to a story about a kangaroo who is torn between the boy who loves her and her freedom in the bush. There are also gorgeous illustrations by Andrew Joyner.
- Have sword, will travel by Garth Nix and Sean Williams – Odo has never intended to have any adventures, even though his best friend, Eleanor, would like some. But when Odo pulls a talking sword out from the dried-up riverbed, he and Eleanor begin a quest to find and slay the dragon responsible for drying up their river. This is a classic quest story with lots of humour – and a great title! There’s a sequel available now.
- Flora and Ulysses by Kate diCamillo – this is a graphic novel with words by Kate DiCamillo and comic-book style illustrations by K. G. Campbell. Flora’s parents are separated, there’s an odd but intriguing boy who’s moved in next door with his aunt and there’s a squirrel who writes poetry. This book is about the loss of hope and finding it again – and this sensitive subject is told with heaps of humour by eccentric characters. I’m definitely going to read this one with Mr 9 these holidays.
- Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead – Livy (ten and a half) has come back with her mother and baby sister from Massachusetts to visit Gran in Australia. Livy knows she’s forgotten things since her last visit five years ago. She certainly can’t remember the name of the green zombie (who’s not really a zombie) who’s wearing a chicken suit, lives in a closet and has been waiting for her to come back for the last five years. Livy tries to help Bob find a way back home by remembering how he saved her, and then how she saved him. The story is fresh and original – it’s a quest book and there’s magic but there’s nothing predictable about it. There are themes of friendship and memory, and a small thread of rain and droughts.
Many kids in this age group love series because it feels like such an accomplishment to have read some or all of the series, because it’s fun to compare notes with friends and because it’s fun to look forward to the next book.
Some fabulous series for this age group include:
- Billy B Brown by Sally Rippin
- Hey Jack by Sally Rippin
- Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
- The treehouse series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
- The bad guys by Aaron Blabey
More sophisticated series include:
- The impossible quest by Kate Forsyth
- The mapmaker chronicles by A.L. Tait
- Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrow
Happy Christmas shopping and reading!