Ascension : Christmas Reading Guide for Children
Submitted by The Islander (Islander Editors) 16.12.2010 (Article Archived on 30.12.2010)
Are you stuck for ideas as to which books to buy for the children in your life this Christmas?
Are you stuck for ideas as to which books to buy for the children in your life this Christmas? If so, Our Own Correspondent, Louise Short, offers a guide to some of the best. So whether it's to fight the White Witch or snuggle up with the Moomins, make yourself comfy this Christmas ...
Children's books: 0-2 year-olds
The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Eric Carle : One pickle, one cup cake, one slice of watermelon small fingers have never been able to resist the tiny hole through which the very hungry caterpillar crawls or the luscious food he savours, as he does so in his growing journey from a tiny caterpillar to a great big fat one.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt: Michael Rosen : A big bold story perfectly matched by Helen Oxenbury's illustrations, it captures the happiness and excitement of a family day out. They're not scared! Or are they?
Mr Gumpy's Outing: John Burningham : On a hot, sunny day, generous Mr Gumpy treats his animal friends to an outing on the river. Mr Gumpy tells them all not to muck about. But . . . guess what? Things do not go according to plan.
Owl Babies: Martin Waddell : Absolute terror and absolute reassurance are perfectly balanced in this stunning picture book, illustrated by Patrick Benson. How the three baby owls look after themselves and each other as they deal with their anxieties.
Children's books: 2-4 year-olds
Goodnight Moon: Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd : A pyjama'd rabbit tries to delay lights-out by bidding goodnight to everything in his room.
The Snail and the Whale: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler : Forget the Gruffalo. The finest book to emerge from the pens of Team Donaldson-Scheffler is this rich, rewarding tale of a snail with wanderlust and the whale who takes her on a round-the-world cruise.
Where The Wild Things Are: Maurice Sendak : Sendak's classic fantasy sees Max, sent to his room for "making mischief", imagining his way into the kingdom of the Wild Things: twisted, toothy and strange.
Not Now, Bernard: David McKee : The only person who pays attention to Bernard is the monster in the garden who eats him up, "every bit". Unfortunately, when the monster goes inside, Bernard's parents ignore him, too. The image of the chastened monster plodding glumly up to bed, trailing Bernard's teddy bear behind him, is priceless.
Gorilla: Anthony Browne : The children's laureate's deepest, most yielding book, about a lonely girl's consolatory fantasies. Hannah's father is depressed and withdrawn, so one night she dreams up a gorilla to take his place and escort her to the zoo.
Children's books: 5-7 year-olds
The Sheep-Pig: Dick King-Smith : Brave Babe, born a runty little piglet, who is brought to the farm for fattening-up, cheats his destiny by learning new skills from his adoptive mother Fly, the sheepdog. Funny and touching.
The Adventures of Captain Underpants: Dave Pilkey : Cartoon illustrations, a chunky format and pants in the title make this an easy choice for new readers. Superhero Captain Underpants hurtles through adventures, seeing off all kinds of opposition from aliens and the rest.
The Worst Witch: Jill Murphy : It's hard enough to be hopeless in any school but, when it is spells that go wrong, the results can have unpredictable consequences.
Flat Stanley: Jeff Brown : Squashed flat when a billboard falls on top of him, Stanley lives a new and deliciously dotty life, being posted off on holiday so much cheaper than a plane ticket and being flown as a kite.
Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire: Andy Stanton : Mr Gum is unremittingly nasty. He hates children, animals and even fun. But there is something he loves: money!.
Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age: Raymond Briggs : Like all children, Ug questions everything. And with good reason. A brilliant book about asking why.
The Iron Man: Ted Hughes : From its terrifying opening in which a strange creature crashes down a cliff, then scrabbles to put itself back together from the body parts that are strewn all over the beach, this mythic story is rich in unforgettable images.
Finn Family Moomintroll: Tove Jansson : The stories of the Moomins have a timeless charm. Fantasy and reality fuse delightfully; the strong family feeling of the Moomins and the charming details of their domestic life sit comfortably alongside the magic that surrounds them.
Children's books: 8-12 year-olds
Stig of the Dump: Clive King : This was the first original Puffin published in 1963. The story of eight-year-old loner Barney who befriends Stig, a remnant of the Stone Age hidden in the local chalk pit, has not been out of print since. A modern classic.
Charlotte's Web: EB White : It's a book that teaches you that characters can be made to live for ever simply by turning back to the first page and starting again.
The Story of Tracy Beaker: Jacqueline Wilson : This book speaks directly and unpatronisingly to and about the kind of children underrepresented in young fiction. Tracy Beaker is their totem, an irrepressibly imaginative child (though the staff in her care home say she has "behavioural problems") who writes the story of her life while waiting for her mother to come and get her back.
Matilda: Roald Dahl : It's almost impossible to choose between Dahls but Matilda is one of the most borrowed by children...Matilda is the super bright daughter of horrible parents who helps free her schoolmates and her lovely teacher Miss Honey from the tyranny of Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress.
Harry Potter: JK Rowling : No, they're not great literature. But, like Enid Blyton, they give new readers quick and convincing proof that reading can be fun. For that alone although I'd argue they achieve more than that Rowling's boy has earned his Z-shaped stripes.
Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror: Chris Priestly : Mesmerising, understated, and convincingly Victorian in tone, these grisly ghost stories are beautifully framed by the mysterious Uncle Montague, telling tales of his sinister knick-knacks to his nephew Edgar over tea.
Skellig: David Almond : Michael, worried because his baby sister has been born prematurely, finds a curious creature in the garage of his family's new home. Unethereal in its tastes which include brown ale and Chinese takeaway the being nevertheless seems to have wings. Skellig celebrates children's unfiltered, Technicolor perceptions of the exciting world in which they live. A bookshelf essential.
Children's books: 12-years-old and over
I Capture the Castle: Dodie Smith : A diary/book. Trust no one who does not love this or, of course, 101 Dalmatians.
His Dark Materials: Philip Pullman : Bleak, brutal, warm, lush and exhilarating by turns, fiercely intelligent, compassionate and compelling. That's what reading is for.
The Chaos Walking trilogy: Patrick Ness : An unbelievably thrilling read that nevertheless poses profound questions about the effects of war.. Profoundly humane and utterly magnificent.
A Little History of the World: EH Gombrich : Gombrich's short, measured jog through the main civilisations and events that have shaped the world is a warm, witty presentation of vital facts in narrative form. Reminds us that there is lots of fantastic non-fiction as well as fiction out there too.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: Mark Haddon : The boy with Asperger's syndrome, who is trying to navigate his way through a family break-up and solve the mystery of who killed the dog next door, provides an unlikely hero whose fresh perspective engages the reader, although he fails to engage with people himself. An easy read.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Mark Twain : a classic for ostensibly the boys. Until they are ready for the greater demands of Huckleberry Finn, whet juvenile appetites with Tom, his entrepreneurial spirit and his taste for treasure-hunting adventure. A paean to true boyhood.
Witch Child: Celia Rees : In 1659, 14-year-old Mary Newbury travels from England to the New World, where she becomes embroiled in what are effectively the Salem witch trials. It's a completely absorbing account of what happens when suspicion and rumour fuel secret agendas, prejudices and politics. A book to make you sigh with satisfaction.
Exposure: Mal Peet : This contemporary retelling of Othello the doomed couple now a black Brazilian star footballer and a pampered young pop goddess will continue to grip young readers for years to come.
The Sterkarm Handshake/The Sterkarm Kiss: Susan Price : These books cross effortlessly between science fiction and fantasy, depicting life as it might have been in the primitive past with rare and enthralling realism. Unforgettable reading material.
The White Darkness: Geraldine McCaughrean : Sym is a typical teenage girl in many ways, wrestling with a colossal crush unusually on long-dead Polar explorer, Captain Oates. When her eccentric uncle offers her the opportunity to go to Antarctica, she's delighted but Uncle Victor's unnerving behaviour and the dark cold of the South Pole are more than Sym bargains for. Bleakly, heroically romantic.
So....no excuses...................... Happy Reading!!!