Christmas is just around the corner and books are always some of my favourite gifts to give and receive. I love it when my kids have some great new books to curl up with and tuck into over the holiday break. My eldest, my 9 year old Lucas, is an avid reader and last year he wrote a blog post on some of his favourite books. Well, he’s back with some more great suggestions to add to that list, only this time his 7 year old and 3 year old sisters wanted to get in on the book reviewing action. So, in addition to some great picks for book worms like Lucas, there are also some lovely suggestions for readers who are just getting started in chapter books (like my daughter Rowan), and little ones who adore interesting picture books (like Ellie).
by Eoin Colfer
This fantasy novel series centres around a 12 year old genius and features magic and fairies. There is a Disney movie that was made a few years back based on the first novel, and it is pretty terrible. But Lucas assures me the movie is really nothing like the books, and they are much better. Lucas loves “how brilliant the characters are, and how the author combines technology and magic.” Artemis Fowl can be a more complicated series to get into, but stick with it and it will pay off! Lucas also recently started reading The Fowl Twins, which is a spin off series based on the younger twin brothers of Artemis Fowl, and he really is enjoying those too.
THE ALCHEMYST SERIES
by Michael Scott
This is a six book series (another fantasy series…you can tell these are a hit with Lucas), that features 15 year old twins, a brother and sister as the main characters. The books use myths from different cultures and blends them together in an engaging story. It has a slightly “darker vibe” to it (Luke’s words) so might be more appropriate for 10 years old and up. Lucas was gifted the first book in the series from his grandma and he proceeded to tear through the rest of the books!
SEPTIMUS HEAP SERIES
by Angie Sage
A seven novel series (the first book of the series is titled ‘Magyk’) features a young wizard with tremendous powers. The series has some great humour and wonderful characters and it has been compared to Harry Potter. Though based in a fantasy world, the series takes notes from history and particularly medieval history. Lucas says this is a “very adventurous series and if you like twists and turns, you will like this one!”
A BOY CALLED CHRISTMAS
by Matt Haig
This book is a great one to read this holiday season! Last year it was made into a Netflix movie (which I can attest to is quite delightful, though Lucas tells me the book is still superior). The book tells the origin story of Santa Claus and it is a great adventure with kidnapping, elves and magic. It is both a good one to read aloud to your younger kids, or for older kids to read on their own.
IVY AND BEAN
by Annie Barrows
Okay now we are on to Rowan’s picks! I am so thrilled how much Rowan has gotten into reading this year. She didn’t pick it up as quickly as her brother but now she has a hard time putting down her favourite novels. The Ivy and Bean series was a favourite for her before she could read them herself, and I would read them to her. Now she is reading them all over again (and again) on her own. There are 12 Ivy and Bean books currently (I hope the author writes more), they centre on two best friends with great imaginations. These books are really funny and nice, easy reads for a new reader. There are also three episodes of an Ivy and Bean show on netflix which I recommend for kids too!
by Elisabetta Dami
There are a lot of Geronimo Stilton books out there – around 60 in total. These books are easy reads about a mouse (Geronimo Stilton) who is a newspaper editor and publisher who ends up going on many adventures. Personally, I don’t find these books as engaging as the Ivy and Bean series, but Rowan really enjoys them and she loves grabbing a new one every time we visit the library. There is also an official Geronimo Stilton website with games, how to drawing tutorials and more.
by Ian Falconer
Now on to favourite books for a younger crowd! My 3 year old Ellie didn’t want to be left out of the book reviews so here are a few of her favourites (and I can agree, just lovely books both for story and illustration). The first recommendation are the Olivia books. There are a number of Olivia the Pig books, but Olivia goes to Venice and Olivia Helps With Christmas are some of the best. The illustrations in these books are unique and beautiful, and Olivia is a really great character. There is humour in these stories that really appeals to an adult reader as well. All of my kids have reached for them over and over.
ELLA BELLA BALLERINA
by James Mayhew
The Ella Bella Ballerina books are gorgeously illustrated tales that introduce children to the magic of famous ballets. There is Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake, Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker, Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella, Ella Bella Ballerina and the Magic Toyshop and Ella Bella Ballerina and a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ella Bella is a little girl, practising to be a ballerina and through her imagination (or is it magic?) she is transported into each one of these famous ballet stories. These are really lovely books that Ellie highly recommends!
THE JOLLY POSTMAN (and other Postman sequels)
by Allan and Janet Ahlberg
The Jolly Postman book is actually one I grew up with and loved. I found a new edition for my kids and we bought the The Jolly Christmas Postman too. They are delightful and interactive books where a postman travels around to the homes of familiar fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters delivering their mail. Not only is it a story to read, but every page has a special pocket (envelope) where you can open up and read the various mail these characters are receiving. It is just a really timeless and very fun book!