Best Verse Novels for 8-12 Year Olds, recommended by Alison King

Verse fiction gets to the heart of a story without much text, the immediacy of the characters and the storyline making it instantly appealing to readers, including reluctant ones. Here, school librarian Alison King explains why everyone should read verse novels, and recommends her top picks for 8-12 year olds.

The Best Baby Books, recommended by Barbara Band

Barbara Band, librarian and former President of the UK’s Library and Information Association, explains why reading aloud for babies is not only a great bonding experience but also an important part of early childhood development. She shares some tips on reading with babies and introduces her top baby book recommendations.

Best Manga for Children and Teens, recommended by Oscar

Long associated with Japanese popular culture, manga are now found in translation across the world. In North America, this dynamic form of visual narration is overtaking comics and graphic novels in popularity. Oscar, age 13, recommends his favourite manga for children and teenagers.

The Best Classics Books for Children, recommended by Annelise Gray

Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire continue to fascinate children and provide fertile ground for historical novels that resonate with today’s readers. Author and classicist Annelise Gray talks us through some of her favourite books for children set in the ancient Mediterranean world and Roman Britain.

Best Books for Preschool Kids, recommended by Janice Stewart-Yates

With travel restricted in much of the world due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, it is more important than ever to open children’s minds through books. Janice Stewart-Yates, a passionate Montessori educator, shares her recommendations for books that bring the world to children. These are some of her favourite picks for preschool classroom story time, as well as for reading with her own daughter.

Best Human Body Books for Kids, recommended by Sonia Joseph

An understanding of the human body can help children nurture both physical and mental health, as well as build knowledge and vocabulary about this fascinating topic. Paediatrician Sonia Joseph talks us through her pick of five books about the human body for kids, with something for every age from baby board books to middle grade non-fiction.

The Scariest Books for Kids, recommended by Jack Meggitt-Phillips

Scary children’s books give kids the pleasure of immersing themselves in an exciting page-turner, and are an excellent way to get reluctant readers to read novels. As long as you pay attention to individual children’s sensibilities, it shouldn’t be hard to find books that give them thrills rather than nightmares. Children’s author Jack Meggitt-Phillips talks us through his favourite scary books for kids.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library – Inspiring a Lifelong Love of Reading, recommended by Marion Gillooly

Dolly Parton is an iconic singer and songwriter, but many children around the world know her as their librarian. Through the Imagination Library she nurtures a love of books in young children. Marion Gillooly, Executive Director, The Dollywood Foundation UK, talks us through the background of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and highlights five of her favourite books in the catalogue (which she admits was really hard: “all the books are my favourites”).

The Best Science Books for Kids: the 2020 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize, recommended by Mike Kendall

To find the best science books for kids, the judges of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize look for books that are not only accurate but also entertaining. Mike Kendall, Professor of Geophysics at Oxford University and chair of this year’s judging panel, talks us through the six fabulous books that made the 2020 shortlist (the final winner will be chosen by the real experts: more than 13,000 kids).

The Best Kids’ Books in Translation, recommended by Adam Freudenheim

There is no shortage of great kids’ books written in English, but reading books in translation can open up whole new worlds and surprising perspectives. Adam Freudenheim, managing director of Pushkin Press, talks us through some of his favourites among the many books he’s published for kids, translated from other languages.

The Best Rick Riordan Books, recommended by Alex (age 13)

This is a big week for Rick Riordan fans as The Tower of Nero, the final book in his Trials of Apollo series, is published. Here, Alex, a 13-year-old boy living in Oxford, explains what Rick Riordan’s books are about, why he finds them so mesmerizing, and which book you might want to start with if you’re interested in reading them.

The Best Audiobooks for Kids of 2020, recommended by Emily Connelly

Whether you’re on a car journey or sitting on the sofa together at home, listening to audiobooks with kids can be an incredible experience. Some will make you laugh, some will make you weep. Many will help us develop empathy for other human beings in the world around us. Here Emily Connelly, Assistant Editor at AudioFile, talks us through the magazine’s choices of the best audiobooks for kids of 2020.

The Best Antiracist Books for Kids, recommended by Paula Young Shelton

Understanding the African American experience is not just about learning about suffering, it’s also about celebrating a vibrant culture and its roots across the millennia. Paula Young Shelton, author of Child of the Civil Rights Movement, recommends the best antiracist books for kids.

The Best Children’s Books: The 2020 Newbery Medal and Honor Winners, recommended by Krishna Grady

After reading hundreds of newly published books and asking children and adults alike for their input, the winners of the 2020 Newbery Medal and Honors have been chosen. Librarian and chair of the selection committee Krishna Grady introduces us to the best new children’s books that will surprise, delight and hold your kid’s attention—including the first graphic novel to ever win the award.

The Best Nonfiction Books for Teens, recommended by Marc Favreau

Whether you want your kids to know more about the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War or the life of Vincent van Gogh or Dmitri Shostakovich, we’re entering a golden era of nonfiction books for teens (also known as ‘Young Adult’ or YA nonfiction). Marc Favreau, author of the brilliant Spies, recommends some of the best.

The Best Books on Gratitude for Kids, recommended by Dana Sheridan

What should you read with your kids on Thanksgiving? Dana Sheridan of Princeton University Library’s Cotsen Children’s Library recommends five children’s books with themes of love, gratitude, belonging and sharing with one another—what the holiday is all about.

The Best Physics Books for Teenagers, recommended by Kate Lee

What are the best books for getting a teenager into physics? Kate Lee, a physics teacher at St Paul’s Girls School, recommends books about NASA, space travel, and the Big Bang—and puzzles the question of why it is so hard for young women to stay in physics as a profession.

Best Shakespeare Books for Kids, recommended by Natasha

Are you longing to get your children as excited about Shakespeare as you are? There’s a lot of books out there to introduce kids to the Bard. Here, Natasha, a 10-year old living in Oxfordshire, recommends some of her favourite retellings of Shakespeare stories.

The Best Classics Books for Teenagers, recommended by Olly Murphy

Caesar, Cicero, Achilles, Socrates, Plato: millennia later, we still talk about them. Olly Murphy, classics teacher at Wycombe Abbey, one of England’s top girls’ schools, recommends books and explains why classics remains one of the most exciting subjects for teenagers to study.

Clare Morpurgo on Penguin Paperbacks

Penguin paperbacks were a publishing revolution: lightweight, affordable editions that brought high-quality fiction and non-fiction to all. Clare Morpurgo, daughter of the Penguin Books founder Allen Lane, discusses the five Penguins that she loved most as a young reader—and why it’s down to her that her father never published The Hobbit.

Michael Morpurgo on His Novels

Michael Morpurgo takes us on a journey behind the scenes of five of his own books. He talks about his convictions as a writer and how he weaves fiction out of truths—experiences, accidents, history and memories—and why getting lost is often the best way to make a remarkable discovery.

Children’s Picture Books, recommended by Kate Milner

Kate Milner, winner of the prestigious Klaus Flugge Prize, discusses some of the trailblazing illustrators that have inspired her own career. She heralds artists whose imaginative works have given us some of the most exuberant storytelling for children over the last 50 years.

The best books on Trees For Younger Readers, recommended by Neal Layton

Award-winning author and illustrator Neal Layton is passionate about the natural world—especially trees. Among his five recommendations are trees that provide raw materials for building, food and profit; trees that are perfect for climbing; lofty enchanted trees full of adventure; and small yet perfect Christmas trees. Each has a story to tell.

The Best Coming-of-Age Novels About Sisters, recommended by Laura Wood

Coming-of-age stories unfold at the point at which a young person goes out into the world – full of potential and change. Siblings, at this important crossroad, also have to establish themselves outside of their relationship to each other. Author Laura Wood recommends five of her favourite novels that explore the intense, sometimes destructive, relationships that exist between sisters.

The best books on Political Engagement For Teens, recommended by Adrienne Kisner

Are you a teenager who is furious about the way the world seems to be going? Do you feel powerless and overwhelmed? Author Adrienne Kisner recommends five really good books that will inspire and inform teens and young adults, giving them the tools to get involved in activism, to understand politics—and to change the world.

The best books on Pets For Young Kids, recommended by Catherine Rayner

Feathered, scaly or furry, children form powerful and enriching bonds with their pets. If you don’t have room in your house (or lifestyle) for a multitude of birds and beasts—you can always read about them in books! Catherine Rayner, one of the UK’s leading creators of children’s picture books and devoted animal lover, recommends her favourite illustrated picture books celebrating pets.

The Best Viking History Books for Kids, selected by Janina Ramirez

Celebrated Anglo-Saxonist and art historian Janina Ramirez has written her first book for children: a Viking mystery with a fearless young heroine, Alva – both detective and shield-maiden. Here, Dr Ramirez recommends five superb history books to help young readers get an in-depth understanding of this exciting and often misunderstood era.

The Best Graphic Novels for Eight Year Olds, selected by Helen

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?” Eight-year-old Helen feels the same. Here she tells us why reading graphic novels is fun, relaxing and definitely not for babies – and recommends her current five favourites.

Favourite Kids’ Books, recommended by Klaus Flugge

Since founding Andersen Press in 1976, Klaus Flugge has published some of the most well-known and best-loved names in the world of children’s books– he has launched the careers of some of our best-loved picture book illustrators, from Quentin Blake and Chris Riddell to David McKee, Tony Ross, Michael Foreman and Emma Chichester Clark. Here he expounds on his favourite books and why laughter is his favourite subject.