Interviews by Zoe Greaves
As young children grow, finding a vocabulary for their worries and anxiety is often difficult. Children’s author Chitra Soundar recommends five books that help children process their emotions and use fiction as a tool for talking about anxiety.
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.
Laughing out loud while reading is such a particular, life-affirming joy—a joy especially suited to young readers. Author and illustrator Tom McLaughlin recommends books that have left him in helpless fits of giggles.
If you haven’t read any books by German children’s author Cornelia Funke yet, you have a treat in store. The multi-award winning writer of imaginative fiction talks us through her books and explains why fairy tales continue to fascinate her and her readers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler
by E L Konigsburg
Harry Potter: the Complete Series
by J.K. Rowling
The London Eye Mystery
by Siobhan Dowd
The Sinclair Mysteries: A Clockwork Sparrow (Book 1)
by Katherine Woodfine
Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase (Book 1)
by Jonathan Stroud
Do you love to solve a mystery? Do the twists and turns in the plot of a classic whodunit thrill you? Award-winning author Robin Stevens talks us through her favourite kid detectives and the murderously good books from which they come to life.
“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.
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.
Acclaimed poet Joseph Coelho recommends five of the best kids’ books that celebrate the magical bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren. Positive intergenerational relationships have very real health benefits for the whole family! So get yourself settled on a comfy chair with a grandchild and take some time to enjoy sharing these delightful stories.
As World Cup fever builds to irresistible levels, there is no better time to get kids reading by presenting them with a few books about ‘the beautiful game.’ Award-winning children’s author and self-confessed football fanatic Dave Cousins, recommends five fantastic football books for kids and young adults.
Not all kids want to read about magic and fairytales and many have an unquenchable thirst for reading about reality. Geraldine McCaughrean talks us through five of her own books that were inspired by true events.
Fairy tales and stories of courage and survival can help children understand that although there are injustices in the world there are ways in which they can make a difference – however small. The award-winning author Beverley Naidoo recommends five great books in which kindness triumphs over adversity.
Books like Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls popularise the many different ways women and girls can be strong, and as strong as they need to be. Award-winning children’s author, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, talks us through some of her favourite strong female characters in children’s fiction.
Have you heard that music is good for children but don’t know where to begin? Musicians Meurig and Rachel Bowen recommend the best music books for children.
What is happiness? Why does happiness matter? Vanessa King, lead psychologist at the charity/non-profit Action for Happiness, discusses how developing ours and our children’s happiness skills can have benefits for our own lives and for society as a whole.
The best books on Navigating the Future: a reading list for young adults, recommended by Chris Kutarna
We are living in times of unprecedented uncertainty and upheaval – and of unprecedented progress and opportunity. Chris Kutarna, political scientist and co-author of Age of Discovery, selects five books to help young adults navigate an uncertain future and achieve their full potential.
What are the best books to engage and educate young kids about the environment? Environmentalist and author Georgina Stevens has some ideas. She recommends her favourite environment books for kids, as well as a few websites that will help teach them (and their families) how to make a difference.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
by Carole Boston Weatherford & Euka Holmes
Josephine: A Dazzling Life
by Christian Robinson & Patricia Hruby Powell
The Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
by Vashti Harrison
by Misty Copeland
Life Doesn't Frighten Me
by Jean-Michel Basquiat & Maya Angelou
Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins discuss books that that tell the stories of some of the greatest black icons in history – and explain why reading books that celebrate these extraordinary lives can be transformational for all children.
Are you considering a career in neuroscience? Neurologist Andrew Lees, one of the world’s leading authorities on Parkinson’s and author of Mentored by a Madman: The William Burroughs Experiment, talks about the books that continue to inspire him in his work.
Children have almost universal responses to different kinds of weather: kicking fallen leaves in autumn, splashing in puddles in the rain, catching snowflakes on tongues when it snows. We talk to author and illustrator Tim Hopgood about the weather as an inspiration for children’s books.
Elves are often misunderstood or misrepresented over the Christmas period – Christmas cracker jokes have never been kind to these tiny heroes of the festive season. Here Igreth the Elf, great-great-great-grandson of Ilbereth the Elf, sets the record straight and introduces five children’s books that celebrate the extraordinary contribution these diminutive creatures make to Christmas itself.
Rachel Hickman, co-founder of Chicken House Publishing and author of One Silver Summer, selects books with wild settings that have appeal to older children. She discusses how a strong use of nature adds drama and meaning to a narrative, and the way that setting can become another character in a story.
How does someone with synaesthesia see the world? How does it contribute to creativity and expression? Author Lydia Ruffles recommends books and suggests an intriguing list of artists who may have been synaesthetes.
Children often feel that, for one reason or another, they don’t quite fit in. Fortunately, there are many books exploring that very theme. Author Sarah Franklin introduces five wonderful books about ‘outsiders.’
Children’s literature research is one of the most dynamic fields of literary criticism today, says Jean Webb, professor of international children’s literature at the University of Worcester. She picks five books from around the world that shed light on ‘childhood and relationships.’
Award-winning author Philip Reeve talks us through the science fiction and fantasy books that shaped him and his work in profound ways; among indubitable classics are vibrant lesser-known works awaiting discovery.
Alan Lee, illustrator of such classics as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, talks to Five Books about his favourite stories drawn from myth and fairy tale, what they mean to him, and how important it is for young readers today to experience these ancient stories.
How can parents even begin to explain the refugee crisis to children and young adults? Here, award-winning children’s author Gill Lewis shares her selection of vital primers – from simple picture books to challenging graphic novels – and discusses the role of ‘informed storytelling’ in describing this fraught and fragile human experience
Depictions of fathers in children’s books have leapt forward in recent years, says illustrator Paul Howard. He talks us through his favourite visions of modern dads in books, from the ultimate macho man to fathers at their most vulnerable.
Korky Paul, the illustrator of the hugely popular Winnie the Witch series (among others), talks to Five Books about the pictures and books that have most inspired him.
Catherine Mayer—author, journalist and president of the Women’s Equality Party—talks to Five Books about her optimism for a more equal future for society by way of her favourite science fiction visionaries and their work.
Whatever your age, play is how we test ideas, define rules and see if they hold. New York-based artist and author Jon Burgerman talks to Five Books about his favourite titles that encourage kids to have fun and be playful, without worry or fear of failure, and simply enjoy the limitless possibilities of imagination.
Author M G Leonard talks about the importance of getting our children engaged with the natural world. She recommends her favourite nature books for kids.
Elys Dolan, author of Mr Bunny’s Chocolate Factory and rising star of the picture book world, on the funniest illustrated books for reading at bedtime—and why children’s characters needn’t always set good moral examples.
Every generation has its own minefield to negotiate in order to reach adulthood. Author Rae Earl discusses five books that explore a range of mental health issues that some teenagers may face, and many adults have faced, while on this difficult journey.
Poet, writer and Bafta winning TV and film producer, Henry Normal, talks about his experiences bringing up his autistic son, the need for acceptance and why we should all embrace our human imperfections. Along the way he recommends five books that inspired him as a young man and continue to inspire him today.
From wizards to alchemy and fairies to folklore, Cressida Cowell reveals the magical stories that were most important to her as a child (and which she now delights in sharing with her own children), and her own inspirations for writing about magic and magical worlds today.