Best books for six year olds: chapter books

Best books for six year olds: chapter books
A cunning fox, a haunted room, a terrifying cat, a broken time machine and a princess who fights crime make these short, accessible chapter books perfect for building young readers' confidence.

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

(£5.99, Puffin)

This classic tale of a crafty, cunning fox and his family is a real treat. Vile farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean are three of the nastiest crooks you could ever meet! Every night Mr Fox creeps down into the valley and steals from the mean farmers and chickens, turkeys, geese and duck are all on his menu! This enrages the three farmers and they plot to shoot, starve or dig Mr Fox and his family out of his home. But Mr Fox is far too clever for them and outsmarts them at every turn. This is an amusing, pacey read. Mr Fox is a wonderful creation and the story zips along with wit and excitement.

The Ghost in Annie's Room by Philippa Pearce

(£6.99, Barrington Stoke)

From the author of the beautifully lyrical Tom's Midnight Garden comes another haunting tale. Emma and her brother, Joe, and their parents have come to stay for three nights with Great Aunt Win. At first Emma likes her cosy attic room and is happy to sleep in it. As night falls, Emma starts to feel worried – there are strange shadows everywhere and she just can't shake the idea that she is being watched. Great Aunt Win seems sad and keeps talking about her missing daughter, Annie. Could Annie's disappearance have something to do with the strange, haunted room? A tender, simple story that deals with loss and family in an atmospheric, touching way.

The Lion's Slave: A Greek Tale by Terry Deary

(£3.99, A & C Black)

When the rotten Romans attack, everyone believes that Archimedes will be able to find a way to save them and defeat the invaders. After all, he's the cleverest man in Greece! Poor Lydia, his slave, cleans his rooms, washes his clothes and cooks his meal, all the while putting up with a tirade of insults from Archimedes. The Greeks cheer as the great inventor creates all sorts of amazing tools and weapons to battle the Romans, but who is the real brains behind it all? Is Lydia really as stupid as her master thinks? This is an exciting, fun story, perfect for younger children interested in history. The short chapters and engaging illustrations are perfect for children who are just beginning to tackle chapter books.

Viking Longship by Mick Manning

(£7.99, Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

This informative, accessible book allows inquisitive children to be a fly on the wall in the time of the Vikings. Watch frightening Vikings battle, make delicious birka bread, invade foreign lands, plough their lands and enjoy the hustle and bustle of a lively market place. Each page is packed full of useful information and colourful drawings so children can really experience what life was like during this period of history. There's plenty to keep young readers' attention and the layout of the book is engaging and stimulating.

Dread Cat by Michael Rosen

(£6.99, Barrington Stoke)

Once there was a very fierce cat… So begins this super tale of cat and mouse. Dread Cat is a terrifying, stupendously fierce cat - all he needs to do is simply turn up and the mice flee in fear. Then Dread Cat concocts a new plan, promising to never try to catch or kill a mouse ever again. But can he be trusted? Is the war between cat and mouse really over or is dread Cat planning something truly evil? This super-accessible book has a supportive layout for new readers and bounds along with zany humour. Children will love the devious Dread Cat and cheer when he finally gets his comeuppance!

The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale

(£6.99, Walker Books)

Sweet, prim Princess Magnolia has a secret. Princesses do not run and they certainly don't wear black and high-jump castle walls. But then again, most princesses don't live near an entrance to Monster Land! When trouble comes calling, Princess Magnolia transforms into The Princess in Black – a strong, fearless, caped crusader who rids the land of evil monsters and creatures. Along with her trusty side-kick Frimplepants the horse, Princess Magnolia must use all her wit and might to defeat a number of creepy monsters on the rampage. But with Duchess Wigtower hot on her heels and about to unearth her alter-ego, will Princess Magnolia be able to save the land and keep her identity secret? A rip-roaring adventure that cleverly turns the sickly sweet fairy tale on its head. Great fun!

Pigsticks and Harold: Lost in Time! by Alex Milway

(£6.99, Walker Books)

The Tuptown Science Fair has begun and Pigsticks is trying to make a spaceship for the Best Invention competition. Everyone else seems to be prepared: Pirate George has created a diving suit and Otterly has designed a portable lighthouse! There's only one place to look for help – the future! Getting there, however, isn't as easy as it looks. Harold and Pigsticks visit Ancient Egypt, The Statue of Pigerty and Ancient Rome and soon find themselves lost in time. Will the two adventurers be able to find their way home and win at the fair or will a group of terrifying Vikings derail their plans? A fun time-travelling-themed adventure that children will definitely enjoy!

Sensational! Poems Inspired by the Five Senses chosen by Roger McGough

(£6.99, Macmillan Chidren's Books)

Step inside this delicious collection of poems, hand-picked by Roger McGough! This book is full of poems from the very best contemporary and classic poets, such as Carol Ann Duffy, Charlotte Zolotow, Berlie Doherty, Ian McMillan and Michael Rosen. The poems are cleverly organised into categories linking to the five senses and each poem is sure to delight and amuse in equal measure. From 'Give Yourself a Hug' by Grace Nichols to 'Be Glad Your Nose Is On Your Face' by Jack Prelutsky, children will love reading and performing these great poems out loud. Poetry collections are a great way to engage reluctant readers, too!

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman

(£6.99, Walker Books)

"Pick whatever you like most," says the young girl's great-gandfather, "and I will tell you its story…" An olive stone, a faded photograph, a crumpled letter, a piece of macaroni, a hairpin, a ticket for a baseball game and a bottle top… each one in a matchbox. And each one tells a fantastic story of a journey across the sea from Italy to a new home and new life on the other side of the world. This lush, gorgeously illustrated, warm story tells an emotional, captivating story and sensitively explorers the important theme of immigration. There's plenty to pore over here and the relationship between the little girl and her great-grandfather is beautifully portrayed. This book is also about the importance of writing and words and our need to share our stories and secrets.

SuperDad's Day Off by Phil Earle

(£6.99, Barrington Stoke)

Stanley is a normal boy. He is of normal height, normal weight and his head is full of normal things. Everything in Stanley's life is normal… except for his dad, who is a superhero called Dynamo Dan! Dynamo Dan is constantly ready to save the world from robbers, comets and bad guys who kidnap the Queen. But all this saving the world is tiring, so mum decides that every Friday dad will have the day off. Stanley, of course, is delighted! He gets to spend time with his dad, after all. But one Friday, dad and Stan are constantly interrupted by people in need of help, including a panther that is stuck up a tree! Can they save the day? This is a lovely story about the bond between Stanley and his dad and will resonate with fathers everywhere. It is also witty and funny – aliens, bath time floods and monster trucks all feature in a range of bizarre missions. It's brilliant too to see 'normal' Stanley take control of each situation as his poor dad yawns away in the background, too tired to move after a week of saving the world.