Best books to read with seven year olds
Out and About: A First Book of Poems by Shirley Hughes
(£7.99, Walker Books)
In this delightful collection of poems, Katie and her little brother Olly jump, skip, scamper and shout their way through the changing seasons, enjoying the excitement and freedom of being outside in nature.
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These poems are a wonderful celebration of being outside – of squelchy, sloppy mud, of days spent at the seaside and of misty mornings and crunchy leaves.
Hughes’ energetic, sprightly poems brilliantly capture the world of childhood and the immense pleasure of discovering the outside world.
Perfect for reading aloud and sharing together, these poems will hopefully encourage youngsters to also explore the joys of being outdoors.
The Wolf’s Story by Toby Forward
(£6.99, Walker Books)
A fantastic subversive re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood, this brilliant picture book will have youngsters howling with laughter and questioning everything they thought they knew about the big bad wolf! In this re-telling, the wolf finally has a chance to set the record straight about what really happened with Grandma. Apparently, according to the wolf anyway, it wasn’t his fault! It was Little Red, a horrible, snooty girl, and her sticky toffees. Told with wit and verve, this is a funny reimagining of the traditional tale and the wolf is a brilliant creation – a wise-cracking, oily, slick ‘victim’ whose story may, or may not, be true. Throughout the book, the illustrations hilariously contradict the wolf’s story and we are left with lots of questions about what really happened. After all, the wolf wouldn’t lie to us… would he?
Pandora’s Box and Perseus and the Gorgon’s Head by Marcia Williams
(£4.99, Walker Books)
Greek myths are a brilliant way of engaging children – they are full of wicked monsters, courageous heroes and thrilling storylines. In this collection, Williams retells the famous story of Pandora, a sly and vain young lady who one day finds a locked box hidden in her husband’s cupboard. She is warned to never open the box but her longing to do so leads to every evil and spite imaginable being released into the world. Through her greed, she brings misery to humankind but hidden in the box, amongst all the terrible ills, remains hope. Her husband opens the box and releases hope into the world. Williams also retells the story of Perseus and his deadly mission to defeat the evil Medusa, a terrifying gorgon whose ghastly stare turns all into stone. Williams is a master story-teller and her witty, funny, relaxed tone makes these illustrated classics perfect for sharing.
Horses: Wild and Tame by Iris Volant
(£14.99, Nobrow Press)
The proud and beautiful horse has been a part of our lives for thousands of years. This stunningly illustrated non-fiction book takes young readers on a journey through the history of horse and human interaction. It’s packed full of interesting facts which explore areas such as the evolution of a horse’s hoof, prehistoric cave paintings and even legendary horses such as Pegasus and Black Beauty. The book also discusses how to care for a horse and their role in modern day Olympics. The simple, knowledgeable tone makes this book accessible, but never condescending and the stylised illustrations show every type of horse imaginable and brilliantly capture their strength, grace and movement.
King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijand
(£12.99, Tricycle Press)
You are cordially invited to a royal wedding with a twist! When the grouchy Queen decrees that it’s time for her son to marry, the search is on! Princesses come from far and wide, hoping to woo and impress the prince with their beauty and talent. But none of them are quite what the prince expects and certainly not what he would truly like. Finally Princess Madeleine and her brother, Prince Lee, arrive and the prince instantly falls in love… with the prince! The two wed and live happily ever after. This is a merry, modern tale about trusting your heart, following your dreams and living happily ever after. It gently and amusingly challenges the traditional structure of fairy tales and is brightly and colourfully illustrated too. There’s plenty to talk about and some interesting issues to explore together.
Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx by Joe Todd Stanton
(£12.99, Flying Eye Books)
Step into the Brownstone family’s observatory and join them on their second historical adventure! This story follows Marcy, the daughter of a great explorer named Arthur (who appeared in the first book in this brilliant series, Arthur and the Golden Rope). One day, Arthur decides that it is time for Marcy’s first adventure, so he takes her into a spooky, dark wood to find an old friend, but Marcy is too frightened to follow. When Arthur mysteriously disappears in Egypt, it is up to Marcy to set off and save her poor father. But Marcy must solve a Sphinx’s riddle, enter a tomb, overcome a series of traps and defeat a deadly snake in order to set her father free. Will she be able to overcome her deepest fears to rescue her dad? This is a wonderful book, full of rip-roaring adventure, double crossing Egyptian gods, monsters and brilliant clues to solve. It’s inspiring to see Marcy face and overcome her fears and there’s lots to investigate together in the detailed, amusing illustrations.
Tales from Weird Street by Anne Fine
(£5.99, Barrington Stoke)
Children love spooky, mysterious stories and this collection contains three of them, written by the brilliant Anne Fine. In the first story there’s a strange drowning and a terrifying photograph that seems to be able to predict the future. The second story involves a rather sinister fortune cookie and a puzzling, unsolved accident and the final story tells the tale of a young girl haunted by bizarre dreams. The short collection of ‘super-readable’ stories has just the right amount of thrills, chills and frights to entertain and delight young readers. The stories manage to be both captivating and creepy, as well as thought-provoking. Anne Fine’s scary stories are ideal for reading together, tucked up under a duvet with a torch!
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Poor James Henry Trotter! His parents have been flattened by a charging rhinoceros that has escaped from the zoo, and he has been sent to live with his dreadfully cruel and terribly mean aunts. Consigned to a life of cleaning and servitude, James longs to visit the seaside and play with children his own age. One strange night, he meets a mysterious old man at the end of the garden who gives him some magic beans and a spell to recite in order to change his fortunes. But James accidentally drops the magic beans and sets in motion a series of bizarre events that take him on a magical journey... This classic story about James’ journey in a giant peach, alongside his insect friends, is a delight. It’s full of magic, adventure, wonderfully realised characters and witty writing and perfect for reading together as there are many memorable moments throughout and the writing is constantly warm, amusing and lively.
This Cookbook is Gross by Susanna Tee
(£9.99, QED Publishing)
Vomit warning: not suitable for boring grown-ups! Ever wondered how to make ‘Dirty Worm Hash’, ‘Rotten Eggs’, ‘Maggot-infested Brownies’ or even ‘Cat Poo in a Litter Tray’? Well, look no further than this ghastly cook book, bursting with revolting, repulsive recipes. Young readers will love sharing these disgusting recipes with an adult and cooking up a range of putrid looking dishes to frighten their friends. The best part is that these recipes are all in fact edible and apparently very tasty too! There’s also some fantastic information about the strange dishes eaten in the real world, such as whale skin, fried tarantulas and roasted rat. This wonderful book certainly puts the fun and excitement back into cooking and aspiring chefs and pranksters will no doubt enjoy sharing their gross concoctions with their family and friends.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis
(£5.99, HarperCollins Children's Books)
‘Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy…’ So begins this classic story about four siblings who, whilst exploring a stuffy, dusty mansion, discover a magical land called Narnia. The land and all its inhabitants have been enslaved by the terrifying White Witch, whose magic ensures that it is always winter, but never Christmas. The children set out, with the help of the majestic, brave lion Aslan, to save the frost covered land from the icy, evil clutches of the White Witch and bring hope to the land. This book is a delight – fast-moving, witty and full of adventure. The children, especially Lucy and Edmund, are well drawn and sympathetically portrayed and there are lots of important messages too about bravery, keeping promises, trust and good conquering evil. A timeless book with enduring appeal.