Best books to read with six year olds
There is something magical about being whisked away by words into the lives of various characters and sharing a story with someone else, be it a parent, carer, grandparent or sibling. Below is a list of wonderful books, perfect for six year olds, for you to share and read together (snuggled under a duvet at bedtime, if possible!).
Garth Pig and the Ice-Cream Lady by Mary Rayner(£7.99, Macmillan Children's Books)
This is a thrilling, entertaining book! One hot day, while Mrs Pig is scrubbing the kitchen floor, a sinister wolf disguised as an ice cream lady (called Mrs Lupino) lures greedy, unsuspecting Garth Pig into her van and plans to eat him ‘fried or boiled, baked or roast or minced with mushey-rooms on toast’. Will he escape? Will he defeat the wolf? Will his brothers or sisters come to his rescue? It's exciting, funny and gripping and also has a powerful message for young children about being careful around strangers, no matter how accommodating or kind they may initially seem.
Have you heard? By Hannah Dale(£11.99, words & pictures)
Have you heard? There’s a fox on the prowl with a terrible growl! This is a beautifully illustrated book with realistic, earthy water colour drawings. It is full of charming animals and detailed depictions of woodland life. The story starts with the snap of a twig and a frightened mouse, convinced that the big red fox is creeping through the night hunting the animals. But there’s a twist to the story and a gentle reminder about not believing everything you hear. The story is told in gentle rhyme and offers lots of opportunities to read aloud with a range of voices and actions.
The covers of my book are too far apart (and other grumbles) by Vivian French(£6.99, Barrington Stoke)
This book is certainly for those children who avoid books and reading! Vivian French’s book takes on those grumbles and fibs we all tell ourselves, like ‘I haven’t got time to read’ or ‘I’m not reading that! It’s a girls' book’ and flips them on their head. Indeed, it tackles these negative attitudes and misconceptions in such an amusing and powerful manner that, by the final page, children will be inspired to pick up a book, comic, audiotape or e-book and celebrate their right to read. The ending is particularly poignant as the book tackles the issues surrounding diversity and the fact that many children do not see themselves in the books they read and are therefore unable to relate to the characters and situations they read about. This is published by Barrington Stoke and so is written in a super-readable dyslexic-friendly font and accompanied by bright, humorous, comic-book-style illustrations.
The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle(£6.99, Templar Publishing)
A stunningly cinematic book about a family of pirates who change the lives of the inhabitants of Dull-on-Sea forever. The Jolley-Rogers arrive one day in a pirate ship brimming with treasure chests and set up home next to Matilda. She immediately strikes up a friendship with Jim Lad, the pirate boy. However the townsfolk aren’t as welcoming, insistent that the family won’t fit in and will cause nothing but trouble. Finally driven out by their neighbours’ unkindness, Jim Lad and his family sail away in the dead of night. But before they do, they leave some things behind to show the people of Dull-on-Sea that pirates aren’t so bad after all! This rhyming picture book is funny, splendidly drawn and offers a valuable lesson about treating everyone with kindness and respect.
The Bad Bunnies’ Magic Show by Mini Grey(£6.99, Simon & Schuster Children's)
Ladies and gentlemen! You are invited to the incredible debut performance of those masters of misdirection and surprise… Mr Abra and Mr Cadabra! Take your seats and keep a tight hold of your valuables… This wonderfully anarchic book, by the author of the excellent Traction Man, imagines what might happen if a magic show were to be hijacked by two mischievous bunnies. Their show is unlike anything you’ve seen before. It is full of danger and mayhem as their transform goldfish into a huge, squirming octopus, turn doves into angry tigers and plan to steal the audience’s watches, pearls and gold jewellery. Full of flaps for young ones to lift and explore and witty humour.
Crazy about Cats by Owen Davey(£12.99, Flying Eye)
This really is a superior non-fiction book, perfect for sharing with little ones who love information (and cats). The illustrations are stunning and bold and the facts are fascinating; did you know, for example, that the fishing cat has partially webbed paws? Or that caracals were once kept by Indian rulers and trained to catch pigeons? The book also addresses the role of cats in early mythology and the plight many face today. This is a stylish, well-researched book that will capture the imagination of any cat-loving youngster.
The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat by Julia Donaldson(£6.99, Puffin)
If you haven’t read Edward Lear’s classic poem ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ to your children yet, please do! It is a wonderfully eccentric, nonsensical poem that follows the delightful voyage of an owl and a cat, across the seas to the land where the Bong-Tree grows where they are eventually married. There is some charming language and wonderful vocabulary to discuss too (‘tarried’ and ‘runcible’!). Julia Donaldson is, of course, the author of The Gruffalo and many other brilliant books so the perfect choice as Lear’s successor. Indeed, her follow-up to the original poem is just as funny, intelligent and amusing. This time around we have jam, a honey-roast ham, a thieving crow, a Pobble with no toes and a strange Dong with a glowing nose. Charlotte Voake’s quirky, colourful illustrations perfectly complement Donaldson’s magical world and children will love the silliness and strong storyline.
The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl(£3.99, Puffin)
The Enormous Crocodile is the cleverest, bravest croc in the whole jungle (or so he thinks). He is also incredibly greedy and, whilst swimming in the biggest, brownest, muddiest river in Africa, hatches a number of secret schemes and clever tricks to catch his favourite meal – juicy, plump, unsuspecting children. However, Trunky the Elephant and the other animals are close by and band together to put an end to his scheming ways. This is a wonderfully zany book and Dahl’s wicked sense of humour is matched by Quentin Blake’s devilishly funny illustrations.
Tuesday by David Wiesner(£6.99, Andersen Press)
This wordless picture book was the winner of the 1992 Caldecott Medal and is perfect for any age group. There is plenty to discuss and the surreal, mysterious illustrations offer a great platform for discussion and creating your own story together. One strange Tuesday evening, around 8pm, an army of quirky frogs take to the skies whilst sitting on their lily pads. Wiesner’s use of perspective and ability to show movement and height make this airborne adventure an absolute treat. There are plenty of details to pore over and the rich hues of blue and green add a wonderful atmosphere of mystery and drama to the puzzling, dreamlike events.
The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook by Shirley Hughes(£7.99, Red Fox)
A warm, wonderful collection of stories about everyday life that offers an instantly recognisable snapshot of the simple things that bring such excitement and happiness to young children: walks in the park, birthdays, breakfasts and bedtimes. Alfie and his baby sister Annie Rose are delightful creations – friendly, occasionally mischievous, kind and curious. Childhood is presented in all its messy, chaotic glory and the water colour illustrations are classically beautiful. Hughes is a magic storyteller and seems to understand life from a child’s perspective and the joy and worry that tackling new experiences and meeting new people brings. As the author Philip Pullman said, “Shirley Hughes in a national treasure”; it’s certainly easy to see why.