As such, inspired by the ‘100 best books for children’ lists put together by BookTrust and the Times Educational Supplement, we’ve decided to collate our own reading lists for the enjoyment of both parents and children. These books range from the classic to the contemporary, but all have one thing in common: they’re must-read items for children of a certain age.
Scroll down for our top recommendations for May!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the tale of Charlie Bucket, a young boy who wins a prize beyond his wildest dreams: to visit Willy Wonka’s magnificent chocolate factory, which has been closed to the public for years. A young boy from a poor background, Charlie accompanies the other competition winners – four children who have been variously spoilt by their parents – on a tour through the factory. Confronted by the many wonders within Wonka’s world, the other children soon violate the rules of the factory and suffer various punishments for their inconsiderate behaviour. Charlie and his grandfather are the only two that make it to the end of the tour unscathed – to find out that Willy Wonka had an ulterior motive all along. The contest didn’t end with five children winning the chance to tour the factory; in fact, it had only just begun. By making it to the end of the tour, Charlie has won: he’s now Willy Wonka’s heir, the factory is his, and his family will never go hungry again.
Hugely imaginative and full of Roald Dahl’s classically wicked humour, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a gripping tale that will teach children many valuable life lessons: that rule-breaking and spoilt behaviour does not go unnoticed or unpunished, but if you’re honest about your mistakes, these can be forgiven; that dreams can come true; and that we should all be grateful for what we have, even if it doesn’t seem like much.
Goodnight Mister Tom is the thought-provoking story of eight-year-old William Beech, who is evacuated from London just before the start of the Second World War. William travels to Little Weirwold, where he is taken in (somewhat reluctantly) by widower Tom Oakley. The relationship between the middle-aged, bad-tempered, reclusive ‘Mister Tom’ and timid, pale William – who has suffered years of abuse at the hands of his mother – proves to be life-changing and transformative for both individuals.
An enchanting book for readers of all ages, Goodnight Mister Tom grapples with many evocative concepts – from the notion of ‘home’, and what that truly means, to issues of mental/physical health and how one might deal with loneliness and isolation – and paints a rich portrait of an important period in history.
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone we meet Harry Potter – a hero who perhaps needs no introduction – who is escaping a life of misery with his uncle and aunt to head to Hogwarts School. Hogwarts is no ordinary school, however – it’s a school for budding witches and wizards – and Harry is no ordinary boy. In fact, he is the stuff of wizarding legend. Harry Potter is the ‘Boy Who Lived’: the sole survivor of a curse cast by Voldemort (the greatest dark wizard who ever terrorised the wizarding world), and the reason that Voldemort was destroyed. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first in J.K. Rowling’s award-winning series, and follows the eponymous hero through his first year at school, during which he makes new friends, battles trolls, and discovers many secrets…
An inspiring beginning to a much-loved series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is not only one of the best books for 9-11 year olds: it’s full of educational gems. From the imagination-fuelling world that the series is set in, to its classical references, richly-drawn characters and epic staging of the battle between good and evil, Harry Potter aims to teach all children that kindness, strength of character, and humility will triumph in the end – if only they have courage enough to choose ‘what is right’ over ‘what is easy’ (Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).