Children’s fiction from 8 up to about 14 simply because then you are trailing into teenage/young adult fiction and that’s a whole different animal. Also anything younger than that and a) it’s not really my range and b) it becomes a whole different category
When recommending things to read to my cousins (13, 9 and 9) I find I am often in a slightly difficult position, not because there is a lack of books to draw from when proffering my opinions on what is available, and indeed the breadth of genres also, but because I have to wrap my head around the generation gap. Now might be the time to point out that this isn’t because it is that long since I read a children’s book, far from it, merely that what I liked at their age might not be current reading material now.
When I was a child there wasn’t such a treasure trove available for my reading pleasure, especially for someone like me who had (has) a voracious appetite for the written word. The books I read and those that I enjoyed and returned back to over and over again were predominantly old fashioned then, never mind up to 20 years later.
My favourites at the ages of my cousins were; Enid Blyton’s school stories and fantasy adventures, I was particularly partial to the Malory Towers series and the Faraway Tree series of books; I never fell for her crime series’. Indeed I still read the Malory Towers series on occasion. Susan Coolidge’s What Katy did trilogy (which I recently found out are actually part of a five part series), the Heidi trilogy, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and my all time favourites; Louisa M. Alcott’s March family quartet. I also had more than a passing acquaintance with the works of; Judy Blume, Anne Fine and Cynthia Voigt.
Sadly, I don’t believe that Judy Blume’s novels made the turn over from the 80/90’s to the present day with any great alacrity. They are unfortunately dated now, though they are a fantastic set of books dealing with real issues that are pertinent to children and that many authors shy away from, possibly due to embarrassment, so it is a real shame that there popularity has waned over the years since they were first printed.
So now, when I am recommending books to them I find I am having to draw more from my recent reading endeavours as opposed to the books I read when I was their ages. This isn’t actually as difficult as it might sound since I read a lot of children’s books, though predominantly I tend to read Young adult fiction and older fiction (as in that from bygone eras) for preference, I do delve into the younger end of the modern reading pool on occasion, more so in recent years than I ever used to.
So on a recommendations front, it depends on the genres the child in question likes, I’m basing my suggestions on nothing more arduous than what I like, and on the opinions of my cousins whose reading habits I am rather well acquainted with…at least to an extent sufficient for the purposes of this exercise. Though there are old fashioned ones that I would recommend, I’m going to leave those off for the time being, barring one.
- The Spook’s Apprentice series – Joseph Delaney (for those in the 10+ range who like to be a little bit scared when they read. This has that delicious sort of scare that is almost enjoyable in its delivery). At the moment this is a septology, though with at least one more yet to come… if not more. Plus there are a couple of surrounding books and back up ‘factual’ books, such as the Spook’s Bestiary, for those who really like to submerse themselves into what they are reading.
- Waiting for Anya, Friend of Foe, The long way home, – Michael Morpurgo (Private Peaceful for the older reader is a fantastically heartbreaking story of the futility of War)
- Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian
- Ottoline and the Yellow Cat – Chris Ridell (or any of the other two… especially …at sea!)
- The Fairytale Detectives – Michael Buckley. Again this is currently at eight books, not a bad thing by any account.
- The Edge Chronicles – Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart
- Harry Potter (I would recommend them on plot capability alone. They are not the most amazing pieces of literature, the writing style isn’t especially good, but for plot and character development they are the shit.)
- Paddington – Michael Bond. Quite frankly you are NEVER too old to read Paddington, for he is the funniest bear around and his quirky adventures will appeal to most children, also they are a good read aloud series.
- The Bromeliad – Terry Pratchett. A great introduction to Pratchett’s quirky fantasy for the younger readers.
- The Last Dragon Slayer – Jasper Fforde. Just because a reader might be too young for his Thursday Next series, or NCD series doesn’t mean that they should be deprived of Fforde, for that would be an abomination.
- Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy (for the older end of this age range)
In all honesty I could probably write a list as long as the hills, but in doing so I fear that that would be dull in the extreme. However, I am always happy to add to the list, of either recommendations or onto my own reading list if people have either suggestions to give, or wish for further ones.
I’m a Librarian, it’s what I do.