WembleyWonderful Tips #31: English Books for Kids

What a better way to get familiar with a culture than read books of the local authors? Here is a list of books by British authors, for all ages and tastes, tried and tested by the WembleyWonderful family . We hope you will like them as much as we did! I have put links to the Amazon shop everywhere, just because I’m lazy, but you can often find much cheaper offers at the Book People, especially when buying book sets (very dangerous link if, like me, you are a combination of shopping addict and book addict…)

For pre-readers (and frankly for everyone else!), there is a large variety of albums with lovely pictures and very poetic text. Rhymes are used much more often for this age than in French book which, as the adult reading the story, I find really enjoyable. The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle), We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Michael Rosen), Elmer (David McKee) and The Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson) are extremely famous and this is fully deserved. Less famous but my absolute favourite (I cry each time, how cheesy…) is No Matter What (Debi Gliori).

For children leaning to read, the Oxford Reading Tree “Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper is amazing – the characters are recurrent and very friendly; the stories are fun; and for parents, the reading progression levels are perfectly appropriate and straightforward. I would recommend buying them as a set from level 1 to level 6 (see here and here), by level 6 your child is a perfectly fluent reader in English. The WembleyWonderful children have also enjoyed the Usborne Farmyard Tales but they are more appropriate for children who can already read a bit. For even more advanced reader, all of the Winnie the Witch books (by Valerie Thomas) are really fun, I would definitely recommend buying them as a set.

For older children, all of Roald Dahl’s books are is of course an absolute must – here as well you can buy them as a set, allowing you to start with the shorter ones (Fantastic Mr Fox, The Twits, Elio Trot) and move on to longer one (Mathilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). So are the Enid Blyton series – not all the WembleyWonderful children likes the Fantastic Fives (= Le Club des Cinq) as much as I did as a child and in any case I love reading them in French!, but my eldest adored the girly stories of Malory Towers and St Clare’s . My children are all very fond of the Tom Gates books (Liz Pichon), with their combination of drawings and text. We also had loads of fun reading the Horrible Histories (Terry Deary), which look at history with a definite British humour – not always the most subtle but the children love it! The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis) are a classic, although once again not all my children liked them. And of course there is the Harry Potter series (J.K.Rowling) – if you’re already a fan the Harry Potter studios are very close to LIL, in Watford, advanced booking recommended.

For teenagers – well, we haven’t explored much yet but I’ll keep you posted when we enter those murky waters…

And for adults, obviously there is a wealth of choice. I won’t bore you with classics which you probably know- Shakespeare, Dickens, the Bronte sister are the ones I like but there are so many more for me to discover! For novels of contemporary authors, I would recommend Alexander McCall Smith , in particular The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency and the 44 Scotland Street series; and Kate Atkinson ’s Life after Life and Behind the Scenes of the Museum. For detective stories, both me and Mr WembleyWonderful adore Anne Perry’s William Monk series , set in Victorian London; and C.J.Sansom’s Shardlake Series , which take place at the time of the dissolution of the Catholic Church.