Holiday reading: The best children's books for the summer break

With the school summer holidays approaching, Emma Dunn and Hannah Sycamore select the best books for children aged 0-12

One Tiny Dot by Lucy Rowland and Gwen Millward
One Tiny Dot by Lucy Rowland and Gwen Millward

Ages 0-5

One Tiny Dot by Lucy Rowland and Gwen Millward (Templar Publishing, £6.99) is in fact one mighty dot, who gets bigger each time someone is kind to them, and in turn spreads kindness throughout the land. The little dot is adorable, and kindness being a tangible object that grows and shrinks is a brilliant way to explain to children how feelings change and shift. Clever rhyming prose moves the story along at a gentle pace and Millward’s expressive characters come alive in a bright and bold colour palette.

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Ready for Spaghetti: Funny Poems for Funny Kids by Michael Rosen and Polly Dunbar (Walker Books, £14.99) is a fabulous collection of new rhymes for young readers. Michael Rosen has a special understanding of how little ones think and he weaves his wordsmith magic to full effect here. Each short poem captures a moment from childhood from the joy of waking up – "Up up uppity-up!” to being “all setti for spaghetti” at dinnertime. Polly Dunbar’s accompanying artwork perfectly captures the chaos and delights of childhood.

Ready for Spaghetti: Funny Poems for Funny Kids by Michael Rosen and Polly Dunbar

Vehicles by Okidokid and Liuna Virardi (Little Tiger, £6.99) is a beautifully vivid board book which is perfect for little hands. Virardi’s striking artwork will entice the youngest readers to pick it up and explore the lift-the-flap world of opposites.

Once Upon a… Fairytale by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara (Macmillan Children’s Book, £7.99) is an imaginative “choose your own adventure” for young children. A villain has put a curse on the realm and the Queen needs YOU. You can decide who you want to be (how about a courteous fox or a jolly woodcutter’s son?) and where you want to live (a tower on a windy hill or even a creepy crumbly haunted shack). Brilliant for sharing with super cute illustrations, this is a fun and empowering book that puts the reader at the centre of the story.

Ages 6-8

Because of You, John Lewis by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Keith Henry Brown (Scholastic Press, £14.99) is an inspiring story of friendship and activism. Based on the true story of ten-year-old Tybre Faw and his friendship with Congressman John Lewis, this is a powerful story about dreaming big and standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. With stunning artwork by Keith Henry Brown to accompany the poetic narrative, this is a book which readers will treasure.

The Boy Who Grew a Tree

The Boy Who Grew a Tree by Polly Ho-Yen and illustrated by Sojung Kim-McCarthy (Knights Of paperback original, £5.99) is exquisite and original story of the importance of libraries and green spaces for inner city communities. Timi tells his own story, of the tree that grew inside a library, and how he and friends took a stand to protect it. Told in beautifully crafted prose by Polly Ho-Yen, and with charming illustrations by Sojung Kim-McCarty, this is storytelling at its best.

Kitty Quest: Trial by Tentacle by Phil Corbett (Simon and Schuster, £8.99) is perfect for fans of Phoenix Comics or the Bunny vs Monkey graphic novels. Laugh-out-loud funny, this is a highly entertaining and utterly delightful story. The island of Pawdor is in peril from sea monster, but luckily Kitty Quest are on hand to tackle these tentacled beats. Quick and witty, this is a thrilling and enjoyable read.

For a magical summer read, dive into The Marvellous Granny Jinks and Me: Animal Magic by Serena Holly, illustrated by Selom Sunu (Simon and Schuster, £6.99). Inspired by the true story of Jenny Mayers, the first Black woman to be accepted into the Magic Circle, this new series is sure to entertain. With magical antics throughout, and tips for performing magic effects at home, this is a charming read.

Ages 9-12

Because of You, John Lewis by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Keith Henry Brown

For those apprehensive about starting a new school after the summer, When I See Blue by Lily Bailey (Orion Children’s Books, £7.99) is a compelling read. The story follows Ben as he starts school and begins making friends, all whilst he learns to manage his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But the road isn’t smooth, and at the Halloween Disco, his new friendship with Alice is tested. With characters you will take to your heart and never want to leave, this is heart-warming and joyous read about the importance of empathy and understanding.

An equally mesmerising tale of friendship and family, Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu from Scottish author Maisie Chan (Piccadilly Press, £7.99) is captivating read. Lizzie Chu lives with her grandad in Glasgow, and both are struggling to adjust to life without Grandma Kam. As ballroom dancing fans, when they are left tickets to the tea dance at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, Lizzie is determined to go. An uplifting and powerful story about never giving up on your dreams, this is a must read.

Transporting you to a remote Scottish island The Billow Maidens by James Dixon (Guppy Books, £7.99) is an ideal summer read. Intertwining the magic of Celtic and Norse mythology with the contemporary experience, this is a unique tale. In a dark cave Ailsa discovers Hefring, a daughter of the waves. With the help of new friend Camilla, the two work together to save Hefring. But events are conspiring against them. Can they save her in time? Magical and hopeful, this is story that will capture readers’ imagination and hearts.

Spies by David Long and stunningly illustrated by Terri Po (Faber, £18.99) is perfect for non-fiction lovers and those looking for a thrilling summer read. Exploring courageous spies and secret agents from around the world, these stories will fascinate and intrigue. Written in an engaging and accessible style, this is a superb book for younger readers, perfect for those looking to pore over the pages of espionage and daring deeds this summer.

Scottish Book Trust: Reading is Caring

Scottish Book Trust has recently launched a fundraising appeal to support more people affected by dementia. The charity runs Reading is Caring, a new programme which provides personalised training on creating shared, sensory reading experiences to support people living with dementia and those caring for someone with dementia. Reading is Caring is designed to ease daily challenges by creating special moments of connection, sparking positive memories and relieving stress. It is currently only available in one region of Scotland and the charity is raising funds to reach more people in need of support. Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust commented: “More and more people in Scotland are living with dementia or caring for someone with dementia. We have seen the huge difference Reading is Caring personalised training makes to daily lives of those affected by dementia and it is equally beneficial to the person living with dementia and the person caring for them. We want to reach more people allover Scotland with our specialised support.” Reading is Caring is currently running in the Scottish Borders and will move to Edinburgh and the Lothians in August. To find out more and to donate, visit www.scottishbooktrust.com/donate/reading-is-caring