By Nicci, The Kids Books Curator
My top picks selected from both new and recently published childrens chapter books (for ages 5+, 6+ & 7+).
How many of these have you read and enjoyed too?
Any you hadn't come across before?
The books are listed in recommended reading age order (not in order of preference).
'Round and Round Goes Mother Nature: 48 Stories of Life Cycles Around the World'
by Gabby Dawnay, illustrated by Margaux Samson Abadie
(Wide Eyed Editions)
For ages 5+
🌱A whole tome of lifecycles: animal, vegetable, mineral and more!! The versatility of the illustrator alone is beyond impressive, whether depicting the birth of 56,000 octopii or the event of a Supernova. Wow. Gabby Dawnay turns her hand to all types of children’s literature whether the highly successful “If I Had a…” rhyming fun pet series, or her work with OKIDO magazine or collections of bedtime stories, and much more. Respectfully, this is a woman who grafts for her art. Wide Eyed Editions as a publisher are well known for their big and beautiful books. I knew as I saw the elaborate and beautiful cover artwork online that I had to have this. It doesn’t disappoint. Do you have a child who loves self-learning, garnering as much information as possible, is delighted by finding out about the world around them, has a curious mind? This is for you! Even as a ‘dip into’ style book, this makes the cut - for the classroom, the home education room, you will be able to find topics in here that’ll last you all your primary age learning years.
🌱Helpfully the book’s chapters are sectioned off into: Animals, Plants & Fungi, Earth, Space with a total of 107 pages and an index at the back. As an adult reading this from cover-to-cover in one sitting, I was struck by how accessible each topic’s double page spread is. Each one has a concise and inviting introduction followed by a numbered sequence each time following the mating > birth > life > death > new life cycle. Many a time I ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaaahed’ to myself or shouted out a “did you know…” around the house. Of all the things, I had always believed sand was made up of tiny bits of glass, shell and more… NOPE… its made of quartz from hardened magma from beneath the Earth’s crust. This may seem a small thing to be amazed about, but as a parent I now realise that there are a few things that I thought I’d been ‘knowledgeable’ about, that now thanks to this book, I know I’ve been misinforming my kids about! Eek.
🌱What else has stayed with me? The fact that ‘she’ and ‘her’ are prevalent in the telling of many of these Earth life-cycle stories; that so many of our insects die so soon after mating and actually most of their life is as grubs before metamorphosis; that the naked mole-rat lives much like a Queen bee as the head of her family and breeding in an underground ‘hive’ of tunnels of her own; the devastating beauty then the rotting flesh-like stink of the Baobab tree; the trajectory of the comets… I have to stop, there are so many things I could list here, even from memory. I tell you the truth, I couldn’t sleep last night because my mind was buzzing with all this wonderful information about the planet we co-habit. Really awesome.
'Growing Up: An Inclusive Guide to Puberty and Your Changing Body'
by Rachel Greener, illustrated by Clare Owen
For ages 6+
🌱As soon as I’d closed the cover on ‘Growing Up’, I photo’d it for an Insta Story to let you all know how brilliant it is, I couldn’t wait for the review. As a follow up to ‘Making A Baby: An Inclusive Guide to How Every Family Begins’, with its trade mark illustrations by Clare Owen, Rachel Greener has once more ticked a mahoosive box for inclusivity and representation. I love this book! Every child embarking on their puberty journey should have access to a copy of ‘Growing Up’. I wish I’d had this book as a preteen, heck, even a teen! Official sex education was non-existent in my boarding school, I think we did something about mating frogs once… so anything to do with understanding and recognising signs of growing up through body changes, hormones, mood swings, and the surge of strong feelings that begin for someone special, well that was all just rather hit and miss!
🌱To some adults, the publisher’s recommended reading age starting at 6 years old might seem a tad young for children to be exposed to the trials and tribulations of spots, periods, armpit hair, ‘wet dreams’ and random erections - however, it is your call. That’s what I’m here for, to help you decide!! You know your child or the children in your care best. Some children go through puberty as young as 7 or 8 years old, whilst other might be early teens. My advice on this one is to read this book first then share it with or give it to your child to read, plus always a good idea to have a chat afterwards or ask if they have any questions. I remember doing this with my daughter (now 11) when she had the ‘Making A Baby’ book. I remember being so proud of her attitude to finding out about all the topics in the book and the chats that we had afterwards. It helped us both to be open about discussing sex and making babies, for I didn’t grow up in a family where such things were ever spoken of.
🌱I’ve digressed… back to this fab book. The plentiful and engaging illustrations represent children from multiple heritages, children with disabilities, children who identify across the gender spectrum. Whilst covering the obvious elements of going through puberty, this guide book also associates children’s changes in emotions and social awareness to the attractiveness of developing relationships online, highlighting where situations might become inappropriate and what to do in such cases. There are frequent reminders to the children using this book to talk to a responsible and trusted adult should they have any concerns or questions. At the end of the book there is a helpful Glossary. I feel confident in saying that this is a book that truly speaks to the children of our time. Let’s make sure that our children are not naïve, they’re not left exposed to bullying, or vulnerable to the behaviour of older or more physically mature kids around them.
'Wonderfully Wired Brains: An Introduction to the World of Neurodiversity'
by Louise Gooding, illustrated by Ruth Burrows
For ages 7+
Format: Kindle e-book
🌱It’s no wonder that this has become an overnight bestseller across almost all online book retailers. You can’t read the news or watch any TV these days without ADHD or autism being featured somewhere, somehow. I’m all for it! As a neurodivergent family, I have to say… IT’S ABOUT TIME FOLKS!! Could’ve done with this book a few years ago.
🌱Author, Louise Gooding (herself with an ADHD wired brain) takes the reader through the biology of the brain, its make up, the various functions and purposes of each internal portion. It might feel like a science lesson, but honestly, stick with it, because these are the fascinating basics you need to take you onto the juicy content about neurodiversity. What this book doesn’t do is glorify neurodivergent brains or people. There isn’t a sense of trying to help the reader to find out whether they themselves are neurodivergent. What this book does is gives the vital clarity (at an appropriate level for 7+ year olds) to many children, parents, teachers and carers who need to be able to distinguish between the various different neurodivergent diagnoses ranging from ADHD to dyslexia, OCD to autism, sleep disorders and tics. This book can help a family have conversations with other siblings who might not be neurodivergent, but have a sibling who is, or perhaps a classroom might be in need of some empathy growth, or perhaps for a child with a new diagnosis this will provide them with comfort and reassurance.
🌱As a neurodivergent person, you don’t need to be surrounded by other neurodivergent people to feel safe and confident in life, it’s about others around you understanding your brain and respecting its processing differences and needs. The closing pages provide some useful guidance for readers about brain self-care, e.g. staying hydrated, take rest, exercise, have time away from screens. There is also an Index. Superb.
'Lessons From Our Ancestors: Equality, Inclusivity and Sustainability in the Ancient World'
by Raksha Dave, illustrated by Kimberlie Clinthorne-Wong
(Magic Cat Publishing)
For ages 7+
🌱This is a history book that openly defies the years of academic and systemic racism in our history curriculum, exposing the true history of civilisations around the world who, even 9000 years ago, lived in sustainable and fair societies with underground plumbing, thriving trade and welfare amongst their citizens. TV and academic archaeologist, Raksha Dave, with visible testimony from Sir Tony Robinson on the front cover, has pulled together a fascinating collection of history, history that your children are not likely to be taught in a mainstream primary school here in the UK - and that’s the shame.
🌱'Lessons From Our Ancestors’ takes the reader around the world, from Australia to Africa to South America and to Europe. The learning in this book overturns teaching across the board… yes, women painted cave paintings too, Native American Indians had thriving and complex cities before they were massacred by Europeans, Egypt once had Black Pharaohs, and so much more. Accompanied by engaging and respectful illustrations, the author tells each story through an initial double spread with labeled diagrams, then the following double spread lends to her expertise as an archeologist with specific objects that have been discovered that have provided evidence of these great civilisations - evidence that cannot be denied.
🌱When you’re next marvelling at the ‘Ancient’ Romans in your history lessons, talking about viaducts, roads, and sewers, perhaps have a copy of this book next to you on your desk at page 18 and let the children know about the city of Mohenjo-Daro in the country now known as Pakistan, back in 2500-1900BCE? There is information at the end of the book about archeology and a helpful Glossary. Enjoy!
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N.B. The tags below don't apply in entirety to each of the above books. The tags are grouped all together at the end of the post to enable readers to find relevant posts within the whole website, a bit like a search function.