Archive for July, 2010

Some great new ideas for children’s books

July 20, 2010

As regular followers will know, I’m always looking for new ideas for Hummingbird Books, but since it takes some time to go from suggestion to fully tested by the children who test read for the site, I thought you might like to hear about one or two of the latest series vying for a place on our site. They certainly have good reviews.

The first is an old series about a boy called Jeremy James. I particularly liked this review on Amazon:

Review for Triple Trouble with Jeremy James. *****

I stumbled across a jeremy james book almost 20 yrs ago; I found myself laughing out loud, bought it,took it into the classroom and within half a page, reduced the kids to helpless laughter.
Since then i have read almost the total collection of his adventures to kids ranging from reception to the sophisticates of the 6th year. Always the same result…utter enjoyment! You could say that these stories are the “just William” tales of the 21st century. Each chapter a beautifully crafted individual tale that provides a perfect end of the day moment.
There really isn’t enough “good” humorous writing out there for kids to read these days, but JJ really fills the bill…and if you are a teacher like me…these stories are just an absolute JOY to read out loud …get yourself a set…you’ll never regret it.

This week, some of the 7 and 8 year olds in Class 3 have been telling me how much they are enjoying the “Charlie” books by Hilary McKay. Titles include
Charlie and the Cat-flap
Charlie and the Cheese and Onion Crisps
Charlie and the Rocket Boy

As so often with books for the 6+ age range, the children are grateful for the large font and the many pictures in these books.

If you’re looking for something more suited to an avid reader at the top of this age group, try the dragonology chronicles books, by Dugald A.Steer;The Dragon’s Eyeand The Dragon Diary are likely to be popular with all young dragon fans.


Help to find books that your child will really like

July 16, 2010

Finding books that their child will really like is a challenge for any parent. I have, on many occasions, stood in a bookshop or library wondering which are the really good ones. But it doesn’t have to be such a hit and miss affair these days thanks to modern technology and the web.

If I am looking for a book for my son to read, I usually go into a bookshop, note down possible titles and then go and look up the reviews, before putting the ones with high star ratings to my son for his approval. Obviously it takes a bit more work than just taking a chance on a book, but it certainly cuts out alot of frustration for my son and cuts down on the cost for me ensuring that I don’t purchase lots of mediocre books.

However, if you haven’t got much time, our site Hummingbird Books, cuts out a lot of this preliminary leg work , as we list only books that have been given good star ratings by our test readers. So, if you’re interested in only finding the very best books for children, click on the link and see what your children think!

Summer Reading for 6-8 year olds

July 12, 2010

Summer holidays are just around the corner and I thought you may be interested in one or two ideas for summer holiday reading.

Several of the girls in Class 3 (a mixed age class from 6-9 years), who I work with once a week, have been loving “ The Naughtiest Girl in The School” series by Enid Blyton. The good readers can read it for themselves, while the slightly less confident ones enjoy having it read to them. Meanwhile, for those lovers of fairies, mermaids and similar stories, Mermaid Magic by Gwyneth Rees is an ever popular choice. In fact, there often seems to be a fight between the 8 year olds as to who can borrow this book next.

Some great fun books for the younger end of this age group are the Ricky Ricotta books, which feature lots of “How to draw Ricky and Friends” as well as a simple story and great illustrations.

The boys at this age seem to need a bit more effort put in, to persuade them that reading is fun. Many still enjoy the non-fiction books about dinosaurs, aeroplanes etc and switching them across to non fiction can be quite a challenge. The Dinosaur Cove series are especially good from this viewpoint as they have the theme of dinosaurs (along with some great illustrations), but put into a story. They are suitable for newly confident readers who are no longer on a school reading scheme.For keen football players, the Tom Palmer books are all about football , but again in a story setting.

I have tried, but sadly in vain, to get one super-intelligent boy, aged 8, onto fiction books, but he insists on staying with his aeroplane books. They have to be about modern planes eg Airbus 380 and need to describe the workings of the plane. When I asked him why these were his favourites he said that if he were ever on a flight and the pilot was unable to continue flying the plane for some reason, he could save all the passengers on board. I guess popular fiction will have to wait!

There is another youngster with a fascination of aircraft in this class too, this time because his mother works for one of the big airlines. “What does your Mum do?” I innocently asked. “Is she cabin crew or a pilot?”  “Well, came the answer, she does pilot sometimes, but she’s not very good at it, so mostly she’s cabin crew. So, for all those fascinated still with facts be it aircraft or sport, The Guiness World of Records, is often very well received.

For those who have made that leap to fiction, check out our site, Hummingbird Books, where all our books have been recommended by children themselves as “brilliant”, “amazing” or just “really, really good”.

Summer Holidays are on the way

July 8, 2010

Ok, so you’re either breathing a huge sigh of relief that the children are nearly on holiday, or you’re thinking how are we going to fill 6 weeks or more?

Although the weather will hopefully be good and you won’t be in that much, it might be a good idea to have a stock of books for those “gaps before tea” or for winding down time before bed. If the weather is not so great, then a few really good reads can certainly help. I am dedicating my Thursday blog to 9-12 year olds. If you’d like some ideas for your 6-8s, then keep your eyes peeled next Monday July 12th.

My first suggestion is The Ranger’s Apprentice series. Not as commonly found in schools, as the Percy Jackson books, but according to the children, just as good.

If your children enjoyed Percy Jackson, they must try Terry Deary’s  The Fire Thief series, also based on Greek Mythology.

On our website, Hummingbird Books, we try to always list the correct order that books in a series are written, but there is a very helpful website that lists all the main series, which I keep in my favourites. Children at school are always asking” Which is the second book in the……. series?” You can find that website here.

A very powerful book from Julia Golding , Ringmaster,  is probably better suited to the older end of this age range.It has a central character who is a girl, which makes a for a change for a spy book,buit it is enjoyed equally by boys and girls. My son loved this book when he was 11.For the younger end, The Talent Thief is always amazingly popular, although its sequel, is not as popular with the children I talk to.

And finally, a heart warming book that a Year 5 girl first pointed out to me by Elizabeth Laird is Red Sky in The Morning, about a 12 year old girl coming to terms with the birth of her disabled brother.

You can find all these books at our website here. We finance our site and blog through being an Amazon affiliate, so if you wish to buy any books, you’ll have the advantage of their great prices and rarely any postage.Enjoy a peaceful holiday!

Popular books for 6-8 year olds

July 5, 2010


Last week, we asked the frequently-asked question, “Is there life after Horrid Henry?”  Children seem to love HH so much, that he becomes a sort of comfort blanket and they find it very hard to move on to something else. The same seems to apply to Daisy Meadows’s Rainbow Magic books, but with a bit of patience it really is possible to move on.

Class 3 (a mixed age class with children from the age of 6-9) with whom I regularly work, have one 7 year old girl who was pretty much addicted to the Rainbow Magic books and just didn’t  want to move on to anything else. But now we have discovered the Secret Mermaid series – they look very similar, with a fairly large font, lots of illustrations and not too long a book and she seems very happy to read them.

Having discovered a new series that she is comfortable with, I don’t think it will be a problem now, to move onto other series. It was almost as if she felt, and others like her felt, that they wouldn’t be able to manage anything other than the Rainbow Magic books. It does appear that taking things very slowly at this critical point in their reading is the most important thing. Other possible series at this stage include the Stardust books eg “Magic by Moonlight” and  “My Secret Unicorn” books.

For more book ideas at Hummingbird Books click here.

It doesn’t matter what they read as long as they read something

July 2, 2010

Lots of the parents I talk to, seem to be keen to get their children to read particular books which they believe are best for getting their child reading.

These might be books that the parent remembers from their childhood such as the “Famous Five” series by Enid Blyton or perhaps Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons”. However they probably need to be given more or less anything (with words in) that will capture their imagination. If we are trying to encourage our children to have a love of reading, we probably need to concentrate on books they will love, rather than ones we feel are good for them. Hopefully within a short space of time, their reading will take off of its own accord.

Here are a few ideas for launching your child into the world of books and reading:

  •  books on a favourite subject such as football. They will learn lots of words from reading a football annual, and indeed may well be able to guess words they haven’t previously come across such as “manager”  and “league”
  • comic type books such as “Asterix”
  • books written in graphic novel format such as Anthony Horowitz’s ” Stormbreaker”. Here, the pictures really help to guide the reader through the story
  • funny books , like “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid”.

For children whose reluctance to read has meant that books for their reading age seem to be  too babyish, try Barrington Stoke books . They have  a fantastic range of books that are easy to read, but have storylines suited to older children. For instance, many of their books have great adventure stories suited to 11 year olds that have a reading age of just 6 years.See these books here. They are also great for dyslexic children.

Whether or not your child is a ” reluctant reader” or a “soon-to-be avid reader”, start them off gently, with something they will love and they will hopefully then develop that lifelong reading habit. At our website you will find the best books for children – all have been recommended by children themselves.