As children of the 1980s, we grew up reading Roald Dahl and there is absolutely no denying the enormous impact his books have had on not one but several generations of young bookworms. We’ve shared his books with our own children and enjoyed seeing the way Charlie, Matilda, Mr Fox and so many more of Dahl’s fantastic characters have inspired them. And yet there is a little bit of us that is disappointed when we see his name pop up yet again on a list of books recommended for classroom reading.
Roald Dahl is one of a few go-to authors that teachers and parents know kids will love. But what about the many other amazing children’s authors out there? If we keep going back to Roald Dahl, how will kids discover the raft of contemporary, culturally-relevant children’s books that are being published right now?
With Roald Dahl’s books so prominent and accessible outside the classroom – at home, in libraries and bookshops – the classroom seems like a good place to start this exploration of other authors. It would limit the number of times children are read a book they’ve already enjoyed at home or, even worse, had read to them by a previous teacher.
We know that it’s tough for teachers to carve out time and space in the school timetable for reading for pleasure. Teachers that prioritise it and choose to read to the class as a whole are heroes in our eyes. And yet we know that discovering exciting new titles that will engage the whole class can be time-consuming and difficult.
There are some fantastic groups on social media who champion reading for pleasure in the classroom and offer brilliant recommendations. The various children’s book award longlists are another great source of high-quality titles that might otherwise have flown under the radar.
And in the hope that it helps teachers and parents alike discover something a bit different, we’ve put together this list of books that we’ve sent our subscribers in the past and that we’re confident would work brilliantly as classroom reading too:
Perfect for Year 1: The Incredible Dadventure by Dave Lowe (Piccadilly Press)
Holly’s dad is an explorer and for Holly’s birthday he’s planned a special treasure hunt, just for her. She has to complete ten tasks in ten days – some silly, some tricky and some downright terrifying.
Perfect for Year 2: Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer & illustrated by Daniel Rieley (OUP)
Arthur opens his front door one day to discover an enormous, funny, clumsy polar bear standing on his doorstep. Has he really come to help Arthur with his embarrassing brother Liam?
Perfect for Year 3: Kurt Gets Truckloads by Erland Loe (Gecko Press)
Kurt is a truck driver. Until one day he saves a man’s life and is rewarded with a diamond as big as a football, which he sells for fifty million dollars. Now that he has a truckload of money, it is perhaps not surprising that Kurt turns nasty…
Perfect for Year 4: Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs by Gwen Lowe (Chicken House)
When Alice Dent gets a cold, she has no idea how much trouble it's about to cause. Because this is no ordinary cold: it comes with some seriously weird side effects. For a start, Alice can't stop giggling and every animal she meets sticks to her like glue!
Perfect for Year 5: The Jewelled Jaguar by Sharon Tregenza (Firefly Press)
With his mother in hospital, Griffin has to stay with his uncle, aunt and weird cousin Cinnamon. But Griffin and Cinnamon must find a way to work together to solve the mystery of the fabulous Aztec knife about to go on display in their town. Is it really cursed?
Perfect for Year 6: The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare by Zillah Bethell (Piccadilly Press)
In a near future where water is scarce and carefully rationed, Auden Dare uncovers an intelligent robot and an extraordinary mystery in his uncle’s shed. Can he save the world and make it rain again?
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