I’m due to launch a new blog in the New Year and in preparation, I’ve compiled a huge list of our favourite 100 books by age category. Much love has been poured into creating this list; every single selection has been read by one of our family or close trusted friends and only included if it’s of the best quality.
To give you a taster, I’ve selected five books from six different age categories, which I think would make the perfect Christmas presents for the children in your life. Three of those age categories, from ages 3 to 10, are included in this post, with ideas for 10 to young adult in my last post. I’ve steered away from the obvious (otherwise there would certainly be Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Michael Morpurgo and Julia Donaldson on the list) so hopefully you can find gifts your loved ones haven’t already read. Personally – and my kids would certainly agree here – delving into a good book, and discovering all its exciting new worlds, characters, and possibilities, is the best way to relax. And thus, they make the perfect Christmas present.
Ages 8 – 10-years
Four children. Four incredible talents. Specially recruited by the benevolent Mr. Benedict to form: The Mysterious Benedict Society and embark on a dangerous mission. Their task: to save the world! Together, they must use their unique gifts to stop the brilliant but evil Mr. Curtain’s plans from taking over the planet through his facility called L.I.V.E. (the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened).
Reynie Muldoon has an exceptional talent for puzzles, codes and riddles. George “Sticky” Washington, with his photographic memory and ability to read books at extreme speed, is like a walking Google. Kate Wetherall is a resourceful girl with a tremendous physical ability. Finally, there’s Constance Contraire, a very small girl with a defiant personality and gift for wordplay and wit. Helped by three eccentric adults, including the genius Mr. Benedict, they alone are the only hope for saving the world from Mr. Curtain’s evil, memory erasing invention: the Whisperer.
The first in an incredible children’s adventure series but be warned: they are deeply addictive!
A children’s classic and my favourite children’s book of all time. It follows the story of a young female protagonist named Sara who, after travelling back from India, is enrolled by her wealthy father, Captain Richard Crewe, at a London boarding school run by the mean Miss Minchin. With her gift for storytelling and kind nature, Sara soon becomes a firm favourite of all the schoolgirls. However, her life of luxury ends abruptly when it is discovered that her father has died and following an unfortunate turn of events, leaves Sara penniless. She is forced by Miss Minchin to live in the freezing attic and work for her board. Never one to be disheartened (and this is what I love so much about this character), she survives by turning to a world of imagination, pretending to be a little princess, as she awaits her rescue from a mysterious benefactor. A beautiful heart-warming story that all children should read.
An excellent and funny trilogy about a race of tiny four-inch-tall Nomes, who live hidden from people under the floorboards of a large Department Store. A commonly held view by these Nomes is that Arnold Bros. created the Store for them to live in and belief in anything as ridiculous as an Outside is most certainly to be scoffed at. So, when another group of Nomes arrive, purportedly from the Outside, bringing with them ideas of legends such as Day and Night, it rocks their world. Even worse, the new arrivals come bearing bad news: the Store is to be demolished! Can these miniature people devise a daring escape plan before it’s too late?
Locked in extraordinary billionaire game master Mr. Lemoncello’s out of this world library, Kyle Keely and his friends attempt to crack codes and unscramble puzzles to escape. The prizes for achieving this are amazing, but the competition is fierce, so the children need to have their wits about them and work together to get to the bottom of what is really going on… A fantastic and fast-paced series of books littered with unexpected twists, for children who love teasing out conundrums.
First in the Adventures on Trains series, this rip-roaring mystery follows Harrison (Hal) Beck voyaging with his travel-writer Uncle Nat on the final journey of the royal Highland Falcon steam train. Things suddenly take a more interesting turn for 11-year-old Hal when the princess’ diamond necklace is stolen, catapulting him and Lenny, a stowaway girl he befriends, into a real-life adventure. When the suspicion falls on Lenny, Hal needs to follow the clues and use all his detective and puzzle-solving skills to save his friend. Can they catch the culprit before they get to the end of the line?
Philip, a young boy, is mistakenly carried away by a magic kite to a far-away island ruled by intelligent talking animals, where first he meets the beavers – Mr Edgar and his fun little grandson, Baby B. Here he discovers that all the other animals have been captured by the evil witch Oyin and are currently being held in the dungeons of Beaver Towers. Tomorrow, she will put them to death and take over as ruler of the island. The only way to stop her dastardly plan is for Philip to set out on a dangerous mission into the witch’s lair to retrieve the vital spell book and let Mr Edgar’s magic set things right. Book one of a trilogy, this is the first chapter book I ever read to the Beans and is our absolute favourite for this age category.
Mrs Piggle-Wiggle doesn’t have any children of her own, but all the neighbourhood children love this eccentric lady who lives in an upside-down house and was once married to a pirate. She understands children and has fun cures for any ailment/bad habit. For example, the “Interrupting Cure,” a powder that when blown on the interrupter renders them temporarily mute every time they try to interrupt, or the “Won’t Pick Up Toys Cure” in which the parents are simply advised to let the mess get so big that it traps the young offender in their room, until they start to miss out on adventures with their friends. The first in a set of stories from the 1950s which the Beans found hilarious when they were younger.
The first in a highly addictive mystery series for young children, the Mystery of the Whistling Caves sees Scott and Jack Carter spending the summer holidays with their great aunt. Expecting a boring stay, they are instead drawn into an exciting adventure with a local girl, Emily Wild, and her lovable dog. Together they sail out to hear the whistling caves but not a sound can be heard… Legend has it that when the caves stop whistling, there will be trouble for the island’s castle. And sure enough, some priceless treasures are stolen from the castle’s museum. The children start to investigate but with suspects everywhere, can the children work out who the thief is, how they smuggled the treasures out of the cave and why the caves have stopped whistling?
When 12-year-old Joe gets the chance to speak to a local reporter about what he would do to change the country for the better, including a passionate speech about saving his beloved local park from closing, the video goes viral. His words are spread across the world and people love his ideas. Somehow, Joe is thrust straight into a seat at Number 10 and takes on the most extraordinary job in the world for a young boy. He starts his PM role enthusiastically with some wacky ideas, like banana-shaped buses, pet pigs for all and swimming pools on trains, but soon discovers that delivering on all those promises isn’t easy as he thought. Will Violetta Crump, the greedy Deputy Prime Minister, who creates the Anti-Silliness League to undermine him, succeed in her mission to have him overthrown? A brilliantly written book that will have your littles laughing out loud with joy!
Quirky and fun-filled classic stories following the escapades of Mrs Pepperpot, a little old lady with a secret – she shrinks to the size of a pepperpot at the most inopportune moments! In her miniature form she can understand and talk to the animals, who help her cope with the tricky situations she encounters. For example, when her plans for learning to swim don’t work out, upon shrinking she asks a frog in the pond to teach her the breaststroke. And when the gingerbread she is baking for three snooty ladies at the local bazaar gets burned, thanks to her shrinking at just the wrong moment, she asks her friend Hannah to dress her up as a mechanical doll and donate her as a prize to the bazaar. The snooty ladies get the surprise of their lives when she overhears them being rude about her gingerbread… With a kind heart and gentle soul, your children will love Mrs Pepperpot and her funny little adventures.
A beautiful book about the power of forgiveness, and the most selected picture book at bedtime when my Beans were little. Bear and Rabbit are the very best of friends. They do everything together: live together, cook together and even sleep in the same bunk. Then one day they discover a shiny thing (a reflective piece of balloon) and when Bear peers into it, he sees an image of himself. But when Rabbit stares at the shiny thing, he’s convinced it’s a picture of him. They fight over who it belongs to and in the process, the shiny thing gets torn. They both stomp away cross, but at night fall, as their anger subsides, they miss each other. As they come together to apologise, they put the two halves of the shiny thing back together and what do they see? A picture of both of them! A simple but gorgeous story with beautiful illustrations.
Little Moon was born a long time ago deep in space. Feeling cold, Little Moon decides he needs to warm up and sets off towards a bright yellow star which looks warm and cosy. On his mission to find his perfect spot to live, Little Moon bumps into all the planets and their moons, black holes, star nurseries, comets and asteroids, some of whom are friendlier than others. But none are his home. Will he ever find anywhere to fit in this solar system? Suddenly, he spots the most beautiful planet ever, with big blue oceans, swirling clouds and green and brown patches of land. Smiling, Earth welcomes Little Moon and asks him to stay as his friend. Little Moon is not lost anymore; he’s found his perfect place to be! A favourite book in this house in which the children learned about our solar system through an endearing and memorable story.
Little Bella is nervous about going ice skating when Daddy Rabbit suggests the activity one snowy day, in stark contrast to her older brother and sister who are super keen. She only has little legs; what if people laugh at her? Never belittling her fears, slowly and gently Daddy Rabbit and her siblings build up her confidence through a series of wintery activities on the way to the ice rink, such as building snow rabbits, or a snow mouse in Bella’s case, and sledging down the hill. When they reach the rink, Bella pulls on her skates, and tentatively steps out onto the ice. She slipped and slid but soon she was skating with style, complete with a huge smile on her face! A perfect confidence-booster of a book for encouraging nervous little ones to be a bit braver and embrace the world with all its many possibilities.
One of a great series that Bean11 loved as a little one, this book follows the adventures of Sir Charlie Stinky Socks, his faithful cat Envelope and the good grey mare. “In the dead of night – when the wind is right – there comes a pitiful sobbing; out of the rumbling, grumbling castle and down the side of the hill…” So, ignoring advice to stay well clear, brave Sir Charlie and his trusty sidekicks decide to investigate this creepy castle and solve the puzzle as to who is crying and why. With a little help from his friends, Sir Charlie once again proves he’s a courageous young knight, setting things right and in the process showing that a problem shared is a problem halved. With wonderfully catchy language, along with fun illustrations and fold out flaps, I think the big appeal of these books are helping children to face their fears. Even when things seem at their most terrifying, somehow Sir Charlie manages to turn the situation on its head and show the silly and fun side, making it feel less frightening. Perfect for sensitive little children with big fears.
Gerald and Piggie are best friends. Gerald is sensible, serious and a worrier. Piggie is the antithesis – he cannot help smiling. These super simple stories are told entirely in speech bubbles, with very few words, but when he was younger, Bean11 found the Gerald and Piggie stories utterly hilarious. I mean laugh out loud until you can’t laugh any more hilarious! In this particular story, Gerald has a bird on his head, and then two, who make a nest, followed by the arrival of three eggs who then hatch. Gerald now has two birds, three chicks and a nest on his head! Piggie comes up with a solution for geting rid of them, but it backfires somewhat!
And that’s it for the ages 3-10 years section. Hope you’ve found some inspiration! If you have older children, look back at my last post to find recommendations for ages 10 to young adult.