Youngreaderswestsix is the result of several things. One is my friend Susie’s suggestion that I put forward a weekly book recommendation for our children’s school newsletter. Another is, as anyone who knows me will confirm, my ability to talk any willing listener into a corner on the subject of children’s reading and the brilliance of children’s books. Lastly, it’s something of a parting gesture as I bow out of weekly book-changing and library-tidying for an increasingly adventurous group of Y3s and Y5s. I so enjoyed seeing last year’s Y4s, having been practically frogmarched into the library to choose books before the holidays, then discovering favourites on the shelves or the reviews board and buzzing with the excitement of recommending them to each other. I hope they’ll keep that going through this year, next year and ever after.

Susie – it’s taken me a while to follow up, but I hope this is the kind of thing you had in mind.

My patient friends – thank you for not changing the subject, and giving me the chance to refine my ideas.

Y3, Y5 (and Y4 and Y6 too, not to mention your friends and parents) – I hope this will give you lots more ideas, and I’d love to know what you think. Let me know if you agree or disagree, and particularly if you think I’ve missed anyone or anything.

Now, there’s a little more to this blogging lark than I thought – I have a few books to read before next week’s post. How about you?



  1. Anne Fine · · Reply

    HI! Well, for all it was a ghastly school, it clearly didn’t do your education much harm because you’re a pretty brilliant reviewer. And I am so glad that what I said to you all those years ago in Edinburgh was a help. With my very warmest wishes – and thanks! Anne

    1. Thank you Anne – lovely to hear from you and a great start to the year! Must admit that perhaps I didn’t know children’s books quite as well as I thought when I started this blog, but it has been a real pleasure reading through the last few months to fill the gaps, and finding so many brilliantly imagined, perfectly captured, intelligent and emotionally true books being written for children. I’m in no great hurry to go back to grown-up reading (which is perhaps just as well, given that I have three quarters of the alphabet still to cover in this blog, and plenty of reading around the Gs and Ss at the very least).
      Happy New Year to all.

  2. hi M! I think you are doing a brilliant job on this! I think the reviews should be syndicated to all other schools…. I am pulling together books for our summer holidays and got sent a recommended reading list from N’s new school for year 4 – which is very helpful – although a bit scary as there are lots of books that haven’t been read by our 10 year old J. who is a much slower/more selective reading and is still on Percy Jackson….If there were say 10 books that he should have read by his age do you have a recommended shortlist I can steer him to? thanks! Susie

    1. Thank you! This week’s post was something of a marathon – I will be scaling back a bit over the summer. 10 books for a 10-year-old boy, now let me think (and not to diss Percy Jackson, good pacy imaginative stuff – but I know the feeling of perhaps-it’s-time-for-something-else…)

      I posted a while back on the classics problem – the awful disappointment when our children fail to respond to the books we loved – with which, two of the classics that children still seem to find irresistible are The Hobbit and Treasure Island. J may well have read them already, but if not it’s worth looking out a decent modern hardback (Collins and Everyman respectively would be my choice) – mine loved having something a little bit special, and read with that much more enthusiasm and appreciation.

      Morris Gleitzman’s Once and Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom are practically on the classics shelf – my two Y5s “did” Kensuke’s Kingdom last term, and I’m glad to say they were encouraged to read the whole thing, which isn’t always a given… Once is particularly easy to read, if harder to digest, and Then and After are fine sequels – Now is a little older and tougher. Some of Morpurgo’s produced-like-picturebooks stories are excellent, too, for being quick reads that carry a great deal of thought: I Believe in Unicorns or The Kites are Flying, for instance. Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Kite Rider is another classic-in-waiting – a terrific story made outstanding by the evocative detail of its thirteenth-century Chinese setting – as is R J Palacio’s Carnegie-shortlisted Wonder.

      Less obviously “schooly” – great reads that are also surreptitiously thoughtful and well-written – I’d suggest Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Millions, Diana Wynne Jones’ The Ogre Downstairs or Eight Days of Luke, Marcus Sedgwick’s mad Raven Mysteries – which seem far too much fun to be good for you – and Philip Reeve’s Goblins. One more suggestion: if I know J, Stewart and Riddell’s Edge Chronicles might be right up his street – try any of the trilogy-starters The Curse of the Gloamglozer, Beyond the Deepwoods or Freeglader. If any of those take, I guarantee you a peaceful summer and some very inventive extended writing for Y6!

  3. what can I say? other than a huge “Thank You”! I will go through this with J. (and N and R) to finalise the holiday booklist….and might even suggest that his newish school take a peek at your blog (given the rather odd choices they have made so far). Thanks too for your most recent post – which is a huge help. Now I just need the kids to keep reading. Happy holidays! Susie

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