The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo

Julia Donaldson

This is one of my ultimate favourite children’s books. This story tells the tale of a clever little mouse, who unwittingly finds himself in a tricky situation and is forced to outfox a fox, trick an owl and side-line a surreptitious snake!

In doing so, he has unintentionally invented a Gruffalo! When mouse is faced with the Gruffalo, his wit and courage shines through as he sets out to trick him as well. The fact that Donaldson’s protagonist is almost insignificant in size, sends a lovely message to children that no matter your size or appearance, you are capable of being both brainy and brilliant! Julia Donaldson’s skilled use of short rhymes and repetitive structure throughout the story truly makes it unforgettable. It is a great read, with fantastic illustrations by Axel Scheffler. In addition, my two and a half year old son adores this book. It has fuelled both his imagination and vocabulary and he can now recite the key parts off by heart and with passion! A recommended read that will never be replaced on my bookcase!

Mrs McInerney

Hairy Maclary

Hairy Maclary

Lynley Dodd

I must have read this book a thousand times and it still makes me smile. The rhythm and the rhyme means it’s a joy to read out loud, it also means it's something the children can join in with. I love how each dog is described so vividly and how their characters come alive through a very simple story. The illustrations are timeless. It's a book that leaves you wanting to find out more about this unruly rabble of hounds. Fortunately, Lynley Dodd has created a whole series of books about these colourful characters that are equally enchanting so you can further follow their antics.

Mrs Jones

War Horse

War Horse

Michael Morpurgo

I have just finished reading this book with my ten year old boy.  It is a story set in the 1st World War, told from a working horse, Joey's, perspective, as he is split from his devoted owner and conscripted for the War.  I found it amazing how even though the story is narrated from a horse's perspective, Michael Morpugo creates a close bond between the reader and Joey, and strong empathy with the events and characters that surround him.  The fact that an animal's emotions are more raw and instinctive than a human's results in a powerful portrayal of daily life on the battlefields and my favourite moment was when a German and a British soldier shared a moment of humour and friendship when debating which side should nurse Joey back to health when he is discovered with a major injury.  

Mrs Irvine

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Philip Pullman

This is my favourite children's novel and part of an exceptionally imaginative and thought provoking trilogy of books by Philip Pullman. The complex relationship between Lyra, Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel had me captivated from the start. The northern lights have always intrigued me from a scientific perspective so this clever reimagining of their purpose was the perfect hook into this story. My favourite character is Iorek Byrnison, an incredible armoured bear and key ally to Lyra. I recommend this novel to any child in Years 5 or 6 looking for a book so addictive you won’t be able to put it down!

Mr Jackson

Doomspell

Doomspell

Cliff McNish

One of my favourite books has to be ‘Doomspell’ by Cliff McNish.  I have read the trilogy so many times now that I have lost count!

The Doomspell books are about a brother and sister who are sucked into a world that is ruled by a witch called Dragwena.  The girl discovers that she has extraordinary gifts which Dragwena wishes to use for her own evil purposes. However, for the Witch’s victims, the girl offers them a new hope. The story is full of lots of exciting, mystical characters and constantly has you on the edge of your seat. I love how much this book pushes me to use my imagination and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys magical, fantasy lands.

Miss Peaty

Rooftoopers

Rooftoopers

Katherine Rundell

Rooftoppers is one of the most moving, beautiful and poignant books I have ever read! I was hooked from page one by the rich, unique and extraordinary characters and context. It was a book that made me stop and reflect at so many points in the novel and was a strangely calming read.  It is a wonderful narrative of love, hope and faith.  Of believing in the impossible. The irreplaceable and pivotal importance of one’s love for their mother was for me the key theme and that moved me to tears!

Karen Tulloch

United Learning English Adviser to Avonwood 

The Skylark's War

The Skylark's War

Hilary McKay

I read this book over the Christmas holidays and I loved it. The book tells the story of Clarry and her older brother Peter and their wonderful summers in Cornwall. Here they spend time with their cousin Rupert, who they grow to love very dearly. They get up to all sorts of adventures together including swimming in the sea and exploring the countryside.

Their childhoods could go on for an eternity, but eventually they have to grow up and face some harsh realities. Rupert goes to war and has to fight and survive in the trenches. His only comfort comes from the letters he gets from his dear Clarry and the hope of one day going home to meet up with her again.

This is a vivid and heart-warming depiction of life in World War One, it really came alive for me further when I visited the Tank Museum too.

Mr Evans

 

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.

C.S. Lewis

One of the most enchanting and well written stories I have read is: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.

The book takes you on a journey into the magical land of Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the most memorable book amongst the entire Narnia Chronicles. There is plenty of humor and courage and the inhabitants of Narnia stay with you for a long, long time. It is such a terrific fantasy story!

Mr Ellison-Lee

Director of Primary Education
United Learning

Wonder

Wonder

R. J. Palacio

I read ‘Wonder’ as an adult but wished I had read it earlier in life! It is a touching story from a number of characters’ point of views about a boy named August who has a medical condition, often equated with Treacher Collins syndrome, which has left his face disfigured. This book demonstrated Auggie’s difficult transition from home-schooling to life at school and the friends he makes as a result. As a reader, you feel yourself confused at the empathy you feel for the most unlikely of characters. I can’t recommend it highly enough! 

Miss Glenard

The Murderer’s Ape

The Murderer’s Ape

Jakob Wegelius

The Murderer’s Ape would not have been my first choice but having committed to reading the UKLA book awards shorlists with a group of trainee teachers, I had to. What a treat! It was a swashbuckling, exciting, twist and turny adventure which travelled the globe and took me with it. I had not imagined to feel so connected to narrator nor believe so wholeheartedly that it was actually an ape. Some of the content and themes need to be carefully approached with children, but the story really is a gripping yarn. I could not wait to find out what happened next at every turn, and was never expecting it!

Karen Tulloch

United Learning English Adviser to Avonwood 

The Goblet of Fire

The Goblet of Fire

J. K. Rowling

I have always been a Harry Potter fan but my favourite has to be The Goblet of Fire. It was the first book that I ever pre ordered and then stayed up to complete in one sitting – I was spellbound. For me the strength of J.K Rowling is her ability to use words and phrases that create such vivid images within the mind of the reader for both the colourful characters but also for the mysterious and magical world that they live in. Within this story, the true depth of the friendship and love between Harry, Ron and Hermione really shines through despite the trials and troubles that they all face. A beautiful example of how friendships aren’t always plain sailing but through mutual respect, a true friendship will endure anything. I was so excited when my daughter was old enough for us to enjoy it together, to act out parts and create our own ‘spells’ and ‘potions’. Although the film was good, the book was by far more powerful and has stayed with me to enjoy even as an adult!

Miss Keates

The Minpins

The Minpins

Roald Dahl

This is one of my favourite stories, as a child and an adult. I love any Roald Dahl book! 

I’ve read this to it all my classes and hope that they get lost in the same world of fantasy and adventure as I do when I read it. 

The story is about a little boy called Billy who goes against his mother’s word and explores the world outside his garden. He disappears into the forbidden forest and this is where the adventure begins... 

He soon comes across the fearsome, galloping Gruncher. He narrowly escapes and makes friends with ‘The Minpins’ which opens up a world of adventure for him.  

The children always say to me ‘Minpins aren’t real’ and I say ’how do you know? Have you ever looked closely at the trees?’ 

I love the pause and look of wonder on their faces. 

I still look carefully when I’m out walking in the hope that one day I might just spot a secret little door or window, high up in the trees, belonging to a Minpin. 

Miss Sloane

Sophie hits Six

Sophie hits Six

Dick King Smith

This is an author that my 8 year old daughter and I read together at bedtime.  

Both my girls have loved books since birth with bath time books, first word books, toddler books, picture books and then moving on to independent reading of chapter books.  Dick King Smith's animal adventures have been a real hit for my daughter, who finds reading a real challenge.  But this series has enabled her to make that transition from book banded books  to reading simple chapter books more manageable without losing confidence.  She has always loved animals from a very young age and it is so important if you have a reluctant reader to keep trying with different genres to inspire and hook them by focusing on what interests them. 

  

Sophie is a very determined little girl who one day dreams to be a lady farmer and in this Book - 3 of the series her black cat Tomboy gives birth to kittens, who she thought was a male. In a previous title she started a Farm Money fund to raise money so that one day she can buy a farm of her very own. So she decides to sell the kittens to make money to put towards her ambition.  But her Aunt Al's cat sadly dies, kindly,  Sophie gives her the last kitten as a gift.  When Aunt Ali comes to visit from Scotland, in return she buys Sophie a new white rabbit.  She has an adorable relationship with her Great, Great Aunt Al, who is 82 and lives on her farm in Scotland. Sophie is always wanting to visit but her mum and dad say it's too far. She often calls her with her worries and asks for advice as they are great friends. An enjoyable read about Sophie's year at school and how she cares for her animals at home, but her big dream is to have a puppy.  'Not til your 8' says her dad.   'But that's 2 1/2 years away' says Sophie, 'I wish I was a grown-up'. 

 

Mrs Williams 

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