Tired of reading the same bedtime books, over and over and over? Looking for some fresh ideas to keep your newly WFH children reading? With the weeks stretching ahead before school will start again in earnest, we think we are probably all in need of some inspiration.

We asked Clemmie Jackson-Stops of Vellum Libraries to give us some ideas. From the best new books to some failsafe classics, these books will keep your children occupied and, most importantly, reading in the coming months.

4-6 Years

Clem and Crab by Fiona Lumbers

With bucket and spade season soon upon us, this is a gorgeous tale of Clem; explorer, collector and protector of the seas. She meets Crab, with his claw stuck in a plastic bag. Can she help him? This is beautifully illustrated with the hopeful message that every small action helps.

The Fate of Fausto by Oliver Jeffers

We love this book from the talented Oliver Jeffers – a modern day fable of a man who believed he owned everything and set out to survey what was his… Using beautiful lithography set against a powerful tale this will surely become a classic children’s book.

Ten Minutes to Bed: Little Dinosaur

A book to get you one step closer to that beautiful moment when everyone is asleep. Written specifically for bedtime, this story is designed to calm and soothe in the ten minutes it takes to read. Muddy puddles, tropical birds, volcanoes! How can Rumble the dinosaur possibly go to sleep? Moving from a lively start to a gentle end, the ten minute countdown will have your own little dinosaur asleep before you know it.

Look Inside a Castle by Conrad Mason

This is a lovely book that suits a broad age range. The lift-the-flap excitement of discovering a medieval castle suits younger children but equally the charmingly detailed pictures and accompanying words will engage older children too. Knights, jousting, drawbridges and horses – what’s not to love?

The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play by Laura Brand

This book is a saviour. Not for the children but for the knackered parents, out of ideas at the end of a long lockdown of childcare. Laura Brand’s tried and tested ideas for keeping little ones entertained with gentle, nature-based, often free, activities will become a go-to resource. Flower soup, homemade play-dough, moon sand – activities are usefully grouped into loud, quiet, messy, clean.

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6-8 Years

Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror by Natasha Farrant

A Guardian Book of the Year 2019, this charming book of princess stories for the Rebel Girl generation is newly out in paperback. Bold, empowered and all determined to be themselves, these are not your average princesses. One has a crocodile as a pet, another explores the high seas and one saves the community garden by her tower block from developers. Natastha Farrant’s original stories blend traditional and modern storytelling alongside wonderful illustrations from Lydia Corry.

Johnny Ball: Accidental Football Genius by Matt Oldfield

Johnny Ball LOVES football. He loves reading about it, talking about it and watching it. But he isn’t quite good enough at playing it to make the local school team. But nevermind! Mr Mann, the clueless coach, makes Johnny assistant manager – can Johnny lead the team to glory in the county cup?

David Attenborough by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People, BIG DREAMS series)

A wonderful new addition to the Little People, Big Dreams series of books. Inspire your little people to great things with the story of the broadcaster, conservationist and national treasure, in this book full of quirky illustrations and extra facts.

McTavish Goes Wild by Meg Rosoff

The latest in the McTavish series, this is perhaps our favourite yet from author Meg Rosoff. When a camping trip unleashes a reluctant Peachy family into the great outdoors (sound familiar?!), it’s up to their trust dog McTavish to show them how it’s done. Will he get them into the sparkling river and up the beautiful mountain before they go home?

The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia

Homeschooling abandoned? Desperate for just five minutes of peace and quiet? We have found this brilliant encyclopedia to be a godsend – and engaging for a wide range of ages. It brilliantly combines pictures, illustrations and fascinating facts and it has over 150 QR codes for children to follow. Whether they can read or not, it will give you some guilt-free time for a quiet cuppa.

9-11 Years

Gargantis by Thomas Taylor

The much-anticipated sequel to the hugely popular Malamander is another expertly created tale of derring-do. When a bottle is washed up on the shore in a terrific electrical storm, all the residents of Eerie-on-Sea seem to want it. But legend has it the bottle spells doom for the town – has the vast sea creature Gargantis awoken and can Herbie and Violet pacify the monster and save the town?  

The Girl Who Stole the Elephant by Nizrana Farook

This is a lovely fast-paced adventure through the jungle led by Chaya, a no-nonsense heroine and her band of friends. This exciting debut, set in Sri Lanka, is full of colour and atmosphere and will steal your heart.

The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley

The charming tale of Jane Austen’s nieces Anne and Fanny brought to life by the wonderful historian Lucy Worsley.  Anne Austen has always been told she must marry rich. Fanny Austen wonders if finding love is even an option? Their aunt Jane never married and she is perfectly happy being single. The time has come for the two girls to become the heroines of their own stories.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

We love a hair-raising tale and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase used to keep us awake at night in glorious terror. Children v.s grown ups, packs of wolves and creepy Mrs Slighcarp, the governess. Can Bonnie and Slyvia outwit her and her network of baddies?

The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

This is a wonderful classic adventure tale set in the Second World War. Ruth, Edek and Bronia have lost their parents in the chaos of war and must fend for themselves. They meet orphan boy Jan, with his penknife – the silver sword- entrusted to him by an escaped prisoner of war. When the children realise the escapee was their father, the silver sword becomes a message that he is alive and searching for them. So begins their dangerous journey across Europe’s battlefields to find him.

Clemmie Jackson-Stops runs Vellum Libraries and curates bespoke collections of books, both large and small, for readers and discerning businesses around the world. Check out her brilliant Lockdown Libraries – five books, chosen to suit the reader, sent beautifully wrapped with a handwritten note. Vellum Libraries.

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