What should children read?

Some personal favourites – but what about you?

I’m starting some children’s book clubs this winter and would love your thoughts on what to select for the reading list.

I live in such an amazing rural community which has not only been welcoming and supportive, but has also enabled me to create the kind of environment necessary to write full time.

As summer draws to a close, I’m aware that the winters here are very quiet and the nights are long. Perfect for writing – but not always so great for the local children. So I thought I’d give something back.

The local bookshop was thankfully looking to start some children’s events and has agreed to host the book clubs. So, we’ve a lovely, comfy room, with hot chocolate, brownies and wall to wall books – now all we need is to choose the reading list!

The aim is to encourage and nurture a joy of reading through a a range of stimulating and exciting books. I’m thinking a mix of genres, formats and styles. The books on offer should excite, inspire and challenge; but reading is such a personal experience, I don’t want the list to be completely coloured by my own preferences and opinions.

This is where I need your help.

The book clubs will be for 10 – 12 and 12+ age groups and will run weekly. I’m planning six week blocks, and thinking of covering 2 books per six weeks (depending upon the reading ability and enthusiasm of the group, this may change). At first, the books will be chosen by me but as I get a feel for the group, I’ll give choices and put it to the vote. Of course, as time goes by, the children can also make suggestions. But there has to be a starting point.

As a child, I was an avid reader and would read every minute I could. I’d read anything and everything. When I was ten I was diving into classics such as The Railway Children and Secret Garden, Robinson Crusoe and Huckleberry Finn. I moved on to Dickens and the Brontes, probably understanding very little but enjoying it immensely. The language, the rhythm; that’s what attracted me. By the age of twelve I’d skipped to Lord of the Flies and Stephen King; I wanted gritty content, and I wanted to look cool.

I still love reading – and, writing children’s fiction, I also read plenty of it – but this is not about me; it’s about fostering the same love of reading in others. After all, I believe the gift of reading is one of the best gifts you can ever receive.

So what I would like to know is…

1) When you were 10, and when you were a teenager, what books were you reading? And which ones stayed with you?

2) If you’re a teacher of have children of your own – what books would you like your children to be reading and why?

Thanks very much in advance for your ideas.