Brilliant Books for Kids…Recommended by Kids

expat kids books

There is a social media post that does the rounds at this time of year. It’s about simplifying Christmas (which I am ALL for) and giving children four things. Something they want, something they need, something to wear…and something to read.

It’s the something to read that does it for me. As a recipient (I can never have too many books) and, even better, as a gift giver. What can be better than giving a child the pleasure of reading?

I have two daughters (aged 9 and 7) who are both real bookworms. And so this blog post is our equivalent of ‘take your daughters to work day’. A blog takeover. These are the books that they have LOVED and they want to share.

These books are not gender specific and there is no reason why boys wouldn’t enjoy these stories. But if you are looking to buy books for boys, also check out this post on encouraging boys to read – loads of great ideas on there whether your child is a reluctant or avid reader.

Books for kids

We added the reading ages based on guidance from the publishers. But this is not about what reading level the kids are at. A lot of these books we have enjoyed together because what I think really matters is inspiring a love of stories. If children are gripped by stories, they will become become readers…the process may take longer for some than for others, but that’s the joy of life. We are all different.

So if you are looking for a gift for the younger people in your life this year, look no further…

Our List of Brilliant Books for Kids…

The Penderwicks

‘I loved this series – it’s all about family and friendships. Each of the four sisters are so different. I think it’s well written….my Dad read it to us and he enjoyed it. We made my Mum read them all because we kept talking about the books and she felt left out! The stories made us happy and sometimes sad. I have read these books two or three times.’ (Eldest Daughter, age 9)

I can’t recommend this series highly enough – warm and witty with beautifully drawn characters. We all fell in love with the Penderwick sisters! These books have been compared to Little Women and Noel Streatfield – I think they rightly deserve to be called modern classics (Mum, age %&$, couldn’t resist adding to this one!)

Age? 8+ if reading alone, but these are great books to read aloud to your children

Which Witch?

‘I liked this because it wasn’t what you expected – the good witch wanted to be bad! I thought it was a funny book and sometimes a bit creepy. My Mum read it to me.’ (Youngest daughter, age 7)

This book was written in 1979 and has held up to the test of time. From the publisher:

When Arriman the Awful, the handsome wizard of the North, announces a contest to choose his bride, every witch in town is a flutter. The meanest, most powerful witch will wed the wizard. But little Belladonna is dismayed, because as hard as she tries, her spells conjure up begonias and baby birds, and not a single viper or bloodshot eyeball. She just has to do something seriously sinister in time for the contest….

Age? 8+

Ruby Redfort

Ruby Redfort Books for Kids








‘These are great mystery books. I like trying to solve the case before Ruby does…which is quite hard! Ruby is incredibly smart. I’ve enjoyed this series a lot, and have just got the final book left to read.’ (Eldest daughter, age 9)

From the publisher:

Everyone knows that Clarice Bean is exceptionordinarily keen on the Ruby Redfort books. Now in her own starring role, Ruby, a genius code-cracker and daring detective, along with her sidekick butler, Hitch, work for a secret crime-busting organization called Spectrum. Ruby gets into lots of scrapes with evil villains, but she’s always ice-cool in a crisis. Just take a classic screwball comedy, add heaps of breathtaking action, and multiply it by Lauren Child’s writing genius, and what have you got? Only the most exciting new middle-grade series since, like, ever.

Age? 9+

Mr Stink

‘Chloe is the only person who is kind to Mr Stink, because he is a stinky old man. But then she finds out all about him, how he turned into a tramp and then lots of funny things happen. It’s a story that makes you laugh and makes you think too.’ (Youngest daughter, age 7)

‘We like all the David Walliams books, but Mr Stink and Gangsta Granny are my favourites’ (Eldest daughter, age 9)

Age? 8+

Fairy Realm

‘I like this series because it’s about magic and it has so many different adventures. Jessie makes friends with fairies and other creatures in the realm, because her Grandmother used to be the Fairy Queen. It makes you use your imagination and I think it’s written very well.’ (Youngest daughter, age 7)

From the publisher:

When Jessie visits her grandmother’s house, Blue Moon, she discovers an amazing secret, and enters the Fairy Realm for the first time. All kinds of magical beings live in the Realm, and a noble Queen in a great golden palace rules them all. But the Realm is in danger, and Jessie must outwit an evil enemy to save it before it’s destroyed forever!

Age? 6+

Charlotte’s Web

‘It was kind of sad and made me cry. Charlotte is so kind and clever – and she is a spider!’ (Youngest daughter, age 7)

I think everyone should read this classic – a beautiful story of friendship, love, life and death.

From the publisher:

‘Some Pig. Humble. Radiant’. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.

Age? 8+

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

‘This is a really big book! When you read a chapter you really want to get to the next chapter. We read it at school and all my friends in my class love it and we were so excited to read it.’ (Youngest daughter, age 7)

This is a beautiful book…it IS a very big book, but lots of the pages have beautiful illustrations. From the publisher:

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Age? 7+

Goodnight Mr Tom

‘I couldn’t stop reading this book. It’s the story of a boy who is evacuated during the Second World War. I learned a lot about what life was like during that time – it was very hard. Some bits were sad, but I was glad that it had a happy ending.’ (Eldest daughter, age 9)

‘A small, timid refugee from wartime London—and from a sadistic mother—and a lonely villager who has reluctantly accepted the child form a bond of love and trust that is deeply touching. Michelle Magorian has created a vivid cast for an English story with universal and timeless appeal.’ —Zena Sutherland, IRA Children’s Book Award Chair.

Age? 10+ (Some of the themes are quite grown up)

The Princess and the Foal

‘At first I thought this might be a silly princess book, but I was really wrong! It’s set in Jordan and is about a princess who becomes the first girl ever to race in the Kings Cup – the hardest horse race in Jordan. I have read this book four times, I love it! There are other books by the same author which are also good, but this is my favourite.’ (Eldest daughter, age 9)

From the publisher:

The inspiring novel about real life princess and equestrienne Haya of Jordan.

Princess Haya loves her family more than anything–especially her mother who brings light and happiness into King Hussein’s house. So when Queen Alia is killed in a tragic accident, Princess Haya is devastated. Knowing how unhappy she is and how much she loves horses, Haya’s father, King Hussein, gives her a special present: a foal of her very own. And this foal changes Princess Haya’s world completely.

Since reading this, my daughter has thoroughly enjoyed other books by Stacey Gregg, in particular The Girl Who Rode the Wind – which she literally couldn’t put down. Horse-loving readers may also enjoy the Pony Club series by the same author; these are more formulaic but still enjoyable reads.

Age? 9+

A Place Called Perfect

‘This is the story of a girl who moved to a town called Perfect…where everything has to be perfect. But she is far from perfect! It’s a bit creepy, but you can’t put it down! I thought it had a great ending.’ (Eldest daughter, age 9)

From the publisher:

Violet never wanted to move to Perfect. Who wants to live in a town where everyone has to wear glasses to stop them going blind? And who wants to be tidy and perfectly behaved all the time? Violet quickly discovers there’s something weird going on – her mam is acting strange and her dad has disappeared. When she meets Boy she realises that her dad is not the only person to have vanished… and that the mysterious Watchers are guarding a creepy secret!

Age? 9+

Charlotte Sometimes

‘My Mum bought me this because she read it when she was younger and loved it. It’s about a girl at boarding school who has a bed that magically takes her back in time! So she switches places with another girl from the past. It was interesting reading how Charlotte reacted to being in the olden days.’ (Eldest daughter, age 9)

From the publisher:

A time-travel story that is both a poignant exploration of human identity and an absorbing tale of suspense.

It’s natural to feel a little out of place when you’re the new kid, but when Charlotte Makepeace wakes up after her first night at boarding school, she’s baffled: everyone thinks she’s a girl called Clare Mobley, and even more shockingly, it seems she has traveled forty years back in time to 1918. In the months that follow, Charlotte wakes alternately in her own time and in Clare’s. And instead of having only one new set of rules to learn, she also has to contend with the unprecedented strangeness of being an entirely new person in an era she knows nothing about. Her teachers think she’s slow, the other girls find her odd, and, as she spends more and more time in 1918, Charlotte starts to wonder if she remembers how to be Charlotte at all. If she doesn’t figure out some way to get back to the world she knows before the end of the term, she might never have another chance.

Age? The publisher says 12+, but I think younger readers can enjoy it. It’s so well written that I would re-read it too.

Ballet Shoes

‘This is the story of three orphaned girls who live in their Uncle Gum’s house. They attend a dance school where they realise what they want to be when they want to grow up – one wants to be a pilot, one wants to be a ballerina and the other an actress. This is also a film with Emma Watson which I really enjoyed.’ (Eldest daughter, age 9)

This book is a classic. The girls are so different – talented, yet not without their imperfections. It is also a celebration of unconventional families. I loved this book and I’m glad my girls do too. We also enjoyed the film with the girls’ favourite, Emma Watson.

Age? 8+

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

‘These are the stories of over a hundred incredible women who have achieved amazing things. It’s really inspirational. I loved reading about Nancy Wake, who was a spy. She said, ‘For goodness’ sake, did the Allies parachute me into France to fry eggs and bacon for the men?’ I love this quote!’ (Eldest daughter, age 9)

This is a must-read – we loved these inspirational stories celebrating women. Women In Science is another book which also looks good.

Age? 6+

The Sisters Grimm

‘Two sisters who think they have no family until they meet their Granny. One night their parents disappear and, when they go to live with their grandmother they realise that ogres and fairies and giants are real. Maybe because their ancestors are the Brothers Grimm! With these books you can let your imagination go wild’ (Eldest daughter, age 9).

From the publisher:

With an irresistible combination of adventure and imagination, the Sisters Grimm series injects classic fairy tales with modern day sensibilities and suspense, creating a fantastical combination readers of all ages will love.

Age? 8+ (there are several books in this series)

Because of Winn Dixie

‘This is the story of a girl who finds a dog in the supermarket. It’s a bit sad – the girl’s mother left her when she was younger – but there are some happy, funny parts to the story. And I love stories about dogs!’ (Eldest daughter, age 9)

From the publisher:

One summer’s day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries – and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie

Age? 8+ (We also loved The Tale of Despereaux and The One and Only Ivan by the same author).

Letters from the Lighthouse

‘This book is fantastic! It’s set in the Second World War and its about a girl who gets evacuated. Her sister goes missing. I learned a lot about what happened to Jewish people during the war and while some people were doing horrible things, others were so brave.’ (Eldest daughter, age 9).

From the publisher:

February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he’s not used to company and he certainly doesn’t want any evacuees.

Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she’s desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.

Age? 9+

Goth Girl

These are stories about a girl called Ada Goth who lives at Ghastly Gorm Hall. Her father is a famous Poet but he hardly ever sees her – he thinks children should be heard and not seen (that’s a joke from the book!). There are some great illustrations in this book, its a bit like a graphic novel in some parts.’ (Eldest daughter, age 9).

From the publisher:

Ada Goth is the only child of Lord Goth. The two live together in Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Lord Goth believes that children should be heard and not seen, so Ada has to wear large clumpy boots so that he can always hear her coming. This makes it hard for her to make friends and she’s rather lonely. Then one day William and Emily Cabbage come to stay at the house, and together with a ghostly mouse called Ishmael they and Ada work together to unravel a dastardly plot!

Age? 7+ (There are 4 books in this series)

A Poem For Every Night of The Year

This is a beautiful book and a great way to introduce your children to poetry.

From the publisher:

A Poem For Every Night of the Year is a magnificent collection of 366 poems compiled by Allie Esiri, one to share for every night of the year. The poems – together with introductory paragraphs – have a link to the date on which they appear. Shakespeare celebrates midsummer night, M
aya Angelou International Women’s Day and Lewis Carroll April Fool’s day.

Perfect for reading aloud and sharing with all the family, it contains a full spectrum of poetry from familiar favourites to exciting contemporary voices. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, W. B. Yeats, A. A. Milne and Christina Rossetti sit alongside Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy and Benjamin Zephaniah.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas

The last on the list, we are currently reading this book together and are really enjoying it. It’s an inventive, beautifully told story by the author of A Boy Called Christmas.

‘We’ve been reading this with Mum and it makes us feel Christmassy. There was a sad bit and we all cried, but it’s funny as well and it has got Charles Dickens in it who was  a famous writer’. (Youngest daughter age 7)



This post contains affiliate links which means that if you shop the link I will receive a payment. A tiny payment. If at any point I make a profit from affiliate links, I will donate a portion of the money to a charity which supports women’s literacy.

11 Replies to “Brilliant Books for Kids…Recommended by Kids”

  1. An absolutely awesome list of books! My girls have read many of these but many I am sure they would adore to read! Thanks so much my lovely friend for putting this together ?

    1. makingherehome says: Reply

      Thanks Maru…the girls were so pleased to read your comment! ??

  2. I enjoyed this post filled with great reading ideas! As a young girl, books were my best friends!

    1. makingherehome says: Reply

      Thank you ?

  3. Fantastic blog. Loved hearing the girls perspective.

    1. Thank you!

  4. Michaela, mother of Saffie and Carissa says: Reply

    Perfect timing. I am sitting in a bookshop looking for books for my nearly 9 year old and nearly 6 year old. I had meant to buy Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, but had forgotten and you reminded me. I love love loved Charlotte Sometimes when I was young, another good suggestion and some other good ideas for books I have never heard of. By the way the film ‘Hugo’ is very good, have you seen it? But watch it with your Mum as the policeman is a bit scary (played by Sasha Baron Cohen). Thanks for this!

    1. makingherehome says: Reply

      Thank you SO much Michaela…I will read your comment to them in the morning, they will be thrilled! Hope you are all well (and we did enjoy the film of Hugo too ?)

  5. Great post! Thanks girls for your reviews. Charlotte loved reading the Ruby Redfort series too! I must admit I’m a bit lazy when it comes to reading but I really want my girls to develop a great love for it & you have helped me with your fantastic reviews & recommendations, I will definitely be adding many of these books to their Christmas lists!!!

    1. makingherehome says: Reply

      Thank you Karen! We miss you and the girls very much, tell them we say Hi! X

    2. makingherehome says: Reply

      Aw thanks Karen, hope they liked them!

Leave a Reply