Our Favourite Children’s Books – Book Recommendations from Expat Kids

expat kids books

Is there a greater gift than the gift of a book?

I honestly don’t think there is. Books can transport us, they can offer comfort. They can teach us about the world and about ourselves. They can be an adventure, a refuge, and inspiration, a solace.

And it’s a pure pleasure to give a child a book that opens up the joy of reading for them.

Last year my daughters published their book recommendations in their blog Brilliant Books for Kids…Recommended by Kids

This year we have added to this idea…as well as ideas from my little bookworms, I also asked for suggestions from The Expat Book Club and had an amazing response! Huge thank to you all and, of course, your children.

So this is a list recommended by expat kids…and it’s great to see how the same books are being enjoyed by kids from different countries who are living all over the world. And whether you are expat or not, hopefully you’ll find something on here for your children…and perhaps something that they may not have already read, or an author they don’t know. This has been the great thing about The Expat Book Club – getting exposure to books that I many never have come across on my own!

The first section here then is from the Making Here Home household and my girls aged 10 and 8. The second section is from the children of our Expat Book Club members – so you have recommendations from expat kids living all over the world.

Finally we have a selection by Expat Book Club member and children’s author Alex English…many of her picks have already made it onto my list…

expat kids books

A Note Upfront:

Every link included here is an affiliate link. This means if you purchase via the link I get a very small amount of money. Every penny I make from this blog post will be donated to a charity supporting women’s literacy. Before you start thinking that I am making a living from this…in the year since I started using affiliate links I have made the grand total of 25 GBP! So no, it’s not much, but it’s something. I will update on this in the New Year…

The Making Here Home Kids’ Recommendations

Books we read together…

The Penderwicks At Last by Jeanne Birdsall

‘Our brilliant librarian, Ms Rose, at our school in Germany told me about The Penderwicks. She said that lots of kids didn’t check out the books and she dint know why, because they were brilliant, and she was right. We read all the books in the series and were sad when it finished. And then we went to an English bookshop in Paris and found this book, which is the newest – we were so excited, we didn’t know it existed! We read it together on holiday because it rained all day.’

BOTH my girls loved this. As did I . And my husband. To say it was the highlight of our holiday shows how good it is (and also how bad the weather was during our trip!)

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

This was a birthday gift for my 8 year old from her Godmother. It is set in Paris and it is a wonderful, magical story of girl who befriends an orphaned boy who lives on the rooftops of Paris. The writing is beautifully inventive and a pleasure to read. We definitely want to read more by this author.

Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig

We’ve read these books in the wrong order, which doesn’t matter. The perfect book for the festive period; Matt Haig is a great writer and these books have real heart. We also love A Boy Called Christmas and especially The Girl Who Saved Christmas


Books recommended by my 8 year old…

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls Two

‘My sister got the first Rebel girls book, and then I got this one for my birthday. I love all the stories and the pictures. My favourite is the story about Anne Bonny who was a pirate’

This book also came highly recommended by Imogen who is 9 years old and lives in England. ‘This book shows that girls can change the world if we put our mind to it. My favourite story is about Coy who is transgender.’

Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different: True Tales of Amazing Boys Who Changed the World without Killing Dragons is a similar kind of book but aimed at boys, and shows that masculinity can mean many things. 

The Babysitter’s Club Graphic Novels

‘My Mum got these for me because she knows I like graphic novels and I like reading them by myself’.

The Treehouse Books by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

‘These are fun to read and there are lots of books in the series. They aren’t graphic novels but they have lots of illustrations and I like that.’

Books recommended by my 10 year old…

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

‘I read the Corfu Trilogy and I loved it, because I love animals and Gerald Durrell is MAD about animals. I learned a lot about nature reading these books. My favourite in the trilogy was the first one, ‘My Family and Other Animals’ but I enjoyed all of them.’

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

‘This is a real story about how Judith Kerr and her family escaped Germany in World War II and how they managed to survive. Judith Kerr wrote one of my favourite baby books, The Tiger Who Came for Tea. It was amazing to read this book and all the things her family went through. It was sad but she was so strong. I loved this book so much I read the sequels to it, Bombs on Aunt Dainty and A Small Person Far Away and they were both brilliant too.’

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

‘This is historical fiction and the story takes place in 1899 in Texas, USA. It’s about a girl who is eleven and the story is told in a really nice way, I found it pretty funny. It’s about her growing up. I really liked this book.’

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

‘This book is so good and funny! It has lots of great pictures (my sister likes it too). It made me laugh a lot. Flora is ten years old and so many unexpected things happen to her and it all starts when her Mum nearly vacuums a squirrel!’

Expat Kids’ Recommendations – from The Expat Book Club

For Younger Readers (approx 2-6 years old)

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

‘We always like to read the Gruffalo’

Harvey and Jack, age 5 and 3, living in Germany and about to move back to the USA.

Old MacDonald Heard a Parp

‘My 2 year old son is in love with all animal books, especially ones with songs involved… and Old MacDonald Heard a Parp is his current favourite. It has to be repeated many times before he will move on to another book. It does teach you several ways to blow raspberries which must be useful somehow!’

Recommended by Benedict, age 2, and his Mum,  living in the UK and about to move to the Middle East.

I had to add this one…no, I haven’t read it, but the title cracked me up…as did the picture of Henry VIII on the front cover.

Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith

‘We borrowed it from the library and laugh every time we read it – which is a lot! Hands down best kids’ book ever – definitely hoping to get it for Christmas’

Recommended by Milly and Lucy (age 5 and 3) from Manchester, England

The Fire Cat by Esther Averill

‘Because there is a fire truck and firemen and a megaphone and I like Pickles’

Recommended by Cass, age 4

Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child

‘Charlie and Lola are my favourite books because I love Lola, she is soon funny.’

Recommended by Pip, age 6, from Australia

Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor

“I love Fancy Nancy because she is fancy and her friends get sad sometimes but then they are happy again.”

Recommended by Ellie, age 6, living in Germany

(Fancy Nancy was also a big hit with my girls…this Christmas edition look great!)

Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar by Emily MacKenzie

‘We love this book – it’s perfect for bookworms as they’ll empathise with Ralphie. Lots of extra details too after the first read. And along the same theme, we also like The Incredible book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers.

Recommended by Joe and Tom, 8 and 5, Paris.

For Young Readers (approx 6-9 years old)

The Midnight Gang by David Walliams

This book is recommended by Oliver, age 6, who lives in England. ‘ I loved this book because they get into lots of mischief. They live in a hospital and my favourite bit is when the lady gets tied to the wall it is very funny.’

Boy vs Beast

‘I love this book because the boys battle beasts, and when the beast turn into mega mutants then the boys have other boys that come and help them. It’s great’.

Recommended by Hamish, age 8, from Australia

Isadora Moon by Harriet Muncaster

‘We love Isadora Moon. She is half-vampire half-fairy and has lots of adventures’

Recommended by Livia and Rocco, age 7

Waylon by Sara Pennypacker

‘Ms Rose, my librarian recommend this book to me – it’s great!’ Ricardo is also enjoying The Magic Treehouse series.

(And yes, its the same Ms Rose…the most wonderful school librarian, we miss her dearly!)

Ricardo, age 7, Germany

How to train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

‘I like these books because they are really exciting and tense. They are also happy and adventurous and I love the dragons in them.’

Recommended by Isabella, age 8, from the New Forest, England

Dragon Watch by Brandon Mull

And because dragons are ALWAYS a hit…

Matthew, age 9, lives in Singapore and has been enjoying Brandon Mull books.

Children books









‘Le avventure di Augusta Snorifass’ (Augusta Snorifass adventures), by Chiara Carminati. This is an amazing book with fabulous drawings about the imaginary adventures of Augusta Snorifass, the little paper doll that in reality the famous Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen designed in the 1860s, as a gift for a pastor’s daughter. I hope it will be soon available a version in English’.

Valentina, Italian Mum living in Germany

For readers approx age 9+

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Cian, aged 10, lives in VA in the USA and he really enjoyed Airborn, which is an adventure in the style of Jules Verne. He is also enjoying re-reading his favourite author Roald Dahl.

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

This book was recommended by Max, age 10, who lives in Jakarta (it’s by the same author as Rooftoppers which was recommended by my daughters). Max has also enjoyed The Percy Jackson series of books…which were also a hit with my eldest daughter.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

Sofia, age 10, lives in Hong Kong. Her recommendations include The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, which I’m thankful to her for as it sounds right up my street (pardon the pun!): “In this delightful and heartwarming throwback to the big-family novels of yesteryear, a large biracial family might lose their beloved brownstone home, but win it back with an all-out charm offensive.”

Sofia also recommends The War That Saved my Life,by Kimberly Brusker Bradley and Katy – a retelling of What Katy Did Next by bestselling British author Jacqueline Wilson.

Arthur High King of Britain by Michael Morpugo

Oscar (age 11) and Andrew (age 13) live in Hong Kong and have been enjoying reading Michael Morpugo books. There are many to choose from – probably the most famous being War Horse – but this retelling of the legend of King Arthur has been a recent hit with us too.

Oscar and Andrew also both recommend The Hunger Games series.

Recommendations from a Children’s Author

Alex English is a member of our Expat Book Club and is also a children’s author. Here are some of her fabulous suggestions (many of which will be making an appearance under the Making Here Home tree this Christmas…)

Sky Chasers by Emma Carroll is (like all her books) a lovely historical fiction for 9-12s, plus it gets bonus points for being set in Paris/Versailles at the time of the first hot air balloon flight.

For teens I’d recommend Matt Killeen’s Orphan Monster Spy, which has just been short-listed for the children’s Costa. It’s a really thrilling adventure following a Jewish girl who turns spy in a WWII Nazi boarding school.

For little ones, Is It A Mermaid by Candy Gourlay and Francesca Cessa is beautiful and very funny and Mini Grey’s The Bad Bunnies’ Magic Show is hilarious.

For poetry, I’d suggest Moon Juice by Kate Wakeling.

Alex has published three picture books for younger children, my niece and nephew will be receiving this from me this year – pirates and diggers, what’s not to like?!


Phew! I hope this gives you some ideas….I’d love to hear what you choose, and which books your kids have really enjoyed.

For more books recommendations for kids, you might want to have a look at Encouraging Boys to Read and Brilliant Books for Kids


3 Replies to “Our Favourite Children’s Books – Book Recommendations from Expat Kids”

  1. Thank you Becci for all the great gift ideas!!!

    1. makingherehome says: Reply

      You are very welcome! Xx

  2. Briony Randall says: Reply

    Brilliant- thank you Becci. Just what we needed as beginning to feel like we have exhausted everything at our library. x

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