One of the best things we can do as parents is to raise readers. Reading creates awareness, empathy, imagination, creativity, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Around five-six years is a crucial and exciting age for any child (and their parents) as it is usually when they begin reading by themselves and start trying to understand the stories on their own. To help you in your endeavour of choosing the correct books for them, we asked eleven children’s authors to tell us which books they recommend for children between the ages of six and ten. Some of the books on this list cover diverse themes such as grit and determination, battling bigotry and protecting the environment while others are full of humour and stunning illustrations, perfect to captivate and make a reader of your young ‘un.
Moin And The Monster
Recommended by: Shabnam Minawala, author of The Six Spellmakers Of Dorabji Street and What Maya Saw.
This is one of the funniest books that I have ever read. My daughters used to laugh so much that we had to establish a rule at home: No Reading Moin And The Monster at dinnertime. Things just get too messy. Literally.
Moin is a little boy who lives in Bangalore, a lot like other boys you might happen to know. But the monster is like none other. He has auto rickshaw horns, a love for bananas and a fondness for new hairstyles and Bollywood beauties. And a tendency to quote Monster rules whenever he wants to get his way.
This is truly one of the maddest, sweetest, rollickingest books ever.
Buy it here.
Captain Coconut And The Case Of The Missing Bananas
Recommended by: Natasha Sharma, author of Princess Easy Pleasy.
Read the book for the subtle and completely mad humour, perfect storytelling and gorgeous illustrations. My son was yelling at Captain Coconut when he read this book and we were all doubling over with laughter.
Buy it here.
Manjhi Moves A Mountain
Recommended by: Srividhya Venkat, author of Lunch-Friends and The New Girl.
It’s really hard to pick a single book to recommend. But the one that comes to me at this moment is Manjhi Moves A Mountain by Nancy Churnin. This beautifully illustrated picture book is a remarkable real-life story of a man who did not give up on his seemingly impossible mission. It took Dashrath Manjhi 20 years to work single-handedly and dig out a road through a mountain to connect his remote village with the closest hospital and school located on the other side. Manjhi not only had sheer grit, but also a large heart to do good for others. This is an inspiring story of persistence, patience and perseverance for kids and adults alike.
Buy it here.
Journey To The River Sea
Recommended by: Payal Kapadia, author of Twice Upon A Time and Back To School.
I’d probably suggest Journey To The River Sea by Eva Ibbotson, just for a gripping adventure story, evocatively told, with characters that leap right off of the page. The words will make any reader fall in love with the Amazon – and we can only protect and preserve what we learn to love first.
Buy it here.
The Mystery Of The Secret Hair Formula & Timmi In Tangles
Asha Nehemiah & Shals Mahajan
Recommended by: Lavanya Karthik, author of The Lion’s Feast and Fly, Little Fish!.
The Mystery Of The Secret Hair Oil Formula by Asha Nehemiah is a rollicking caper involving resourceful grannies, greedy villains and laugh-out-loud action sequences.
I would also recommend Timmi In Tangles, by Shals Mahajan , for its fierce, funny and unique little protagonist.
Puu & Three Times Lucky
CG Salamander and Samidha Gunjal & Sheila Turnage
Recommended by: Lubaina Bandukwala, author of Your Turn Now and founder of Peek A Book- Children’s Literature Festival.
Puu is the story of a little girl who has a hard time being accepted since she comes from a family of scavengers. Beautifully conceived, sensitively told and gut-wrenching in its simplicity, Puu is relatable to all children at one level – who hasn’t felt left out at some point? Yet, on another level, it opens a window into the lives of children forced into lives and choices they have no control over. It’s a picture book – but I think can be read at all levels.
Three Times Lucky, first in the Mo and Dale Mystery series, set in small-town America, is up on my list of almost-middle grade books since the protagonist, witty spunky “Mo”, is one of my favourite book characters. I love a lot of things about this series, the very evocative atmosphere of the setting, the wide array of really interesting characters and at the heart of it, a most exciting mystery.
Once Upon An Alphabet & The Princess And The Pony
Oliver Jeffers & Kate Beaton
Recommended by: Parinita Shetty, author of The A-Z Djinn Detective Agency and When Santa Went Missing.
I’m in complete awe of Oliver Jeffers’s brain; I fall in love with all the weird, funny things it comes up with. I’d recommend all his excellent picture books but this one is extra special because it features super-short stories about all 26 letters of the alphabet. The illustrations tell a story on their own. There’s an astonishing range of characters, adventures, some emotional roller coasters, a few plot twists, and a ton of imagination and wonder. Mostly, it’s just gloriously fun.
I also wanted to recommend one potentially lesser-known book. As promised by the title, The Princess And The Pony by Kate Beaton stars both a princess and a pony. But it then takes your expectations and turns them upside-down. I love stories where characters don’t behave like they’re supposed to and all the characters in this picture book are full of surprises. And in the middle of all its ridiculous shenanigans, the book very gently gets you to question assumptions and just as gently celebrates different ways of being in the world.
Recommended by: Nalini Sorensen, author of The Star That Saved The Day and Lucky, It’s Not Just A Christmas Story.
The beauty of this book will remain in my heart forever. It is written with sensitivity, humour and wisdom, and makes the heart ache.
The story is told by a stately oak tree, Red, who keeps a watchful eye on the families in the neighbourhood. Red is much loved, and nicknamed ‘The Wishtree’, as once a year people from the community come and tie wishes to Red’s branches. The community seems diverse. But one day, a nameless person carves out the word ‘LEAVE’ into Red’s bark – directed at a Muslim family living in the neighbourhood. There is another issue of the owner of the property threatening to cut Red down.
Wishtree is relevant to our times, as it handles the varied topics of Islamophobia, friendship, animal life, and the environment tenderly and sagely. One of my favourite quotes from this is book, which is now pinned up above my writing table, is – ‘But sometimes things happen that aren’t so good. When they occur, I’ve learned that there is not much you can do except stand tall and reach deep.’
Buy it here.
Recommended by: Varsha Seshan, author of The Story Catcher.
While I would like to cheat and recommend Dick King-Smith’s entire Sophie series, the one I choose is Sophie’s Lucky.
Sophie is a wonderful character – brave, driven and caring. She knows what she wants and goes out to get it, and what she wants is to be a farmer. The best children’s books are not the ones that make you say, “I would have loved this book when I was six or seven!” Rather, the most delightful ones warm you up and make you realise how lovely they are however old you may be. And all the books about Sophie are like that. The stoic little girl with her impeccable, child-like logic, makes you chuckle with joy no matter how old you may be.
Buy it here.
The Line Tender
Recommended by: Bijal Vachharajani, author of So You Want To Know About The Environment and What’s Neema Eating Today.
There are books that leave you in a trance, haunting you as you read them, reflecting your world even if the fictional world is so different. Grief gets tangled with an urgent need to understand the natural world in Kate Allen’s The Line Tender. Lucy’s mother studied sharks as a marine biologist, and on one such field expedition dies suddenly. As Lucy and her father grapple with this loss, another one hits them, like a never-ending wave.
Lucy finds ways of coping with these losses, a line that leads her to her mother’s unfinished research, memories, and of course the unending healing power of nature. This is a story about the wonder of nature and the strength and beauty it offers. It’s about conservation, and about loss and survival, whether it’s in the face of grief or environmental issues. And that it’s okay to do what you have to when faced with a change of this monumental proportion.
What makes the book even more special are the stunning marine illustrations by Xingye Jin that become chapter separators.
Buy it here.
Recommended by: Anushka Ravishankar, author of The Rumour and Moin And The Monster.
This is the first book in a series that follows the madcap Casson family. Like all of Hilary McKay’s books, it’s full of characters you never want to let go of, and the story is funny, heart-warming and sad, all at the same time. If you haven’t read this series yet, what a treat is in store for you!
Buy it here.