Books your kids will love this summer
Áiliín Quinlan rounds up some new releases and old favourites for your little bookworms
Published 20/07/2016 | 02:30
To be healthy and happy, children need lashings of love and plenty of good food, fresh air and exercise - and that includes exercising their 'imagination muscle'.
"The imagination is a muscle that needs to be exercised - and reading does this," explains Sarah Bannon, head of literature at the Arts Council, which supports writers and publishers of children's literature and a variety of children's literature initiatives and events.
"Literature is actually the art form that does it best," she adds.
"When you read you're entering someone's life," Bannon explains, urging parents to encourage children of all ages to read, to become familiar with their local library.
Reading also helps children understand the world around them and provides tools to help them deal with problems in their day-to-day lives, explains Jenny Murray, acting director of Children's Books Ireland.
"Accessing books and stories can give them tools to understand their world better and let them know they are not alone when it comes to issues such as bullying, friends not talking to them, death of a sibling, family illness or parental separation," she explains.
Reading can also help with parent-child bonding, so parents should read aloud to babies and young children, suggests Bannon.
As a result, children "are learning orally and experiencing the musicality of the language and the rhythms, which is great fun and it's a great bonding time.
"That bonding time between the parent and a young child is reinforced by reading aloud," she says.
For more information on books, events in the world of children's literature, the Children's Laureate, plus reviews of children's books, visit childrensbooksireland.ie, children'slaureate.ie and artscouncil.ie.
So what to read? Murray makes some suggestions...
The Jungle Book
by Rudyard Kipling, reimagined by Robert Hunter, Frances Lincoln Children's Books, €15
Originally published in 1894, this is the story of a young boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle and his growing understanding of bravery, compassion and respect. There are numerous new editions of this title around but this is a beautifully illustrated retelling for a slightly younger age group than the original. (Age 5+)
The White Cat and the Monk
by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney Smith, Walker Books, €9.36
This is a re-telling of the classic poem 'Pangúr Ban', depicting the quiet companionship between a Monk and his cat. One pursues knowledge, the other hunts for mice! Elegant illustrations showcasing the symbiosis of true friendship and the wonder of the natural world. (5+)
Asterix I dTír na Sasanach
by René Goscinny, illustrated by Albert Uderzo, translated by Antain Mac Lochlainn, DalenÉireann, €9.95
This is the most recent in a series of translations of the 'Asterix & Obelix' comics. Julius Caesar has invaded Britain and our heroes, from a small village in Kent, must travel to Gaul to find a barrel of potion to help the rebels overthrow the invasion. These comic classics are a great fun way to read Irish for anyone aged nine to 99. Translations of 'The Adventures of Tintin' are also available. (9+)
by Geraldine Mills, Little Island Books, €9.99
Poet Geraldine Mills brings us her debut children's book, a dystopian tale in the guise of a classic adventure story. After discovering an old manuscript in their apartment telling of forbidden islands and gold, twins Esper and Starn head off on an adventure after volcanic eruptions have left ecological devastation in their own world. (9+)
Knights of the Borrowed Dark
by Dave Rudden, Puffin, €9.99
A classic children's fantasy story where a young protagonist is thrown into a great battle between good and evil and everything in-between. At the heart of the story is an orphaned boy who has to deal with his world being turned upside down. A rip-roaring adventure read and luckily for us the first in a series. (12+)
by Jeff Kinney, translated by Mairín Ni Mhárta, Futa Fata, €9.99
A fun read about the hazards of growing up before you are ready, illustrated through Greg's own words and drawings from his 'diary'. I fully expect Dialann Dúrdan to repeat the success of the original and create a generation of avid readers, this time in Irish. (9+)
Chris Haughton, Walker Books, €15
Chris Haughton has woven his magic yet again. The master of the 0-4 age group, Haughton has produced an absolute classic bedtime read. Perfectly pitched for parents and youngsters who are most definitely not sleepy, this gentle story and 'Goodnight' refrain is guaranteed to put even the most adamantly awake of children to sleep. Out in a few weeks, I cannot wait to give it to every parent I know. Stunning. (1+)
Anna Liza and the Happy Practice
Eoin Colfer, illustrated by Matt Robertson, Barrington Stoke, €8.19
This first-chapter book is the story of Anna Liza Madigan, a young girl who loves helping people struggling with their feelings. She sets up her own 'Happy Practice' in the waiting room of her exasperated mother's psychiatry office and when jokes and singing just won't do Anna Liza is always ready with a plan to get things moving along. Charming. (5+)
Kate DiCamillo, Walker Books, €11.70
Raymie Clarke has a plan. If she can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. However - she has competitors. This is warm, funny, sad and so much more. When I finished, I went right back to the beginning, I cannot recommend it highly enough. (9+)
by Sarah Crossan, Bloomsbury Publishing
Sarah grew up in Britain but is Irish by background, and was the winner of the Children's Books Ireland Book of the Year 2016. This is a story of family life and sisterly love. Okay, so the sisters are conjoined ('Siamese') twins, and that is certainly a major issue, but above and beyond this medical anomaly these are ordinary, likeable, irritating, interesting girls just growing up like anyone else.(11+)
The Best Medicine
by Christine Hamill, Little Island Books
All about how ordinary life keeps on going through an extraordinary and stressful medical situation. Also hilarious - always a great thing in a book. 10+
The Butterfly Heart
by Paula Leyden, Walker Books
The story is set in Zambia and is the story of young girls growing up and learning how the world about them works and what they can do to change things. 10+
Astronaut Academy: Are You Ready for the Challenge?
by Steve Martin, illustrated by Jennifer Farley Ivy Press
As an illustrator, choosing a picture book is firstly all about the pictures for me, says Children's Laureate PJ Lynch. I loved anything to do with space when I was little, and this a books out now with brilliant artwork by an Irish illustrators. 1+