In Depth

Best children’s books for the summer holidays

The Week Junior’s Summer of Reading challenge celebrates young readers’ ‘superpowers’

Children across the UK are being encouraged to spend time reading this summer thanks to a national campaign by The Week Junior magazine.

The Summer of Reading challenges children to read, rate and review three books during the school holidays, with all entrants to the challenge in with a chance of winning a bundle of books worth £250. 

“Reading really is a superpower with lifelong benefits, from building empathy to boosting vocabulary and concentration and reducing anxiety,” said Anna Bassi, the magazine’s editorial director. 

“We would like to invite as many children as possible to accept our Summer of Reading challenge and use the holidays to relax and get stuck into some really good books.”

Find out more about how to take part and submit an entry on TheWeekJunior.co.uk. The children’s reading charity BookTrust has compiled a list of 50 titles to help inspire young readers to take part. Here are some of the team’s top picks.

Three children's book covers
Demolition Dad by Phil Earle and Sara Ogilvie

Jake enters his dad George into a wrestling competition without him knowing – but when they get there, things don’t quite go to plan. “This is essentially a heart-warming story with a very happy ending,” said BooksForKeeps.co.uk.

Readers aged 9 and older

Dr Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Chelen Écija

Readers join Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a BBC presenter and renowned space scientist, on an epic journey through space. You will see planets, asteroids and moons, all through the power of imagination.

Readers aged 8 and older

Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

Al Chaudry and his hamster find themselves in a race against time as they travel through history to try to change the past. This book’s “heart and humour are hard to resist”, said The Guardian.

Readers aged 9 to 12

Three children's book covers
The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd and Emma Shoard 

Jim is from an Irish Traveller family and is forced to go to school for the first time. “This brief tale about outsiders unwanted by a community is very touching,” said book blogger Bookwitch.

Readers aged 9 and older

Earth Heroes: Twenty Inspiring Stories of People Saving Our World by Lily Dyu and Jackie Lay

The collection of 20 short biographies of those working to tackle climate change include world-famous environmentalists Greta Thunberg, Amelia Telford and Sir David Attenborough. 

Readers aged 7 and older

The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt 

Andy has to decide who she wants to live with after her parents divorce and each remarry, as she finds herself moving back and forth between their houses with her suitcase.  

Readers aged 9 and older

Three children's book covers
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Sophie and Agatha are taken from their home village to a school that trains fairy-tale heroes and villains. 

Readers aged 11 and older 

Can We Save The Tiger? by Martin Jenkins and Vicky White

This book explains to young readers how competition for space in the natural and built environment has led to some animal populations becoming among the world’s most endangered species.

Readers aged 8 and older

Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah

Alem’s father brings him to England to escape a deadly war. “It’s about a family who were connected becoming disconnected,” said one reader, sharing their review on The Guardian.

Readers aged 10 and older

Three children's book covers
You Are a Champion by Marcus Rashford and Carl Anka 

England footballer Marcus Rashford assures readers that hard work, good friends and a positive attitude will make anything possible.

Readers aged 8 and older

My Name Is Book by John Agard and Neil Packer

This story follows the history of the written word and books, told from the perspective of an actual book.

Readers aged 9 and older

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Feo’s mother is a wolf wilder – the opposite of a tamer. When the corrupt Russian army arrests her, Feo has no option but to make a run for it.

Readers aged 9 and older

Discover the full Summer of Reading booklist and find out more about how to participate in The Week Junior’s challenge.

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