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How to Find the Best Age-Appropriate Books for Kids

Every parent I know wants their child to love reading, but it can be difficult to find the right books to give children at the right time. They think that their child will enjoy Harry Potter, but what is the right age at which to introduce their little ones to Hogwarts?

I have had the same question when trying to find books for my own children, so I thought it might be helpful to put together both a list of books for specific age groups that have been tried and tested, and to offer some ways I find books my kids will love.

Consult the pros

One reference I find helpful is the Children’s Book Council of Australia, which holds annual Book of the Year awards. I find the shortlists as helpful as the final award-winners, providing a list of the best books of the year. You can find the shortlisted books from this year and 2019 below.

Librarians and bookshop staff are wonderful at offering advice on age-appropriate books. Just ask, and they’ll wax lyrical about the books that have been popular among particular age groups. These are the people on the ground who see what series or authors sought out by children or their parents.

Ask other parents

I find other parents’ recommendations invaluable. Many have spent a lot of time seeking out the books their children will love, and have listened to them beg for more books in a series, or fail to finish another less successful book. These parents are an invaluable source of knowledge, and possible even their own little lending libraries, unless your child loves their recommendations too much to return the books!

I’ve also joined the Facebook Book Club, and posed members the question about what books were best for my seven-year-old daughter and 11-year-old niece, whose birthday is coming up. Members from around the world offered their suggestions, ranging from The Baby-Sitters Club series to Tui T Sutherland’s Wings of Fire books.

Have fun on Bookfinder

The UK’s BookTrust website has a fun and informative Bookfinder activity, where users can select a date range, then choose one or more themes such as action and adventure, funny, classics, sport and scary and find out books recommended for them.

Involve your child in the selection – they’ll love selecting their areas of interest, and the experience will show them how many exciting options they have when it comes to books.

Some ideas to get you started

Facebook Book Club suggestions

 6-8-year-olds

Sally Rippin’s Billie B Brown Mysteries

Yvette Poshoglian’s Ella and Olivia series

Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody series

Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series

Lois Lowry’s Gooney Bird Greene series

Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch series

Enid Blyton’s books (The Famous Five or Mallory Towers)

Rebecca Elliott’s Owl Diaries series

Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Boxcar Children series

Barbara Park’s Junie B Jones series

Jane O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy series

Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s 13-Storey Treehouse series

10-13-year-olds

Ann M Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club series

Jamie Suzanne’s Sweet Valley Twins series

David Walliams’ books

David Badiell’s books

RJ Palacio’s Wonder

Erin Hunter’s Warriors series

Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew

Lisa McMann’s The Unwanteds series

Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking

Children’s Book Council of Australia

CBCA 2020 Shortlist – Book of the Year for Younger Readers (7-12 years)

Pip Harry’s The Little Wave

Deborah Kelly’s The Thing About Oliver

Bren MacDibble’s The Dog Runner

Meg McKinlay’s Catch a Falling Star

Emily Rodda’s The Glimme

Edwina Wyatt’s The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

CBCA 2019 Shortlist – Book of the Year for Younger Readers (7-12 years)

Ursula Dubosarsky’s Brindabella

Lorraine Marwood’s Leave Taking

Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler’s Black Cockatoo

Jaclyn Moriarty’s The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars

Carly Nugent’s The Peacock Detectives

Emily Rodda’s His Name Was Walter

My children’s favourites

6-7 years old:

Sally Rippin’s Billie B Brown series

Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s Treehouse series

Aaron Blabey’s The Bad Guys series

Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree series

Tristan Bancks’ Tom Weekly series

Jacqueline Harvey’s Clementine-Rose series

8 – 10 years old

RJ Palacio’s Wonder and Auggie and Me

Emily Rodda’s The Best-Kept Secret

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series (I know it’s obvious, but it really is a winner)

Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor and Wundersmith

Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series (possibly more suitable for 11-12-year-olds)

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline

To find the above books, visit Booktopia (Australia) or Book Depository (UK or US)

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