Holiday reading: The best children’s books for the summer holidays

One Tiny Dot by Lucy Rowland and Gwen Millward
One Tiny Dot by Lucy Rowland and Gwen Millward

One Tiny Dot by Lucy Rowland and Gwen Millward (Templar Publishing, £ 6.99) is actually one mighty dot that gets bigger every time someone is kind to them, and in turn spreads kindness across the country. The little dot is adorable, and kindness is a tangible object that grows and shrinks, is an ingenious way to explain to children how emotions change and change. Smart rhyming prose moves the story forward at a leisurely pace, and Millward’s expressive characters come alive in a bright and bold color palette.

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Ready for Spaghetti: Funny Poems for Funny Kids by Michael Rosen and Polly Dunbar (Walker Books, £ 14.99) is a fabulous collection of new rhymes for young readers. Michael Rosen has a special understanding of how the little ones think, and he weaves his wordsmith magic to full effect here. Each short poem captures a moment from childhood from the joy of waking up – “Up up upity-up!” to be “completely seti for spaghetti” at noon. Polly Dunbar’s accompanying artwork perfectly captures the chaos and pleasures of childhood.

Ready for Spaghetti: Funny Poems for Funny Kids by Michael Rosen and Polly Dunbar

Vehicles by Okidokid and Liuna Virardi (Little Tiger, £ 6.99) is a beautiful living blackboard book that is perfect for little hands. Virardi’s striking work of art will entice the youngest readers to pick it up and explore the lift-clap world of opposites.

Once Upon a … Fairytale by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara (Macmillan children’s book, £ 7.99) is an imaginative “choose your own adventure” for young children. A villain has laid a curse on the kingdom, and the queen needs YOU. You can decide who you want to be (what about a polite fox or a happy lumberjack son?) And where you want to live (a tower on a windy hill or even a spooky crumbling haunted hut). Brilliant for sharing with super cute illustrations, this is a fun and empowering book that puts the reader at the center of the story.

Because of You, John Lewis by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Keith Henry Brown (Scholastic Press, £ 14.99) is an inspiring story of friendship and activism. Based on the true story of ten-year-old Tybre Faw and his friendship with Congressman John Lewis, this is a powerful story about dreaming big and standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. With astonishing works of art by Keith Henry Brown accompanying the poetic narrative, this is a book that readers will appreciate.

The boy who grew a tree

The Boy Who Grow a Tree by Polly Ho-Yen and illustrated by Sojung Kim-McCarthy (Knights Of paperback original, £ 5.99) is an exquisite and original story about the importance of libraries and green spaces for inner-city communities. Timi tells his own story about the tree that grew inside a library and how he and friends took a stand to protect it. Told in beautifully crafted prose by Polly Ho-Yen, and with charming illustrations by Sojung Kim-McCarty, this is the storytelling at its best.

Kitty Quest: Trial by Tentacle by Phil Corbett (Simon and Schuster, £ 8.99) is perfect for fans of Phoenix Comics or Bunny vs Monkey graphic novels. Ridiculously funny, this is an extremely entertaining and utterly delightful story. The island of Pawdor is in danger of a sea monster, but luckily Kitty Quest is ready to tackle these tentacles. Fast and witty, this is an exciting and enjoyable read.

For a magical summer reading, dive into The Marvelous Granny Jinks and Me: Animal Magic by Serena Holly, illustrated by Selom Sunu (Simon and Schuster, £ 6.99). Inspired by the true story of Jenny Mayers, the first black woman to be accepted into the Magic Circle, this new series will surely entertain. With magical antics everywhere and tips for performing magical effects at home, this is a charming read.

Because of You, John Lewis by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Keith Henry Brown

For those worried about starting a new school after the summer, When I See Blue by Lily Bailey (Orion Children’s Books, £ 7.99) is a compelling read. The story follows Ben as he starts school and begins to make friends, all the while learning to deal with his obsessive-compulsive disorder. But the road is not smooth, and at the Halloween disco, his new friendship with Alice is put to the test. With characters you will take to your heart and never want to leave, this is heartwarming and joyful reading about the importance of empathy and understanding.

An equally fascinating tale of friendship and family, Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu by Scottish author Maisie Chan (Piccadilly Press, £ 7.99) is captivating reading. Lizzie Chu lives with her grandfather in Glasgow, and both are struggling to adjust to life without Grandma Kam. Lizzie is determined to leave when they are fans of ballroom dancing, when they get tickets to the tea dance in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. An uplifting and powerful story about never giving up on your dreams, this is a must read.

Transporting You to a Distant Scottish Island The Billow Maidens by James Dixon (Guppy Books, £ 7.99) is an ideal summer read. By intertwining the magic of Celtic and Nordic mythology with the modern experience, this is a unique tale. In a dark cave, Ailsa discovers Hefring, a daughter of the waves. With the help of her new friend Camilla, the two work together to save Hefring. But the events conspire against them. Can they save her in time? Magical and hopeful, this is a story that will capture the readers’ imagination and hearts.

Spies by David Long and stunningly illustrated by Terri Po (Faber, £ 18.99) are perfect for non-fiction lovers and those looking for an exciting summer read. By exploring brave spies and secret agents from around the world, these stories will fascinate and intrigue. Written in an engaging and accessible style, this is an excellent book for younger readers, perfect for those who want to search through the pages of espionage and daring deeds this summer.

Scottish Book Trust: Reading is Caring

The Scottish Book Trust has recently launched a fundraising appeal to support more people affected by dementia. The charity runs Reading is Caring, a new program that provides personal training in creating shared, sensory reading experiences to support people living with dementia and those caring for a person with dementia. Reading is Caring is designed to ease daily challenges by creating special moments of connection, evoking positive memories and relieving stress. It is currently only available in one region of Scotland and the charity is raising money to reach more people in need of support. Marc Lambert, CEO of the Scottish Book Trust commented: “More and more people in Scotland are living with dementia or caring for someone with dementia. We have seen the huge difference Reading Is Caring personal training makes in the daily lives of those affected. “dementia, and it’s just as beneficial for those who live with dementia and those who care for them. We want to reach more people across Scotland with our specialized support.” Reading is Caring is currently driving in the Scottish borders and moving to Edinburgh and Lothians in August. To find out more and donate, visit

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