If you’re squeezing in one more break away before school starts back, set the kids up with some strong reading material with these recommendations …
We spoke to booksellers in Ireland to find out what exactly kids are reading this year. Whether you’re picking up supplies for your own children or trying to find a gift for the mini bookworm in your life, don’t buy anything without consulting this list.
The main message from Nicole and Máire at The Clifden Bookshop is that “children’s and teenage titles are still sought after and it is very reassuring for the future of books that the upcoming generations have an appreciation and love and respect for the written word.” Books have been selling all summer long with locals and visitors alike. When asked for their most popular bestsellers, Máire and Nicole shared a recommendation for each age group.
YOUNG CHILDREN 0-6
To the Island by Patricia Forde
This is a captivating tale of an island off the Galway Coast with the most beautiful illustrations. A little girl called Fia is entranced with visiting this mysterious place and lots of adventures await her there. This book will endure for all the generations to come. It is also available as “An tOileán Thiar”.
AGES 6 – 12
Bunny v Monkey Series by Jamie Smart
These are proving to be the runaway success this summer. A comic adventure series with graphics, very similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The Dog Man series by Dan Pilkey is also being grabbed by eager young fans.
AGES 10 – 12
The Sleepover Takeover by Simon James Green
A funny crazy mystery adventure about a sleepover birthday party and its aftermath. This is a real page turner with mad cap characters which engage the readers from the start. Otis wakes up to a scene of chaos and disaster after the party at his friend’s house. He has to hide the evidence and work out what happened. Perfect for summer reading.
AGES 9 – 13
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Sharon Messenger
For fans of Harry Potter, do check out Keeper of the Lost Cities by Sharon Messenger. A telepathic girl must figure out why she is key to her brand new world before the wrong person finds out first.
Frostheart by Jamie Littler
This is a series of books which chronicle rip roaring magical adventures based in the furthest part of the known world across the Snow Sea. Perfect for readers who have enjoyed Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend and Frozen books by Disney.
Race the Atlantic Wind by Oisin McGann
This is a captivating story based on the historical first successful transatlantic flight crossing by the pilots Alcock and Brown in 1919. In this story, a 16-year-old girl called Maggie sees the gathering of the aircraft and crews and sees this as her opportunity to escape her narrow existence The story unfolds from there and is perfect reading about an historical event which mesmerised the world.
The Toll by Neal Shusterman
This title is proving to be a true successor to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It is a sci-fi thriller, dark and gripping and lots of teenagers are requesting it. The Heartstopper books by Alice Oseman are also trending this summer and coincide withe the Netflix series.
The sun is shining in Sligo where Liber Bookshop said they have “Lots of visitors and people in summer holiday mode, and many are ducking into the cool of Liber for a break from the intense sun. We’ve picked out a few of our popular children’s books from each age range.”
The Vanishing Lake written and illustrated by Paddy Donnelly, is a lovely grandad/granddaughter story set around a lake that regularly vanishes, and the many reasons Meara’s grandad offers for this. It’s a celebration of nature, wonder and imagination.
Constance Markievicz – The Rebel Countess by John & Fatti Burke, one of the wonderful ‘Little Library’ series, is a popular book for locals and visitors alike which tells the story of the Sligo-born revolutionary, politician and suffragist.
Tabitha Plimtock and the Edge of the World by Erika McGann, and illustrated by Phillip Cullen, is an environmental adventure story of brave Tabitha who is determined to save those she loves from the strange creatures who are approaching from the darkness below. Full of imagination, and themes of interdependence and how one person can make a difference.
The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius, is an ingenious book full of adventure, suspense and excitement, about Sally Jones, an extraordinary gorilla who will do whatever it takes to clear her falsely accused friend’s name.
At Dubray Books nationwide, young readers are picking up books for summer reading. They have also seen the Bunny vs Monkey series (particularly the latest book Rise of the Maniacal Badger) has been a hit with readers aged 6+. For older readers, they recommend the below.
The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Beast Beyond the Fence by Marcus Rashford
The debut children’s fiction book from the footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford. Highly illustrated and perfect for reluctant readers, this is a big adventure packed full of humour and heart inspired by Marcus’s own experiences growing up.
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Experience the book that inspired the hit Amazon Prime TV series. One girl. Two boys. And the summer that changed everything . . . Every year Isabel spends a perfect summer at her favourite place in the world – the Fisher family’s beach house. But this year something is different. This year, the boys seem to really notice Isabel for the first time. It’s going to be an amazing summer – and one she’ll never forget.
At The Maynooth Bookshop, where Cian Byrne is getting busy with back-to-school orders for schoolbooks, there have been plenty of bestsellers for younger readers this summer.
Billy and The Pirates by Nadia Shireen
The hero of these stories Billy is once again joined by trusty sidekick Fatcat on a hunt for adventure on the open seas. Pirates, mermaids, sharks, and a giant octopus await them. This is the third in the Billy series and like the others is a huge hit with my four-year-old daughter.
The Dead Zoo by Peter Donnelly
With the Dead Zoo (aka Dublin’s Natural History Museum) opening back up after renovations this would be a great companion to build the excitement for a visit. It tells the story of Mr Gray, owner of the Dead Zoo and how the friendship of a little mouse changes him. The beautifully vibrant illustration helps to bring this tale to life.
Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Julia has moved with her parents to the Shetland Islands. Her mother is in search of the elusive Greenland shark, this search soon becomes an obsession. This uplifting tale will stay with the reader for a long time after they have read it.
At Bridge Street Books in Co Wicklow, where the selection for younger readers stands out, Joanna recommends these books for older kids and teens.
The New Girl by Sinéad Moriarty
Safa and Ruby are very different but the story of their friendship will appeal to all. Safa, a Syrian refugee, starts school in Ireland and Ruby is asked to mind her. Slowly, their stories unfold and their friendship develops as the girls find they have more in common than they first thought.
Run for your Life by Jane Mitchell
This tells the story of Azari, who has fled with her mother to Ireland, and is now living in a Direct Provision Centre. Highlighting the plight of children and teenagers living in Direct Provision, alongside the story of why Azari and her mother fled, this is a fast paced, informative book which keeps you gripped until the last page.