Children’s books to read over the weekend – our recommendations
Children’s books for 5-11-year-olds to read over the weekend – as a teacher, parents and colleagues often come up to me and say: ‘my daughter is going to a swimming gala and my son won’t have anything to do – can you recommend a good book?’ Or, ‘we’re going to to a wedding on Saturday but I’m worried that my child will be bored rigid. What should they be reading?’ Perhaps there’s a long flight, train journey or a visit to far off relatives. Sometimes parents ask for a book to tip the scales favourably when it comes to filling in a primary school reading record at short notice!
So here’s a list of books that can be read in one sitting, including gripping and un-put-downable middle-grade novels, stories that can fill hours of a journey uninterrupted, and non-fiction books that can be dipped into or captivate a child for a couple of days. Authors include Sophy Henn, Josh Lacey, Maz Evans, Zillah Bethell, Emily Critchley and Phil Earle.
Children’s books to read over the weekend – our recommendations
Curiositree: Human World: A visual history of humankind by AJ Wood and Mike Jolley
Have you ever wondered why we have weekends? This visual history of humankind will explain why – and much much more. From the beginnings of humankind, this book helps to trace the origins of everything that resulted in the way we live today.
Pizazz by Sophy Henn
Do you want to escape from the normal? Then join Pizazz, a superhero! With excitement and laughs on every page, fun illustrations and comic strip sections, this is a captivating and enlivening read for long and dreary days.
The Secret Life of Spies by Michael Noble
Make your weekend more exciting by delving into the secret lives of twenty real spies. Find out how they discovered secrets, the methods they used, and the dangers they faced. There are forty-eight gripping pages to keep KS2 aged children absorbed.
Hope Jones Saves the World by Josh Lacey
Take inspiration from Hope Jones! Aware of the danger from plastic to our world, Hope Jones decides to change things for the better. With her website and banner, and lots of enthusiasm, can she achieve her goals? Read on and find out – a great book to read in one sitting for children interested in protecting the environment.
Wild Wolf by Fiona French
Based on a traditional Algonquin story of rejection, anger and redemption, the magical elements and historical setting will enthral young readers. This is a short picture book with beautiful illustrations to read over a weekend.
Infographic Guide to the Globe by Eliza Berkowitz
There’s something for every child and every interest in this perfect book for any boring weekend. Dip in and out of the 48 highly illustrated pages that are filled with facts, graphs, charts and pictures about the world we live in. It’s also an excellent source of ideas for KS2 project work and home learning.
The Adventures of Parsley the Lion by Michael Bond
This sparkling hardback is pure nostalgia for grandparents and parents, and a joyful new discovery for primary aged children. In a new edition to celebrate 50 years of the adventures of Parsley and his herb garden friends, the wonderful illustrations by award-winning Rob Biddulph are something to cherish.
The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife by Maz Evans
A book that will resonate with lower KS2 children. Beware of what can happen when frustration and boiling pent up emotions burst to the surface! A guaranteed giggle aloud book, Scarlett will become your child’s next favourite heroine. The eye-catching illustrations add to the fun.
The Shark Collector by Zillah Bethell
Swim with the sharks at the bottom of the sea in this absorbing middle-grade adventure. Blue Wing resents newcomer Maple and their relationship is stormy. However, unexpected events thrust them together in exploration and exploits where they must face the awesome threat of sharks.
The Last Bear by Hannah Gold
The Last Bear is a story that will influence children long after reading the final page. Touching gently, but poignantly, on mankind’s effect on nature, it will inspire a generation to push for positive change. With dramatic and atmospheric illustrations, the story of April and her discovery of the last polar bear on Bear Island will give children hope and motivation to campaign for a better planet.
Fourteen Wolves: A Rewilding Story by Catherine Barr
Many stories contain frightening and wicked animals that make us shudder, such as snakes, bears and creepy crawlies. Fourteen Wolves counters this and explains how every creature on the planet has a purpose, and how destroying just one of them can upset the balance of nature. Nearly 100 years ago, wolves vanished from Yellowstone National Park in the United States and the entire ecosystem began to collapse. Read this fascinating book to find out how the reintroduction of wolves in 1995 began to help restore animal and plant life in the park.
The Cartoons That Came to Life by Tom Ellen
This story will not only generate hysterical giggles but will also reassure children who are anxious about friendships and trust. Finn loves drawing his cartoon strip heroes Arley and Tapper but is teased about it at school. When his heroes escape from his cartoon to defend him, he has to find a way to persuade them to return to the page. Can Finn and his new friend Isha, succeed?
Twitch by M.G Leonard
This fast-moving adventure mystery has thrills, danger, and bird watching. Lower KS2 children will enjoy the thrilling exploits of Twitch, as he uses his knowledge of ornithology to thwart an escaped robber and find a cache of missing treasure. Full of unexpected twists and turns, 7-9-year-olds will be hooked by the fast pace and the engrossing nature facts. Highly recommended.
When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle
Based on facts, this book will keep upper KS2 children glued to the story of Joseph, Adonis and Mrs F from start to finish. A gripping story set in WW2 London, readers follow the lives of two very different people, their problems, secrets, and loves – set to a threatening background of bombs and the life of a silverback gorilla, Adonis. A middle-grade novel that’s not to be missed.
The Sky by Hélène Druvert
This book could occupy your child’s imagination for hours and hours on a wet weekend. Flying higher and higher through the sky, the wonderful cutouts in this book expose all life in the air – from man-made objects to natural phenomena like storms and eclipses. Higher up still, and the book reaches space and far off planets in a unique illustrated journey. Highly recommended.
Between Sea and Sky by Nicola Penfold
An ecological thriller, this book for pupils in years 5 or 6 is set in the future after environmental disasters have altered the world forever. Told by Pearl, who lives on the sea, and Nat, who lives on land, the two children clash with their different views about the world and how humans should live. When Nat reveals that he has made a secret discovery that could put everyone at risk, a dilemma results. This is a powerful story that will resonate with children who are concerned about the environment.
The Day I Fell Into a Fairytale by Ben Miller
Lana, who adores stories, finds herself drawn into a strange world of fairy tale characters who are threatened by a wicked witch. Can she persuade her older, and more cynical brother Harrison, to join her in an epic fight against evil? This book is a magical romp through much-loved fairy tales.
Journey to the Last River by Teddy Keen
Children could lose an entire weekend reading this highly imaginative, wild and dangerous adventure! When the Unknown Adventurer discovers a mysterious map the reader is thrust into a nail-biting Amazonian rain forest trek. Every page records thrilling encounters – some terrifying with huge snakes, piranhas and caiman, and some awe-inspiring with unknown flora and flora. Will the Unknown Adventure and Bibi find the elusive ‘last river’?
There’s a Ghost in the House by Oliver Jeffers
This wonderfully evocative and interactive picture book is ideal for storytelling on a dark, wet, Autumn afternoon – especially, perhaps, at Halloween. Explore the haunted house with the little girl who lives there. Help her to find a ghost amongst the beautifully illustrated pages. On every page, children will find awe and wonder. A great book to read as a family.
The Bear Who Sailed the Ocean on an Iceberg by Emily Critchley
As if Patrick hasn’t got enough on his plate with navigating year 7 in a new school, avoiding bullies and coping with his depressed mum at home, a polar bear is living in the garage freezer. Not just any polar bear, Monty is a bibliophile with a voluminous vocabulary who happens to eat cheesecake ice cream. Will Patrick be able to sort out his family life and protect Monty from the meddling next-door neighbour? This entertaining and fast-paced will have upper KS2 children laughing out loud in the run-up to Christmas.
His Royal Hopeless by Chloë Perrin
Robbie is set for life as the heir to a nasty and tyrannical dynasty – the ‘Sinistevils’. But there’s a snag. Robbie is far too nice for the role. This funny and fast-paced short chapter book for 8-12-year-olds will have your class laughing out loud. With dastardly characters, deliciously evil descriptions and Robbie’s unique and positive point of view, this is bound to be a popular storybook. It’s perfect for KS2 classroom libraries or to read to a class at the end of the day.
The Howling Hag Mystery by Nicki Thornton
Set in an atmospheric imagined world of machination and magic, Mortimer Scratch and her sidekick cat Nightshade find dark forces at work as they unpick dastardly crimes. With short chapters with lots of plot twists and cliffhangers, this middle-grade novel is ideal for upper KS2 children who like to try and predict what will happen next.
If you liked this list of children’s books to read over the weekend, you might also enjoy our list of books for bored children, our list of 20 great activity books, our recommended magazines for kids, and our guide to travel locations inspired by children’s books.