Lockdown may be going on for a lot longer than we'd anticipated, but there is nothing that can lock-down a child's imagination. Here are some of our best picks to help keep young minds busy and entertained during the remainder of the pandemic.
This pandemic has been hard on everyone. Thankfully, children have mostly been spared from the worst of it’s physical effects, but that doesn’t mean that isolation from friends, family and school hasn’t taken its toll. Normal play, exploration and learning has been put on hold for countless kids. The most important thing of all to a child, their imagination, is under threat from a world in which staying still is the new normal and the future remains uncertain.
At LitVox, we believe it has never been more important that children read. Reading is the single greatest tool for firing a kid’s imagination, the greatest resource for building confidence, and definitely offers more valuable entertainment than a tablet, phone or TV. As Ireland Reads launches in a few days, we thought we’d present LitVox readers with a list of the very best kids books of recent years. We’ve tried to include something for everyone here; Boys & Girls, Book nerds and sporty kids, confident readers & those who need a helping hand. We’ve also included one or two that are amazing reads no matter what your age.
For the Magic obsessed.....
A Witch’s Curse. A Hidden treasure. A Wizard in fluffy slippers…..
Nine is an orphan pickpocket with nothing to her name, but when she plucks a beautiful ornament from soemone’s purse, she’s sure that her luck is about to change.
Instead, her treasure grows into an enormous house full of magic, mystery – and ridiculous residents. But this enchanted place is under a curse that only Nine can break. And she might be willing to help, for soemthing in return….
This novel is tremendously funny and perfect for kids aged 8 and up. It also a firm favourite with LitVox’s kids books expert Mary Esther Judy. You can read her in depth review of this wonderfully imaginative novel here.
And you can pick up your copy of The House at the Edge of Magic from the LitVox Bookshop here.
Sophie Anderson is a firm favourite here at LitVox. Her novels are laced thick with magic and heart, but most of all, they aren’t afraid to present kids with challenging themes. Far too many kids novels “write down” to kids these days, and treat them as if they can’t handle a bit of suspense or horror in the narrative. The House with Chicken Legs is spooky, heart-felt and very funny.
Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning.
For Marinka’s grandmother is Baba Yaga, who guides spirits between this world and the next. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother’s footsteps, but her house has other ideas…
The House with Chicken Legs is beautifully illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, and is perfect for kids in the 8-12 age range.You can buy your copy of Sophie Anderson’s The House with Chicken Legs from the LitVox Bookshop.
For the sports nuts.....
Five kids with one dream: to become the greatest sports stars in the world!
Follow Kim as she trains to be the best at her favourite sport: rugby! Kim has been at the best – and most mysterious! – sports academy in the world for a few months now. She and the rest of her class were selected because they all shared a determination and willingness to improve.
Now the gang are on their way to Japan for the rugby World Cup – but they’re going to need some more teammates. The best place to find them is another cutting-edge sports school like theirs. But is there another in the world? And can they form a team in time?
Read all about Kim and her friends at Sports Academy where, with the help of eccentric, genius coaches, they are transformed into serious players in their own sports.
You can buy your copy of Rugby Redzone by clicking here….
The first book in this excellent series is packed with awesome true stories, real science and fascinating facts and will make you laugh loads.
When do footballers poo? Can you play football on Mars? What is a magic sponge?
You will find the answers to these questions and more in chapters on subjects such as history, geography, biology and maths. Illustrated throughout with hilarious cartoons and filled with laugh-out-loud gags this is the perfect book for any boy or girl who loves football.
Your coaches at Football School, Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton, are journalists, broadcasters and award-winning science and sports writers. Their knowledge, enthusiasm and engaging writing make them the perfect team to teach you how to score with your head.
You can pick up your copy of Football School Season 1 from the LitVox Bookshop.
For the gamers...
This novel is BEYOND cool. Jumanji meets Ready Player One in this fast-paced adventure featuring incredible real-life heroes, from Jennifer Bell, the internationally bestselling author of The Uncommoners series. Quick, quirky, intense and funny; this is a journey of a lifetime…or several. It’s pretty immersive stuff, perfect for a kid with a fondness for video games.
When Arthur, Ren and Cecily investigate a mysterious explosion on their way to school, they find themselves trapped aboard The Principia – a scientific research ship sailing through hazardous waters, captained by one Isaac Newton.
Lost in the year 2473 in the Wonderscape, an epic in-reality adventure game, they must call on the help of some unlikely historical heroes, to play their way home before time runs out.
Buy Wonderscape from the LitVox Bookshop.
For fans of Dog Man...
Any kid (or parent!) who has enjoyed the brilliant humour in Dav Pilkey’s brilliant Dog Man series is sure to get a kick out of Toto the Ninja Cat.
Toto the cat and her brother Silver live footloose and fancy-free in a townhouse in London. Toto is almost totally blind, and learned to trust her senses from a ninja cat-master who taught her back in Italy where they were born. By day, Toto and Silver seem to be ordinary cats, but by night, they love to have adventures!
One evening, news reaches Toto that a king cobra has escaped from London Zoo….. Together with help from a very posh cat and two hungry tigers, Toto and Silver must investigate. Can they find the giant snake, before it’s too late?
The Toto series are illustrated throughout with wonderful drawings from Nick East, and are perfect for reading aloud or for kids from 6 and up to tackle by themselves.
You can get your copy of Toto the Ninja Cat & the Great Escape from LitVox’s online bookshop.
For fans of David Walliams....
At LitVox, we totally understand David Walliams’ appeal. His books are funny and imaginative. However, what we don’t like is how certain publishers and bookshops have allowed Walliams to almost completely corner the children’s book market, at the expense of authors who have been concocting amazing kids stories for years and years. The Impossible Boy is a great alternative.
When Oleg and Emma invent a new classmate called Sebastian, they are amazed when he appears – very much real – in their secret den. Sebastian isn’t like the rest of their classmates. He’s never eaten pizza, he’s not sure what goose bumps are, and he has a satchel that seems to hold an endless supply of hot ice cream.
But as the trio begin their adventures, more impossible things keep happening, from a runaway goat appearing at school to a sighting of some snowwomen walking down the road. Things soon take a turn for the dangerous when the three friends are pursued by the mysterious Institute of Unreality, who want to capture and erase Sebastian, restoring order to the world.With the help of a cowboy gardener, an imprisoned scientist, and the rest of their class, can Emma and Oleg protect their new friend and keep the magic of the impossible alive?
You can pick up your copy of The Impossible Boy from the LitVox Bookshop.
For Harry Potter Fans....
Celine Kiernan is a firm favourite here at LitVox, and her Wild Magic Trilogy is a must read for any fans of great fantasy fiction for kids. She has been hailed as ‘Ireland’s answer to J.K. Rowling’, but in our (not so humble opinion) the writing here is actually better.
This series really does have the full package; witchcraft, mischief, humour, kidnappings, daring rescues and a lot of heart. The main thing though is our little heroine, Mup, bursting with character and attitude.
On the night that Aunty dies the Raggedy Witches come for Mup’s mam. Pale, cold, relentless, they will do anything to coax Mam back to Witches Borough. When they kidnap Mup’s dad, Mup and her mam must leave the mundane world to rescue him. But Mam is strange on this side of the border – striding, powerful, and distant. Even if they can save Dad, Mup is not sure anything will ever be the same again…
You can buy your copy of Begone the Raggedy Witches , as well as the other books in the Wild Magic Trilogy from the LitVox Bookshop by clicking here.
This one is perfect for older kids and young teens who have finished Harry Potter and are looking for a great new series to move on to.
Every four years, two girls are kidnapped from the village of Gavaldon. Legend has it these lost children are sent to the School for Good and Evil, the fabled institution where they become fairytale heroes or villains.
With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White at the School for Good. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black dresses and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.
But the two girls soon find their fortunes reversed – Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.
But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha reallyare?
For the Bookworms...
This book is a real treat for book-lovers, and a wonderfully imaginative tale for kids aged around 9 and up.
Eleven year-old Tilly has lived above her grandparents’ bookshop ever since her mother disappeared shortly after she was born. Like the rest of her family, Tilly loves nothing more than to escape into the pages of her favourite stories.
One day Tilly realises that classic children’s characters are appearing in the shop through the magic of ‘book wandering’ – crossing over from the page into real life.
With the help of Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland. Tilly is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago, so she bravely steps into the unknown, unsure of what adventure lies ahead and what dangers she may face.
You can get your copy of Tilly & the Bookwanderers from the LitVox Bookshop.
For budding adventurers....
This is a very special novel from Catherine Doyle, steeped deeply in the folklore and traditions of the West of Ireland.
When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet …
Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.
But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.
Trust us, given this novel 5 minutes of your time and you’ll be hooked, no matter what your age.Thankfully, it’s the first installment in a beautifully written trilogy, so there’s plenty more to keep you going.
Order your copy of this beautiful novel here.
Katherine Rundell is one of the greatest storytellers of our generation.
Fresh off the boat from England, Vita Marlowe has a job to do. Her beloved grandfather Jack has been cheated out of his home and possessions by a notorious conman with Mafia connections. Seeing Jack’s spirit is broken, Vita is desperate to make him happy again, so she devises a plan to outwit his enemies and recover his home.
She finds a young pickpocket, working the streets of the city. And, nearby, two boys with highly unusual skills and secrets of their own are about to be pulled into her lawless, death-defying plan.
Rundell’s fifth novel is a heist as never seen before – the story of a group of children who will do anything to right a wrong.
A brilliant adventure story bursting with tension and trouble, along with a loveable cast of characters. Essential stuff.
You can buy your copy of The Good Thieves from the LitVox Bookshop by clicking here.
And Finally, a couple of amazing titles for kids at those awkward ages.....
Sometimes it can be hard to bridge the gap between young readers and older, particularly when kids reading abilities vary so much. We’ve listed just two titles below that are perfect for kids just starting to deal with more complex themes and language, and one that’s brilliant for older boys and young teens, which is unfortunately when so many kids (boys in particular) seem to lose the knack of reading.
Believing is just the beginning….
This one is perfect for kids as they make the transition from younger readers to more complex stuff. The story is brilliantly engaging and action packed, and the language is just that teeniest bit more easy to handle for kids around teh 7 or 8 mark. That said, this beautiful story can be enjoyed by just about anyone, and is a joy to read aloud.
When Arthur and Rose were little, they were heroes in the Land of Roar, an imaginary world that they found by climbing through the folding bed in their grandad’s attic. Roar was filled with things they loved – dragons, mermaids, ninja wizards and adventure – as well as things that scared them (including a very creepy scarecrow. . .)
Now the twins are eleven, Roar is just a memory. But when they help Grandad clean out the attic, Arthur is horrified as Grandad is pulled into the folding bed and vanishes. Is he playing a joke? Or is Roar . . . real?
Pick up your copy from the LitVox Bookshop.
Ross Weford is the perfect author for bridging the gap between kids fiction and teenage fiction. His novels are very, very funny, but also deal with mature themes that don’t always pop up in fiction for kids around the 9 or 10 age range.
On Al Chaudhury’s twelfth birthday his beloved Grandpa Byron gives him a letter from Al’s late father. In it Al receives a mission: travel back to 1984 in a secret time machine and save his father’s life. Al soon discovers that time travel requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, setting his school on fire and ignoring philosophical advice from Grandpa Byron. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer…
You can pick up all of Ross Welford’s novels, as well as our full range of kids books at the the LitVox Bookshop page. We offer a free gift wrapping service and we ship all over the world.