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Books to celebrate National Children’s Day

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Happy National Children’s Day! On National Children’s Day, 16th May, we’re celebrating the joy of reading and the improved life-chances that reading for pleasure can offer children and young people. These brilliant books represent vibrant and wide-ranging childhood experiences so that all children can find something they relate to as well as some exciting new stories to interest all readers. From getting ready for nursery, to learning about the lives of children in the Medieval ages, discover your next book to read together and celebrate children of all ages and interests. 

Beginning readers

Time to Go to Nursery written by Penny Tassoni, illustrated by Mel Four, published by Bloomsbury

Starting at nursery is exciting, but it can also be daunting for young children. Time to Go to Nursery uses simple language and delightful illustrations to help children learn about what to expect.

The picture book shows children some of the toys and activities that are on offer and why nursery can be such fun. The book also explores what to do if children are feeling sad or need help to do something such as undress or go the toilet. At the back of the book there are plenty of child-friendly tips that parents and carers can use to help support children to settle in and enjoy nursery.

Big Words for Little People: Doing Your Best written by Helen Mortimer, illustrated by Cristina Trapanese, published by Oxford University Press

This series is ideal for exploring big topics with young children in a way that feels good. Through these books children can discover and understand new words to help them to talk about the ups and downs of first experiences and new emotions with confidence.

Doing Your Best uses carefully chosen words and phrases, such as ‘aim high’ and ‘teamwork’, and creates a special moment for grown-ups and young children to focus on what it means to do your best and be proud of yourself.

Early readers

The Same but Different written by Molly Potter, illustrated by Sarah Jennings, published by Bloomsbury 

The Same but Different explores the ways in which we’re all unique as well as the similarities we share. With clear explanations and colourful illustrations, this book prompts children to broaden their perspectives and rejoice in their differences. After all, imagine how boring the world would be if everyone was exactly the same!

Exploring all the ways we’re different, including how we look, where we live, the languages we speak, what our families are like and what we believe in, The Same but Different is the perfect book for starting important conversations with children about diversity and inclusion.

DOCTOR BING! A Vaccination Story with stickers, published by Harper Collins

Bing has got his vaccination today. He can’t wait to go to Dr Molly’s clinic to get his injection and his special Hoppity Voosh sticker for being brave! But not all his friends are feeling as brave as Bing. Can Dr Bing help them?

An upbeat book with Bing role playing and learning that vaccinations are nothing to be afraid of.

Songs for Our Sons written by Ruth Doyle, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay, published by Andersen Press

A star-scattered night, a brand new baby, and all the potential in the world…

This is a poetic introduction to what it means to be raised as a boy in the challenging times we live in, and all of the dazzling possibilities the world has to offer. The poignant message at the heart of this book is that we can be whoever we want to be. 

Dreams for Our Daughters written by Ruth Doyle, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay, published by Andersen Press

A star-scattered night, a brand new baby, and all the potential in the world…

This is a poetic introduction to what it means to be raised as a girl in the challenging times we live in, and all of the dazzling possibilities the world has to offer. The poignant message at the heart of this book is that we can be whoever we want to be.

Fluent Readers

Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths, written by Maisie Chan, illustrated by Anh Cao, published by Bonnier

Eleven-year-old Danny Chung loves drawing more than anything – certainly more than maths, which, according to his dad and everyone else, is what he is ‘supposed’ to be good at. He also loves having his own room where he can draw in peace, so his life is turned upside down when a surprise that he’s been promised turns out to be his little, wrinkly, ex-maths-champion grandmother from China. What’s worse, Nai Nai has to share his room, AND she takes the top bunk!

Before long though it becomes clear to Danny that there is more to Nai Nai than meets the eye, and that they have more in common that he thought possible …

The Good Thieves, written by Katherine Rundell, published by Bloomsbury

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.

Katherine 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.

The Unstoppable Letty Pegg, written by Iszi Lawrence, published by Bloomsbury

Lettice Pegg’s father is a working-class policeman and her mother is a middle-class suffragette. Stuck between them (and her terrifying grandma) as they argue, Lettice mostly cares about trying to fit in at school and convincing her parents to let her have roller skates and go to the music hall. But, when Lettice sees her mother brutally thrown to the ground by a policeman while on a protest march, her life changes forever. Not all of the women on the march are vulnerable to attack. Some of them have a secret weapon: Jiu Jitsu.

As the suffragettes welcome Lettice to the fight back, things at home go from bad to worse. Can Lettice bring her family back together and keep her new friends?

The Valley of Lost Secrets, written by Lesley Parr, published by Bloomsbury

September 1939.

When Jimmy is evacuated to a small village in Wales, it couldn’t be more different from London. He instantly feels out of place.

But then he finds a skull hidden in a tree, and suddenly the valley is more frightening than the war. Who can Jimmy trust? His brother is too little; his best friend has changed.

Finding an ally in someone he never expects, they set out together to uncover the secrets that lie with the skull. What they discover will change Jimmy – and the village – forever.

Independent readers (NB: may contain mature content) 

The Great Revolt, by Paul Dowswell, published by Bloomsbury

It’s 1381 and the king, Richard II, has imposed a new tax on the people. In the village of Aylesford, Tilda and her ploughman father were already struggling to make ends meet. As serfs they have no rights to move freely or earn wages for their work. Tilda is desperate for a better life than the village can offer, so when the villagers begin to rebel she is swept up in the excitement.

Tilda and her father travel to London with the others to petition the king, but the peaceful rebellion they hoped for soon ignites into violence, mayhem and treachery…

The House of Hollow, by Krystal Sutherland, published by Bonnier 

The Hollow sisters – Vivi, Grey and Iris – are as seductively glamorous as they are mysterious. They have black eyes and hair as white as milk. 

And everyone knows who the Hollow sisters are. Because one day the three Hollow sisters simply disappeared. And when they came back, one month later, with no memory of where they had been, it was as if nothing had changed. Almost nothing, apart from, for example, the little scar that had appeared in the hollow of their throats… and a whispering sense that something is not quite right about them…


World Book Day is a charity funded by publishers and booksellers in the UK and Ireland.