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Choosing Fiction

As you have probably spotted, The Word Pool concentrates on non-fiction and only a small amount of fiction. Here are some other sources of information, to help you choose novels and picture books.

Great Books to Read Aloud
by Jaqueline Wilson and Julia Eccleshare
(Random House)
Jacqueline Wilson’s chosen aim while children’s laureate is to encourage more adults to read aloud to children, and this book is designed to help those who are not sure what to read. As well as tips on reading aloud and quotes from celebrities, it features 70 books chosen by experienced reviewer, Julia Eccleshare. They are divided into sections for different age groups – 0-5, 5-8 and 8-11 – and include popular favourites as well as some that are less well-known. Each book has a full colour cover picture, a brief plot outline and key points about why it’s good to share. Costing only £1, this is a great book in its own right and a real help for busy parents. It will also be useful for grandparents and others looking for gift ideas.
Buy from Amazon

The Ultimate Book Guide
Edited by Daniel Hahn, Leonie Flynn and Susan Reuben
(A&C Black)
This great book contains reviews of over 600 books for 8-12 year olds and is designed for children, rather than parents or teachers. Each review is by someone who really enjoyed that book and is accompanied by suggestions for other books you may enjoy if you liked that one. The range of titles covered is huge and includes classics as well as modern books. In addition, there are features on particular genres and top ten lists chosen by readers' polls, all combined in a friendly, accessible layout that just begs to be dipped into. This book should be in every school and library and is worth having at home too.
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Who Next...?
Edited by Norah Irvin
(Loughborough University)
Loughborough's Library and Statistics Unit have produced this useful guide which suggests possible alternatives for 436 well-known children's authors. The authors are listed in alphabetical order in 3 age groups (5-7, 8-11 and 12-14) to take into account the needs of the different age groups. For instance, Philip Pullman is a suggested follow on to Harry Potter for 12-14 year olds but not for younger children.
     In addition, authors are listed by genre and theme and these listings are also divided by age range. So you can look for someone who writes fantasy for 8-11 year olds, horror for older children or historical novels for 5-7 year olds. As an added bonus, there's a list of picture books suitable for older children with an indication of their genre, a list of series divided by reading ability and a list of the current children's book awards.
     This very useful book deserves a place in all libraries (both public ones and those in schools). Book shop owners could also find it useful to have a reference copy behind the counter.
Order direct from Loughborough University for £13.99 (post paid)
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The Rough Guide to Children's Books 0-5 years
The Rough Guide to Children's Books 5-11 years
by Nicholas Tucker
(Rough Guides)
Most book reviews concentrate on recent titles so these two useful books provide a welcome contrast. Each of them provides detailed information on 100 carefully chosen new, not-so-new and classic titles which are all tried and tested favourites. The reviews are divided by age group and type to help you easily select the most suitable ones for your children. This division works well in the book for 5-11 years where you can choose between classics, animal stories, poetry and a range of other categories for three age ranges that match with children's growing ability to read. However, in the book for 0-5 years, splitting the older age group into 2.5-3.5 and 3.5-5 seems artificial. Although 5 year olds can cope with more complex stories than 2 year olds, the rate at which they develop this ability varies so much from child to child that it's sensible to look at the books in both sections and make your own decisions about suitability.
Buy 0-5 from Amazon
Buy 5-11 from Amazon

Cool Reads
This excellent website reviews books for 10-15 year olds and it's run by Tim and Chris Cross who are currently 13 and 14. It features an extensive list of titles, both old and new, and all the reviews are written by Tim, Chris or other readers in that age group. You can point your children here with confidence - they may even end up submitting reviews themselves.

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