With so much going on right now it can be hard for kids to focus and let’s face it, everyone can use a break! Enter pleasure reading! Here are ten reads on the lighter side that will engage the young readers in your life. You can watch this segment online here, starting at the 1:54:15 mark.
Four Picture Books for Ages 3-7
Animal stories are a safe and funny way to explore emotions for little kids. In the very silly CROCODILE HUNGRY (Tundra), a crocodile tries to find something to eat before his ‘hanger’ gets the best of him. Temper tantrums are a fact of life and in PETAL THE ANGRY COW (Tundra), readers learn that everyone gets angry sometimes, but it’s helpful to have trusted friends you can talk things out with.
ANTHONY AND THE GARGOYLE (Groundwood) is a gorgeous wordless picture book about a boy who helps a baby gargoyle return home to Paris. It has a charming, cinematic feel and is an excellent book for those wishing for travel and adventure right now. While we’re on the subject of armchair travel, THE BIG BATH HOUSE (Penguin Random House) is about a little girl’s trip to a Japan and features a joyous visit to the public bath house with her family. This is a celebration of family, culture, and body positivity. I love how nudity is presented in a light-hearted, celebratory and natural way.
Two Magical Chapter Books for Ages 6-9
TEENY HOUDINI: THE DISAPPEARING ACT (HarperCollins Canada) is the first in a new chapter book series about Asian-American first-grader Bessie Lee who wants to win a talent contest to prove that she isn’t too little to be left out of things. She decides on a magic act, despite having no experience with illusion or tricks. Hilarity ensues! THE WITCH’S APPRENTICE (Random House) is the most recent instalment in Zetta Elliott’s magical series about Jax, a young witch’s apprentice. Jax accompanies a coven of witches to a convention in Chicago, which becomes complicated when the phoenix egg he’s been caring for hatches unexpectedly. I love how Zetta weaves a world full of magical inventions but also includes important figures and moments in Black history.
Three Novels for Ages 9-12
In SNEAKS (Random House) three unlikely friends stumble upon a secret society who are sworn to keep aliens from infiltrating earth. These alien beings, called Sneaks, are disguised to look like mundane human objects (like a wristwatch) and are more mischievous than scary. This is a cozy novel with a classic Edith Nesbit meets Men in Black vibe.
In BEATRICE & CROC HARRY (HarperCollins Canada), Beatrice wakes up in a tree house in a magical forest surrounding by talking animals, but she has no memory of who she is or how she got there. With talking animals, riddles and sophisticated wordplay, Beatrice and Croc Harry has an Alice in Wonderland vibe. The climax of the novel tackles very real issues of violence and racism, but in renowned Canadian author Lawrence Hill’s capable hands the truth is delivered in an age-appropriate way. This would a great family read-aloud.
MERANDA AND THE LEGEND OF THE LAKE (OwlKids) takes place in a small town in Cape Breton believed to be protected by mermaids. When a family emergency brings Meranda back to the place of her birth, she is surprised to learn that her family is connected to the mermaid lore that surrounds the town. Meranda has cerebral palsy, which affects her mobility, and often leads to her mother being very overprotective. This is a rich story about discovering your roots and becoming independent.
For Teens Looking to Escape
ECHOES & EMPIRES (Razorbill) is an engaging blend of high stakes political drama and an enemies-to-lovers romance with excellent banter. Joss is a witty, somewhat spoiled socialite who has to team up with Jericho, a moody but handsome outlaw in order to remove magic that she has accidentally ingested, before her magic-adverse empire finds out and executes her. This is the first in a duology and I am looking forward to more Joss & Jericho!