Your Child's Summer Holiday Reading List

Don’t hit the pause button on your child’s reading skills this summer. Browse our selection of recommended books for children from pre-school through to secondary from the librarians at Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai and Durham School Dubai.
Your Child's Summer Holiday Reading List
By Carli Allan
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As parents, we don’t just want our children to read – we want them to read for pleasure. The long summer vacation is an ideal time to help develop your child’s lifelong love for reading and improve their language and literacy skills.

Whether it’s self-directed reading or parent-child read aloud, it will help to avoid the so-called summer slide. Studies show that children can lose up to two months’ of reading performance over the summer months, and research suggests that the unstructured activity of reading for fun will do more to keep children’s minds sharp and engaged than weeks of maths and science holiday homework.

Kate Riddle, Librarian at Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai, says:

"Developing an intrinsic love of reading is key for creating lifelong readers. Research has shown that children who read more frequently and for pleasure achieve higher academic success. The aspect of self-selection in reading materials is important for empowering readers and valuing children’s book choices. 
"The summer can be a great chance to read more widely and introduce your child to diverse literature and genres. You could encourage your child to keep a record of what they have been reading in a summer reading journal. Another fun challenge could be to create a Bingo style reading challenge board!"

The summer holidays can also be a great chance to visit your local library and bookshops, many of which host summer reading programmes and events. "Family visits to libraries and bookshops, together with discussions about reading also helps to model reading habits and to develop a positive attitude towards reading," adds Ms Riddle.

To get you started, Ms Riddle recommends the following books for children of different ages.


Early Years: 3 years and above

  • This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne 
  • There's a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins 
  • Curious Questions & Answers About Our Planet 
  • Maybe Something Beautiful by Isabel Campoy 
  • Little People, Big Dreams series 

Young readers: 7-10 years

  • I Survived graphic novels Series 
  • Planet Omar series by Zainab Mian 
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo 
  • The Girl who Stole an Elephant by Nizrana Farook 
  • Science Comics series by Maris Wicks 

Older readers: 10-14 years

  • Pony by R.J Palacio
  • Holes by Louis Sachar 
  • The Explorer by Katherine Rundell 
  • Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer 
  • The Way Things Work Now by David Macauly

Charis Wightman, Head of Primary at Durham School Dubai, shares short reviews for her top three recommended reads, (and we want to give her own published novel, The Girl from Saikea, a mention too!).

7-10 years: Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner

Emily Vole’s neighbour dies and leaves her a shop, a bunch of keys and a clever cat called Fidget. They set about re-opening the Fairy Detective Agency but run into trouble when they encounter Harpella, the great fairy-snatcher and their adventures truly begin. This is the first in a series of six books and those who love imaginative story-telling, a quiet, unassuming and brilliantly brave heroine, humour and adventure, will find the summer just about long enough to read them all. 

10-12 years: The Whispering Road by Livi Michael

There’s something odd about the children who work on the farm. They never seem to grow any older. All is not what it seems and Joe and Annie must escape. In this story, reminiscent of but more accessible than Oliver Twist and set in and around Manchester, Joe and Annie set off to search for their mother with nothing but the clothes on their back.

Horrors of their workhouse past trouble Annie and she sees spirits, making Joe ever more worried. A travelling circus offers a new life, but Joe must leave Annie in order to keep them both alive. Livi Michael writes about an extraordinarily harsh world, where young children are forced to survive however they can. A story of heart-ache, love, family and hope.

12+: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina delves into a world of dragons, people, and a small number of hybrids of the two. Seraphina is the heroine of the book. She makes a revelation that she is forced to keep a secret in order to keep her life. A musical genius who invokes great curiosity, she is a reluctant main player in an historical event and slowly falls in love with someone she shouldn’t.
Throughout the story the themes of prejudice, unlikely acceptance and love in its many forms weave through, not all to their conclusion (you’ll need to read the follow up, Shadow Scale to learn all the answers.) Relationships are formal and frightening at times, with the underlying truth of a dragon-kind ever present. The clipped tones with which some of her characters speak, the nonchalant manner of their actions and the setting of a gothic cathedral add to the current of danger that is ever present in Seraphina. It is not a book to be read in snippets, nor is it one easily left.

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