Continuing our series of the best kids’ books, it’s time to concentrate on the best books for 7-year-olds. The best books for 7-year-olds are once again a mixed bag; some kids are reading for themselves, some are still sharing stories with adults and all of them are being read to at school. This is a great age to introduce some classics, explore some of the picture books at the top end of the difficulty scale and start to really examine non-fiction as a different and separate genre.
The Best Books For 7-Year-Olds
1. A Bear Called Paddington – Michael Bond
The recent Paddington films have been beautifully rendered pieces of art, and it isn’t a stretch to imagine that a lot of kids have been introduced to Michael Bond’s little bear through those films. Paddington is literally iconic and his sunny, optimistic and kind outlook on life is something for kids to enjoy and aspire to.
In the first book, A Bear Called Paddington, Paddington meets the Brown family for the first time and is introduced to the wild and weird world of London living. Young fans will recognise some of the characters from the films, and hopefully that will draw them in to reading these lovely books.
2. Battle Bunny – Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, and Matt Myers
Battle Bunny is a picture book that makes its way onto the best books for 7-year-olds simply because the older the reader, the more they are going to appreciate it and understand the joke. Battle Bunny is clever, funny and full of so many details that it will be read over and over again.
A simple and gentle story of a bunny rabbit’s birthday is turned into a raucous story about the Battle Bunny, thanks to the edits that someone has made to the story. The little drawings and changes to the wording turn a twee little book into the tale of a bunny waging war against the forest and even the president. It is so much fun.
3. Be Yourself: Why It’s Great To Be You – Poppy O’Neill
Be Yourself is a non-fiction book and also an interactive one, as it encourages children to think about themselves and do activities based on their thinking. Self-esteem is a huge issue amongst children, perhaps now more than ever with social media affecting even young kids, and this book helps them to think critically about their own selves.
This is definitely a book that kids as young as 7 will need to share with an adult, but there is no reason that kids of that age can’t engage with the book with that support in place. In the UK, 7-year-olds are on their way to junior school, and self-esteem problems could easily arise during that important transition.
Charlotte’s Web is another classic that absolutely belongs on the list of best books for 7-year-olds. It is probably a bit tricky for kids of this age to read on their own, unless they are very confident readers, but it’s a perfect story to share at bedtime – the chapters are short and there is plenty to talk about.
Fern saves the life of Wilbur, the runt of the latest pig litter, but her uncle buys Wilbur and Fern realises he is in danger. Luckily their friend, Charlotte the spider, comes up with a plan to save Wilbur. This book is full of heart and very emotional.
The Magic Faraway Tree is without a doubt the best book with which to introduce kids to Enid Blyton. Some of her others – The Famous Five and The Secret Seven – have undeniably aged quite badly in places. But The Magic Faraway Tree is just fun, for the most part, and kids will love the imaginative worlds at the top of the tree.
In the middle of the forest is a tree, populated by a number of interesting characters such as Moon-Face, The Saucepan Man and the Angry Pixie – all of whom are exactly as their names sound. Joe, Beth and Frannie are welcomed into the tree by these fantastical friends, and explore the magic worlds that appear and disappear at the top of the tree.
This is another non-fiction book which has made it onto the list of the best books for 7-year-olds, but kids will mostly be able to read this one for themselves. The illustrations are gorgeous and engaging, and the story of Fauja Singh’s real life is told simply but movingly.
Fauja Singh is a man who didn’t walk until he was five years old and didn’t start running until he was 89. He has gone on to run multiple marathons and set countless records for his age group. He is retired now, aged 110, but the book has a simple message for kids; just keep going.
Any number of Roald Dahl novels could have been on this list. He’s the perfect author to share at bedtime but he’s also mostly readable enough for the average 7-year-old. Kids love his gross humour and clever, twisty plots – and they definitely love the way that his characters always get one over on the grown-ups.
George’s Marvellous Medicine is the best example of all of these key features without being too scary or over the top, like The Witches or The Twits can be. George’s horrible granny has pushed him too far with her nasty ways, and so George begins to concoct a potion that will put her in her place once and for all.
Greek myths have been reliable bedtime stories since they were being shared in Ancient Greece itself, and every new generation of kids should be introduced to them. So many touchstones in western cultures come from Greek myths and stories, and they are always entertaining too.
Marcia Williams’ versions of eight kid-friendly myths are a great place to start. The cartoon strip style of narration is easy for independent young readers to follow, and the illustrations are brightly coloured and fun to look at.
Humour is not a necessity for the best books for kids, but it doesn’t hurt to have a smattering of funny books on any list – and the best books for 7-year-olds are no exception. Roald Dahl is already here, but Jeremy Strong is another funny voice that kids love.
The-Hundred-Mile-An-Hour-Dog is a laugh out loud story about a boy named Trevor who only has the summer holidays to train Streaker, a dog who is at least part whirlwind. If he doesn’t manage it, he’s going to lose a bet with Charlie Smugg and the horrible consequences of that involve frog spawn in places that frog spawn shouldn’t be.
10. Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote – Duncan Tonatiuh
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote makes the list of the best books for 7-year-olds for several reasons. Firstly, it’s got very distinctive illustrations that will introduce kids to a new and fresh style. Secondly, and more importantly, it tells a story of a life other than their own, and it’s always a good thing to expose children to new narratives and points of view.
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote is an allegorical tale of the Mexican immigrant experience, told with sometimes unflinching honesty bearing in mind the main character is a rabbit living that similar lifestyle. It will give these older picture book readers a lot to think about, which is always a good thing.
11. The Spy Who Loved School Dinners – Pamela Butchart
Pamela Butchart is another of those authors perfect for young readers just setting out on their journeys of reading and loving books by themselves. Literally any of her books could have made this list, and they’d all be deserving of their place here. She focuses on telling school stories – something kids of this age are constantly occupied with – but giving them all a twist that keeps kids coming back for more.
In The Spy Who Loved School Dinners, Izzy is proud to be asked to look after Matilde, the new girl at school who comes from France. But when Matilde enjoys the school dinners – and even asks for seconds – Izzy and her friends realise that there must be something very wrong with their new friend.
12. Weirdo – Zadie Smith, Nick Laird and Magenta Fox
Zadie Smith isn’t known as a writer for children, but Weirdo, her collaborative effort with Nick Laird, is a very charming and sweet story. It’s the perfect picture book for young readers who want to explore it by themselves, and will encourage less confident readers with short sentences and simple paragraphs.
The titular weirdo is a guinea-pig who is for some reason dressed in a judo outfit when she is introduced to the family. The other animals don’t understand what she’s doing there or why she’s dressed like she is. Weirdo is a story about finding your place and carving out your own niche – however ‘weird’ that might be.
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