Sunday, 8 December 2013

Give a Child a Book - and Give Them the World!

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside them, and it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.”– Neil Gaiman

In my role as a book-seller, I frequently meet parents and grandparents wishing to impart their own love of reading to the children in their lives. This is a wonderful and admirable thing – what better gift to give a child than a whole world at their fingertips? Any reader will tell you that books – especially those we read at pivotal moments in our development – have the power to shape our lives. In a child’s limited experience of the world, books provide opportunities for travel, adventure, love, friendship, knowledge, wisdom and infinitely more. Neil Gaiman’s message rings true: books will broaden a child’s horizons further than any other gift under $20 possibly could. While I could extol the virtues of reading for hours, you probably already agree with me there. What I should note is that while books make great gifts, a carefully selected book series is even better.

To introduce a young reader to a series of books is to offer them a universe all of their own, to which they may retreat for solitude and reflection, to meet with old friends, seek new adventures and vanquish enemies of the past. A favourite series bestows a reassuring sense of familiarity and continuity each time it is visited – a rare thing in a too often turbulent world. So, to help you find the perfect book series for the young reader in your life, we have compiled a list of the best current children’s and young adult series for this holiday season:

Kids aged 5-7 years 

The Andy G Picture Books series: Will appeal especially to boys (and some girls) aged 5+ who have a quirky sense of humour & whose reading skills are still emerging. Colour pictures by Terry Denton.

The Lulu Bell series: Perfect for kids, particularly girls, aged 6+ who love animals & are ready for an engaging first chapter book series with funny characters & cute illustrations.

The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno & Alberta series: Crime-fighting guinea pigs, mind-bending puzzles and hilarious illustrations – what more can we say? Suits boys & girls aged 6+.

The Don't Look Now series: Innovative & hilarious new series which relies on both text & cartoons to convey the story, making it perfect for kids aged 7+ or slightly older reluctant readers.

Kids aged 8-10 years

The Treehouse series: Children aged 8+ are going bananas for this very funny & fantastical series by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton – an excellent series for sparking the imagination of young readers.

The Lonely Planet Not-For-Parents series: A unique range of non-fiction titles exploring the culture & history of countries across the world. Features bold colours & engaging content for readers 8+.

The All the Wrong Questions series: Quirky, mysterious & darkly funny, these books will appeal to fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Best suited to mature-minded readers aged 9+.

The Ruby Redfort series: Genius code-cracker & daring detective, Ruby Redfort, scores a spin-off series from the Clarice Bean books. Hilarious & exciting adventures for girls & boys aged 10+.

Kids aged 11-13 years

The City of Orphans series: Readers aged 11+ who enjoy fantasy and are not easily scared will love this series set in Dickensian London which features a host of fiendish monsters. Classic Good V Evil.

The Girl V the World series: An enjoyable series of short realistic fiction especially written for reluctant female readers aged 12+. Sensitively deals with first love, bullying, social pressures, etc.

The Tribe series: 2013 might well be considered the year of dystopian YA, but this is fresh dystopian drama with an ecological twist. Thrilling, intelligent & engrossing books for readers aged 12+.

The Every series: The first in a planned series, Every Breath by a debut Australian author is a force to be reckoned with. Age-appropriate murder-mystery meets unconventional romance for readers 13+.

Kids aged 14+

The BZRK series: Dystopian sci-fi from a master of the genre, this series offers a dark & fascinating vision of the future. Great for teens interested in technology & science, especially boys 14+.

The Twinmaker series: More dystopian sci-fi because, well, teens love it! This is another thriller with a focus on out-of-control technology. Butt-kicking female protagonist will appeal to guys or girls 14+.

The Smitten series: A light-hearted series of realistic fiction written for girls with no interest in fantasy or the paranormal. Themes of romance & friendship abound – perfect for girly-girls 14+.

The Selection series: A curious mix of futuristic melodrama and traditional fairy tale. Aimed at girls 14+, this series will appeal to young adults who like their romance with just a little twist of fantasy.

And that’s the list! I hope you've found something to share with the young reader you’re buying for these holidays but if you’d like some more ideas, don’t hesitate to ask your local book-seller for makes our day! There is no better gift than a thoughtfully selected book because, in the words of Garrison Keillor, “a book is a gift you can open again and again.” On behalf of the Cereal Readers team, we wish you a merry Christmas – and a year ahead filled with many, many hours of happy reading.

Kara Smith