Looking for kids’ books to keep your young ones reading over herfstvakantie (autumn vacation)? Our children’s book buyer Lília has you covered!
written by Lília
When I was a kid, I could never find books that whet my appetite, even though I loved all kinds of stories. I wanted to read about adventure, mysteries, dragons and fairy tales. Unfortunately for me, there were not many of those stories around, especially translated into Portuguese, my mother tongue. I was 15 or 16 when The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were finally translated. I read them with immense pleasure.
Most of the titles we read nowadays were written in the last two to three decades. I’m happy the younger generation has so many more books to choose from! It’s the “world is your oyster” for kids of all ages, and it’s inspiring to see them interested in different titles and authors.
As the children’s books buyer in our The Hague and Leidschendam stores, I am recommending the following titles because they make me want to read them—even as a grown-up. While I enjoy them immensely, I especially enjoy watching my young customers get super excited about a new book from a series or discovering a new author.
Here is the list of books – mostly series – I would have loved to read while growing up. I divided them into two groups: books for 5 to 9-year-olds and those for 8 to 12-year-olds. They are interchangeable, depending on where children are in their reading and development and where their interests lie. Regardless, they’re all great vacation reads.
One exception is My Sweet Orange Tree, by José Vasconcelos. This is actually a Brazilian author translated years later into English, and I enjoyed it immensely in Portuguese.
I hope you enjoy this book list as much as I enjoyed curating it!
Books for 5 to 9-year-olds
Any book by Pamela Butchart, who won the Children’s Book Award with My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat. The latest title in her Baby Aliens series is The Secret School Invasion. And luckily for her fans, there is a new book coming out in January 2023, There’s a Beast in the Basement!
John Patrick Green has a couple of funny series, but InvestiGators is hilarious! It’s a goofy graphic novel series that follows the super spy alligator duo the InvestiGators as they travel through the sewers and fight the forces of evil. Their newest installment is just out: InvestiGators: Heist and Seek.
Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins is a series about a group of children learning Upside-Down magic at the Dunwiddle Magic School and, predictably, getting in lots of trouble!
The first in a series about a little girl who is both vampire and fairy, Isadora Moon Goes to School, by Harriet Muncaster, is fun and cute.
And last but not least, the Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey. A hilarious graphic novel, it’s full of word puns and funny moments.
Books for 8 to 12-year-olds
I always loved dragons, and these two series about them are great: The Last Dragon Chronicles by Christ D’Lacey and Wings of Fire by Tui Sutherland. Very different in their premises, they are both excellent and enjoyable. The Fire Within is the first title in The Last Dragon Chronicles series and The Dragonet Prophecy is the first book in the Wings of Fire series.
Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens is the first book in the series of the same name. It’s about a girl duo who start a secret detective agency in their school. It’s also an ideal introduction to mystery books.
The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton is the first book in a series where text and illustration work hand-in-hand to entertain and amuse readers. It’s fun and wacky, even for grown-ups. Better yet, read it to your kids!
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is a great look into the world of a dyslectic child who has difficulties at school until she meets the right teacher. It’s more of a serious book, where children learn about themselves and how to solve their problems.
The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams is one of my Walliams favorites, but all of his books are wonderful. In this one, he shows us how important it is to accept ourselves and others as they are. This book reminds us that being a cross-dresser doesn’t mean anything besides someone who likes to dress as the other gender, and that nobody should be judged by that. David Walliams always presents us with thoughtful insights into our society and its preconceptions in a seriously light way. It makes you laugh, but also think. These UK bestsellers are great discussion starters and excellent for rethinking values.