Growing up I had access to two major kinds of books – Enid Blytons and Amar Chitra Kathas / assorted comics. I always believed life would be easy as I would induct my children to the above two categories of books as they grow but little did I know. My children rejected every book I loved in my childhood leaving me bereft with the challenge of finding books that would hook them on. Internet came to my rescue as I learnt of several delightful books and soon I developed my own knowledge of books that are sure hits with children. Here is my cheat sheet;
Bubbles Series and Pepper Series
One could choose to pick a book of manners and safety and teach children the rules using them or one could teach them using the Bubbles or Pepper series. The protagonists – Bubbles the chimp and Pepper the puppy learn life lessons on table manners, safety, good manners and the reasons why one must not watch too much TV or covet too many toys. The words are simple and from the list of sight words that children learn and therefore a great reinforcement tool.
Dr Suess Books
My favourites are Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham but each book is a gem in its own right. Not only do these books teach words to early readers, but they render a good laugh with whacky and strange characters that induce giggles with their weird and clever wordplay. They also are a great tool to layer subtly a lesson or two in a light-hearted playful and jovial fashion.
Winnie the Pooh series
My favourite book in the series is A sense of Fun.The story is about the characters of the 100 acre wood who in the midst of picking red, green and yellow apples in Big ears’ discuss why this is like a feast for the senses – see, smell, hear, taste and touch. The characters then go on to create recipes that tease the five senses and this forms for a complete treat for the senses for children.
Baby Bahadur Series
The series by Tulika Books have five books starring Bahadur the baby elephant, his brother Anna and sister Akka, his friends Mannu the monkey, Shanmugam the lion, Hutoxi the horse, Kamalnayan the camel and others. These are delightful with evocative illustrations and text that are almost musical.
Some of the other Tulika books that are great for early readers are Ekki Dokki, Echa Pucha and Ranganna the gender bender book about a temple elephant. These books are also published in regional languages, are therefore inclusive, and make a great tool to teach languages to young minds.
Toto the Auto series
Another series of books, which are giggle inducing, built around the ubiquitous auto and its adventures. Toto the auto is a true hero and goes about solving problems and helping others, be it a movie star or stranded school children on a rainy day.
Magic School Bus Series
If science is your child’s thing then this series is apt for it takes children to excursions or journeys through realms of science that are otherwise not found in usual books – like inside the earth, in the midst of a hurricane or a beehive.
Judy Moody Series
Judy Moody, as the name suggests is a third-grade Queen of Many Moods and her adventures are light-hearted, fun and so not boring. Just like any third-grade child, she has her own set of problems which children will identify with- she gets jealous, she has school projects to finish and she has new classmates whom she may not like. Great series for readers who have just begin to move to chapter books.
Roald Dahl books
Roald Dahl’s standalone books are a gentle way to welcome children into the real world with characters that may have shades of grey. In his books, ill-mannered children get punished, there are surprises and disappointments and the character sketches allow children to interpret the right and wrong. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach are great books to start.
These books have been made into movies as well and are great reinforcements of the stories.
A comic-book adventure about a nervous mouse that is dragged into various adventures across the globe. Vivid illustrations support the narrative and the fonts are alive with varied colours and sizes. I would say they are best of both chapter books and comics.
If the children like to read a gentle horror book then goosebumps is the one for them. An explosive combination of comical and scary horror books in which children encounter monsters or supernatural beings in surreal situations.
Plants vs Zombies
Why would children not love this series? It has zombies who have a penchant for bad spellings, their passionate loathing for plants, funny sketches and humorous yet grounded gags. This book is inspired from the game and therefore anyone who likes the game will find it truly interesting, not only for the back story but also for the strategies that seem to be planted in various spots.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The Wimpy Series is a great way to get reluctant readers interested in the written word. The narrative is easy to follow and the cartoons are hilarious. My children like the activity book as well because they get a chance to display their cartoon drawing skills. It also inspires children to create cartoons of their own.
Horrible history or Horrible science series are a tongue-in-cheek representation of the subject which never fails to induce laughs. They are a great way to learn and engage children and the story-telling is light-hearted, fun and wicked.
The Horrible Science series are equally engaging with tips, tricks, facts and experiments that could keep children occupied for a long time. They introduce scientific terms gently and wickedly and that makes it even more exciting for children.
A no brainer and now they are releasing the graphic books as well.
If nothing else, reluctant readers will read these definitely. They love foolish Suppandi and the Tinkle comics with varied storylines and characters, in particular Tantri Mantri keep them hooked on for hours.
Attack on Titan
Not that I truly like them but this quirky book has somehow generated interest in the children. It is a Japanese Manga series and seems to have a cult following with tweens. The Titans are giant humanoids who eat humans and they have invaded the alternate world and wiped out almost the entire human race. The story is about the cadets who combat the Titans to protect their world and runs into more than 20 books.
Riti Prasad is the author of Double Trouble, Double Fun!: A Supermom’s Guide to Raising Twins, Wicked Temptations and Mathematics Fun, Fact and Fiction. She works in the Fragrance Industry as Creation Head.
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