20 Must Read Children’s Books for the summer holidays

With longer days and better weather, it’s not long until the summer holidays are upon us. For 6 whole weeks, teachers and children alike can get out of the classroom and enjoy a much deserved break. Even though the summer holidays provides a perfect time to relax, it’s a great time for children to keep developing their reading fluency skills and encourage a love for story-telling. Below I’ve listed 20 must-read children’s books for this summer. This book list is aimed at 8 – 10 year olds. I’ve also included 3 freebies in this post. You can download a bronze, silver or gold reading certificate if your child has successfully read 5, 10 or 20 books. Enjoy!

  1. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien

The hobbit

The Hobbit is a children’s fantasy novel, written by J. R. R. Tolkien. This book is a wonderful read for children who love adventure. The story maps the journey of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins and his quest to acquire the treasure, belonging to Smaug the dragon. Along his journey, Bilbo faces all manner of challenges that require him to call upon his knowledge, strength and courage. The hobbit is a beautifully told story and perfect for the summer holidays.

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

harry potter

Harry Potter is one of the most famous and popular children’s books of the 21st Century. The story begins with a ten year old boy who discovers that he has magical abilities. Harry Potter learns about a whole other magical world which leads him to make friends, face challenges and have adventures during an exciting year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

3. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is the first part of the trilogy of books set in a dystopian reality.  The series follows the trials and tribulations of characters Katniss Everdeen and Peter Mellark. Within the story, it is clear that there is a great deal of unfairness between the rich elite and poor masses. The poverty-stricken districts are given the opportunity to compete in deadly games once a year, resulting in one winner and many losses. The Hunger Games cleverly raises themes relating to struggle and injustice, as well as persistence and the triumph of friendship over division.

4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis

the lion the witch and the wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an absolute classic and a fantastic read for children. The story is set during wartime in England and follows the path of four siblings who are evacuated from London. These children arrive in a country house and discover a magical world inside a wardrobe. The story is set in the fantasy land of Narnia and contains mythical creatures, good and bad.

5. Northern Lights, Philip Pullman

northern lights

Northern Lights is a fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman. The main character, Lyra Belacqua journeys to the Arctic in search for her friend, Roger Parslow and uncle, Lord Asriel. In this fantasy world, souls can exist outside of the body and present themselves in the form of different animals. Lyra Belacqua goes in pursuit of her friend and uncle, battling different challenges along the way.

6. Carrie’s War, Nina Bawden

carrie's war

Carrie’s War is set during the second world war and follows two children’s experiences of being evacuated. The main characters, Carrie Willow and her brother Nick and evacuated to Wales, where they stay with an unkind shopkeeper. Carrie and Nick make new friends and begin to share stories with each other. The story highlights what life was like for children evacuated during the second world war.

7. The Witches, Roald Dahl

the witches

A young boy goes to live with his Norwegian grandmother and listens to her wonderful, but terrifying stories. She tells him about witches and how they live among ordinary people. The young boy is horrified, but interested to learn ways to spot a witch. The story follows his grandmother’s tales about witches and and how dangerous they are. Once the main character begins spotting the witches around him, he finds himself in a world of trouble.

8. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is part of an 8 book adventure series. The story centers on a criminal mastermind who also happens to be a teenage genius. Artemis captures a fairy in the first book and holds her to ransom so that he can recover his family fortune. As the story continues, Artemis Fowl begins to assist the fairy people and demonstrates more heroic qualities.

9. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz


Alex Rider is the protagonist of this series of adventure books. The story begins with a tragedy in the family. Alex discovers that his guardian and uncle, Ian Rider has died in mysterious circumstances. Alex is given details from different sources that just don’t seem to add up. Stormbreaker is the first book in a series of adventure spy novels that follows the brave pursuits of a young teenage boy.

10. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

roald dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a fantastic Roald Dahl story, focusing on the life of Charlie. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory is opening it’s doors again, but only to a select few individuals. Children and adults alike search for the rare golden tickets in bars of chocolate. Charlie was able to buy a chocolate bar with surprising results. The story is full of wonderful chocolate inventions.

11. Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (Usborne Classic Re-told)

tom sawyer

Tom Sawyer is a 12 year old boy living in St. Petersburg, Missouri in 1845. Tom and Huck carry out adventures together throughout the story. They are particularly concerned with freeing the runaway slave Jim. Tom’s obsession with stories puts this plan in jeopardy. Both boys learn that Jim’s owner has already died which sets him free. The story details a journey of intellectual and emotional development.

12. Dracula, Bram Stoker (Usborne Classics Re-told)


Dracula is a gothic horror story, written by Bram Stoker. This story is adapted to suit younger readers. The story begins with Jonathan Harker, an English solicitor, who visits Count Dracula in Transylvania. While there, he soon realises that he has become Dracula’s prisoner. It is Dracula’s intention to leave Transylvania and move to England where he can spread the undead curse.

13. The Midnight Gang, David Williams

the midnight gang

The Midnight Gang is an entertaining and light-hearted read, perfect for the summer holidays. When most children are fast asleep, the midnight gang are searching for adventures. The central character, Tom is hit on the head with a cricket ball, finding himself in hospital. Things seems to go from bad to worse when Tom is introduced to the wicked Matron. However, Tom’s life is also set to become more interesting.

14. Horrible Histories, Terrible Tudors, Terry Deary

terrible tudors

Even though reading fiction is a great way to escape during the summer holidays, if your child prefers to read non-fiction, then the horrible histories series is a great alternative. The Terrible Tudors is packed full of interesting facts about the tudor family, represented in a funny and entertaining way. These books are wonderful for memorising facts about tudor history and developing pleasure for reading.


15. Horrible Histories, Ruthless Romans, Terry Deary

ruthless romans

Finding out more information about the ruthless Romans couldn’t be more interesting or entertaining as this addition to the Horrible Histories series. This is a great non-fiction read for children who are more obsessed with facts than fiction. There are wonderful illustrations and wealth of facts. This can help to enhance children’s understanding of history as well as develop reading fluency.

16. Tales of the Trojan War, Usborne Classics Re-told


The Trojan War, retold by Usborne Classics, is a wonderful introduction to Greek mythology. This is an action-packed text that offers children a real insight into some mythological stories. The Trojan War details the classic story of epic Greek heroes and their mission to avenge a Troy army of 100,000 men. This story is written in a modern and approachable way, ideal for children interested in mythological stories.

17. Horrible Histories, Awful Egyptians, Terry Deary

awful egyptians

The Horrible Histories, Ancient Egyptians book includes all manner of interesting and gruesome facts about the Ancient Egyptians. This is a great read for children as many history and topical subjects overlap with the Ancient Egyptians during school time. Reading about the Ancient Egyptians will keep children both informed and help to develop a curiosity about historical facts.

18. Tales of King Arthur (Usborne Classics Retold)

the king arthur

The Tales of King Arthur is a modern and approachable read for children. Inside this book, the author retells stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the round table. This is an adventurous and fast-paced read for children. The author saves the best story for last, retelling the events of the sword in the stone.

19. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson

double act jacqueline wilson

Jacqueline Wilson is a fantastic children’s writer and explores a range of themes that impact children’s lives. The story Double Act is based on the lives of twin girls, whose lives are thrown into turmoil after their dad finds a new girlfriend, Rose. Emotions run high as the girls comes to terms with the changes in their lives and react in mischievous ways.

20. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

good omens

Good Omens is  based on the premise that ‘end times’ are coming. One of the characters, ‘Warlock’, considered to be the anti-christ, is just a normal 11 year old boy. Instead, due to a mix up at birth, a boy named Adam Young is actually the harbinger of doom, but has no knowledge of the true powers he possesses. The story follows Adam and the creation of his gang, resulting in his decision to either exacerbate or end the apocalypse.

As promised, here are three freebie certificates. You can click to download and receive a bronze, silver and gold award reading certificate.

Click Here: reading certificates

tes reading certificates



Video Teaching Inspiration #4 ~ The Wish-maker

Thinking Questions

  1. Why do the characters throw a golden coin into the well?
  2. What do you think the first man wished for? Why?
  3. Why did the man and the woman throw a golden coin into the well?
  4. What prevented their wish from coming true?
  5. How did the ‘wish-maker’ solve the problem?
  6. Which methods did the ‘wish-maker’ use to try to make their wish come true?
  7. Close your eyes. Consider what you might wish for. What would your wish be and why?
  8. If your wish didn’t come true, what actions could you take to make your wish a reality?

Writing Ideas

Imagine a character makes a wish every week. Each of his/her wishes come true, but they are not what they expected. Write about what could go wrong with his/her wishes.

Write about your own wish coming true. How would you feel if your wish came true? What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you meet?

The wishing well has become too popular. Everybody’s wishes are coming true. Can you write a letter to the ‘wish-maker’ explaining how this is creating problems for the town?

Schooling with a difference: Alternative schools around the world

Working in mainstream schools can provide a huge insight into the standards and expectations of teaching in the 21st century. However, with growing class sizes, emphasis on grammar and testing, I’ve often wondered how alternative schools approach education differently. It is true that many mainstream schools are increasingly considering the impact of their teaching on learners and how much of their lesson material will have an effect on their pupils’ future. With vast technological growth and changing priorities within the workforce, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine which industries children will be working towards. Some schools around the world are facing these changes head on. Whilst other schools, fed up with exam preparation, are taking a softer approach towards learning. Below are some schools that live on the periphery of the mainstream and have chosen to do things differently:

Egalia Pre-School, Stockholm, Sweden

Egalia has thrown out dated concepts of gender norms. Gender pronouns are a thing of the past in this pre-school, with boys and girls being referred to as ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ and ‘she’ with the hope that these children will go on to view each other as equals, unburdened by strict gender expectations. Many consider Egalia’s approach to be highly controversial, foreseeing an uncomfortable future of gender neutral beings rather than defined male and female genders. The basic premise for this type of schooling is the eradicate gender stereotypes and allow children to choose their likes and dislikes based on their personal preferences rather than be governed by subtle or sometimes, overt pressure to subscribe to a more gender favourable interest.

Some have expressed that this will somehow prevent boys from pursuing more aggressive activities, like sword fighting amongst other ‘typically’ boyish games. Instead, perhaps it’ll just give both genders the opportunity to borrow interests from each other without feeling squashed into a male or female sized mold.

AltSchool in San Francisco, California

With a greater emphasis on technology, schools have sought to become more knowledgeable with regards to coding, building computers and developing a greater understanding of how a computer works. Within mainstream schools, coding and developing a broader awareness about computers has been included within the curriculum. For many teachers, these are new concepts to begin imparting on their students also. However, in Altschool, children are encouraged to learn these key skills regularly and will become more comfortable with a range of computing skills, such as building circuit boards. By instilling these skills early on, the hope is that these children will be well-equipped to enter a competitive future workforce.

Blue School, New York

The first time that I had heard of Blue School was after watching a youtube clip of the Dalai Lama in conversation with Matt Goldman, a founding member of the Blue Man Group. Blue School initially began as a playgroup in 2006 and prioritised creativity above more monotonous approaches. Children who participate in classes at the Blue School will be encouraged to think more broadly and consider their environment. The Blue School have adopted a creative approach toward learning and aim to help their learners to become more inquisitive and reflective as individuals.

Steve Jobs School in Amsterdam, Netherlands

This school takes a unique approach towards learning and an absolute dream approach for children that are consistently falling behind. When children begin their learning process, they are given an individualised learning plan. This is carried out through a 6 week course and then reviewed and adapted according to the learner’s needs. One particular frustration with teaching large class sizes within a fairly prescriptive curriculum is how quickly children are expected to move from one topic to the next, often without feeling fully secure in that subject. By introducing an individualised plan, these children are encouraged to work at their own pace and only move onto subjects as and when they are ready.

Summerhill School, UK.

Summerhill School places and emphasis on democratic learning. Children can determine their own timetables and decide how to use their time effectively. They may choose to spend some time learning, creating art, playing, socialising etc. Although there are some rules in place preventing children from playing games or watching TV during learning time, schooling is a much freer and flexible process.

How we learn best often depends on our individual personality traits e.g. whether we enjoy structure or flexibility, group work or individual learning. Working in a mainstream school can sometimes incur questions such as, ‘how can the learning be measured?’ or ‘what about those children who need structure? How would they cope in a more flexible environment?’ It’s clear that there is no one school that fits all solution for every child. Even though the majority of schools may adhere to a particular structure and way of teaching, these alternative schools can definitely offer an insight into how education could be different.

Video Teaching Inspiration #3

Thinking Questions

What did you enjoy about the clip?

What made the magician’s hat magical?

How did the rabbit feel?

Why was the rabbit frustrated?

How did the rabbit behave when he/she didn’t get the carrot?

What could the magician have done differently?

What could the rabbit have done differently?

What tricks did the rabbit play on the magician?

Why was the performance still a success?

Did the story end well? Why?

Writing Ideas

Write a play script based on a magic show. You can invent your own characters and an animal that is included in the performance. The magician and his companion have a disagreement. Write about the disagreement and the consequences on the show.

What happens next? Write the event that comes after the magic show is finished. Does the magician keep working with the rabbit and put on another performance? What happens this time?

The magician is fed up with his mischievous rabbit. He wants to put the rabbit up for sale. Create a poster about the magician’s rabbit and use powerful adjectives to describe the rabbit’s qualities.

How to use different learning styles to your advantage

Whether teaching takes place in the classroom or at home, delivering lessons and introducing new concepts to children can be an incredibly rewarding experience. By helping children along on their pathway to success, you can be that positive role model in their lives cheering them on. However, teaching also has its many challenges as you are all most probably aware. From behavioral challenges, insecurity about ability, lack of confidence and gaps in knowledge, there’s sometimes a lot of catching up to do in order to build children’s’ confidence and address educational needs. What is clear, however, is the breadth of different learning styles within the classroom. So what can be done keep students interested in learning and create life-long learners?

The 1970s gave birth to individualised learning styles, which helped to re-shape the way in which education was viewed and delivered. Although certain theories preceded Neil Fleming’s work on different learning styles, he suggested that there were four main learning groups that teachers and students alike lean towards when understanding a new subject. These four sensory learning styles are: visual, auditory, written/reading and kinaesthetic learning. It is true that we all can learn from each style individually, but tend to choose one style over the other as a preference, especially when trying to memorise new information. Below are some examples that highlight activities you can try to cater for different learning styles:

Kinaesthetic Learning

Group Of Children Enjoying Drama Class Together

Kinaesthetic learning is an excellent approach for those children who just can’t sit still. The children that need to constantly fidget and spend their break times running around until they are completely puffed out. Sitting on the carpet for longer than 10 or 15 minutes may prove challenging for these students who would rather be showing off their sporty skills in P.E. lessons. For these energetic children, using actions and movements could prove highly effective to keep them engaged. When counting or practising times tables, jumping, star jumps, jogging on the spot whilst saying their number facts can keep their mind and bodies active. As for lessons when they will need to sit down and write for longer than 15 minutes, having a quick break half way through the writing process could help to release some energy so that they can continue to work at a good pace. Brain breaks and quick 5 minute exercises could help to re-focus their attention after sitting for longer periods.

Auditory Learning

little girl with headphones at home

Sometimes, when working with the younger year groups, it’s more difficult to determine which children have a talent for music. Also, music lessons are most often taken by an additional teacher so it can be challenging to spot those children that are musically gifted. Auditory learners are excellent listeners. These children sit well during the explanation and can regurgitate what you’ve said without much difficulty. When having to memorise facts, creating songs, rhymes or poetry to remember information such as grammatical terms can really help these children to memorise key facts. Also, introducing music into lessons and discussing the impact different music has on mood can encourage these children to use their auditory skills.

Writing & Reading

Young Child Drawing on Paper with Pencil

Having a mini whiteboard on the carpet during the input is particularly useful for these children. When watching a short clip or learning new information, children who learn best through jotting down their ideas can record what they have learnt. Useful tools for these learners include having a doodle book where they can jot down information, creative writing activities, opportunities to read during the school day. Children who love learning through writing and reading are often most suited to the style in which most lessons are delivered. They are able to shine using these talents within literacy lessons.

Visual Learners

Little girl painting on paper

Visual learners learn best from an array of bright images, illustrations and visual stimulus. Having lots of pictures on explanation powerpoints can help to bring further meaning to the topic and help them to relate the learning objective with visual imagery. These learners tend to be highly observant, enjoy artistic activities. Allowing some drawing activities and painting lessons to represent the learning objective can help visual learners to consolidate what they have learnt.

Here’s a learning questionnaire to determine what your child’s learning style might be:



Video Teaching Inspiration #2

Thinking Questions

Where do you think the pigeons are sitting? (place, city etc.)

What did the pigeons spend their day doing?

What did one of the pigeons notice?

How did the pigeons try to get the cupcake?

Can you think of a different way for the pigeons to reach the cupcake?

How did the pigeons feel when a bigger bird dropped a worm into the basket?

Writing Ideas

  1. Invent a way for the birds to reach the cupcake. Describe how the birds can reach the sweet treat.
  2. Write instructions for how to reach the cupcake.
  3. What could happen next? Write the next part of the story.
  4. Describe how the birds felt at different stages of the clip.

6 ways to get maths lessons off to a great start

Coming up with new and engaging maths starters can sometimes become a struggle, especially with the additional resources that need to be created, printed and organised for each lesson. Maths starters can be a great way to get your children ready to engage with the main learning activity. However, for those days when you would rather complete the maths starter without heaps of preparation, cutting and sticking, there are some fantastic ways to get children motivated with their number skills. Below are some ideas for getting maths off to a great start!

  1. Create maths movements

Getting moving is a great way for you students to stay active and learn at the same time. By encouraging children to create their own actions in relation to different calculations, they develop greater ownership over their learning and the experience becomes more memorable. Creating actions as a class is also a fantastic way to get everybody involved, preventing those passive learners from sinking into the background. One interesting actions maths starter that I observed during my teacher training involved the whole class. They were all encouraged to pretend that they were on a bike ride and as they climbed different hills, they counted up in numbers and when they descended the hill, they counted down. Making up rhymes and creating an accompanying actions is also a way to make number facts memorable e.g. 6 + 4 knock on the door.

  1. Online Games

Why not explore some online interactive games? Your students will love the opportunity to play online maths games and participate in interactive problem solving. Although most interactive boards only allow for one child to answer a question at a time, the rest of the class can jot down their answers on mini whiteboards. Some engaging online maths websites include:, and

  1. Splat! Maths starter

For this maths starter, all you’ll need is a couple of fly swatters, a board pen and your classroom whiteboard. This game can be played with varied maths questions and different levels of difficult. Playing this game is great fun and gets all children involved in the competitive spirit. How do you play?

Draw six/eight squares on the board. You’ll need to draw two grids in the style of noughts and crosses.

Write your numbers inside the grid.

Your numbers can depend on the type of maths learning you would like to cover. For example, you could play this game with the 7 x tables. Inside the grid, you could write some of the answers. Then, split your class into two teams and for each question, choose a child from each time. Next, you’ll need to call out the question e.g. 5 x 7, and the child to swat the answer first wins the point. The team with the most points wins.

  1. Pass the maths ball

Another active maths starter game could include passing an object, such as a maths ball or dice with calculations. This is also a brilliant way for all children to feel engaged with an activity and an alternative way to keep your students on their toes. Passing a maths ball or dice around the class during the maths starter can help to kick off the maths lesson in a fun and enjoyable way.

  1. Maths Quizzes

There are plenty of amazing maths quizzes online that can help to engage children with their learning objectives. Putting children into teams or carrying out the quiz ad a whole class activity encourages children to help their team members to succeed in the game and with their maths skills.

  1. Maths Puzzles

Maths puzzles can be an engaging and hands-on starter for your students to get to grips with their maths topic. This is another great way to encourage children to work in pairs or as a team to solve the answers. Maths puzzles can serve as part of a great starter activity for any maths topic and can be differentiated to suit varying abilities. I’ve included some addition maths puzzles below. These puzzles are differentiated and colour coded, ranging from number bonds to 10 to challenging addition calculations, involving 3 digit numbers.

Addition tarsia front