What's On The Bookshelf: 6 books the younger readers will enjoy
Our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation have more than a few suggestions great for children and teens…
With the new year officially in full swing, there is no better time to begin planning what we’ll be reading in the year ahead. But while older readers might have no trouble compiling reading lists, younger readers might find it harder picking out their next reads.
Luckily, our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation have more than a few suggestions that will be perfect for children and teens. All of the authors of these books will also be making an appearance (physically or virtually) at the Emirates Literature Festival from February 3 to 13 in Al Habtoor City, so don’t miss the chance to join them in person and make it a fun experience for the whole family.
How I Became a Dog Called Midnight by Ben Miller
George is a ten-year-old who always wondered what it was like to be a dog. Until one night, he didn’t have to wonder anymore. After an encounter with a magical fountain, George swaps bodies with the dog next door, Midnight. George enjoys his adventure in the body of a huge and loveable hound. But things take a turn when he uncovers an evil plan that endangers Midnight’s home. Can George and Midnight thwart their enemy and save the day? Or will they be stuck in each other’s bodies forever?
A classic heartwarming caper of a boy and his furry best friend from actor and bestselling author Ben Miller that is great as a read-aloud for bedtime. Or you could get the audiobook and enjoy the adventures of George and Midnight as narrated by Ben Miller himself.
My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussain and Ella Bailey
You might know her from her winning the Great British Bake Off or even her hit Netflix series, Nadiya Bakes, but Nadiya Hussain is also an accomplished children’s book author in her own right. My Monster and Me is her first-ever picture book and it tells the story of a young boy trying to cope with his anxiety (aka his ‘monster’) even as it keeps growing bigger and more intimidating.
Nadiya Hussain draws on her own experiences growing up with a panic disorder to tell a much-needed story that will help plenty of young children who deal with anxiety find the words they need to express themselves at the times they really need it. The charming illustrations offer a comforting and light touch that makes this story one that young kids (and even their parents) will find encouraging and may even spark a conversation.
Greta and the Ghost Hunters by Sam Copeland and Sarah Horne
Not all ghosts are scary as Greta quickly discovers when she gains the ability to see them following an accident. The young girl quickly channels her new ability into proving that not only is her family home not haunted, but also that her grandmother should not be sent to a home. However, despite her best efforts to get her new ghost friends to help, things quickly go awry.
Copeland’s writing is warm and funny, easily conveying Greta’s love for her grandmother and other ghostly family members, while also gently presenting a realistic solution to the situation they all find themselves in. Expressive illustrations bring each of the characters and various smaller scenes to life with humour and heart.
Something I Said by Ben Bailey Smith
When he isn’t being a comedian or rapping as Doc Brown aka Ben Bailey Smith is working his funny bone writing hilarious, but thoughtful stories for children. Something I Said follows the tale of Carmichael Taylor, a 13-year-old boy who treats everything like a joke. But when he accidentally goes viral for telling some jokes about his family and friends, things get a lot less funny.
Smith manages to weave a funny and honest story that deftly highlights the pitfalls of not taking anything seriously and the consequences of one’s actions — while not talking down to its intended audience. Perfect for young jokesters in the making, and the family members that might sometimes be their unintended targets.
We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly
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The Newberry Award-winning novel unfurls across the backdrop of America in January 1986, as three siblings grabble with their issues — and those of their parents — all while counting down to the launch of the Challenger space shuttle. Fitch, the oldest, is struggling with his anger and shame, while middle sibling Bird is a dreamer dealing with anxiety and other insecurities, and Cash, the youngest, feels worthless. Sadly, their parents’ constant arguing does nothing to help their issues at home.
Kelly’s lyrical writing style easily blends the cosmic and existential with the more intimate day-to-day happenings of the Nelson Thomas siblings. Not only does she capture the special but sometimes complicated bond between siblings, but she doesn’t present easy answers to any of the problems they’re dealing with. It’s a rich story that will strike a chord in older readers who might be navigating some of these issues on their own, while also inspiring anyone with an interest in space further.
Misfit In Love by S.K. Ali
The sequel to Ali’s highly-acclaimed YA debut Saints and Misfits allows fans to once again catch up with Janna Yousuf. Only this time, she’s a little bit older and a little bit wiser, but still trying to figure out her place in the world, and what love could look like for a teenage Muslim girl set to go off to college. Misfit in Love takes place during the lead up to her brother Muhammad’s wedding, but now Janna’s faced with not just one possible suitor but three.
Ali expands the memorable cast of her previous novel, making the world feel much fuller and more realised. Not only does each character leap off the page with ease, but she’s also able to portray them as multifaceted people, flaws and all, and ensuring that readers will come away loving most of them. This, coupled with Ali’s deftness at tackling issues such as inter-community racism, ethnocentrism, and even parental dating with a light touch that doesn’t undercut the issues makes this a series worth reading. Come for the rom-com vibes and thoughtful prose and stay for a journey of self-love and healing.
If you enjoyed today’s selection of children’s books by Emirates Literature Foundation, then you should check out their website for the full details of the curated programme of the 14th annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. For more recommendations, tune in to their podcast, the Boundless Book Club and follow them on social media and YouTube to get up-to-date information on ticketing, giveaways, interviews and more.