Top Kids’ Reads for 2019
The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder, which means a lot of indoor time ahead. No matter what age or stage your kids are at, this is a great time to get into reading. To find out what the trends are in children’s books this year, we spoke to Dorothy Butler Bookshop’s co-owner Helen Wadsworth.
Dorothy Butler Bookshop is an institution in the world of children’s books in New Zealand. It originally opened as part of its namesake’s home in 1964 and is still going strong now in its Ponsonby location. Helen has co-owned the shop with her sister, Mary, since 2015, and is passionate about reading and kids’ stories.
Hi Helen. To start with, can you give us your top five picks, both for picture books and chapter books, that have been released so far this year?
Sure. Picture books first:
- Granny McFlitter: A Country Yarn by Heather Haylock and Lael Chisolm (NZ). This is an hilarious rhyming story about the knitting granny who saves the A&P show from destruction by a bull.
- Encyclopedia of Grannies by Eric Veilie. A quirky, funny book – everything you need to know about grannies!
- Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. The third book in the Shape series – very funny!
- The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson and Catherine Rayner. This book combines Julia’s great way with words and Catherine’s gorgeous illustrations to craft a story about how we all need each other sometimes
- The Cat from Muzzle: A High Country Cat’s Incredible Walk Home by Sally Sutton and Scott Tulloch (NZ). Based on a true story, this book tells the tale of Dwayne the cat who walked all the way from his new home in Kaikoura back to his old home on remote Muzzle Station – a journey of five week.
For chapter books;
- A Place of Stone and Darkness by Chris Mousdale. An epic new fantasy by a New Zealand author, who also illustrated the book.
- Amundsen’s Way: The Race to the South Pole by Joanna Grochowicz. A second non-fiction narrative book from this New Zealand author, about Antarctic adventurers.
- Bullseye Bella by James T Guthrie. Winner of last year’s New Zealand Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award, this is the heart-stopping story of a girl who can play darts like a pro!
- Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day by Dominique Valente. This is Book 1 in the Starfell series, about a witch whose talent is to find lost things – but can she find the lost day?
- Where Dani Goes, Happy Follows by Rose Lagerkrantz and Eva Eriksson. The latest in this lovely series about a little girl called Dani, describing the ups and downs of real life for small people. Beautifully told.
Do you see a trend in the subject matter of books released this year?
This year is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing so we’re seeing lots of new and beautiful books published about space and the space race – for all ages. We are also seeing books about activism again for all ages, right from board books for babies.
What is an exciting new book that is being released soon?
A new children’s book about Ed Hillary and Tenzing Norgay is coming out in June. Called Everest:The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, it tells the story of the two men who made it to the top – and the team that got them there. But it’s not only about the climb up Everest, it covers the life stories of the two men and the impact they’ve had on Nepal. Should be good!
Then in July we’re expecting a new adventure story for 8-12 year-olds by master storyteller Katherine Rundell. Set in 19th century New York, The Good Thieves is the story of a brave young girl and her circus friends who attempt to save her Grandfather’s house from destruction by a ruthless businessman.
What classics are still popular in your store?
Classics are big sellers here at Dorothy Butler. Parents and grandparents love to read their old favourites with their kids. In terms of picture books, we still sell a lot of Hairy Maclary, Margaret Mahy books, as well as Peepo and Goodnight Moon. Then in chapter books, we have some beautiful editions of stories like Pippi Longstocking, Anne of Green Gables, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and lots more!
In your opinion, what is the best way to get kids reading and excited about books?
A really effective way to get kids excited about books and reading is to take them along to author events. The opportunity to meet and listen to writers and ask them questions is inspiring and makes for a memorable experience. Then, reading the book that is being talked about is a natural follow-on and it becomes a much more personal experience. We see the excitement authors and illustrators generate every time we have an event at our shop.
Apart from that, all I’d say is that children are more likely to read if the book is about something they like. If your 11-year-old is into basketball, buy him Stephen Adam’s autobiography. If your child is into Star Wars, get her a Star Wars story book!