Wardini Books Store | Top reads these School Holidays!

July 3, 2020

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein knew the value of reading. It’s true that much of a child’s learning is done through books, but the benefits span far wider than this. Reading transports children to other worlds, develops their imagination and a sense of empathy, helps them process their world, and is essential for clear communication skills. 

So as we approach the school holidays, what could be better than curling up with a great book? To give you some inspiration, co-owner of Wardini Books in Hawke’s Bay, Louise Ward, has come up with her list of best reads. Among these current titles you’ll find something for every age and interest, along with adventure, fun, humour, and surprise. 

Let’s get reading!


  1. Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Reading age 4+

At school Selina is teased and called mophead for her frizzy hair. One day, celebrated NZ poet Sam Hunt visits her school and Selina sees herself in his mad hair and love of words. As a result, she decides to let her hair out and embrace her differences. A finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards, this is a story about being labelled, finding out who you’re supposed to be and celebrating diversity.


  1. The Bomb by Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan

Reading age 5

Winner of New Zealand’s Book of the Year in 2019, this quintessential lKiwi summer story follows the journey of a young boy who dreams of pulling off the perfect bomb into the water. While everyone has an opinion about how it should be done, he discovers his own way to do his perfect bomb. 

A great book to share as a family when children aren’t quite reading yet.

  1. Rabbit & Bear by Julian Gough and Jim Field

Reading age 6+

Bear wakes during hibernation to find her store of food has been stolen. As she sets out to find it she meets a grumpy rabbit and tries to get him to help her.

Humorous, fun and educational. 


  1. Hattie by Frida Nilsson and Stina Wirsen

Reading age 7-8

Hattie lives in the middle of nowhere and is desperate to start school so she has someone to play with. At school she meets a little girl who becomes her best friend and the story follows all of the mischievous things they get up to. 


  1. Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker

Reading age 9+

If your child is a quiet introvert, this is the book for them. Ware is meant to stay with his grandma for the summer but after she has an accident he is instead sent to a summer programme, where his parents hope he will have meaningful social interaction.  Ware instead meets tough, secretive Jolene at the churchyard next door and the two develop a close friendship. 

A book about finding out exactly who you are and being comfortable with that.

  1. Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk

Reading age 9-12.

Set during the Great Depression in America in the 1930s, Ellie’s family have lost everything and moved to Echo Mountain. Ellie navigates their new life on the mountain’s tough terrain, while getting to know the people around her and going through personal challenges.

Dark, full of adventure, danger and children making moral decisions.


  1. The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell

Reading age 9-12

Vita is in New York to visit her beloved grandfather who is widowed and has lost his house to a fraudster. When Vita sees the sparkle has gone from her grandfather she decides to get it back. To help her she recruits a crew of kids who all have specialist skills, and who work together to pull off her ambitious plan. 

A story about children being in charge and making decisions that force the adults around them to see who they are. 

  1. Spearo by Mary-Anne Scott

Reading age 10-14

Sean has emigrated to New Zealand from Zimbabwe with his mother after the death of his father. He finds it hard to fit in a school until he meets a boy in his class, Mason, and gets to know his family who are mad about spearfishing. Despite having no experience of the water Sean gets swept up in the family’s interest, and is thrust into a spear fishing competition.

An outdoor adventure full of action and drama. 


  1. The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward

Reading age 12+

Set in Victorian Oxford, young orphan Sin is a petty thief when he is offered the chance to join a covert operations group and become a spy to stop the next Great War. 

Full of gadgets, spies and secrets.

  1. If Only by Adele Broadbent

Reading age 13+

When Kayla tells a lie to go to a party with her friend, it ends up spiralling into a disaster. She

meets a boy involved with project Jonah, an organisation that refloats stranded whales, learns the truth and must make some hard choices. 

Themes of romance, pushing boundaries and the protection of whales.

Louise and Gareth Ward opened independent bookstore Wardini Books eight years ago in the heart of Havelock North village. They chose the name ‘Wardini’ because of Gareth’s background (children’s entertainer, magician and hypnotist) and to reflect the warm, magical environment they have created. Inside you’ll find a fantastic selection of books, and a passionate team of voracious readers who are always happy to help you find the perfect book. 

For more information go to

Co-owner of Wardini Books, Louise Ward