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Over 70 Tried and Tested Great Books to Read Aloud

Jacqueline Wilson et al
May 2006
Current children’s laureate Jacqueline Wilson has made her campaign focus during her tenure, the promotion of reading aloud. Last year’s announcement that the government would fund BookStart’s three book interventions make this both a timely and admirable drive.

“Over 70 Tried and Tested Great Books to Read Aloud” does exactly what it says on the tin. Within this practical and highly affordable little book – priced at only a pound it really is a snip – is an endorsement by Jacqueline Wilson who is - as any of her fans will testify - an avid reader, a brief overview of the benefits of reading aloud providing by Guardian children’s literature editor Julia Eccleshare and some top tips for reading aloud.

A soiree of celebrities have endorsed the book providing personal anecdotes and favourite books for reading aloud. Whilst some of the celebrity choices seem a little arbitrary – though effusive Cherie Booth QC says little that does more than to add to the overall cumulative effect that reading aloud with children is good – those which work best are perhaps the authors - their recommendations and anecdotes at points provide real insight into their work and reading habit serving to genuinely inspire.

Needless to say with just over 70 recommendations, this is far from being a comprehensive guide, nonetheless some excellent titles are recommended here and they come with the assurance that they have been ‘tried and tested’. There are, however, some shocking oversights, any of Philip Ridley’s books should be featured here, they lend themselves perfectly to being read aloud and in many instances the lyricism of his text is best appreciated when audibly read. The brilliant and highly innovative picture books “The Wolves in the Walls” and “The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish” are carefully crafted by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean so that they can be read aloud with alacrity – the illustrations help allow for really dynamic readings! Any of Jan Mark’s wonderful and highly diverse collections of short-stories make for a real treat when read aloud. The Portuguese poetry collection “The Moon has written you a poem” stretches mind and imagination alike and has a superb, dream-like quality that lends itself to being read aloud in hushed-tones prior to bedtime… [Which books would you recommend? Why not click here and go to ACHUKACHAT to have your say?!]

In short this is a great collection of recommendations to read aloud and offers some worthwhile guidance notes. It is still no substitute for browsing and trying and testing books on one’s own children, the children one knows, or any child who can be introduced to their local library or bookshop where a whole world awaits them…


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I agree this is a wonderfully helpful book for parents wanting a nucleus of titles with which to start a life time of reading for their children and it is amazingly well priced. Congratulations to Random House.
I have a few gripes though!
a) From the cover it looks as though Jackie Wilson has personally selected, tried and tested the 70 titles. As the Children's Laureate she certainly promoted the whole idea of reading aloud but her contribution in this book is a two page introduction.
b) There are many quotes from well-known people but it is not possible to find out who has made the actual selections. A library cataloguer's nightmare.
c) Presumably the book is aimed at adults but why such large print? With more conventional sized type there would have been room for many more titles.

I will be promoting the book enthusiastically because it is certainly worth while. I simply feel it could have been much better.

Barbara Murison
Marigold Enterprises
New Zealand

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