The following article comes from primary consultant Kate Heap, who shares her top picks for the summer holidays.

Summer is the perfect time to settle down with a good book. The demands of home learning will ease and there will more time for fun, choice and taking it easy. This year, more than ever, it is essential that reading play a key part in every child’s summer holiday plans.

There are countless benefits to reading regularly and maintaining a reading habit during the summer months. Spending time reading improves concentration and helps keep children’s brains sharp. Vocabulary develops and children’s awareness of the world around them widens. Without leaving their sofa, children might find themselves in crashing seas on a pirate ship, exploring the frozen Arctic or riding a fire-breathing dragon. Reading helps children understand more about themselves and develop empathy for others. It also relaxes the body, calms the mind and is a great form of entertainment!

Summer Reading Challenges

Join the Silly Squad for The Reading Agency Summer Reading Challenge 2020.

Books for Topics has a fun Summer Reading BINGO with recommended reads.

Cressida’s Creativity Summer Camp – Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train Your Dragon series, has put together an entire week of fun activities linked to reading, writing & drawing.

Toppsta has created two fun challenges: a 30 day reading challenge and a super Book BINGO

10 Brilliant Summer Books


by Anne Booth & illustrated by Robyn Wilson-Owen (Tiny Owl)

Words have power – power to build up, power to tear down, power to encourage and power to defeat. Words can cause someone to wilt but also help someone to truly bloom. Such is the wonderfully significant message of this beautiful picture book.

Bloom is a lovely story of kindness and building each other up. It shares many wonderful lessons: lessons about how we speak to each other, the importance of appreciation and kindness, and how speaking positively to someone else makes us feel good inside too.

Bloom Book

Rex the Rhinoceros Beetle

by M.G. Leonard (Scholastic)

Rex is a wonderful rhinoceros beetle who would love to be as fearless and as strong as his friend, Buster. Buster has so many big stories about all of his rainforest adventures and Rex is in absolute awe of him. However, Buster might not actually be as brave as he seems.  Will Rex be able to summon his strength and show that he can be mighty too?

Rex the Rhinoceros Beetle is a fantastic new picture book by M.G. Leonard, author of Beetle Boy & The Highland Falcon Thief. With fun and incredibly engaging illustrations by Duncan Beedie, readers won’t be able to help having a go at drawing their own friendly beetles.  The colours leap off the page with these new characters who are sure to become family favourites.

Rex the Rhinoceros Beetle

Splash Day

by Nick Sharratt (Barrington Stoke)

It wouldn’t be summer without a water fight and the fantastic Nick Sharratt has created a wonderful picture book in which children have everything they need to absolutely soak each other (and their teachers)! With paddling pools, buckets, crates and washing up bowls full to the brim, young readers will thoroughly enjoy laughing along with the characters as they have the most epic water fight. Wellies, trunks, wetsuits and rubber rings are a must in this soggy, slippery, completely saturated story! Watch out! Children will come away full of ideas for their own sunshiny summer fun!

Splash Day

Do Not Disturb the Dragons

by Michelle Robinson & illustrated by Sharon Davey (Bloomsbury)

Girls can do anything and Grace is determined to prove it! Never mind the rules – 947 of them to be precise – telling her all of the things she can’t do! Do not climb the castle turrets, do not lie to the king, do not stay in the bath until your skin goes wrinkly and, most importantly, Do Not Disturb the Dragons! Rules were made to be broken so Grace and her sister, Portia, set off on an adventure that challenges everything they’ve ever been told.

The two brave and curious princesses want nothing more than to ride a unicorn, wear a suit of armour and play in a troll-o tournament. With the help of their friend Bram, a shape-shifting imp, they decide to break the rules and follow their dreams.

Michelle Robinson and Sharon Davey have created a world where challenging the norm, believing in yourself and trying something new are all things to be encouraged and celebrated. The message of this brilliant book is one of fun and tapping into your own power and strength. It is sure to become a favourite with children, parents and teachers alike!

The Worst Class in the World

by Joanna Nadin & Rikin Parekh (Bloomsbury)

The Worst Class in the World written by Joanna Nadin and illustrated by Rikin Parekh is a laugh out loud collection of crazy school adventures. According to their headteacher, Mrs Bottomley-Blunt, Class 4B is LITERALLY the worst class in not just the school, but in the entire world. They spend most of their time coming up with madcap schemes and breaking every rule in the book. Despite never being as good as 4A, the class wouldn’t have it any other way. They thoroughly enjoy every silly escapade and work their socks off trying to come up with the next FOOL PROOF PLAN.

This entertaining book is full of all the things Year 4 children find impressive: food, burps, sick, unusual objects, challenges, keeping secrets from the teachers and being the best at everything. The result is a fast-paced, enjoyable read overflowing with giggles.

Agent Zaiba Investigates: The Poison Plot

by Annabelle Sami & illustrated by Daniela Sosa (Stripes Publishing)

It’s the day of the school summer fete – Zaiba’s favourite day of the whole year! There will be treats, games and even a baking competition! She and her best friend, Poppy, are so excited to be organising the Detective Trail with costumes, clues and a chance for the other children to learn all about solving mysteries.

Zaiba has learned from her Aunt Fouzia, the best detective in Pakistan, that a crime might occur when you least expect it. Today is no different. It all goes wrong in the baking tent when someone is poisoned! Zaiba and the Snow Leopard Detective Agency (UK branch) spring into action and take on the case! Using their keen observation skills, Zaiba and her friends soon identify suspects, motives and opportunities to commit the crime. There is no shortage of clues and red herrings for them to investigate. In classic Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew style, these super sleuths waste no time unearthing mysterious behaviour and suspicious characters.

The Poison Plot

The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates

by Jenny Pearson (Usborne)

The end of Year 6 is supposed to be exciting – the start of a new adventure – but for Freddie Yates, a sudden turn of events causes him to question everything he knows. For someone who loves facts, this is very unsettling. He decides to set off on his greatest adventure to find a father he’s never known with his best friends by his side. Through a series of hilarious mishaps, best intentions and almost unbelievable miracles, Freddie finds far more than he ever expected.

Jenny Pearson has truly captured the humour and sense of adventure of Year 6 children. With the help of the fantastic illustrator Rob Biddulph, this story leaps off the page for readers to devour. We journey with the boys, willing them on and watching with a smile as they discover the truth and learn a whole lot more about themselves along the way.


by Eloise Williams (Firefly Press)

Wilde is a young girl with a whole collection of troubles. When she arrives at her aunt’s house in the town of Witch Point in Wales, she knows it will be a challenge.  Not only is she different from the other children, but her mother has a history in the town which is difficult to ignore. It doesn’t take long before strange things start to happen: birds seem to follow Wilde wherever she goes, she worries that she has started sleep walking and a witch begins sending horrible letters to the children in Wilde’s Year 6 class.

The town of Witch Point has a history of witchcraft and witch trials. The well-known legend of A Witch Called Winter is regularly retold through stories and plays. Wilde soon discovers that there is more to the story than first meets the eye and the past has an unusual story to tell. She needs to uncover the truth about the class witch before people start accusing her.

Children will soon be swept away into this fantastic story of being true to yourself and discovering the power of friendship, family and being unique.


Crater Lake

by Jennifer Killick (Firefly Press)

In primary school, Year 6 residential is a rite of passage. Every child waits for this very special adventure with anticipation, excitement and a little bit of fear. There is always a ghost story to go with it – a frightening tale passed on by older children who have been there and lived to tell it. The story of Crater Lake is the birth of one such tale: a perfect mix of horror and humour designed to make every child waiting for their Year 6 residential feel ever so slightly nervous.  Sadly, many children had to miss their residential this year. Crater Lake can fill that gap and take them on a wonderfully chilling adventure with a whole new group of friends.

Author Jennifer Killick has perfectly captured the personality of Year 6 – the alliances, friendships, fallouts, fears, hopes and the importance of finding out who you really are as you move on to the scary world of secondary school. The children from Crater Lake will never be the same but they move on to their next adventure knowing they can survive anything!

Crater Lake

The Wild Way Home

by Sophie Kirtley (Bloomsbury)

The Wild Way Home is a captivating story of self-discovery and realising what is truly important in life. In the stillness of the forest, twelve-year-old Charlie and his friends explore the ancient paths and walk where many people have come before. When Charlie discovers a special deer tooth, he has no idea to whom it once belonged or just how important it will prove to be. It isn’t long before he finds himself lost in the past – in the Stone Age – facing challenges he never imagined and finding strength he didn’t know he possessed. Will he be able to make his way back home to the life he always longed for?

This book will help children to explore difficult changes in life and learn how to cope when things are hard. It reassures them that they are not alone in their feelings or circumstances and that things can get better. It is also a magnificent portrayal of Stone Age life with opportunities for discussion about values, survival and family. The symbolism of the wolf and the recurring spirit songs are strong reminders that some of the most important things we can do are “give thanks” and “make safe”.


Kate Heap

Kate Heap is an experienced Primary English Consultant from Leeds. She is passionate about helping children to be inspired in their learning through adventure and imagination. Kate is also an author for teachers with her book, Reading the Classics at Key Stage Two, to be published in 2020.

Read more from Kate on her blog Scope for Imagination.

Follow Kate on Twitter – @KateHeap1.

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