Thursday, 15 July 2010

5 Year Seven and Year Five Top Reads (not!) - Savita Kalhan

Originally, when I first thought of the subject matter for my blog for this July’s FIVE theme I was going to pick two children: a Year Seven and a Year Five, and ask them for their top five reads of the year, and then discuss the books on their list. Then I got to thinking. How much more interesting would it be to see what whole classes of kids were reading and recommending?

A teacher at a local school kindly asked fifty pupils in Year Seven their recommended read of the year. Another teacher did the same for me with classes of Year Five kids. The results are interesting to say the least. I assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that there would be fewer books, hoping perhaps for five or so that would make this special July’s blog easier to write, or for five particular titles that would come to the fore as the most popular amongst the year groups.

As you can guess that was not quite the case, and I’m glad about that. The books the Year Sevens and Year Fives recommended were varied and wide-ranging. I ended up with a list of a hundred books, which did not easily fit into this month’s theme, but which I hope you will find to be far more interesting to look at.

With some thought, I could have made the titles fit into five distinct genres. However, I dislike classifying books in such a way for any reason, partly because my book was described as a ‘horror’ and for me horror meant Stephen King or Darran Shan, and that label doesn’t adequately describe my work, and partly because I would be doing it for the sole purpose of making it fit July’s FIVE theme.

Also, I’m not scientifically minded enough to make books fit into an all encompassing genre, or to slot the books into the type of list so loved by the publicity and marketing arms of publishing houses. Each of the books below are unique, as are the stories they tell, the vivid worlds they bring to life and the array of characters that inhabit them, and it’s not for me to play God. Kids know this and as you can see from their selections, they are not afraid to venture into them.

This is a list of all the books that were recommended by the kids and if anyone out there would like to have a go at organising the books into categories, then please feel free. I have very simply put them into the girls’ list and the boys’ list.

From the vast array and variety of stories here, I think one thing is clear – kids are reading, and that’s something to be celebrated. It’s good to see that the list is so wide-ranging - from Jacqueline Wilson to J D Salinger. It’s also wonderful to see how their tastes expand and mature within two years. On the other hand, and somewhat to my surprise, there is a marked absence of children’s classics on the list.

Here are the books recommended by Year Seven and Year Five kids. If the book is picked by more than one kid the number in the brackets indicates how many kids chose it.

Year Seven Girls
The Lovely Bones – Alice Seabold
Cookie – Jacqueline Wilson
Monsoon Summer – Mitali Perkins
My Family and Other Animals – Gerald Durrell
Mill on the Floss – George Elliot
Small Steps – Louis Sachar
Checkmate – Malorie Blackman
Goodnight Mr. Tom – Michelle Magorian
The Outsiders - S E Hinton
Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman (2)
Checkmate – Malorie Blackman
Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket (2)
Cherub – Robert Muchamore
Lovely Bones – Alice Seabold
Twilight series – Stephanie Meyer (3)
Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea – Michael Morpurgo
Born to Run – Michael Morpugo
Girl Missing – Sophie McKenzie

Year Seven Boys
Storm Runners – Barbara Mitchelhill
Striker Boy – Jonny Zucker
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
The Red Pyramid – Rick Riordan
Catcher in the Rye – J D Salinger
Beast – Donna Jo Napoli and Rafal Olbinksi
Brisinger – Christopher Paolini
The Changeling series – Steve Feasey
Bobby Pendragon: The soldiers of Halla – D J McHale
To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
Treasure Island – Robert Loius Stevenson
The Airman – Eoin Colfer
Time Riders – Eoin Colfer
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J K Rowling
The Thin Executioner – Darren Shan
Crocodile Tears – Antony Horowitz
The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness
Shakespeare’s Stories – Usborne
Eldest – Christopher Paolini
Born to Run – Micheal Morpugo
Half Moon Investigations – Eoin Colfer
Dead Man Running – Ross Coulthart and Duncan McNab
The Enemy – Charlie Higson
Wolf Brother Series – Michel Paver (2)
I Coriander – Sally Gardiner
I’m Not Scared – Niccolo Ammaniti

Year 5 Girls
The 13 Curses – Michelle Harrison
Harry Potter series – J K Rowling(3)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney(3)
Candyfloss – Jacqueline Wilson(2)
Famous Five on Fininston Farm – Enid Blyton
The 6th at St Clares – Enid Blyton
Dork Diaries - Rachel Renee Russel
Eclipse – Stephanie Meyer
Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
Captain Underpants – Dav Pilkey
The Monster Story Teller – Jacqueline Wilson
The Outlaw Varjak Paw – S F Said
Double Decker – Jacqueline Wilson
The Big Pig Book – Dick King-Smith
My Sister Jodie – Jacqueline Wilson
Cookie Fortune – Jacqueline Wilson
The Cat Mummy – Jacqueline Wilson
Bed and Breakfast Star – Jacqueline Wilson
Midnight- Jacqueline Wilson
The Suitcase Kid – Jacqueline Wilson
Clementine – Sara Pennypacker

Year 5 Boys
The Baker Street Boys – Anthony Read
Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney(6)
Horrid Henry and the Mega Mean Time Machine – Francesca Simon
Harry Potter series – J K Rowling(3)
The Boy Who Lost His Face – Louis Sachar
Skullduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy(4)
The 39 Clues series – various
Little Dog and Big Dog Visit the Moon – Selina Young
Boy – Roald Dahl
A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett
Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett
Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett
How to Train Your Dragon Cressida Cowell
Percy Jackson series – Rick Riordan

I would like to thank Mr. Russo at Belmont School for the Year Seven list, and Mr. Hyde and Mrs. Horseman at Moss Hall School for the Year Five list. I would also like to thank them for all they do in promoting a love of reading amongst children.

Savita Kalhan


Joan Lennon said...

Interesting post! I was quite a bit depressed though with the great girl/boy divide - were there NO books that fell into both camps? (Maybe there were and I just missed them.)

Joan Lennon said...

I really should pause before posting! I've gone back over the lists and there ARE a few titles in both camps. Having said that, I would like to be a boy/girl, please, to get all the good books.
(Here's hoping I don't want to recall THIS post in two seconds as well!)

adele said...

Very good post! Glad to see so many adult books there in Year 7. It ties in with my own post for which you'll have to wait till next Thursday! And btw, it's Alice a! Sorry to be so pedantic.

Savita Kalhan said...

Joan - I agree, I too would like to be a boy/girl and enjoy the good books on both lists!
Adele - Glad you liked the post. In defence of my many typos I would say that I was writing the blog very late last night without the benefit of my reading glasses! A silly thing to do. I look forward to reading your blog next Thursday.

Penny Dolan said...

A really good and interesting enquiry, Savita - have wondered about this myself - though I tried not to think how many of the titles also exist in a film/screen form. Chickens or eggs?

Anonymous said...

Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.............................................................