Mother and Baby

The best books to buy for five year olds

child reading book

Now your child is five, his language will be much more developed and he'll feel more comfortable reading alone. Be sure to continue reading with him though as this is a great chance to encourage him even further. Follow co-author of Read With Me: Engaging Your Young Child in Active Reading and a mum of three Samantha Cleaver's tips below to help encourage your child. 

Top tips for reading with your five-year-old to read

Explore the words

Every time your youngster shares a book with you, he’ll get something new out of it. ‘The first time he hears it, he’ll just get the basic story,’ says Samantha. ‘The hundredth time he reads it, he’ll be using the words, connecting to the words and understanding how they work.’ And the repetition of the same words and phrases will really help him to piece together this puzzle of sounds having meaning. So, the more often your child hears and uses a word, the more it will make sense to him and become part of his vocabulary. And that’s why your child chooses the same book again – and again! – for storytime.

You can tap into this opportunity to widen your child’s vocabulary – both because it’s a useful skill for him to have more words at his disposal, and because he’ll find it interesting right now. Books often contain words that aren’t often used in day-to-day speech, so there’s lots to explore. ‘In The Gruffalo, your youngster will come across “stroll”, “tusks”, “roasted”, “sped” and “fled”,’ says Samantha. ‘So, once he’s really familiar with the story, discuss what these more unusual words mean.’

You could ask your child: ‘Do you know what a stroll is?’ or just chat around the word to help deduce its meaning by saying, ‘Who’s going for a stroll?’, ‘Why is the mouse strolling?’, and ‘Do you think the mouse sometimes goes for a stroll and sometimes goes for a run?’

children reading together

Ask questions

‘The more questions you ask your child about a book, the more you are inviting him in to share the story together,’ says Samantha. ‘And it will develop his language skills, too, because the more we use it, the better we all get at using it.’ And learning what a word means is key to the motivation to want to say it. You can test this out for yourself.

‘Start a conversation with a question about the book you're reading, such as, “What colour is the fox?”,’ says Samantha. ‘And whatever response your child gives you, use his language and repeat it back to him in a full sentence with some added information. So, if he says, “orange” – of something that you recognize as an attempt at “orange”, you could reply, “Yes, the fox is orange, with a white tummy.”’ Using your youngster’s words tells him he gave a good answer, so he feels pleased. And putting them into a full sentence helps to teach him the next step.’

And you can have great big conversations about one tiny detail in the book! ‘Ask another question to build the conversation,’ suggests Samantha: ‘”What colour is the fox’s tail?”, “What does the fox feel like – hard or soft?”, “Who’s bigger, the mouse or the fox?”.’

Make it real

Books can help your child to build knowledge about the world, to strengthen his own sense of identity and to make connections between his own experiences and those of other people. ‘When you’re doing some Active Reading with your youngster, try to make tangible connections between what he sees in the book and what he sees and does in his own life,’ says Samantha. ‘This reinforces the concepts and ideas that are present in the book.’ You can do this very simply – just point at the orange colour of the fox in The Gruffalo and ask your child to point at something orange in your home. Or ask your five-year-old if he remembers when he went for a stroll in the woods, or what he’d like for lunch. ‘Making the experiences of the characters real and relevant to your child’s life makes them even more interesting for him,’ says Samantha. ‘It makes him want to read more because it helps him to find out about himself!’

Real mums on reading

‘I always try to have at least one book on the go that’s connected to what’s going on in the children’s lives. So, at the moment, we’re reading books about winter. If we’re going to the zoo, we read books about the zoo. I started doing this because those books spark conversations. Leno and Stella can talk about things they’ve experienced and relate them to the pictures and the text. That builds their vocabulary and adds to their enjoyment of what they’re doing as well as what they’re reading.’ - Eva Ward, is mum to Leno, three, and Stella, one.

'Any time Joseph wants a cuddle, he'll pick up a book and carry it over to me. We have a lot of interactive books like Never Touch A Dinosaur by Rosie Greening, which has lots of different textures to feel, and Go, Rocket, Go by Matthew Morgan, which has a slider to change the pictures on the page. It’s all about the joy of touching the pages and being with me!' - Liz Kuhler, is mum to Imogen, six, and Joseph, 15 months. 

Books for five-year-olds

A magical tale of friendship to soothe your little one's starting-school worries. In My School Unicorn, when Evie puts on her new school uniform, she makes a magical discovery. Hidden inside the pocket of her jumper is Bobby, a tiny school unicorn! Bobby has a very important job - helping children feel brave when they go to school. 

The Goody

£10.20 - RRP: £12.99

What happens when Chirton Krauss decides that being a good child isn't so good after all? A charming, funny story about the importance of kindness, and allowing children the freedom to be themselves. 

Discover fascinating facts about some of the most amazing women who changed the world we live in. Fly through the sky with the incredible explorer Amelia Earhart, and read all about the Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole. Bursting full of beautiful illustrations and astounding facts, this book is the perfect introduction to just a few of the most incredible women who helped shaped the world we live in.

A perceptive and poignant story that is a must-have for all children's bookshelves. One day, Ruby finds a worry. At first it's not such a big worry, and that's all right, but then it starts to grow. It gets bigger and bigger every day and it makes Ruby sad. How can Ruby get rid of it and feel like herself again?

In the follow-up to Rochelle Humes' bestselling debut, Mai discovers that although change might feel scary it can be a good thing. This is a heart-felt picture book about starting a new year at school which will resonate with young audiences and their parents alike.

This heart-warming picture book shows your child ways to be affectionate while social distancing. A great book to help your little one navigate what is a confusing time for many of us. 

Arlo The Lion Who Couldn't Sleep is a beautifully illustrated story with a gentle mindfulness message – ideal for bedtime, and especially helpful for little ones who have trouble going to sleep.

This sweet story about Mabel the fly shows readers big and small that there is nothing more important than the power of confidence, and believing in yourself.

  • Author: Emily Thorpe Emily Thorpe
  • Job Title: Digital Writer

Having written for Mother&Baby magazine for four years where she wrote news, product pages, features and interviewed celebrities such as Paloma Faith and Fearne Cotton, Emily now works as Digital Writer for Mother&Baby online where she specialises in travel and product reviews. 


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