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70 books to read before you grow up

Exclusive Books are celebrating 70 years and children’s month with a must-read list for the young and young-at-heart.

The carefully selected 70 children’s books include a mix of old and new, classics and timeless books, and the best of international and local publishing (25 per cent of the list is local). The list of 70 titles intends to encourage conversation, highlight authors’ varying voices, whet the appetite of young readers and reignite specific categories and genres.

The list is divided into four age categories namely 0-6, 6-9, 9-12 and teen readers.

There are new books that have become common modern classics such as Trompie by Topsy Smith, Saartjie by Bettie Naudé, Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne and Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. A phenomenal genre change has evolved in books like Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and Monkey Puzzle to name a few, to the ever-popular and widely read Harry Potter series by author JK Rowling.

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Current affairs have seen a growing need for perspective-changing books for the younger generation like Manage Your Money Like a Grownup by Sam Beckbessinger, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teenagers by Sean Covey, I Have Brown Skin and Curly Hair by Karen Theunissen and Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. It is interesting to see how adult trends impact children’s reading!

Book series are helpful to get children hooked on reading – if they fall in love with one book, they usually go on to read the whole series Roald Dahl, CS Lewis and Thomas the Tank Engine are good examples. A direct result of the longevity and popularity of Thomas saw books like Cars and Toy Story evolve where the characters learn moral lessons from their experiences. Must read authors also include Jaco Jacobs who writes in Afrikaans as well as English and Michael Morpurgo’s titles like The Butterfly Lion, War Horse and Zanzibar.

Books for reluctant are aplenty such as the graphic novel/comic type books like the Where’s Wally books by Martin Handford. Titles like Oi Frog by Jim Field captures humour to the outrageousness and silliness in books comparable to Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr and the David Walliams and Roald Dahl books all fit the bill.

Books similar to The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and We Are One by Refiloe Moahlali show how children can make a difference in their environments. Children who change the world and look at different social issues learn to process problems and concerns healthily such as disability’s, racism and feeling physically different. Books by Judy Blume perfectly address issues faced by this age group. We must not however forget that reading must be fun!

It is also important to highlight our rich indigenous bounty from authors like Gcina Mhlophe and her book Stories of Africa, Madiba Magic by Nelson Mandela and the abridged Long Walk to Freedom by Chris van Wyk. Many books are character-driven like It’s Jamela by Nicky Daly and the Peter Rabbit titles by Beatrix Potter. Eurocentric like The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery was the precursor to the bestselling book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.

Make a note!


9 April – Amy Heydenrych reading Where the Wild Things Are and Oi Frog

16th April – Jaco Jacobs reading Grandpa Zombie and Ek wil nie nou snaaks wees nie

23rd April – Gcina Mhlophe reading Stories of Africa

30th April – Refiloe Moahloli reading How many ways can you say Goodbye?

As always, you can buy online (check out their special kids’ gifting campaign), in-store, via phone (we’re massive fans of this phone in option) or, if you’re in an Uber Eats area, have your books delivered with dinner. While book launches and events are slowly starting up again, Exclusive Books are still hosting authors on webinars and everyone who is signed up for fanatics will receive news about events.

Follow them on FacebookInstagramTwitter or exclusivebooks.co.za

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