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Christmas and the gift of reading

The Christmas holidays are the ideal time for family fun, great food, party games and outings. The learning needn’t stop at this time, but it should be kept fun and festive, with classic board games helping improve word power, from Boggle to Scrabble to Articulate, and others such as Monopoly requiring a little numeracy (and cunning!). Puzzles, reading Christmas cracker jokes aloud, following recipes for festive meals or baking, and even writing a wish list to Santa, are all opportunities for younger children to boost their learning during the holidays.

Most of all, however, after a wintry family walk, what could be better than to curl up together with a hot drink and a wonderful book? Books make great gifts for anyone of any age, but especially children, and we have some ideal recommendations for you.

Younger readers can be treated to a world of adventure through classic books you may have read yourself, such as Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, or Stig of the Dump by Clive King, the story of Barney and his discovery of a cave-man friend. There are myriad new titles available too, from Witch for a Week by Kaye Umansky, ideal for newly independent readers, to Piggy Handsome: Guinea Pig Destined for Stardom! By Pip Jones. Let’s not forget that non-fiction can be fun too: The DK My Encyclopaedia of Very Important Things includes fun facts, colourful illustrations and games, and if you have a budding scientist in the house, why not help them explore that with Al’s Awesome Science: Eggsperiments by Jane Clarke and James Brown, a story that includes real experiments to try at home?

Older primary school children might feel inspired by the true tales of courage and endurance in Survivors by David Long, or enjoy a little escapism in fiction such as the marvellous Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend or perhaps Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.

Variety can keep alive a burgeoning interest in reading, so it’s a good idea to encourage children to read an eclectic mix of graphic novels, fiction, non-fiction and poetry. An appreciation of books can also be boosted by switching between audio books and reading on a Kindle or tablet as well as paper books, and watching film adaptations of books they’ve read.

JK Educate works with book expert Clare Zinkin, who regularly produces exciting new primary school age group reading lists for us to share with our clients. If you would like to receive our latest lists, or even talk about commissioning a bespoke reading list to meet your child’s specific needs and interests, let us know.

If your child has entrance exams in the new year, try not to talk about them too specifically, but encourage them to keep their studies ticking over, perhaps with a few tutoring sessions in person or online to keep the momentum going. Obviously older students with GCSEs or A Levels in their sights will probably need to keep working and not get too carried away with the festivities, but family time and relaxation and are important at any age, and quiet immersion in a good book can be the best way to unwind and switch off.

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