10 of the best books for children 5-8 years

As they explore a new world of school and learning, these brilliantly engaging books are sure to capture their imaginations. Check out our selection of some of the best fiction and non-fiction on offer for this age group

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MadeForMums reviews are independent and based on expertise and testing. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our product choices.

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1. Franklin and Luna Go to the Moon by Jen Campbell and Katie Harnett; Thames & Hudson, £11.95

Type: Fiction

Awards: MadeForMums Awards 2019 Book for Children 5-8 Years Old – Gold

Mixing the magic of classic fairy tales with a modern twist, this story of two booklovers and adventurers, Luna, and her best friend, Franklin the dragon, proved a winning combination for our judges.

Mum of 2 Anna says: ‘It’s charming, and my 5-year-old really took to it and often chooses it for her evening read.’

In the sweet story, the duo embarks on a journey to discover where dragons come from and find themselves travelling all the way to the moon – along with Luna’s tortoise, the aptly named Neil Armstrong – to reunite Franklin with his long-lost family.

Heartwarming stuff brought to life by exquisite illustrations, this is the perfect bedtime read for little sleepyheads.

Available from: Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles

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2. DK Yoga for Kids by Susannah Hoffman; Dorking Kindersley, £9.90

Type: Fact

Awards: MadeForMums Awards 2019 Book for Children 5-8 Years Old – Silver

Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a baffled novice yourself, this practical guide to yoga for kids, is a brilliant place to start.

Jam-packed with fun poses and activities, shown alongside clear pictures with step-by-step instructions to encourage correct technique, it helps children to learn about the benefits of yoga, such as mindfulness, relaxation and meditation – all in an uplifting, age-appropriate way.

After a long day at school, or as part of the bedtime routine, we reckon it’s a fab wind-down device. Mum of 2 Kim says: ‘A beautifully designed book, this would make a lovely present.’

Available from: Amazon, Blackwell’s and The Book People

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3. Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Anderson; Egmont, £6.99

Type: Fiction

The first story in the popular Amelia Fang series introduces us to its plucky heroine and her world of Nocturnia – a place where glitter and unicorns are truly terrifying, but a pumpkin and a yeti make for perfectly acceptable friends (hello, Squashy and Florence!).

Fans of Tim Burton will lap this one up; the author’s illustrations really set the tone and we think it strikes the perfect balance between fiendishly foul and laugh-out-loud funny.

Mum of 2 Natalie says: ‘My 7-year-old loved this series of books! She’s a huge Worst Witch fan so the theme appealed to her, and they were easy for her to read and understand.’

Available from: Amazon, Wordery and World Of Books

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4. Hortense and the Shadow by Natalie and Lauren O’Hara; Puffin, £10.99

Type: Fiction 

With haunting watercolour illustrations and poetic storytelling reminiscent of Russian fairy tales and classic fables, this is a magical children’s book you’ll fall in love with just as much as they will.

Hortense, its protagonist, is kind and brave, but she’s sad because she hates her shadow. It follows her, it copies her, and, she learns, it hates her, too. Can they learn to love another? We’ll leave you and your little one to find out but believe us when we say this has an important, empowering message, wrapped up in an enchanting package.

MFM judge and mum of 2 Magda says: ‘This stunningly illustrated story is the perfect present for a young reader.’

Available from: Amazon, Waterstones and WHSmith

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5. Say It! by Charlotte Zolotow; Walker Books, £6.99

Type: Fiction

We’ve put this delightful and moving picture book firmly in the I’ve-got-something-in-my-eye category.

First published over 25 years ago, this much-loved tale of a mother and daughter taking a blustery autumn walk and sharing little observations together – from spotting a kitten to noticing the changing colours of the leaves – manages to be touching, sentimental and very sweet, but never saccharine.

Grab a blanket (and maybe a box of tissues!), snuggle up and enjoy this with your little one. It’s the ideal inspiration to grab your woollies and head out on an autumn adventure together!

Available from: Amazon, Foyles and Books Please

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6. The Twits by Roald Dahl; Puffin, £4.79

Type: Fiction

Kids, love ‘em, tend to have a fondness for the revolting – something storytelling genius, Roald Dahl, knew only too well.

From his treasure trove of classics, this one, featuring a nasty married couple described in less than glowing terms as being a ‘horrible old hag with a glass eye’ and ‘a foul and smelly man with bits of cornflake and sardine in his beard’, is possibly the most disgusting of them all.

And what gruesome fun it is! The devilish duo’s comeuppance finally comes at the hands of the Roly-Poly Bird and the Muggle-Wump monkeys, whom they keep locked in a cage at the end of their garden.

With trademark illustrations from Quentin Blake, children and adults alike are guaranteed to rub their hands with glee and revel in the wickedly funny revenge plot.

Available from: Amazon, The Book People and Waterstones

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7. Fairytale Frankie and the Mermaid Escapade by Steve Gormley; Orchard Books, £6.99

Type: Fiction

This bright, fun book features a familiar line-up of fairy-tale characters – from a prince and a wizard to a mermaid and a pirate – alongside fearless heroine, Frankie.

A visual treat with a positive message tied in on overcoming worries and anxiety, it’s great for encouraging conversation with boys and girls on what it means to be brave and show courage.

Available from: Amazon, Waterstones and Kobo

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8. The Amazing Dinosaur Detectives by Maggie Li; Pavilion Children’s Books, £9.18 

Type: Fact

Full to the brim with genuinely fascinating facts, most of which we’ll bet you haven’t come across before, this brilliant book is a must for dino fans. Case in point: ever heard of the Gigantosaurus? You have now!

From exploring fossils and debunking myths to discovering which dinosaur was the cleverest, fastest, longest – you name it, the answer’s here.

Fun, bright, informative and, thanks to the hidden interactive elements on each page, such as spot-the-difference challenges and word-searches, it’s engaging enough to keep budding palaeontologists coming back time and time again.

Available from: Amazon, Hive and Waterstones

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9. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 by Elena Favilli and Francesco Cavallo; Timbukto Labs, Inc, £14.23

Type: Fact

This is one of those beautiful books that pops up in many of the uber-stylish children’s rooms on mummy influencers’ Instagram feeds.

But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a case of style over substance because as the follow-up to the first hit collection of rebooted biographies on female powerhouses, it justifies its place on any bookshelf.

Here you’ll find the incredible real-life stories of 100 inspiring women, including astrophysicist, Sara Seager; crime writer, Agatha Christie, and superstar Beyoncé.

Sure to inspire, encourage and put a fire in every child’s belly, it’s an extraordinary showcase for the power in believing in your dreams. Sounds like a wonderful new baby gift to us.

Available from: Amazon, Trouva and WHSmith

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