Kara’s Holiday Reading Guide

In the southern hemisphere, summer is warming up! Attack your growing pile of ‘been meaning to read’ books, or embark on one of the new children and teen series out this year—Kara’s made it easy for you with her favourites list from 2014.

Long, leisurely days stretch out before you like the golden sand on a vast beach. It’s holiday time and there are a couple of ways this could go down:  you could sleep until midday, while away the afternoons playing video games or browsing social media, then commit your evenings to trashy TV until it’s time to return to the weekday grind. Or …. you could read a mountain of books. Read the books that have been gathering dust on your bedside table. Read the books that you’ve renewed (three times) from the library or promised your friend you’d return…soon. Read novels and essays and poems or even a whole series! Do it. Read a book.

Just in case you’re in need of fresh ideas for this holiday season, here are a few suggestions for young readers of all ages. Coincidentally, the list acts as something of a round-up of our favourite new series for the year. Is there something here that you’ve been meaning to get your hands on? Now’s the time to do it—go ahead, read a book!

Readers aged 5-7 years

Book Cover for the Lulu SeriesSquishy McFluff by Pip Jones & Ella Okstad: This will appeal especially to animal-loving kids with bright imaginations aged 5+. Fun rhyming verse and soft pastel illustrations make for a nice transition between picture and chapter books.

Book Cover for the WeirDo SeriesLulu by Judith Viorst: Children aged 6+ with a mischievous nature and a good sense of humour will find much to relate to in Judith Viorst’s young heroine, Lulu. The quirky illustrations featured throughout are by Lane Smith and Kevin Cornell.

Weir Do by Anh Do: Sweet and very funny stories about a boy doing his best to fit in, written by one of Australia’s best-loved comedians. Just perfect for strong readers aged 6+ who are still a little too young for Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Atticus Claw by Jennifer Gray: The hilarious adventures of cat-burglar-turned-detective, Atticus Claw. Running between 220 and 250 pages each, these are great for kids aged 7+ or slightly older reluctant readers who like a little mystery in their chapter books.

Readers aged 8-10 years

Book Cover for the Frank Einstein SeriesFrank Einstein by Jon Scieszka: An irresistible blend of science and adventure make this the perfect series for curious young minds aged 8+. With Scieszka’s trademark zany humour, fans of Andy Griffith’s Treehouse series are bound to feel right at home.

Mister Max by Cynthia Voigt: This finely crafted series of pitch-perfect historical mysteries is complete with elegant black-and-white illustrations and a uniquely Victorian flavour. Voigt once again provides quality literature for confident young readers aged 8+.

Book Cover for the Mapmaker Chronicles SeriesMapmaker Chronicles by A.L. Tait: The first in a thrilling medieval series about exploration and adventure, Tait’s young adult debut bears a resemblance to the ever-popular Ranger’s Apprentice series. Readers 9+ who enjoy action, adventure and history will devour these.

Caddy Kids by N.J. Gemmel: The delightful adventures of four wilful siblings from Australia who are unexpectedly thrust into the care of their eccentric English uncle. With wry humour and quirky characters evocative of Lemony Snicket, these are simply perfect for readers 10+.

 Readers aged 11-13 years

Book Cover for the Through My Eyes SeriesThrough My Eyes by Various Authors: A moving and informative series which explores the lives of children living in contemporary war zones. These books sensitively and tastefully introduce serious social themes while remaining age appropriate for readers aged 11+.

Riverman by Aaron Starmer: Magical realism with a twist of folklore, Riverman harks back to the early work of Neil Gaiman or Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series. Eerie and intriguing, the trilogy explores some heavy topics but is recommended for mature-minded readers aged 12+.

Book Cover for the Girl Online SeriesMaze Runner by James Dashner: While the dystopian genre has been less prominent in 2014, we can’t ignore this classic series recently revitalised by an excellent film adaptation. Action, competition and an evil dictatorship will have most boys and many girls aged 12+ engrossed.

Girl Online by Zoe “Zoella” Sugg: The first in a planned series by YouTube celebrity and style-icon Zoella, this contemporary romance tells a coming-of-age story for the digital generation. This is sweet and easy YA fiction – a perfect holiday read for girls aged 13+.

Readers aged 14+

Book Cover for the Winger SeriesMara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: Mara Dyer awakens from a coma with no memory of the events preceding her hospitalisation but that’s only the beginning of her nightmare. A dark mystery with a twist of horror and, of course, a love story will suit teen girls aged 14+.

Winger by Andrew Smith:  Realistic fiction with a likeable male protagonist barely exists as a genre but this is a great example of how it can to be done! Teens aged 14+ will relate to the precarious balance between school, sport, family, friends and a blossoming new romance.

Book Cover for the Split Second SeriesSplit Second by Sophie McKenzie: A contemporary thriller packed with high-voltage action and a web of dangerous conspiracies. A safe bet for both males and females aged 14+ due to the dual-character narration which offers alternating perspectives from both protagonists.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: In this smart apocalyptic drama, humanity is decimated by an alien invasion which bears little resemblance to the various Hollywood versions. Tough, resourceful characters and thrilling plot twists make it a perfect series to entertain teens 14+.

Book Cover for the Winner's Trilogy SeriesWinner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski: Set in a richly imagined new world, this is a story of romance, rumours and rebellion, where dirty secrets and careless alliances can be deadly. Everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart. 5-spoons!

And that’s the list! I hope you’ve discovered a new series to share with a hungry young reader—or to sink your own teeth into—because filling your mind with new adventures is the very best way to get the most out of your holidays! To paraphrase that bastion of popular fiction, George R.R. Martin: readers live a thousand lives but those who choose not to read…live only one. So, how many lives can you cram into your holiday break?

On behalf of the Cereal Readers team, we wish you a merry Christmas—and a year ahead filled with many, many hours of happy reading.

Kara Smith

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