Best of 2020: Early Readers

As 2020 comes to a close, we asked the World Kid Lit community to tell us their favourite discoveries from the last 12 months. This week we’ll be featuring recommendations for picture books, chapter books for emerging readers, middle grade and young adult.

Today we continue our Best of 2020 recommendations looking at chapter books for emerging readers.

Imogen Carter recommends … A Bear Named Bjorn

by Delphine Perret, translated from French by Antony Shugaar (Gecko Press)

Six short stories about the antics of Bjorn and his forest friends. There’s a flick of Moomins style to the simple but striking black line drawings, and echoes of Winnie-the-Pooh in the characters’ droll reflections, but Perret has a fresh and funny voice all of her own. (Full review here at the Guardian)

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp recommends … Bibbit Jumps

by Bei Lynn, translated from Chinese by Helen Wang (Gecko Press, 2020)

Fabulous, characterful illustrations in paint and collage accompany these charming stories about Bibbit, who hasn’t yet got the hang of swimming and has to be rescued by the tadpoles, who goes on a mystery picnic following the special trail left by Little Frog, and then a very big adventure to the big city – all complete with a dizzying amount of bouncing!

Alfred and the Blue Whale

by Mina Lystad, illustrated by Åshild Irgens and translated from Norwegian by Siân Mackie (Wacky Bee)

An easy reader with expressive illustrations on every page, this is a great short read for emerging readers and budding wildlife enthusiasts. Alfred is scared of a lot of things, but scarier than anything is standing up and talking in front of the class. Until he’s asked to research and talk about something so exciting that he forgets his fear.

My boys share Alfred’s fascination with blue whales so this was a very popular read during our Covid-19 lockdown home school. In fact, it turned out to be the perfect story to prompt an afternoon of research and creativity. We loved the whale facts at the back and we got stuck into some complex calculations, as we needed to work out how many children weigh the same as an adult blue whale (about 4500 x 6 year olds, or about ten times everyone at their primary school!)

Claire Storey recommends… Geronimo Stilton

by Geronimo Stilton (A.K.A. Elisabetta Dami), translator unknown for the chapter books (Scholastic)

The Geronimo Stilton illustrated chapter books are such good fun. Filled with cheese and rodent-based jokes and puns, these really are laugh out loud books. They’re also great fun to read out loud because of the regular exclamations of “Holey Cheese!” or “Moldy Mozzarella!”. The stories themselves are adventures, always with a hint of danger or spookiness, but never enough to get really worried about. With a spin-off series about his sister, Thea, and a range of graphic novels to go at as well, once you get involved in the world of Geronimo Stilton, there’s always loads more to discover.


Please share your recommendations on Twitter (#worldkidlit): what your favourite picture books in translation that you read this year?


Go to Best of 2020 Picture Books
Go to Best of 2020 Middle Grade
Go to Best of 2020 Young Adult


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