A positive change we can make in our lives, and the world, is how we eat. Amongst a number of chefs Jamie Oliver is transforming the way we feed ourselves, and our children. We love his Ted talk.
For some, the idea of playing a board game is met with thrill as the excitement of taking on an opponent is just too strong to pass up. For others, it dredges up dark memories of many a Christmas Day afternoon where monopoly got a little out of hand.
It seems the world of board games is springing back into life as there seem to be more and more games available to play and what’s more, they aren’t all competitive…in fact some of our favourites promote collaboration amongst players.
Here are our top five picks.
Four diseases have broken out in the world and it is up to a team of specialists in various fields to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. Players must work together playing to their characters’ strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks. For example the Operation Specialist can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases. The Scientist needs only 4 cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal 5. But the diseases are out-breaking fast and time is running out: the team must try to stem the tide of infection in diseased areas while also towards cures. A truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose. As skilled members of a disease-fighting team you must keep four deadly diseases at bay while discovering their cures. You and your teammates will travel across the globe treating infections while finding resources for cures. The clock is ticking as outbreaks and epidemics fuel the spreading plagues and you must work as a team to succeed. Can you find all four cures in time? The fate of humanity is in your hands!
If you’re interested in board games that keep you thinking and reward strategic planning with a victory, then we highly recommend you consider Power Grid. The objective in Power Grid is to be the person who can supply power to the most cities in the network when the game ends. And the end of the game is triggered by the players. Keeping an eye on the other players, their progression, their city network, their power plants, and their resources is key to doing well in the game.
Players mark pre-existing routes between cities for connection, and then bid against each other to purchase the power plants that they use to power their cities. However, as plants are purchased, newer, more efficient plants become available, so by merely purchasing, you’re potentially allowing others access to superior equipment. Players must also acquire the raw materials (coal, oil, garbage, and uranium) needed to power their plants (except for the ‘renewable’ windfarm/ solar plants, which obviously require no fuel), making it a constant struggle to upgrade your plants for maximum efficiency while still retaining enough wealth to quickly expand your network to get the cheapest routes.
Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle is a cooperative deck building game for 2 to 4 players that, depending on which game you’re playing, could take 30 minutes, or well over 90 minutes.
Players are taken on a journey through the seven films adapted from the books. They span the years of Harry Potter learning at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, meanwhile encountering the likes of various villains and one particular villain who-should-not-be-named. Players achieve their goals through some pretty standard deck building mechanisms and combating villains with spells, items, and companions along the way. It is a wonderful introduction to cooperative games and deck building for new gamers.
Think you have what it takes to make Mars habitable? Well well have we found the game for you!
In the 2400s, mankind begins to terraform the planet Mars. Giant corporations, sponsored by the World Government on Earth, initiate huge projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage until the environment is habitable. In Terraforming Mars, you play one of those corporations and work together in the terraforming process, but compete for getting victory points that are awarded not only for your contribution to the terraforming, but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar system, and doing other commendable things.
The Settlers of Catan is a highly rated board game that has won several awards and members of the Booko online community highly recommend. Between 3 and 4 people can play the base edition, but a 5 to 6 player expansion is also available if you want to play with more people. You can use multiple strategies to win, and there are lots of variations to the rules. Picture yourself in the era of discoveries and after a long voyage of great deprivation, your ships have finally reached the coast of an uncharted island. Its name shall be Catan! But you are not the only discoverer. Other fearless seafarers have also landed on the shores of Catan and the race to settle the island begins!
Sir Ken Robinson’s last Ted talk just about broke the internet, and this one is just as inspiring. Ken makes a case for a radical shift where personalised learning replaces standardised learning and in turn creates conditions where children’s natural talents can flourish.
A feisty girl genius. A wondrous chocolate factory. A Big Friendly Giant who gets his words muddled. Pheasants who are paralysed by ‘special’ raisins. A leg of lamb that is used as a murder weapon – then cooked and served to the police investigators. These memorable characters (does a leg of lamb count as a character?) all come from the witty, wild (and sometimes wicked) imagination of Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl remains one of our most beloved authors, because his wild ideas and clever wordplay create indelible images that delight and enthral. Join us in our tribute to Roald Dahl, with great titles by and about him, for fans of all ages:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Colour Edition) by Roald Dahl
For many people (me included), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory epitomises the appeal of Roald Dahl’s stories – a fairytale story of a poor boy made good; the gleeful comeuppance for all the bad / nasty characters; and the whimsical chocolate factory, filled with the most delicious delights imaginable. A child-like humour, sense of justice and of wonder permeate this story, made all the more real through the amazing movie adaptations by Gene Wilder and Tim Burton. This full colour edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will help you relive your own enjoyment of this story, as well as introduce new readers to Charlie and Mr Wonka’s technicolour world.
More about Boy: Tales from Roald Dahl’s Childhood by Roald Dahl
More About Boy is an expanded edition of Boy, Roald Dahl’s celebrated autobiography of his childhood. All of the original stories and the Quentin Blake illustrations are still there, and have been richly illustrated with archival material including photos, letters, recipes and previously unpublished stories. These rollicking stories of his childhood not only show Roald Dahl’s eye for the absurd, but also the events and themes that inspire his future stories. For Roald Dahl fans of all ages!
Fantastic Mr Dahl by Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake
You get two brilliant writers for the price of one in Fantastic Mr Dahl. This authorised biography is written by the (also very funny) Michael Rosen, who is such a big fan of Roald Dahl that he set up a book prize in his honour (The Roald Dahl Funny Prize). Aimed at young readers, Fantastic Mr Dahl is a mix of biography, literary analysis and writing advice. It includes stories about Dahl’s work as a medical pioneer and real-life spy (where he made friends with Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond), as well as Roald’s own tips to aspiring writers, and reflections on how and why Roald Dahl was able to imagine such amazing stories.
Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl
Before Roald Dahl became famous for children’s books, he wrote mainly for an adult audience, with screenplays (such as the James Bond film “You Only Live Twice”) and short stories published in magazines including The New Yorker and Playboy. Like his children’s writing, Roald Dahl’s short stories weave fantastical elements into everyday settings; however, the nasty, grotesque elements that get defeated in his children’s stories may emerge the victor in his adult ones. Tales of the Unexpected is a collection of sixteen short stories, made famous by TV adaptation in the 80s. Macabre, risqué and often with a gasp-inducing twist, these stories show another side of Dahl’s fantastical imagination.
Roald Dahl Scribble Book by Puffin Books
Young fans who are inspired by Roald Dahl’s stories to stretch their own imaginations will enjoy The Roald Dahl Scribble Book. Readers are guided through a range of writing, drawing and other creative activities based on Dahl’s stories, such as “design your own chocolate factory” or “make your own dreams and put them into jars”. Perfect for those “I’m bored!” moments on a rainy day, car trip or during the school holidays.
It’s a wonderful feeling when you see a child read a book from cover to cover by themselves and we know the best way to encourage this is to fill their bookshelves with fun and exciting books to read, but sometimes finding those books, especially titles that empower young girls, can be difficult…especially is she isn’t into unicorns, glitter and fairies!
It’s with this in mind that we have found a selection of our favourite titles for girls that are ready to dive into the world of books on their own…and there’s not a pink pony in sight!
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls broke records as the most-funded original book in crowdfunding history, and has since become a bestseller in 30 languages. Challenging gender stereotypes, Good Night Stories profiles 100 women – scientists, athletes, politicians – who have contributed to public life. It further celebrates women by highlighting the work of the two authors and 60 illustrators, who produced this striking and colourful volume. Written in the style of fairytales, Good Night Stories is not just for bedtime or for girls – it is inspirational for all children. Adult readers can also enjoy it as a sampler offering ideas for further reading. Volume 2 is available here.
Heidi Hecklebeck 10 Book Collection by Wanda Coven
Heidi Heckelbeck has a special secret: she’s a witch! But that doesn’t mean she gets to skip school, so during her time at Brewster Elementary, she enjoys perfectly normal, day-to-day activities, just like any kid. Of course, when the occasion calls for it, she sometimes pulls out her Book of Spells to see if she can give things a little nudge. With fun stories, easy-to-read language, and engaging pictures, this early chapter book series is sure to be a hit.
Violet Makerel’s Outside the Box Set by Anna Branford
Violet Mackerel is a little girl with big ideas and a lot of theories! Whether she’s knitting an unusual project, digging for fossils, feeding ladybugs, or even getting her tonsils out, she has a theory for everything and a can-do, empathetic spirit that helps her turn theory into practice. This box set includes four of Violet’s outside-the-box stories, which are sure to be a hit with children who are ready for early, picture-heavy chapter books.
Amelia Bedelia 10 Book Box Set by Herman Parish
For years children have giggled at literal-minded Amelia Bedelia’s misunderstandings. Now, in this 10-book series, Amelia gets imagined as a young girl whose adventures with family and friends get thrown off by her little slips, whether she’s saving money for a bike, going on a road trip, or adding a four-legged furry family member. Fortunately, good-natured Amelia is always able to straighten things out in the end! The end of each book includes a “two ways to say it” section that provides a guide to the idioms in the story, so it’s a great option for building kids’ repertoire of sayings.
Lotta on Troublemaker Street by Astrid Lindgren
Poor Lotta is having a very bad day. First, she wakes up mad because in her dream her older brother and sister were mean to her. Then, Mother expects her to wear a sweater that “scratches and tickles.” Madder than ever, Lotta decides to run away and find a new place to live. After all, everyone at her house is mean, so she won’t miss her family at all, or will she? Children will giggle as they recognise their own bad days in Lotta’s story. Written by Astrid Lindgren, the fabulous author of Pippi Longstocking, this book shows that there’s an exciting story lurking in even the most ordinary days.
Nancy Drew and The Clue Crew Collection by Carolyn Keene
For girls who aren’t quite ready for the original Nancy Drew books, Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew is the perfect solution. These early chapter books reimagine Nancy as an third grade student solving mysteries around her community. Children will love following along with the mysteries and trying to put together the clues with Nancy, George, and Bess.
Literary classics have a bit of a PR problem – while they have stood the test of time because of their brilliant plotting, excellent writing and timeless messages, their longevity can also mean archaic language and a fusty image. If you love the classics, but don’t know how to introduce them to your young readers, Booko can show you how. Here are classic literature ideas for young readers – from babies all the way to young adults.
1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up edited by Julia Eccleshare
Everyone loves a list, and this one is great fun to browse as well as a fantastic reference. These 1001 titles have been chosen by Julia Eccleshare, a writer, reviewer and editor who has worked with children’s literature for almost 40 years. It’s a good overview of the best children’s books from across the ages and around the world, including translated titles. The books are grouped by reading age, and there are reviews of favourite books written by beloved authors including Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume and Philip Pullman. Leave this book lying around and everyone will want a turn flicking through. For those with teen readers, pair it with it’s grown-up cousin, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die edited by Peter Boxall.
Little Miss Shelley: Frankenstein – an Anatomy Primer by Jennifer Adams
The super-cute BabyLit series enables discerning parents to introduce babies to their favourite literary characters! The sturdy board book format is perfect for little hands (and mouths); the artwork is stylish, colourful and fun; and each title matches a classic story to a related concept. The latest titles include Frankenstein (about anatomy) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (about fairies). There’s also Jane Eyre (counting), Jungle Book (animals) and many more.
The Oxford Treasury of Fairy Tales retold by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Oxford Treasury of Fairy Tales is a classic example of a book gift that can be enjoyed for years to come. It is a bumper edition of twenty stories, ranging from Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, to The Dancing Princesses and Tamlin. Pastel illustrations in jewel tones add a vibrant yet dreamy quality. These beloved stories have been retold in hypnotic, poetic language by the award-winning Geraldine McCaughrean – her style makes these stories seem ancient and fresh all at once. If myths and legends are more your style, Geraldine McCaughrean has also done excellent retellings of Greek Myths and Roman Myths, with illustrations by Emma Chichester-Clark.
Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier
Add a superstar comic artist to a beloved series and you get a modern classic ready to engage with new (and old) readers. Raina Telgemeier has amply demonstrated her ability to depict tween/teen relationships in bestselling graphic novels such as Smile and Sisters; The Baby-Sitters Club was a hugely-successful series, now celebrated for its girl-power message and its efforts in highlighting issues such as divorce, chronic illness and racism. This full-colour graphic novel edition of Kristy’s Great Idea is gorgeous to look at, and introduces readers to how the series begins. Books 1-4 are also available as a box set, while the original novels have also been republished.
Burning Maze (The Trials fo Apollo Book 3) by Rick Riordan
Burning Maze is the latest instalment in the Trials of Apollo series, where Apollo finds himself stranded in the body of a teenage New Yorker, as punishment for angering his father Zeus. To return to Olympus, Apollo has to complete five impossible tasks – without access to his godly powers. In Burning Maze, it’s two down, three to go. Rick Riordan has won many fans with his action-packed adventures firmly rooted in Greek / Roman / Egyptian / Norse mythologies. Not only does he achieve the seamless blending of modern fantasy with ancient mythology, he has also updated the deities in witty ways. For other modern updates for middle-grade readers, try Four Children and It by Jacqueline Wilson.
Hamlet by John Marsden
The challenge in making Classics appeal to teens is how to minimise the daunting reputation of the historical language while letting their gripping plots – full of love, grief, angst – shine. The solution (particularly for Shakespeare’s works) lies in re-imagining these stories in vivid, modern prose. While John Marsden’s terrific version of Hamlet stays close to the original, he views Hamlet as a teenager – young, vulnerable and relatable. Other retellings give fresh perspectives through the eyes of a different / minor character – such as I am Juliet by Jackie French, Ophelia by Lisa Klein, or The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet by Natasha Farrant.
Jarrett Krosoczka gets to use his imagination as his full time job writing children’s books. in this Ted Talk he shares with us 10 new children’s books that are bound to become classics.
The term ‘reluctant reader’ is a tricky one because there are a number of reasons why a child may pause before picking up a book…we think it’s super important to recognise why somebody is reluctant and the reasons range from low reading confidence to a lack of interest. Here are our top picks that are bound to pique interest from children who would rather do anything else than pick up a book.
Laugh Out Loud by James Patterson
James Patterson creates books kids love, and his latest book is all about a boy who decides to create books kids love by setting up his own book company. Jimmy is determined to follow his dream of a company run by kids for kids, despite the scepticism of parents, teachers and the bank. The story mixes real life and fantasy, and along the way slips lots of recommendations for other unputdownable children’s books. The pacey narrative, variety of scenes and events, and Jimmy’s straight-to-camera narrative keeps the pages turning nicely.
Little Red Reading Hood by Lucy Rowland
Whilst leaving footpaths should never be done, Straying from stories is all sorts of fun!
Little Red Reading Hood loves reading books and making up stories of her own. When she meets a cunning wolf while on her way to the library, he convinces her to stray from the path and read for a little while. But hasn’t she read this in a story before? Perhaps it’s time she came up with a new ending . . .
This is a contemporary and fun take on the classic fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. Created by incredible new picture book partnership, Lucy Rowland and Ben Mantle, Little Red Reading Hood will inspire children, and adults, about the magic of books and reading.
The Superhero Handbook by James Doyle
There’s no excuse for anyone who, having read this book from cover to cover and followed its instructions carefully, does not emerge a superhero. Contained within its pages is a complete superhero training course. Not only do you learn how to invent your superhero name, and how to choose a sidekick, but you can also have a go at some special superhero activities, such as making a mini jet-pack (you’ll need string, a straw, sticky tape and a balloon), or an electro-magnet. The superhero fun and games are very entertaining, as are the science bits, and it’s all delivered in a friendly, knowing and thoroughly engaging way. An unusual information activity book that cleverly mixes science learning with the allure of superhero-dom.
Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson
Space, family relationships, friendships are all cleverly and vividly described in this entertaining story. Stan is a nerdy but very likeable hero, who wants nothing more than to win a telescope in the science fair so that he can study space. The main obstacle to this and indeed all Stan’s hopes and wishes, is his little brother Fred, a dinosaur-obsessed five-year-old tornado of destruction and unpredictability. Super-orderly Stan resorts to a range of charts and measuring devices to fill us in on his life – pie-charts, ordinary charts, illustrated diagrams, Venn diagrams – and together with his lugubrious, sometimes agonised delivery, it makes for fast and very funny reading. Readers will be on Stan’s side from the start, and this will speak to anyone who has, is or knows a younger brother or sister.
Just Plain Weird by Kaye Umanksy
The Primms and the Weirds are two totally different families. The Primms are fish-eating, hedge-trimming, neighbourhood-watching, they are as strait-laced as they come, while the Weirds are just, weird! Mum is a stunt woman, Dad is an inventor, Gran is very, very small. Despite their differences, when the Weirds move in next door, Pinch Primm becomes friends with Ott Weird, and their adventures make wonderfully comic reading. There are three different stories, each is short, very funny and with a momentum that keeps the pages turning right until the end.
The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams
Are you ready to meet the World’s Worst Children? Five beastly boys and five gruesome girls! Like Sofia Sofa a TV super-fan so stuck to the sofa that she’s turning into one! or Dribbling Drew a boy whose drool gets him into trouble on a school trip! and not to forget Blubbering Bertha a girl who bawls and tells terrible tales!
David Walliams has created a collection of wickedly funny, deliciously mischievous tales, illustrated in glorious colour by the artistic genius Tony Ros.