Monday, August 27, 2012

Is There a Best Age to Start School? It all depends.

My daughter Nicole on her first day of school
I wrote about this topic in January for readers 'Down Under', but in northern hemisphere nations like the USA and the United Kingdom, many children will start school for the first time in the next two weeks.  I can't remember my first day at school, but I can still remember the mix of emotions that my wife and I experienced when we sent our two daughters off for their first day of formal schooling (this was some time ago). This year we had two grandchildren who started in Kindergarten (the entry class for Primary schooling in our state of New South Wales). One had just turned 5 and the other turned 6 one month into the school year. Both sets of parents made different decisions for equally good reasons, and I'm sure that in each case, they have made the right decisions for each child. In the seven months since they started, both have coped well with school. They've made friends, enjoyed their teachers, have learned to read and write, grown in mathematical understanding, won award cards, received good report cards and generally had a great time.

Two cousins starting school, one 5 and one 6

The starting age in Australia varies from state to state. In NSW any child may commence school if they are five years old or turn five prior to the 31st July in that year, but they must start no later than 6. In South Australia children can start in the school term after they turn five. In Queensland there is a non-compulsory Prep year (like preschool) followed by formal school entry if the child turns six before the 30th June in that year. It’s all a bit confusing and the Federal government has been discussing a standard starting age for some time.

My daughter Louise on her 1st day
In other countries we see similar diversity. In Finland children start formal schooling in the year in which they turn seven. In Germany it is six, in Britain five and in the USA it varies (like Australia) from state to state.

So is there a best starting age? If there is, few education systems seem to agree on what it is. "Should my child start school at five even though....(fill the blank)?" is one of the most common questions I hear from parents. Earlier in the year I was interviewed on commercial radio on exactly this topic, and have done this a few times over the years. The short answer I give in radio interviews is the same one I give to parents - "it all depends". Yes, children need to have reached a certain minimum stage of physical, intellectual and emotional development to cope with school, but variations from four and a half to six years don’t seem to make huge differences to most children’s long term academic achievement.

It would seem that there is little evidence for a universal perfect age for starting school, so there isn't much pointing asking anyone what it is. In reality, we need to make individual assessments for each child. Here are some things to consider if your child has reached an age at which he/she can officially commence formal schooling. Please note that these questions don't all apply to children with disabilities. In such cases parents have to consider many things when making a decision about the right time to start school.

Is my child physically ready
  • Are they toilet trained?
  • Do they have the motor skills typical of the average starting aged child? Can they walk, run, jump, throw things, dress themselves (few can tie shoelaces – that’s why we have Velcro! And Kindergarten teachers are good at it anyway). Can they tear paper, apply some stickers, hold crayons and pencils and use them (even if not that well)?
  • Can they feed themselves and will they cope with a new degree of independence?
  • How big is your child? Very tall children often struggle if held back when they eventually go to school. And very small children might struggle if they go early.
Is my child emotionally ready?
  • Is your child able to cope with separation? Going to school should not be the first time the child has been out of the sight of parents or the primary caregivers.
  • Have they had at least some experience relating to other children? Can they share, communicate, show some control of anger and frustration?
  • If your child is keen to go to school there’s a strong chance that they are emotionally ready.
  • Can they communicate their emotions (frustration, fear, anger, affection etc)?
Is your child intellectually ready?

This is tougher, but in general you would expect that your child can:
  • Concentrate on activities for extended periods of time (say at least 10-15 minutes on one activity). This might include being able to listen to a story, watch some television, sustaining attention on a game or activity that they like.
  • Hold crayons and show some interest in making marks or scribble (the early stages of writing - see my post on this topic here), show some interest in print and symbols (e.g. “what does that say Mum?”), complete basic puzzles (maybe 30-50 pieces), try to write their name, count to five, recognise some letters.
  • Use language sufficient to communicate with other children and the teacher?
  • Show some interest in learning. This can show itself in many ways such as inquisitiveness, exploration, and observation of things around them.
Ultimately, parents need to make this decision based on what they know about their child. There are some other things worth considering:
  • What is the school like? Do you know the teachers and do you have confidence that they will be able to understand your child and help them to find their feet at school?
  • What are your family circumstances like? If you have another sibling just one year younger you might want to make sure that you don’t have them going off to school at the same time.
  • What was the experience that you had as parents? Did you go to school early or late and what was the impact on you? Given the common gene pool this is a useful consideration.
  • What are your personal circumstances? Is there major upheaval in the family or some major change coming in the next 12 months (e.g. moving to another area)? If so, holding your child back might be justified.
I find today that there is greater anxiety about starting age than ever before. Unfortunately, much of this is caused by parents worrying unduly about children being successful at school. I have parents who ask me (for example) is it okay that their child can't read yet, even though they are only four. This is ridiculous of course; most don't start till they get to school. Others ask if holding their child back a year will disadvantage them compared to others. Overall, if you consider the needs of your child and the broad range of capabilities I've outlined above, I think you'll make a good decision. If you get it wrong, the evidence is that generally children will cope and adapt over time, and that there are few long-term problems for most children.

An interesting postscript to this matter is that the country in the OECD that regularly has the highest school literacy levels as measured by PISA surveys is Finland, where the starting age is seven!

Monday, August 20, 2012

2012 Australian Children's Book Council Awards Review

The Children's Book Council Australia has announced the winners of its 2012 book of the year awards. This coincides with the start of Children's Book Week in Australia (18-24 August). The theme for Book Week in 2012 is 'Champions Read'. As usual there are some stunning books recognised, and many other wonderful books that did not win prizes. All shortlisted books and, in fact the longer list of over 100 books on the 2012 Notable Book List, should be considered (here). I will list and review the award winners and honour books then provide the full shortlist at the end.

Book of the Year for Older Readers 

WINNER - 'The Dead I Know' by Scot Gardner, Allen & Unwin

This book will be a popular winner of the awards in 2012. It is suspenseful novel that deals with some dark yet real themes. This is the story of Aaron Rowe who is from a difficult background and lives in a caravan. He has dreams he can't explain, a tendency to sleep walk, and memories that he is unable to recover. He has just started an apprenticeship as a funeral director, which brings a stability he hasn't experienced before. But he must discover the truth about his hidden past, soon. John Marsden said of this book:

'I have never read a book more gripping, nor a book more triumphantly alive. I love how it haunts me still. I swear, I will never forget The Dead I Know'.

Suitable for readers 15+

HONOUR Book - 'A Straight Line to my Heart' by Bill Condon, Allen & Unwin

HONOUR Book - 'When We Were Two' by Robert Newton, Penguin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)

Book of the Year for Younger Readers

WINNER - 'Crow Country' by Kate Constable, Allen & Unwin

This is a wonderful time-slip novel for younger readers aged 9-13 years. It tells the tale of Sadie who is upset when her mother takes her from home in the city to life in the country town of Boort. But in no time she begins to enjoy country life, two boys called Lachie and Walter, and even the ever-present crows. 'Crow' the totem of the Dja Dja Wurrung (an Indigenous tribe also known by the name Jaara people and Loddon River tribe), has plans for Sadie and she finds herself back in the 1920s involved in the life of Sarah Louise. There are wrongs to put right and Sadie will play her part as she witnesses a terrible crime. With Walter and Lachie Sadie faces the challenge of working out a way to right old wrongs. 

HONOUR Book - 'Nanberry: Black Brother White' by Jackie French, Angus & Robertson Harper Collins Publishers

HONOUR Book - 'The Truth About Verity Sparks' by Susan Green, Walker Books Australia

Early Childhood Book of the Year

WINNER - 'The Runaway Hug' by Nick Bland, illustrator Freya Blackwood, Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia

The Runaway Hug is the story of Lucy who when she asks for a hug is told:

'Oh dear,' said Mummy. 'I only have one left. It's my very last hug.' 
Lucy goes to each member of her family giving and receiving hugs. All are nice, and all different. There were strong hugs from Daddy and peanut butter smelly ones from Lily. But when the hug is passed to the dog Annie, well! What will happen to the hug, and how will she get it back?
The Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood team is a wonderful one. Freya Blackwood's pencil, pen, charcoal and watercolour illustrations are as always, warm and delightful. With a softness that matches the story, they add their own special magic to this wonderful book.
HONOUR Book - 'Come Down, Cat!' by Sonya Hartnett, illustrator Lucia Masciullo Puffin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)

HONOUR Book 'That’s Not a Daffodil!' by Elizabeth Honey, Allen & Unwin

Picture Book of the Year

WINNER - 'A Bus Called Heaven' by Bob Graham, Walker Books

In can't think of a Bob Graham book that I haven't loved, and this one is no exception. A broken, old bus appears one morning, outside Stella's house. It has a hand painted sign on the front, "Heaven". This is an opportunity for Stella; it offers a place for everyone to be together for play, meetings, games and stories. But when the bus is towed away she decides that she must fight to save the bus for the whole community. This is an uplifting story that shows how community members can work together for shared good.

HONOUR Book - 'The Dream of the Thylacine' by Margaret Wild, illustrator Ron Brooks, Allen & Unwin

HONOUR Book - 'Flood' by Jackie French, illustrator Bruce Whatley, Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia

Eve Pownall award for Best Information Book 

WINNER - 'One Small Island: The Story of Macquarie Island', by Alison Lester & Coral Tulloch, Penguin Group (Australia)

Macquarie Island lies in the Southern Ocean, between Antarctica and New Zealand.  It is a speck of green in a vast and windswept sea, and a home for numerous creatures above and below the waterline.

In One Small Island, Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch tell the story of this World Heritage Site. The book explores the island's geological beginnings and later degradation at the hands of humans. Now, the efforts to restore it to its former state.

This book asks significant questions, not just of Macquarie Island, but also of our world in general. How can we sustain, preserve and restore the natural wonder of our world degraded by mankind's interventions?
HONOUR Book - 'The Little Refugee' by Anh Do & Suzanne Do, illustrator Bruce Whatley, Allen & Unwin

HONOUR Book - 'Surrealism for Kids' by Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art

The complete Shortlist complete with winners and honour books

Older Readers Short List 2012

'Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel' by Michael Gerard Bauer, Omnibus Books, Scholastic Australia
'A Straight Line to my Heart' by Bill Condon, Allen & Unwin
'The Golden Day' by Ursula Dubosarsky, Allen & Unwin
'The Dead I Know' by Scot Gardner, Allen & Unwin
'Ship Kings: The Coming of the Whirlpool' by Andrew McGahan, Allen & Unwin
'When We Were Two' by Robert Newton, Penguin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)

Independent Younger Readers Short List 2012

'Crow Country' by Kate Constable, Allen & Unwin
'Brotherband: The Outcasts' by John Flanagan, Random House Australia
'Nanberry: Black Brother White' by Jackie French, Angus & Robertson Harper Collins Publishers
'The Truth About Verity Sparks' by Susan Green, Walker Books Australia
'The Golden Door' by Emily Rodda, Omnibus Books, Scholastic Australia
'Bungawitta' by Emily Rodda, Omnibus Books, Scholastic Australia

Early Childhood Short List 2012

'The Runaway Hug' by Nick Bland, illustrator Freya Blackwood, Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia
'Come Down, Cat!' by Sonya Hartnett, illustrator Lucia Masciullo Puffin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
'That’s Not a Daffodil!' by Elizabeth Honey, Allen & Unwin
'The Last Viking' by Norman Jorgensen, illustrator James Foley, Fremantle Press
'No Bears' by Meg McKinlay, illustrator Leila Rudge, Walker Books Australia
'Rudie Nudie' by Emma Quay, ABC Books, HarperCollins

Picture Book Short List 2012

'Look, a Book!' by Libby Gleeson, illustrator Freya Blackwood, Little Hare Books, Hardie Grant Egmont
'The Dream of the Thylacine' by Margaret Wild, illustrator Ron Brooks, Allen & Unwin
'For All Creatures' by Glenda Millard, illustrator Rebecca Cool, Walker Books Australia
'A Bus Called Heaven' by Bob Graham, Walker Books
'No Bears' by Meg McKinlay, illustrator Leila Rudge Walker Books Australia
'Flood' by Jackie French, illustrator Bruce Whatley, Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Short list 2012

'The Little Refugee' by Anh Do & Suzanne Do, illustrator Bruce Whatley, Allen & Unwin
'One Small Island: The Story of Macquarie Island', by Alison Lester & Coral Tulloch, Penguin Group (Australia)
'Surrealism for Kids' by Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art
'Bilby Secrets' by Edel Wignell, illustrator Mark Jackson, Walker Books Australia
'Fromelles: Australia's Bloodiest Day at War' by Carole Wilkinson, Black Dog Books
'Playground' by Nadia Wheatley (Ed), illustrator Ken Searle, Allen & Unwin

Notable List 2012
CBCA also announced its 2012 Notable List earlier in the year. This is a list of approximately 100 books (111 this year) published in the year of the awards, which are seen as worthy of the label a 'Notable' Australian Children's books. This is usually a wonderful resource and helps to overcome the tendency to assume that the only books worth purchasing are those shortlisted.

Read the list HERE

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Why Questions are Critical for Children's Learning & Reading

Children ask lots of questions. Sometimes their questions don’t move beyond repetitive “Why?” questions that can be annoying. But as well as helping them to learn, children's questions can also teach us a great deal about them and their learning. 

  • Children’s questions usually show us how keen they are to learn – We see that there are gaps in their knowledge, new areas of interest, & things that puzzle them.
  • Questions offer us a window into children’s learning – We discover what they are interested in, their learning styles, and how well they learn best.
  • Questions are also one way that children try to take control of their own learning - As they ask questions they try to set an agenda and focus for their learning.
  • Questions are a way for children to test their existing knowledge - They assess what they know and test their own hypotheses.
In short, questioning is a critical tool for children’s learning, and needs to be encouraged.

    Two of my grandchildren on a trip to the Australian Museum with me. A great stimulator of questions!
      1. How can I ask better questions to stimulate learning?

      Questioning is a vital tool for parents and teachers. We should try to ask a variety of questions, but NOT just to test learning. Rather, the best use of questions is when they are used to stimulate curiosity, problem solving, imagination, a quest for knowledge and as a result, learning. A good tool for asking better questions is a simple taxonomy. There are many ways to classify questions. Below is one way I have done it based on Bloom's Taxonomy, which is still one of the most useful frameworks for questioning.

      • Questions that test knowledge or seek basic recall of knowledge – “What colour is the frog?” “What did the first pig build his house from?
      • Questions that seek some level of interpretation – “How come Max's food was still hot?” “What was the story about?” “Why was Pinocchio sad?”
      • Questions that require application of knowledge or problem solving – “Why didn’t the stepmother let Cinderella go to the ball?” “Why are there so many worms in this bit of the compost heap?”
      • Questions that require analysis – “Can you show me all the animals that live in water?” “Why do you think the 3rd little pig got up before the time he told the wolf?” “Was Fern’s father mean to want to kill Wilbur?
      • Questions that require synthesis of knowledge – “So which animal sank the boat and how do you know?” “What do you think is going to happen when the 3rd Billy Goat crosses the bridge?
      • Questions that require some type of evaluation (opinion, values, critique, judgement) – “Was Max naughty? Should his mother have sent him to his room?
      You can find a more detailed overview of Bloom's categories here.

      2. How can I encourage children to ask questions?
      As I have already said above, it is important for children to make good use of questions. To help them learn what good questions are you can model questioning for them. There are a variety of ways that you can do this.

      • Ask questions of children that encourage learning and thinking
      • Avoid over-using questions that just test learning, or that simply channel learning in directions that you want it to go.
      • Try to give honest answers to children’s questions.
      • Don’t be frightened to say “I don’t know”, but use this to demonstrate that not knowing the answer should lead to further learning “Let’s try to find out…
      In Australia we have a very funny advertisement for an Internet company that has a sequence of exchanges between a boy and his Dad. In one the boy is doing some research for school on China. He asks his Dad, “Dad, why did they build the Great Wall of China?

      His Dad suggests, “That was during the reign of Emperor Nasi Goreng - to keep the rabbits out – too many rabbits in China”.

      I'll say it again, we should never be afraid to say, “I’m not sure, but I’ll think about it and let you know” (view the video HERE).

      3. Here are 4 strategies to help children ask better questions
      I wrote a whole book about strategies some years ago ('Teaching Reading Comprehension: Meaning Makers at Work') but here are just four strategies that can be adapted for use with children of varied ages. In these examples, I'm assuming a grade 5 (10-11 year-olds).

      a) Question frameworks

      Make a chart that has a simple framework for questing complete with examples. The one above based on Bloom's Taxonomy is an example. An even simpler example is one developed by Nila Banton Smith and has proven helpful for many teachers:

      Literal - These ask for details or facts you can find in the text, e.g. 'What was the rat's name in Charlotte's Web?'
      Interpretive - These require the reader to supply meaning not directly stated, e.g. 'Why did Fern's father want to kill the runt pig?'
      Critical - These require the reader to evaluate something, e.g. 'Do you think Templeton was honest?'
      Creative - These require readers to go beyond the text, to express new ideas, solve a problem etc, e.g. 'What other words might Charlotte have used in her web to save Wilbur?'

      Use the chart to discuss the varied type of questions we can ask about stories, use the categories at times when asking questions of the class, model the varied forms in group work, and use them for some set work. I offer further information on the above questioning strategy in my book 'Balancing the Basics'.

      b) Visual Comprehension

      You can use images, cartoons or a short video segment to stimulate and model questioning. The example below shows how a simple template for group work can be used to direct attention at images and generate good questions and insights (see my post on 'Visual Comprehension' HERE).

      c) Talk-to-the-author

      I developed this strategy many years ago and wrote about it in 'Teaching Comprehension: Meaning Makers at Work'. It is a very simple strategy designed to get young readers thinking about the implied author and meaning that is beyond the literal. The technique is applied like this:
      Step 1 - prepare some passages of 300-1000 words in length (from magazines, school readers, newspapers etc), or identify a passage in a class reader or book.
      Step 2 - demonstrate the technique using a smartboard and explain that the idea of this technique is to encourage us to ask questions that we might ask if we had the author in the room.
      Step 3 - have your class help you with a second passage on the smartboard.
      Step 4 - provide a passage and ask them to read, making note of at least 6 questions they might ask of the author and also at least 4 comments they might offer.

      d) Character Interview
      I developed this strategy while working with gifted children, but it can be used in any primary classroom. It requires readers to select a character from a book and interview them. You can do this in several ways. The simplest, and perhaps the best way to start this strategy, is to ask children in pairs to come up with ten questions that they would ask of a character in a story if they had the chance. They can then act this out with one being the interviewer and the other the character.
      An alternative to the above is to have one student prepare a series of questions to which another student, filling the role of the character, has to answer. Once again, it is helpful to give some guidance about the need to ask varied questions that include interpretive, critical and creative questions, not just literal ones.

      Other posts on comprehension

      You might like to have a look at the following posts on comprehension:

      'Teaching and Supporting Children's Reading Comprehension' (HERE)
      'Reading to Learn Using Text Sets' (HERE)
      'Improving Comprehension: Sketch to Stretch' (HERE)
      'Improving Comprehension: Map Making' (HERE)
      'Improving Comprehension: Advance Organisers' (HERE)
      'Emergent Comprehension in Children Under Five' (HERE)

      'Visual Comprehension' (HERE)
      'Using Technology to Develop Vocabulary and Reading' (HERE)
      'Text Talk: Why Talk Matters for Comprehension' (HERE)
      'Make & Do Books: Engaging Readers in Different Ways' (HERE)
      'Readers' Theatre: Ideas for Improving Comprehension, Fluency & Expression' (HERE)

      Sunday, August 5, 2012

      Getting Young Readers into Chapter Books

      This post has two purposes. It offers suggestions for chapter books that are suitable for children aged 5-8 years. First, for you to read to your children to enrich their experience of story, language and the world and, second, for precocious young readers to do likewise, by reading the books themselves. The latter can be a challenge for parents and teachers as they quickly move from early tentative reading of predictable books to fluency in just months. By age six many young readers develop an insatiable appetite for books and can be ready (and keen) to move on to chapter books.  But exercise care, for it is unwise to push young readers to read chapter books without the rich language and textual grounding of many picture books (see my previous post on the importance of picture books HERE). As well, you need to be careful that you don't push them into books with content for which they are not ready emotionally and intellectually.

      Here are some quick questions that you might think about in assessing whether your child is ready:
      • Can the children listen for 20 minutes plus of reading aloud from picture books?
      • Do they seem to enjoy the text as much as the pictures?
      • Do they seem to relate to the characters and can they follow more complex picture books?
      • Do they ask you to read favourite books over and over?
      • Are they showing growing understanding of written language and asking questions about it (e.g. “What does calamity mean?” “Why does it say….?).
      If you answer yes to most of these questions then they are probably ready. Children who have been read to constantly during the preschool years are typically ready to listen to chapter books from age 5 years and up (some even earlier). I also add that some children will be ready before 5 years. My two daughters and my grandchildren all started to love chapter books before 5 years of age. The starting time will reflect their maturity, language proficiency and the depth of the literary and narrative experiences that they have had in the early years.

      Why read chapter books to younger readers?

      In a post I wrote in 2008 on ‘Guiding children’s learning’ (here) I talked a little about Jerome Bruner’s concept of “scaffolding”. He identified scaffolding as a process where an adult helps children to learn in advance of their developmental level. The adult does this by doing what the child cannot do by themselves; allowing students to slowly take over parts of the process as they are able to do so. In many ways, this is the most fundamental reason to read chapter books to your children once they have become avid listeners to stories and beginning readers themselves. They can listen to more complex stories than they can read themselves as emerging readers.

      In practical terms, chapter books offer children:
      • More complex narrative forms and plot development
      • Richer and more complex language
      • New areas of knowledge about their world and the human condition
      • Different literary devices and genres
      • They train your children to be able to sustain longer periods of reading
      As well as the above, chapter books will enable you to build an even richer shared literary history with your children. Shared books will become part of your shared history within the family or your class, and more broadly, they will help to connect your children to a literary culture that others will share with them.

      A couple of final comments before the list

      Having said all of the above, there are a couple of warnings that I’d give:
      • Don’t push your children too quickly; all learning requires periods of consolidation before moving on to more difficult terrain.
      • Be aware that while your children might be able to follow the story line, relate to the characters and so on, they may not be emotionally ready for some of the content.
      • Be prepared to offer support - with chapter books you may need to explain new words, discuss new concepts, offer new knowledge etc.
      • Don’t forget, that reading a chapter book still needs to be interesting and enjoyable and that it will be harder to achieve this without pictures so you’ll need to work harder on varying your character voices (see my earlier post on reading to and with your children HERE).
      One final comment. Don't assume that once you commence chapter books that picture books no longer have a place. Young children still need to read picture books and hear them read to them. They continue to have an important role in children's literacy development throughout the primary years of schooling (again, see my previous post on this HERE).

      Some Chapter Books to try

      The list below is not meant to be extensive, just illustrative. It has a particular Australian flavour (but not entirely). I preface the following suggestions by saying that individual children will handle these books at different ages. For the very youngest readers it is best to start with books that have some illustrations to maintain interest until they develop more 'stamina' for harder books. The age guide that I have given is meant to be a ‘group age’ guide for teachers sharing such books with larger groups. Parents reading to a single child will perhaps find that their child can deal with books I’ve listed at an earlier stage. Conversely, your child might not be ready for some of these books as suggested. You may also find that they can handle even more difficult books not on the list (but don’t forget the warnings above).

      a) Suitable for 5 year-olds

      ‘Aurora and the little blue car’, by Anne-Cath Vestly, 1969
      ‘Arlo the dandy lion’, by Morris Lurie, 1971
      ‘Charlotte’s Web’, by E. B. White, 1952
      ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’, by Roald Dahl, 1970
      ‘Morris in the apple tree’, by Vivian French, 1995
      'Little Witch' by Juliette MacIver, 2012 (see others in the Walker Stories series too).
      ‘Pippi Longstocking’, by Astrid Lindgren, 1945
      ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’, by May Gibbs, 1940
      ‘The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill’, by Dorothy Wall, 1939
      ‘Littlest Dragon Goes for Goal’, by Margaret Ryan,2005
      ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’, by A.A. Milne, 1926

      b) Suitable for 6 year-olds

      ‘The BFG’, by Roald Dahl, 1982
      ‘Billy Fishbone King of the kid’, by Dianne Bates, 1997 (Bushranger series)
      ‘Bud Buster’, by Sofie Laguna, 2003 (Aussie Nibbles series)
      ‘Dragon ride’, by Helen Cresswell, 1987 (Colour Young Puffin series)
      ‘Elephant in the kitchen’, Winsome Smith, 1980
      ‘Grandma Cadbury’s Trucking Tales’, Di Bates, 1987
      ‘James and the Giant Peach’, by Roald Dahl, 1961
      ‘Hazel the Guinea Pig’, by A. N. Wilson, 1989 
      ‘Mr. Popper's Penguins’, by Richard & Florence Atwater, 1939
      'My Naughty Little Sister', by Dorothy Edwards, 1950
      ‘Rabbit Hill’, by Robert Lawson, 1944.
      ‘Superfudge’, by Judy Blume, 1984
      ‘Tashi and the Genie’, by Anna Fienberg, 1997, (series)
      ‘The Shrinking of Treehorn’, by Florence Parry Heide, 1971
      ‘The 27th Annual African Hippopotamus Race’, by Morris Lurie, 1969
      ‘The Wind in the Willows’, by Kenneth Grahame, 1908

      c) Suitable for 7 year-olds

      ‘Boss of the Pool’, by Robin Klein, 1986
      ‘Bottersnikes and Gumbles’, by S. A. Wakefield, 1969
      ‘Boxer’, by Ian Charlton, 1999
      ‘Boy’, by Roald Dahl, 1984
      ‘Callie’s castle’, by Ruth Park, 1974
      ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, Roald Dahl, 1964
      ‘Charlie up a gum tree’, by E. A. Schurmann, 1985
      'Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool', by Odo Hirsch, 2009
      ‘Dear writer’, by Libby Gleeson, 2001
      ‘Dog tales’, by Emily Rodda, 2001
      ‘Foggy’, by Allan Baillie, 2001
      ‘Frog thunder’, by Jill Morris, 2001
      ‘Hating Alison Ashley’, by Robin Klein, 1984
      ‘James and the giant peach’, by Roald Dahl, 1961
      ‘Jodie’s Journey’, by Colin Thiele, 1997
      ‘Just So Stories’, by Rudyard Kipling, 1902
      ‘Let the Balloon Go’, by Ivan Southall, 1968
      ‘Little House on the Prairie’, Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1935
      ‘Little Old Mrs Pepperpot’, by Alf Prøysen, 1959
      ‘Matilda’, by Roald Dahl, 1989
      'Matty Forever', by Elizabeth Fensham, 2009 
      ‘Mike’, by Brian Caswell, 1993
      ‘Misery Guts’, by Morris Gleitzman, 1991
      ‘Onion Tears’, by Diana Kidd, 1989
      ‘Over the top’, by Ivan Southall, 1972
      ‘Penny Pollard’s Diary’, by Robin Klein, 1983
      ‘Selby’s Secret’, by Duncan Ball, 1985
      ‘Storm Boy’, by Colin Thiele, 1976
      ‘The adventures of Stuart Little’, by Daphne Skinner, 2000
      ‘The amazing adventures of Chilly Billy’, by Peter Mayle, 1980
      ‘The borrowers’, by Mary Norton, 1958
      ‘The Eighteenth Emergency’, by Betsy Byars, 1973
      'The Hobbit', by J.R.R. Tolkien

      ‘The Iron Man’, by Ted Hughes, 1968
      ‘The enemies’, by Robin Klein, 1985
      ‘The lion, the witch and the wardrobe’, by C.S. Lewis, 1950
      'The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg', by Rodman Philbrick
      ‘The penguin friend’, by Lucy Sussex, 1997 (Collins Yellow Storybook series)
      ‘The Twits’, by Roald Dahl, 1980
      ‘The turbulent term of Tyke Tiler’, by Gene Kemp, 1977
      'The Windvale Sprites' written and illustrated Mackenzie Crook, 2011.
      'The Wish Pony', by Catherine Bateson, 2008
      ‘Wiggy and Boa’, by Anna Fienberg, 1988
      ‘Wendy’s whale’, by Colin Thiele, 1999

      Book series

      I’ve written about book series in another post (here) and offer a detailed lost for many ages. There are a number of book series that children aged 5-7 years will enjoy, here are just some:

      Alf Prøysen’s ‘Mrs Pepperpot’ series
      Anna Branford's 'Violet Mackerel' series
      Arnold Lobel’s ‘Frog and Toad’ books
      Astrid Lindgren’s ‘Pippi Longstocking’ books
      Dick King-Smith's 'Sophie' series
      Donald Sobol's 'Encyclopedia Brown' series
      Dorthy Edwards' 'My Naughty Little Sister' series 
      Emily Rodda's 'Rowan of Rin' and 'Deltora Quest' series 
      Enid Blyton's 'Faraway Tree' series
      Hugh Lofting's 'Dr Dolittle' series
      Jeff Brown's 'Flat Stanley' series
      'Katie Morag' series by Mairi Hedderwick
      Laura Ingalls Wilder's 'Ingalls family' series
      Mairi Hedderwick's 'Katie Morag' series 
      Michael Bond’s ‘Paddington Bear’ series
      'My Royal Story' series by Vince Cross (and others)
      'Our Australian Girls' series and of course 'Our American Girls'
      R.A. Spratt's 'Nanny Piggins' series
      Sarah Pennypacker's 'Clementine/ series
      'Sophie's Adventure' series by D.K. Smith
      'The Chronicles of Narnia' by C.S. Lewis
      'The Dragonkeeper Chronicles' by Carole Wilkinson
      'Violet Mackerel' series by Anna Branford

      Some related links

      The importance of literature (here)
      How to listen to your child reading (here)
      Helping children to choose books (here)
      The benefits of repeated reading of literature (here)