We're delighted to share with you the eighth blog in our series, Library Lifeline, written in association with the School Library Association. This series is designed to support anyone working in a school library by answering their questions directly. If you have a question that you’d like to ask our ‘agony aunt’ – the SLA’s Member Development Librarian, Dawn Woods – then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be the focus of a future blog!
My classes enjoy Roald Dahl and I’d like to use that to get them to explore other authors too. What can I suggest to them?Primary School Librarian
A springboard for inspiration
Roald Dahl’s imagination was incredible and the legacy of his children’s books has been in the staple reading diet for many of us. Not only that, the adventures of his infamous characters, and the unique tone of his narration have often served as an excellent gateway into reading.
As such, it can be challenging when children run out of the different Dahl titles to know what to read next. This is where we, as educators, can alert pupils to the wonderful array of alternative authors who have written books which continue in the tradition of being imaginative, creative, and humorous.
Make sure you stock and promote a variety of titles in your school library to provide a rich range. Book jackets are designed to attract so display books face on, (even if it means losing some shelf space) near the old Dahl favourites, and watch those books fly off the shelves.
What to read next?
We have collated an abundant selection of books that you can steer your pupils to next, without resorting to the usual alternatives!
Descriptions explain how each recommendation could meet what your pupils are seeking in their next read. Remind them that it’s still perfectly fine to enjoy their old favourites, but it’s always more entertaining to introduce new fare into their repertoire for reading for enjoyment!
Series to try
Some authors have written about such extraordinary characters that they take on a life of their own. When books are part of a series, you can start off a child on book one and then they are excited to work their way through the entire series.
In the vein of Roald Dahl’s humour:
Mr Gum by Andy Stanton and the Barry Loser series by Jim Smith are known and loved by many children and are not too long.
The Holly Hopkinson series by Charlie Brooks and Katy Riddell and Wigglesbottom Primary by Pamela Butchart and Becka Moor also continue in that same humorous tone, as does
The exploding life of Scarlett Fife series by Maz Evans and Chris Jevons.
Loki: A bad God’s guide to being good by Louie Stowell is the perfect series for those who want to sample the more comic side of mythology.
Danny Dingles Fantastic Finds books by Angie Lake are also a wonderful way to encourage reluctant readers to read for pleasure. Their comic style illustrations are a serious draw for children who love to read about funny characters.
Mina Mistry Sort Of Investigates, is similarly brilliant for immersing pupils in a world which is often silly, and the children are the ones truly in charge!
Awesome standalone titles
Some authors write standalones- self-contained books, which are not part of any series. There are some highly engaging, humorous titles for Key Stage 2 among these. Neil Gaiman’s books for primary school age pupils are perennial favourites.
Milk fits the zany humour slot. The Graveyard Book also by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell is slightly longer and is more of a ghostly story for those who want more of a spooky read.
New author Jenny Pearson’s standalone titles will all appeal to Key Stage 2 pupils. For example:
Grandpa Frank’s great big bucket list by Jenny Pearson and David O’Connell is filled with perfect activities for pupils to enjoy.
For those who want to experience some of the more wacky fantasy elements of Dahl’s writing, Ross Montgomery’s The Midnight Guardians stands out as the tale ideal for this age.
Further suggestions of similar titles
For those looking for their next read after Dahl, here are some further excellent titles to explore and recommend in your school libraries:
Download a colourful poster of 10 books featuring imaginative plots, humorous commentary and devious villains who get their comeuppance.
Scholastic lists 10 books that are the perfect follow up to your Roald Dahl favourites.
For those who want a fun, visual way of finding their next humorous read, download a “train map” of suggested titles and board the “Walliams” line to choose your title.
Follow the "Humour" route on this map of the UK where each route depicts age-appropriate and contemporary books from a specific genre.