Love books in Richmond upon Thames

Mar 5, 2013 by

Have you got plans for World Book Day?

Here at Twickermum, we think that book-love learned in childhood becomes a passion for life. And, luckily for our kids, there are lots of great things going on in the borough of Richmond upon Thames to help keep that literary buzz going all year long.

So, without further ado, here is our big, booky round-up of all things local to enjoy with your kids this World Book Day… and for the rest of the year too!



Fun things to do with kids for World Book Day

Although there don’t appear to be any special events running in our local libraries this time, the nationwide buzz of book-love going on all over the media and in book shops, nurseries and schools makes it a great week for bookish fun with your kids. Here are a few activities that you might like to try on World Book Day (or at the weekend, for school-aged children).

Take an outing to a local book shop.

An afternoon browsing a local book shop and choosing a book to take home can be a memorable day out for a child. If they’ve been given a World Book Day token, they will be able to choose any of these special £1 books for free, or they can put the token towards another book of their choice. Scroll below for a guide to some of our local bookshops around Richmond, Twickenham, Teddington and Kew.

Read with your child

Very simple… and goes without saying really, but we think that this is the best book-related activity of all! Why not visit the children’s department of one of Richmond borough’s fourteen local libraries and find some new books to read together?

Make bookmarks

This rainy day activity is suitable for children of any age as all it needs is a strip of card and some imagination. Young children can go wild decorating their bookmarks with paints, glue, glitter and stickers. For older kids, we love these step-by-step projects for monster corner bookmarks and pom-pom bookmarks


Set up a book hunt!

Hide a selection of your child’s favourite books around the house or garden and give them clues to find them in turn. Or, for very young children, treat it like an Easter egg hunt, where they just get to run about and find all of the books hidden in odd places, with one or two new books thrown in as a surprise.
For more ideas, games and free downloads such as colouring sheets and puzzles, visit the World Book Day website


What are local families reading?

We asked local mums, dads and book shops to recommend their top children’s books. Here are some of the great titles that came recommended… a nice mixture of new writers and old classics.

Maggot Moon

by Sally Gardner. This Costa award winner is a darkly humourous novel for teenagers set in an alternate 1950s in which the Allies lost World War II. Can Standish Treadwell and his friends win against the authoritarian Motherland in which they live?

Mr Stink

by David Walliams. Another recent award-winner, “Mr Stink stank. He also stunk. And if it was correct English to say he stinked, then he stinked as well” We loved this comment from a local mum “this book ignited the passion for reading in my 8 year-old who now reads constantly


For You Are a Kenyan Child

By Kelly Cunnane. Imagine you wake to the sound of a rooster’s crow, instead of an alarm clock and the school bus. Your afternoon snack is a tasty bug plucked from the sky, instead of an apple. With short, poetic phrases, this story describes a young boy’s day in a Kenyan village.

Tiger on a tree

by Anushka Ravishankar. “Tiger, tiger on a tree. Is it true? Can it be? Did he fly? Did he flee? Did he fall and hurt his knee? Did he cry? Did he plead?” With unique silk-screened illustrations combining black, orange and whimsical poetry, this is the tale of a wild tiger cub that wanders into an Indian village.


Monkey Puzzle

by Julia Donaldson, who seems to be the reigning queen of pre-school literature right now and for good reason. In this popular story, a little monkey has lost its mother in the jungle. How can he find her when the butterfly keeps suggesting unsuitable animals as the monkey’s mother?

The Gruffalo

by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Such a classic of the modern era, it’s sometimes easy to imagine that this timeless book been around since we parents were kids! A little mouse uses his wits to survive in the deep dark wood in a story that is just scary enough for young children to understand the mouse’s peril without driving them to nightmares.



by Roald Dahl. Another classic recommendation from one of the Britain’s most beloved authors. As quoted by a local parent… “Gotta be the best story for kids ever, All of my kids loved this story.” With his trademark dark humour and championing of children against the odds, Roald Dahl books offer a rewarding reading experience for parents and kids alike.

The Owl Who was Afraid of the Dark

by Jill Tomlinson. This classic story is guaranteed to give parents a nostalgia kick while introducing their next generation to Plop, the baby barn owl who has to get over his fear of the dark. (NB: if you want the original version, take care not to buy one of the abridged copies that abound online)


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. This board book for young children follows a family on a bear hunt, full of hubris in the knowledge that they will never meet a real bear …but what if they do? This book is a good one for encouraging little ones to join in, with repetitive chanting and lots of splish splosh sounds.

The rainbow fish

by Marcus Pfister. This award-winning children’s book follows the tale of a beautiful rainbow fish who believes he is too good to play with the other fish in the sea… until he learns the joy of sharing his silver scales. With colourful, shiny illustrations that captivate young children.


The Magic Faraway Tree

by Enid Blyton. One of Enid Blyton’s most beloved books of all time, the Magic Faraway Tree is a timeless adventure story following the escapades of Jo, Beth and Frannie who are transported to a series of magical lands at the top of the tree, including the Land of Toys, the Land of Treats and the Land of Do-As-You-Please. (And who could ever forget Dame Slap?)



Local year-round activities for book-related fun


Toddler Book Club at Pitter Patter Richmond

These fun 45-minute sessions are as much for parents and carers as they are for toddlers. Run by a specialist in language development, children aged 2-3 enjoy interactive games and crafts each week related to a chosen book while parents learn how to select books and encourage a love of books in their toddler. Find out more about Brilliant Monsters Toddler Book Club.


Story Explorers, Richmond

Story Explorers is a toy and bookshop in Richmond offering special story workshops where you and your pre-school children can read and play together. The workshops combine stories, play and water fun for small groups of young children, with a new theme every week. Sessions are grouped by age for children between 1 – 4. Find out more about Story Explorers.


Tiny Teddies, borough-wide

These free baby bounce and rhyme sessions are for very young children accompanied by adults. Come join in the fun with songs, rhymes and stories. Tiny Teddies sessions are held all year round at libraries in Richmond, Twickenham, Teddington, Whitton, Ham, Hampton, Castelnau and East Sheen. View dates and venues


Storytime, borough-wide

For children under 5, all of the local libraries in Richmond, Twickenham, Whitton, Teddington, Heathfield, Hampton, East Sheen and Castlenau run free weekly Storytime sessions that will bring books to life for your little ones. View dates and venues


Other Library Activities for Kids

The Young People’s Library Service has a range of other activities for children of varied ages. These include the Chatterbooks book club for school years 4 & 5, a special Manga book club for ages 11-15 in Teddington and a teenage reading group in East Sheen. Find out more about the Young people’s Library Service


Storytelling Adventures, Richmond and Twickenham

Storytelling Adventures are interactive workshops for children aged between 18 months and 7 years. Taking a different book every week, children go on an adventure as they act out the roles from the book, using a mixture of drama, games, dance and songs. Workshops are available at various locations in Richmond and Twickenham. Find out more about Storytelling Adventures


Richmond Literature Festival

Each November Richmond-upon-Thames hosts a prestigious Literature Festival that attracts a wide selection of famous authors and takes place over a full month. Last year’s Children’s festival included a selection of special readings and fun activities with children’s authors and illustrators. Keep up to date with plans for the 2013 Literary Festival on the Richmond Borough website.



Local book shops

With the rise of e-readers and online retail giants like Amazon, it’s a changing time for local book shops and many people in Twickenham were saddened last year by the closure of Langton’s, a well-loved independent book shop and café on Church Street. But for those of us who still like to visit a physical book shop, we are still blessed with a few very nice options in the Richmond borough. Here are some local suggestions.


The Lion & Unicorn Bookshop, Richmond

The Lion and Unicorn is an award-winning independent bookshop dedicated solely to children’s books. As well as selling a wide selection of paper and audio books, they often also host readings and other special events involving famous authors and illustrators. To stay up to date with book reviews and events, sign up for their newsletter, THE ROAR! Visit them at 19 King Street, Richmond, TW9 1ND or


Story Explorers, Richmond

As well as running story and play sessions for young Children, Story Explorers also buys and sells second hand children’s books and stocks a small selection of new books too. One of Twickerbaby’s favourite books is a lovely little copy of Zzzzz, picked up at Story Explorers for only 50p! Visit them at 18 St Mary’s Grove, Richmond, TW9 1UY or


Kew Book shop

Another lovely independent bookshop, this has lots of books on offer for both adults and children plus toys, craft kits and games. They also love to offer personal recommendations and get great reviews from book-lovers across London. Visit them at Kew Bookshop, 1-2 Station Approach, Kew, TW9 3QB or


Waterstones & WHSmith, Richmond, Twickenham & Teddington

While there may not be an abundance of independent bookshops remaining in the area, branches of Waterstones and WHSmith are still hanging on in Twickenham, Richmond and Teddington, offering much-needed places to browse the bookshelves with kids.
Find your local Waterstones here and your local WHSmith here


Local Charity shops

Inspired by a conversation with @mediafran on Twitter, we’d also like to give a mention to the huge number of local charity shops in the Richmond borough. Though often maligned as an unwelcome sign of a town centre in decline, they continue to offer an affordable way to keep children supplied with books, with the added benefit that you can donate your old books to make room for new ones – and it’s all for good cause!



Local children’s authors and illustrators

Finally, we thought it would be fun to give a shout out to just a few of the venerable children’s authors and illustrators who happen to live in our neighbourhood. Fancy a signed copy of a Tom Truehart or a Dot Robot book? Perhaps all you need to do is hang around in the right local cafes…


Jason Bradbury

Often spotted out and about in St Margarets, Jason Bradbury is best known as the host of TV’s The Gadget Show and annual judge of the dog show in St Margarets Summer Fair! But he is also the successful author of the trilogy of Dot Robot books for children, techno-thrillers that follow the escapades of a 12-year-old science genius against the forces of evil.

Ian Beck

A star act at last year’s Richmond Literature Festival, Ian Beck is a children’s illustrator and novelist based in St Margarets. Alongside a prolific career in illustration, his hugely successful Tom Trueheart and Hilary Delafield novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. He often gives talks at schools and libraries and also blogs here.


Clara Vulliamy

Another Twickenham resident, Clara Vulliamy has followed in the footsteps of her famous mother (Shirley Hughes) and has created many of books for young children and babies. Her oeuvre includes The Bear with Sticky Paws and the Lucky Wish Mouse series.

Richard Littledale

Teddington’s local Baptist minister, Richard Littledale, is also the author of a one-off Christmas story entitled The Littlest Star, which has been selling like hot cakes since its publication in November 2011, with all profits going to the Shooting Star Chase children’s hospice. More details


Axel Scheffler

Arguably the most famous and ubiquitous children’s illustrator of the day, we learned only this week that Axel Scheffler, the man behind such iconic visuals as The Gruffalo, Zog and Superworm, to name just a few, lives in the Ham region of Richmond. How exciting!


About the author: Twickermum lives in St Margarets with her family and enjoys making the most of Twickenham and Richmond and all that the local area has to offer. She created as a local hub for families and carers who’d like to be kept up to date with all of the news, events and fun activities going on in the area.

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