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I am a firm believer that every child should be read to from a very early age. Reading to children helps to form the foundations for communication and a love of words.
I am also a firm believer that every child should have access to a bike and a safe place to ride it from an early age.
So, what more could every cycling mummy (and daddy, and anyone else who reads to children) want, but books for children with bikes in them!
I have grouped books as picture books or chapter books. I don’t give any suggestions for appropriate ages for the books as reading doesn’t really work like that. It depends if you are reading to a child or if they are reading independently.
Bike On Bear! By Cynthia Liu
This is a lovely book about a bear who struggles to get the hang of riding his bike. He tries reading books and practising, and all his friends help him, but nothing seems to work. Then one day somebody needs bear’s help.
Curious George Rides a Bike by H. A. Rey
The first Curious George book was published in 1941. The books became a series and have also been made into TV programmes. This is the only book in the series about cycling. Curious George is a well loved character and the books are very popular. Although the story shows its age somewhat (I am pretty sure I will not be allowing my children to get up to the kind of mischief George does) it involves a monkey having a great time on a bike. What’s not to like?
Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
This is a bright and colourful, simple picture book about a duck who finds a bike and decides to ride it. By the end of the book, all the animals in the farm are cycling.
‘”This is fun!” they all said. “Good idea, Duck!”‘
Eric’s Big Day by Rod Waters
As a road cyclist, I love Eric’s Big Day. The story is about a boy who sets out on his bike to meet his friend in her home town at the finish of ‘the Bike Race’. The book is full of beautiful, simple pictures showing lots of Tour de France inspiration. Eric manages to help the racers, win the race and still see his best friend, Emily.
Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen by Cari Best
This is a great picture book about a girl who loves to cycle. The story follows her as she moves from a bike seat on her mum’s bike, to a trike, to a bike with stabilisers, to ‘look no hands’.
As a female cyclist and mother to a daughter, I especially love this book. Sally Jean’s Mum and Dad both help her to fix her bike, and as she gets older, she fixes it herself. When Sally Jean gets too big for her bike and her parents can’t afford a new one, she has to get creative. She fixes other peoples’ bikes to earn money and then builds her own bike from junk.
Sally Jean is a wonderful role model to us all!
Mrs Armitage on Wheels by Quentin Blake
Mrs Armitage is another independent and capable female character. In this book she goes out for a bike ride and decides that the bike needs a few modifications along the way.
‘”What this bike needs,” said Mrs Armitage to herself….’
The Boy Who Biked the World. Part One: On The Road to Africa by Alastair Humphries
This is the first in a series of three books based on the author’s own experiences. Alastair Humphries spent over four years cycling 46,000 miles around the world and has turned his experiences into these novels.
The story follows Tom, a boy who dreams of travelling and adventures. One day, after being told off for daydreaming in class, Tom blurts out:
‘”I am going to be an explorer! I am going to go round the world.”
Everybody laughs at Tom, but this just makes him more determined. So off he heads, on his bike. In part one, Tom rides from Britain to Cape Town.
The book is engaging and inspiring, for adults and children!
Dixie O’ Day: On His Bike! By Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy
This is a fairly short chapter book which includes lots of pictures. It is part of the Dixie O’Day Adventure Series (the other books in the series are not about cycling).
This is a nice story involving bike racing, being a ‘good sport’ and friendship. What more could you want but a story which includes the line:
‘I prefer to stick with my bike. It’s far better exercise. Driving is all very well for older people, but it doesn’t keep you fit does it?’
Flying Fergus 1: The Best Birthday Bike
This is the first book in the Flying Fergus series written by Sir Chris Hoy and Joanna Nadin. It is a fairly short chapter book with plenty of illustrations.
The book centres on eight year old Fergus Hamilton who dreams of a flash new bike (don’t we all!) but gets his dad’s old bike for his birthday. The bike turns out to have magical properties which can transport him to the strange land of Nevermore where cycling is banned.
This is a great adventure tale with plenty of positive messages about hard work, standing up to bullies, believing in yourself and the importance of friendship. I have also heard it described as a godsend to cycling families on World Book Day. Simply dress your child in their normal cycling clothes and hey presto…they are a character from Flying Fergus. Brilliant.
Flying Fergus 2: The Great Cycle Challenge
This is the second book in the Flying Fergus series and it takes up where the first book finished. In this story, Fergus gets his team together and enters the annual ‘Great Cycle Challenge’ Fergus pays another visit to Nevermore where he makes a new friend and starts to look for his dad.
The book is another exciting adventure tale with plenty of illustrations to keep younger readers engaged. Positive messages feature heavily again with a focus on friendship and hard work. If you liked the first book, you will love this one too.
Flying Fergus 3: The Big Biscuit Bike Off
The third instalment in the Flying Fergus series. Fergus now has a bike, a team and a coach. But the team needs somewhere to practise. Fergus visits Nevermore again, hears about the terrifying cook and starts the search for his dad, with his new friends helping.
Again the story is action packed and filled with adventure and positive messages about the power of community and positive thinking.
I am thoroughly enjoying the Flying Fergus stories, although I do sometimes find myself wishing that Fergus would lighten up a little!
Flying Fergus 4: The Championship Cheats
The Championship Cheats is the fourth story about Flying Fergus and his friends. The team are through to the District Championship race and luck seems to be on their side when they are given brand new bikes for the race. Could the offer be too good to be true? Fergus also makes another trip to the parallel world, Nevermore where he and his friends might just find his Dad.
The book continues in the same vein as the previous three, with plenty of action and adventure. It also brings up issues around cheating. Fergus even seems just a little more positive this time round too!