Parenting: A world of imagination and excitement

As the school holidays beckon, Amy MacDonald, children's bookseller at Waterstone's in Leeds, gives her top tips on the best books to keep the children entertained all summer long.

School summer holidays – the ultimate parental challenge.

With so much techno-gadgetry available nowadays the challenge for parents to get the children to turn off the television set and do something less boring instead can be much tougher than it was in the Seventies and Eighties, heyday of children's programmes such as Why Don't You?

Now, the challenge is how to keep the children entertained for six weeks – while simultaneously encouraging them to resist the temptation to simply spend the summer slouched in front of any one of a number of shiny screens, from TV, to PC, to mobile phone to handheld gaming device.

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Fortunately, there are some fantastic books around that offer superb screen-free entertainment and give both parents and children alike some great ideas for a fun-filled summer.

Here's my guide to some of the best

Best books to take on a walk

A Little Guide to Trees by Charlotte Voake.Eden Project 10.99

A gorgeous book that will encourage children to interact with their environment, and help them to respect and protect the trees that surround them.

Birds (Usborne Spotter's Guide). Usborne 4.99

A handy guide to spotting birds, and a great way to keep them entertained onwalks or trips to the seaside or countryside.

I Spy Wild Flowers. I Spy 2.50

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I Spy guides are back and flying off the shelves once again. With points awarded for each wild flower spotted, children can have fantastic fun competing against friends and family.

Best books to enjoy in the garden

Bug Hunter. Dorling Kindersley 7.99

A great little bug hunting kit for in the garden – find, catch and learn all about your favourite creepy crawly friends.

Kids in the Garden by Elizabeth McCorquodale. Black Dog 9.95

An interactive book for green-fingered children withinstructions on how to grow ahuge array ofplants – with recipes too to turn your hard work into dinner.

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Tom's Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce. Oxford University Press 5.99

The perfect summer read to enjoy in your garden – and imagine just what a magical place it could be.

When Tom is sent to his aunt's house for the summer he resigns himself to weeks of boredom.

Best books for rainy days, Until I met Dudley by Roger McGough and Chris Riddell. Frances Lincoln 6.99

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Have you ever wondered how a toaster works? Or a fridge-freezer, or a washing-up machine? In this book, Dudley, the techno-wizard dog, takes you through the processes behind familiar machines.

Pop-up House of Inventions by Robert Crowther. Walker 12.99

Explore the rooms of this quirky pop-up house and discover all manner of interesting facts about everyday objects.

Eat Vegetarian by Sam Sterne. Walker 9.99

Keep the older children quiet... in the kitchen. Young chef Sam Sterne has added another book to his great range for young cooks, and this time its vegetarian.

Best books for long journeys

50 Things To Do On A Plane. Usborne 5.99

This fun-filled activity pack contains 50 cards each showing a game, activity or puzzle to keep children entertained on a long plane journey.

Do You Doodle? by Nicholas Catlow. Buster 9.99

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This book is fantastic. Keeps children entertained for hours, and it is suitable for a huge range of ages who will scribble all over it with varying degrees of artistic talent.

Where's Wally, The Incredible Paper Chase. Walker 6.99

This is the seventh classic title in the popular Where's Wally? series, featuring

a side-splittingly hilarious fold-out game – with press-out counters and tongue-twister forfeit cards – and a press-out circus to put on your very own show.

All books are available from Waterstone's, 93/97 Albion Street, Leeds LS1 5JS. Tel: 0113 2444588.

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