We’ve all got it by now, the email from school asking you to make sure your children ‘keep up the reading over the summer’. But which books to buy? Despair not! Here are some of our best children’s books selected by our in-house expert, children’s bookseller Kirstin.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Starr’s best friend, Khalil, is murdered by a police officer, in front of her eyes. Khalil, a young black man, is unarmed. The officer, who is white, shoots Khalil in the back. In this electrifying new YA novel, we join Starr, in her fight for justice against the hostile might of the U.S establishment.
Silver Stars by Michael Grant. Michael Grant is one of this year’s celebrated World Book Day authors. He belongs in the pantheon of YA writers, and Silver Stars is the second in a planned trilogy which imagines an alternative World War Two history, one in which women served alongside men in the armed forces. This book really packs a hefty punch. I’m never drawn to war fiction but the premise was intriguing, and I discovered that not only was the writing powerful and engaging, but so were the book’s themes.
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Hannah Baker is dead. She committed suicide two weeks ago, shocking her local community. But there are thirteen reasons why she died, and she wants Clay Jensen to know what they are. Her secrets call to him from beyond the grave, and what they reveal blows his world apart. The buzz around 13 Reasons Why has been huge. First published a decade ago, public interest has been reignited by the recent 13-part Netflix series, rocketing it into the bestseller charts.
The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Straight Outta Nerdsville by Ben Davis. ‘Too old for Wimpy Kid? Meet Joe Cowley’. A fitting tag line to lead us into the fourth instalment of this series. 16-year-old Joe and his band ‘Sound Experience’, move to London, in pursuit of stardom and cosmopolitan living. A squirm- inducing comedy of embarrassment is to follow. Do you have a teenage boy in your life who chuckles at flatulence, cringe comedy, and the word ‘knobber’ as a term of insult? If they also happen to be reluctant readers, then the Joe Cowley series could well be an essential purchase.
This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson. July in London brings the annual Pride Festival and Parade, a joyful celebration of LGBT culture and history. It’s the ideal opportunity to highlight This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson, a warm and supportive guide to all aspects of LGBT life. There’s no doubt that fizzing hormones and emerging sexuality can lead to tumultuous times. If that sexuality feels different or ‘other’ to the mainstream, then embracing it must sometimes seem impossibly hard and terrifying.
The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. The Girl of Ink & Stars has just added Waterstones Children’s Book 2017 to it’s collection of glowing accolades. Isabella lives on the myth-rich isle of Joya. Her father was once an accomplished cartographer, and she has inherited this gift. It provides a rich backdrop to her childhood. When her best friend Lupe vanishes, Isabella joins the search party, venturing into the uncharted interior of Joya, where nebulous terrors are lurking in it’s dark heart.
New Guard by Robert Muchamore. New Guard is the seventeenth book in the exhilarating CHERUB series. Aimed at young teenagers, these books are ideal for parents who struggle to keep their boys reading. While it seems regressive to talk about ‘boys’ books and ‘girls’ books, in my experience, teenagers tend to split into these camps. And frankly, whatever it takes to kickstart the reading habit has got to be worth a shot!
The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon. Shortlisted for The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016, The Bone Sparrow is newly released in paperback. It’s the story of Subhi, a boy who was born in a refugee camp. He has never seen the ocean or the mountains. But he knows that someday he will. As soon as his dad comes for him. The global refugee crisis is one of the biggest stories of our time, making this a timely and illuminating read. Based on verified reports of life in refugee camps, this lyrical and moving story aims to show our children the humanity behind the refugee label.
8 – 11 Years
An Eagle in the Snow by Michael Morpurgo. It is 1940. 10-year-old Barney and his mum are on the 11.50 train to London, all their worldly possessions contained in a suitcase on the overhead luggage rack. Bombed out of their home by the Luftwaffe, they are moving in with Barney’s aunty Mavis. But events on this journey will haunt them forever, as a mysterious travelling companion shares some chilling revelations. The Children’s Book Award is voted for entirely by children. This makes it an especially lovely accolade, and one that this year has been awarded to Michael Morpurgo, for An Eagle in the Snow.
Ruby Redfort: Blink and You Die (Book 6) by Lauren Child. There is something rotten at the core of top spy agency Spectrum. One of it’s agents appears to want Ruby dead. Who? Why? Will they rue the day they crossed Ruby Redfort, the smartest, bravest secret agent ever? Congratulations to Lauren Child, who’s just been appointed our new Children’s Laureate. The hugely successful creator of Charlie & Lola, and the irrepressible Clarice Bean, now turns her versatile talents to 9+ adventure-crazy girls.
The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop. Property Jones lives in a bookshop. As if this isn’t the height of good fortune in itself, her family wins a raffle to become owners of the world famous Montgomery Book Emporium. This is, of course, a staggeringly marvellous turn of events. Or is it? Property wonders if maybe it’s just too good to be true. The Bookshop Girl is determinedly old-fashioned. It radiates retro charm, and the busy, absorbing illustrations really complement it’s warm, conversational narrative style. Delightful!
I wish you and your children a wonderful summer!