Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña (3-5 years)

“He ducked under his nana’s umbrella, saying, “How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?”

On this rainy, wet Sunday after church, CJ doesn’t want to ride the bus across town with his grandma. Why don’t they have a car like his friend Colby? The other boys on the bus have an iPod – where’s his? For every dissatisfied question from CJ, grandma has an encouraging and supportive answer – as only grandmothers can. She helps him see the beauty and fun in their routine and the world surrounding them. This wonderful, award-winning picture book is radiantly illustrated by Christian Robinson. It perfectly highlights the magical bond between grandparents and grandchildren – and how to be thankful for what you do have, instead of dwelling on what you don’t. 

The New Small Person by Lauren Child (3-6 years)

“Elmore Green’s parents thought he was simply the funniest, cleverest, most adorable person they had ever seen.”

Elmore Green is perfectly happy as an only child, thank you very much. He has his own room and no one will eat his orange jelly beans because his parents do not eat jelly beans. But then the new small person comes along. And everything changes! Suddenly Elmore Green thinks he might not be everyone’s favourite after all… In this vibrant picture book, Children’s Laureate Lauren Child explores the familiar tale of sibling insecurities with warmth, insight and humour, all in her inimitable style. 

The Silence Seeker by Ben Morley (5-7 years)

“He has come from far away, looking for peace and quiet. He’s an asylum seeker.”

The new family next door are asylum seekers, hoping for peace and calm in this noisy, busy city. But to Joe, they are ‘silence seekers’, and when he sees his young neighbour looking sad on the steps, he makes a vow. Joe wants to help his neighbour find a place for himself in this city Joe calls home – now his neighbours’ home too. This moving tale provides the perfect way to open up gentle and thoughtful discussion around the refugee crisis.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (5-7 years)

“As a young woman in Virginia, Ella dreamed of independence and one day becoming an entertainer – but she was living on the streets and singing for pennies.”

From singer Ella Fitzgerald to abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman to poet Maya Angelou and so many more, this educational and inspirational book features biographies of forty trailblazing black women in history. They may not have always been accepted, but with their powerful voices, extraordinary actions and unswayable beliefs, each one has made the world a better place for generations to come. These brave, bold black women broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations – their stories demand to be told. 

Hilo: The Boy who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick (7-12 years)

“My name is D.J. And this is my friend Hilo. And this is when we met. It was a REALLY weird day.”

D.J. and Gina may be totally normal kids, but their new friend Hilo isn’t! With no idea where he came from, what he’s doing on Earth or why he needs to wear more than just his underwear to school, the trio has a mystery to solve. Can they discover the secrets of Hilo’s past, and more importantly, how will Hilo survive a day at school? Don’t miss this laugh-out-loud story of unlikely friendships – and the occasional mutant robot ant…

Blackberry Blue by Jamila Gavin (9-11 years)

“Her skin was as black as midnight, her lips like crushed damsons, and her tightly curled hair shone like threads of black gold. When the baby looked up into the woman’s face, her eyes glistened like blackberries.”

This collection of original, beautifully written stories – stunningly illustrated by Richard Collingridge – will lead you into a captivating world. You’ll encounter talking animals and wicked witches, magicians and enchanted forests as you watch Blackberry Blue rise from the bramble patch, follow Emeka the pathfinder on his mission to save a lost king and join Princess Desire as she gallops across the Milky Way on her jet-black horse… Perfect for readers of all ages, these magical tales will thrill and enchant again and again.

Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen (9-11 years)

“As I turned to look for her, Dad let go of my hand, and when I looked back, he was striding away. Out of reach.”

As she struggles to adjust to life in a new country, Leelu dreams of flying back home to her father and the life she left behind. London is grey and cold, there’s concrete everywhere; she doesn’t want to be here. Leelu feels so lonely – but she’s not alone. Soon she discovers someone is leaving gifts for her, wondrous gifts that bring her curious magical powers. Will they help her find her way home? Filled with magic, family and friendship, this is an unforgettable and moving tale of one family’s battle to belong. 

The Young Magicians and The Thieves' Almanac by Nick Mohammed (9-11 years)

“Anyway, magic is different from everything else. And I suppose this is one of the many unique things that make it, quite literally, wonderful.”

Four unlikely friends. One world famous conjuring club. And a set of impossible crimes… Meet Alex (doesn’t say much), Zack (expert pickpocket), Sophie (nifty hypnotist) and Jonny (very tall). Together they are The Young Magicians, ready to go beyond the blue door of the Magic Circle in search of a secret book and an adventure they’ll never forget… Humorous and engaging, this is the perfect book for junior readers, filled with adventure, friendship and fun.

The Lost Hero: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan (9-12 years)

 “This is a war you cannot win!”

In this beautifully illustrated graphic novel, Jason, Piper and Leo have crash landed at Camp Half-Blood, where rumours of a terrible curse – and a missing hero – abound. It seems they are the chosen ones who must embark on a terrifying new quest, to be completed by the winter solstice... in just four days’ time. Can the trio succeed in their dangerous quest – and what must they sacrifice in order to survive? This unputdownable graphic novel is packed with adventure, legends and monsters and is a must-have for every Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus fan. 

Pig-Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman (9-11 years)

“It was like a radio being switched off. I sat down at the bottom of the swimming pool and opened my eyes. The chlorine in the water stung, but it was better than not seeing what was coming and being kicked in the face.”

When you’re 13, you just want a normal life. To be like all the other teenagers, doing normal things. But most teenagers don’t need heart transplants. You’re the unlucky one. You think there’s no chance to live an ordinary life… but what if you’re wrong? What if there’s a doctor who says there might be a chance for you – though it’s risky. It’s experimental and controversial – and it’s never been done before… A powerful, thought-provoking story from the brilliant, award-winning Malorie Blackman, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk (9-11 years)

“It was Osh who found me and took me in. Who taught me how to put down roots, and thrive on both sun and rain, and understand what it is to bloom.”

What does it mean to be a family? In this beautifully written and heart-wrenching story, 12-year-old Crow explores questions of her own identity and where she truly belongs. Abandoned when she was hours old, Crow was found on a boat and raised on a tiny island by Osh, her rescuer, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbour. One night, after the appearance of a mysterious fire across the water, Crow begins to question her own history, triggering an unstoppable – and dangerous – chain of events. 

How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons (9-12 years)

 “Boston was nothing like South Carolina. Up there, coloured folks could go anywhere they wanted.”

Bullied for her light skin tone and missing her absent mother, life isn’t always sunny for 12-year-old Ella, growing up in segregated Alcolu in 1944. So, she’s ecstatic when her mother – pursuing her jazz singer dreams in Boston – invites her for Christmas. But whilst there, Ella discovers the secrets of her mother and the father she never knew – and her most unexpected family history. And upon her return to the South a month later, life changes even more with the news that her classmate has been arrested for the murder of two local white girls. Nothing will ever be the same…

The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt (12+ years)

“He’s small for his age, but he’ll grow. He’s a good kid. Educated too. You wanna take him, Zach?”

Officially endorsed by Amnesty International, this unforgettable debut novel is both a love story and a thriller. 13-year-old Pip has been hired as a farm hand by Mr Zachery – but Pip is black, the farmer and his wife are white, and in 1960’s America, racism is rife. Meanwhile, Irishman Jack Morrow has arrived in the Deep South dreaming of a new life as a university professor. He carries with him a secret; certain skills in hypnotism and mind control. Now, as dangerous racial tensions threaten to overshadow everything, Pip and Jack’s lives become entwined and Jack's hypnotic skills are needed as never before…

Related articles