Book recommendations

All change

Change can be exciting. Change can be hard! Every year the children we teach face all sorts of changes, the most obvious being moving class. Some of your children will be taking the giant step of moving to secondary school and we hope these books might provide a window into the new worlds they might inhabit!

For some children change is even harder than others. Neurodivergent children find times of change very stressful, which is why having lots of books that explore change and show characters’ struggles, successes and acceptance is so helpful.

The Comet by Joe Todd-Stanton (Flying Eye Books, 2022)

Nyla is blissfully happy in her home by the sea where she lives with her dad and falls asleep to the sound of waves each night. When her dad has to move to the city for work, everything changes and Nyla feels like she has lost her home. Todd Stanton’s gorgeous picture book explores the familiar feelings of confusion and upset that children feel when faced with a big change like a move. Its happy ending provides a lovely, reassuring message that although we cannot always choose what happens in our lives (especially as a child!), we can still find magic anywhere.

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf (Hachette Children’s Group, 2018)

Onjali Q. Raúf’s debut won both the Waterstone Children’s Book and the Blue Peter Book awards in 2019, and for good reason. It is a brilliantly written story of how friendship and kindness can help win over cruelty and prejudice. Ahmet is the new boy in class, a refugee from Syria, who finds his life changed by three friends and their determination to help. An inspiring way for children to think about what it means to be new, and a call to arms for kindness!

Show us who you are by Elle McNicholl (Knights of Media, 2021)

Cora is struggling to fit in at her new secondary school. She is autistic and finds it hard to navigate a new world that is both familiar and foreign to her. Adrien is home-schooled and has ADHD. The two meet and are soon firm friends. Adrien appears to have everything, a wealthy family, a loving mum, and a dad who runs the Pomegranate Institute.  Cora is captivated by its latest invention, a technology that creates holograms that can bring people back to life. But something sinister is lurking in the Pomegranate Institute. Adrien isn’t being entirely truthful, and Cora’s sense of integrity leads her to question their friendship. Cora is left to decide, can she fight to discover the truth? Can she face what she finds?

Elle McNicholl’s book is a page-turner. You will be gripped to the very end!

Loki Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good  by Louie Stowell (Walker Books Ltd, 2022)

Imagine not only being a god (in a feeble child’s body), but also being a trickster god made to go to primary school. And even worse than that, imagine your annoying goody-two-shoes brother, Thor, is also at the same school being perfect and funny and cool!  And even worse than all of that, IMAGINE that you have to be good and do good deeds for a month or you will be left alone in a room with Fangy, a bad-tempered and very poisonous snake for all eternity! This is the fate of Loki. And let’s just say he finds the change from trickster god to primary school child challenging!

New Kid by Jerry Craft (QuilTreeBk)

Imagine starting at a new school. Now imagine starting at a new school where you are one of only a handful of children of colour. The challenges of fitting in whilst staying true to yourself are brilliantly described in this award-winning graphic novel by Jerry Craft. Both sensitive and funny, New Kid is a story that all children can relate to, and which opens up some great discussions about finding your way in a new environment.

Courage out Loud by Joseph Coehlo (Wide Eyed Editions, 2023)

Poems about courage, facing up to your fears and being brave, but also poems about using poetry itself to help you do just that. This book is a fabulous compilation of original poems from the endlessly inventive Joseph Coelho, who has prefaced each poem with a short description of where it comes from as well as questions for his reader to consider. Feeling scared about what next year will bring? “May these poems help you make that first brave step.”

The Dam by David Almond and illustrated by Levi Pinfold (Walker Books Ltd, 2019)

The dam has been built. The town and land will be flooded. Nothing will be the same. Kathryn and her father go down to the still and empty valley and make music. They enter every home and pour music in. They dance and bring joy to the town before it is no more. The evocative illustrations match the sparse poetic text by David Almond who writes the sadness and the hope that is created by change. The final pages remind us that beauty comes with change and that the past can sing out to us too.