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A selection of books especially selected for children in Year 10 (14 - 15 year olds) of average reading ability for the 2018/19 academic year.
If your child finds these books are a little challenging try books from the Year 9 list. Our overall mission is to promote reading for pleasure with quality texts that are perfectly pitched for the age group and the curriculum. We have particularly avoided blockbusters, classic or set texts, known to everyone, so that we can include poetry, stunning information texts and inspirational books in which all children and young people can find themselves reflected.
Thanks to our partnership with Browns Books For Students we are able to offer all the books on this list at an exclusive price.
Encompassing works from ancient sages, classic poets, well-known thinkers and emerging contemporary innovators from all walks of life, this involving, inclusive collection inspires, entertains, enthrals and emboldens. Alongside enjoying the work of widely-esteemed names (including Sappho, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Christina Rosetti, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson and Margaret Atwood), it was a pleasure to discover contemporary poets whose work I shall seek out, among them Ruth Awola and Remi Graves, and lesser-known names from the past, for example Edith Södergran and Astrid Hjertenaes Andersen. If the diversity of voices is rich, so too are the themes, with growing up, friendship, love, nature, body image and protest covered in staggering depth and diversity. This varied chorus of bold, incisive voices makes for a collection to be savoured and shared.
This supportive swoosh of fresh air from a former Radio 1 Agony Aunt and all-round brilliant believer in young people provides perfectly-pitched practical guidance on all manner of vitally important areas. It’s a best friend, big sister and clued-up auntie sculpted into one finely-formed body of information, with Aurelia Lange’s fresh and funky colour illustrations making it easy to navigate and a joy to engage with. Combining stats, facts, the author’s personal insights, and wisdom from experts in their fields, this is a soothing balm for worries about everything from stress, anxiety and depression, to eating disorders and addiction. It also offers inspiration for one’s future self, with comprehensive coverage of politics, volunteering, travelling and careers. Like its sister volume, Open Your Heart, which explores family, friends, body image and sexual health, this is a must-have mindfulness manual for teens and young adults.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | Awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour commendation from the Carnegie shortlist 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In a Nutshell: Fighting for Justice | Black Lives Matter | | Stunning, vital wake-up call of a novel about racism, social inequality and not giving up told through the eyes of an incredible, unforgettable sixteen-year-old. Starr straddles two very different worlds. She has one foot in Garden Heights, a rough neighbourhood ruled by gangs, guns and dealers, and the other in an exclusive school with an overwhelmingly wealthy white student population. One night she’s at a party when gunshots are fired and Khalil, her friend since childhood, takes her to his car for safety. Khalil is unarmed and poses no threat, but he’s shot dead by an officer right in front of her. It will take a lot of courage to speak to the police, and to face the media who choose to highlight that Khalil was a “suspected drug dealer”, while omitting to mention that he was unarmed. But, with their neighbourhood under curfew and a tank on the streets, Starr risks going public. Danger escalates as the hearing approaches (and beyond), but Starr isn’t about to give up fighting for Khalil, and for what’s right. Alongside the intense struggles and conflicts faced by Starr’s family and community, there are some truly heart-melting moments between Starr and her white boyfriend Chris (their shared love of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is super cute), and also between Starr and her parents. Complex, gripping, stirring and so, so important – I can’t recommend this remarkable debut enough. ~ Joanne Owen
Beautifully illustrated throughout, a tale of love, disappearance and trust as Becky disappears and her friend Jazmin is suspected of somehow being complicit in that disappearance. A challenging and rewarding read.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | July 2018 Book of the Month | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Shortlisted for the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2017 | | A book to break your heart, quicken your blood and stir your soul by one of the most outstandingly distinctive writers to have emerged in a long, long time. New Yorker Joe Moon was only seven when he took the call in which his big brother Ed told him he'd been arrested because “they think I done something real bad”. That “something” led to Ed winding up on death row, convicted of murdering a cop, though he insists he’s innocent. Ten years later, now Ed’s execution date has been set, Joe travels to Texas to say goodbye. The sublimely-formed structure slips between present and past, recounting the brothers’ troubled upbringing - how their Mom took off; how Aunt Karen took control and decided that Bible study and never mentioning Ed again was the only route to their salvation. While she insists that there’s no point wasting life or money helping someone who wasn’t sorry, Joe sees things differently. “He's my brother,” and that’s really all that matters. He has to see him. Lawyer Al, who’s taken on Ed’s case for free, offers some hope, but time is running out. “It's better to be guilty and rich, I reckon,” Joe remarks, as he experiences the excruciating injustices of a legal system in which the harshness of a sentence depends on where a crime takes place, who the victim was, and who you can afford to pay to represent you (crucially, Ed had no representation when he was first arrested). Once again, Crossan's free verse form is breathtakingly powerful - always the right word, in the right place, at the right time. Yes, this is harrowing and heartbreaking, but the kindness of the strangers Joe meets in Texas is achingly uplifting, as is the deep bond of love between Joe and Ed. This really is a magnificent feat of writing.
Heart wrenching, honest, funny and bold, this exceptional novel about the life, loves and agonies of a young carer, and the love between a mum and her sons, is a storytelling triumph. Seventeen-year-old Bobby Seed is a devoted son and big brother and an all-round firework of wit and charm, wise and strong beyond his years. He’s also a young carer to his mum who’s suffering from debilitating MS. Bobby has to “brush his mother’s locks every day, sort out her medicine, sponge her clean three times a week, ooze positivity” even when all he wants to do is “punch the shit out of a walk or wail in the shower”. In his situation “the worry of death never leaves you”, but that doesn’t stop the brilliant banter between Bobby and his mum. Theirs is a beautiful, tender relationship. Bobby does what he does for her “because she’s my Mum. That pure and simple”. Bobby’s spirits are kept up by best friend Bel and attending Poztive support group for young carers. It’s there he falls for Vespa-riding Lou, who helps him fulfill his mum’s unexpected birthday request as her deterioration quickens. But then comes the ultimate request. Can he do what Mum needs to alleviate her excruciating pain and loss of function? Always warm and witty, and never sentimental, this raw portrait of real-life ravages is suffused in the magic of the human heart. Bobby is an unforgettable, inspirational character – we could all do with taking a leaf from Bobby’s book of strength and wit - and author Brian Conaghan is a writer of the highest rank.
A book that touches on many topics of interest today - and how one moment's action can result in a society struggling to deal with the aftermath - a gripping read.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | This explosively unique page-turner sees a seventeen-year-old maths genius with anxiety disorder become embroiled in a treacherous world of espionage following an assassination attempt on his scientist mum. Maths prodigy Pete is afraid of pretty much everything. He suffers from severe panic attacks and, along with the support of his older (by eight minutes) twin sister Bel and fellow maths fanatic friend Ingrid, he uses logic to try to keep himself harnessed. In Pete’s words, “maths governs everything in the world.... I lost myself in the numbers trying to find the mathematics of me”. Pete’s world whirls off in unimaginably unexpected directions when his mum is stabbed at an awards ceremony and a hitherto hidden world unfolds. As Pete and Ingrid deploy what they’re best at to figure out what the hell is going on, the author throws out fresh revelations - just when you think you’ve worked out part of the puzzle, another twist lurches you off-course. Who to trust? What to believe? This incredibly smart thriller defies comparison.
May 2018 Book of the Month | | When Jay’s father died, her life imploded in every way imaginable. Not only did she lose her vibrant, supportive dad, but she and her mum also lost their comfortable life. Her mum’s now struggling to pay the rent and although Jay helps out by working, it’s not enough to make ends meet so they’re forced to move in with relatives. Jay’s formidable Aunty Vimala demands strict adherence to traditional Indian values - girls must work hard around the home, and definitely must not have male friends. Boys, on the other hand, such as Aunty Vimala’s sons, are afforded freedoms and can do no wrong. Jay and her mother cook and clean to pay their way alongside trying to keep up with their respective ways out - in Jay’s case, this means doing well at school in order to go to university, while her mum is training to be a teacher. Already trapped and isolated, Jay’s situation plummets further when she’s brutally assaulted by a relative. Her experience and response to this terrible event are powerfully conveyed, as is her traumatic journey to recovery. She’s left feeling broken, and this in turn threatens to break her relationship with her mum. This is an unflinching, multi-layered exposition of male privilege, male abuses of women, and the clash of cultures. With hard-hitting clarity it also shows how girls are silenced, made to feel ashamed of their bodies, ashamed of wrongs done to them. Ultimately this is poignant personal story of a girl’s fight to rebuild and re-connect with herself and those who love her after a truly harrowing experience.
Fresh-voiced and thought-provoking contemporary YA exploring friendship, trust, messing up and trying to do the right thing in the aftermath of a teen girl going on the run with a teacher. Fabulously forthright Eden has always been the kind of student teachers “call ‘spirited’ when they're trying to be nice and 'disruptive' when they're not”. The last thing anyone expected was for her level-headed, flute-playing, star student bestie Bonnie to run off with the school music teacher, but that's exactly what happens, right before they're due to sit their GCSES, and Eden is the only one who knows where Bonnie is. She knows this is wrong, that Bonnie should come home, but she’s promised not to tell, and she can’t betray her friend. Bonnie was the one who made Eden feel at home in a new school when she was placed with a new foster family. Until Bonnie, Eden hadn't had a proper friend. And exploring friendship - how it feels, what it means, the joys, the obligations, the codes of loyalty - is at the heart of this involving novel. No one believes Eden when she says Bonnie hasn't been in touch, but how long can she keep lying? And what price will be paid for her loyalty, when she knows Bonnie is making a massive mistake? Alongside Eden’s struggle, understanding why Bonnie left is also thoughtfully explored - the pressures she put on herself to perform at school, the weight of expectation, the fears and doubts that made her more susceptible to grooming, the desire to feel understood. This novel tackles serious issues head-on, and with tremendous empathy, never shirking from the complexities of both Eden and Bonnie’s predicaments. Eden’s adoptive parents are a delight, as is her relationship with super-sweet boyfriend, Connor. They’re true friends, and the very model of a healthy relationship: loving, supportive and respectful of each other. Sara Bernard has done it again.
Shortlist for the UKLA Book Award 2019 | Winner of the YA Book Prize 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | In a nutshell: tense, super-suspenseful novel based on harrowing real life events | After the Fire was inspired by the Waco siege in Texas 1993 when 82 members of the Branch Davidian sect and four US government agents died in a fire fight after a long siege. It’s not a fictionalised version, but Hill imagines life in the camp and as a survivor. Moonbeam, his central character, is beginning to doubt the teaching of Father John and to comprehend the methods he uses to control his followers. A survivor, she’s being coaxed to tell the story of the events that led up to that deadly confrontation with ‘The Authorities’. The tension rarely abates, and Hill makes readers empathise with Moonbeam’s confusion and fear. He also makes us desperate to discover the secrets she’s keeping, and long for her to achieve the freedom that’s always been denied. One of the most gripping and suspenseful books you’ll read all year.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | A thought-fuelling thriller set in a gang-run neighbourhood near the border of Mexico and El Norte (America). The writing is poetically punchy. Exquisitely formed sentences are fired-off in smarting succession, and the juxtaposition of contemporary totems like Burger King buildings with the likes of folk saint shrines is smartly done. This is a richly layered novel in which important socio-political issues (gangs, poverty, corruption, migration, social divisions and dissonance) are made potently real through Arturo and Faustino’s predicaments. And alongside the enlightening Mexico-specific context, there’s much that is universal: friendship, loyalty, and searching for a sense of purpose. As paternal figure Siggy tells Arturo, “You just have to find out what it is you’re looking for.” Pacey and passionate, this truly exceptional book tells a tale that truly needs to be heard.
A special 10th Anniversary edition with exclusive extra behind-the-scenes material from the author. This is the story of a street of ordinary German people living in the horrors of the Nazi regime. Interestingly it is narrated by Death but the central character is an 11-year old girl who steals a gravedigger’s handbook and gets hooked on reading. It’s grim yet uplifting, immensely sad yet light in style and touch. A very interesting view of World War II and an unforgettable book, it’s aimed at both children and adults and should be read by both.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Alpha hopes that his wife and little son are in Paris and he’s desperate to see them. Denied a visa to travel he must make the long, long journey from his home in the Cote D’Ivoire to Europe as an illegal immigrant, or as he says ‘adventurer’. The story is told through striking images, mostly black and white, colour is used sparingly; sophisticated yet childlike too they vividly depict the people and places of his journey and each one has the power to bring the reader up short. The text too equally demands and holds our attention. Though this is very much one man’s journey it’s one undertaken by many thousands of others and, as Michael Morpurgo says in his introduction, it’s a story we all need to hear and to understand.
Award- winning Jenny Downham launched her career with Before I Die. The story of a young girl facing death, it showed a bold author who could write sensitively about a subject that could easily be sensationalised. In Unbecoming she adopts a similarly direct approach to coping with dementia, the breakdown of marriage and discovering adolescent sexuality as faced collectively and individually by three generations of women in a family. When Katie’s grandmother, whom she has always been told is dead, turns out to be alive and coming to live with them, it begins the discovery of secrets that changes everything in her life. Katie’s grandmother Mary has dementia; she is gradually loosing memories from her past. And yet, looking after her while her mother works, Katie finds that the memories that Mary retains help her to unlock secrets from her mother’s past while also liberating her own feelings and enabling her to speak truthfully at last. An ambitious story that is told across a time span of fifty years, Unbecoming swoops in and out of the lives of the three women reflecting both their enormous differences and their inextricable bonds. Mary’s dementia and increasing confusion is painful but Jenny Downham is touching in her account of it; the effect of it on Katie is optimistic but not unconvincing.
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016 | Shortlisted for the Children's category of the Books are My Bag Readers Awards 2016. | Daring, beautifully written, full of ideas that will bring the reader up short, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a dystopian adventure that mocks dystopian adventures while acknowledging the genre’s power to reveal truths, particularly about teenage lives. As one band of teenagers – those special ‘indie kids’ familiar from so many YA novels – battle to save the world from the Immortals, the main plot of the novel concerns another group of young people. Mikey is getting through his teenage years with the help of his friends and by focusing on graduating and leaving home. He also wants to declare his love for his friend Henna. It’s enough for anyone to cope with, the possibility of someone blowing up school only adds to his problems. The indie kids’ story is told entirely in chapter head summaries, the real drama is Mikey’s, and of course his story means the most to the rest of us. Original, funny, true, it can only be Patrick Ness.
Winner of the 2015 Guardian Children's Book prize -Winner of the 2015 Peters Book of the Year 'Teen Fiction' Award | Award-winning David Almond is at his lyrical best in this eloquent, tender and ultimately devastating contemporary teenage love story which draws lightly but to great effect on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Camping on a beach near home as a break from school and its pressures, a group of teenagers, minus their friend Ella, come across Orpheus, a wandering musician. No one knows where he comes from or whether he will appear again but his music is so special that Claire plays it down the phone to Ella. And Ella is entranced. But who is Orpheus? The power of love and the terrible danger it can pose drives this exceptionally touching and thoughtful story.
Best-known for Noughts & Crosses, the newly appointed Children’s Laureate’s latest book is as thought provoking as ever. Here, society has been torn apart by war. The Guardians keep the city peaceful by keeping out the rebels. Kaspar is honoured to join the Guardians but when he meets Rhea, a beautiful rebel girl, he becomes haunted by memories from the past. Has he given up too much for the sake of safety and protection?
Winner of the Carnegie Medal 2014. | This is a hard-hitting novel which has divided opinion since winning the 2014 Carnegie Medal. Whilst having great literary merit, in Lovereading's view it is unsuitable for younger teenagers. The Bunker Diary is award-winning, young adult writer Kevin Brooks' pulse-pounding exploration of what happens when your worst nightmare comes true - and how will you survive?
This is a brilliant coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Cold War and events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The story is told in flashback by Clem when he is living and working in New York City as a designer, and moves from the past of his parents and grandmother to his own teenage years. Not only the threat of explosions, but actual ones as well, feature throughout in this latest novel from one of the finest writers working today.
Shortlisted for the 2012 Carnegie Medal. | Unforgettable and eye opening, this is a compelling and deeply moving story of one family’s survival against unimaginable odds. Taken from their home with only twenty minutes to pack, Lina along with her mother and younger brother gather together everything they think is important. Herded into a train in Lithuania, they begin a seemingly endless journey of unimaginable deprivation and horror which takes them to Siberia. Lina tells the family story describing the emotional turmoil especially about the whereabouts of their father as well as capturing the fleeting moments of hope and even the feelings of falling in love which make survival possible.