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From reception to Key Stage 3, pupils are taught about our major world religions to further an understanding of world news, different cultures and traditions, and to encourage sensitivity and tolerance. In this section we have books that cover themes including belief structures, worship, sacred writings and ceremonies. We have also included some fictional titles which introduce religions including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism, and religious themes in an accessible way.
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Twig (a boy) wakes in the afterlife with vague memories of his Da, here he meets a Raven, Kruuk, to help guide him into Heaven where he will be part of the great forgetting. But Twig wanders off the path and meets the Gatherer, who gives him the Lost Soul Atlas, a skeleton key and a bag of bones with which to open Crossings between the physical world and the hereafter. Can Twig open all the Crossings whilst being chased by the Officials? If he opens them will his memories drag him into the real world and keep him there, in which case he will fade before he finds out what happened to him before he died…. He will forget his close ‘blood family’ friend Flea – who is also a street child and a pick pocket. This is a thought-provoking look at life for street children, how they survive against the odds, the forces lined against them as they try to live, and the lack of choices they have when forced to thieve to keep themselves alive. It is an exploration of loyalty amongst friends and family. There are scares - and lots of caring - but ultimately it is a song to the strength of the human spirit. The author was once told “to shine a light in all the dark places” – and much as one might expect from knowledge of Fraillon’s previous prize-winning books – this book does exactly that, using a richness of language that both exhilarates and makes you cry. It is both timeless and ageless having a wide appeal. A powerful read I would highly recommend.
“We are all family,” says Mo, the Indian-born RAF pilot who becomes irrevocably connected to thirteen-year-old Joelle when his plane crashes near her Nazi-occupied French village. “I believe that all of creation is one whole. We are bound together, each of us, by invisible links, and all are equally important.” This uplifting ethos of equality ripples through Mohinder’s War, a story of solidarity and survival against the odds; of friendship and hope through horror and loss. Joelle lived a “charmed life” in pre-war France, her English mother and French father kept busy by their family boulangerie. Following the outbreak of war and Nazi occupation they support the French Resistance. As a result, when Joelle happens upon Mohinder, they keep him safe in their home - but at huge risk, for the Germans know about Mo’s crashed plane and have placed a reward on his capture. Alongside the ever-present menace of discovery, the French Resistance want Mo as a bargaining chip. “The British left us to rot,” they say. “Now, in exchange for their pilot, they must pay too.” Then, when treachery leads to tragedy, Mo comes good on his promise to protect Joelle. Short, and driven by compelling characters, engaging dialogue and an onward-marching pace, this is perfect for reluctant readers who may struggle to keep focus. It’s also excellent for prompting discussions around WWII and broader ethical issues - betrayal, trust and what it is to do the right (and wrong) thing. Importantly, it also shows the vital role played by Indians in Britain’s WWII campaign, and shares information about Mo’s Sikh faith. Stirringly, the story is framed by a contemporary setting, with Joelle revealing this incredible - and hitherto unknown – story at Mo’s funeral.
June 2020 Debut of the Month | This book takes a poetic look at what it means to be alive. Nuto is a debut author – a teacher in Tasmania, who asks some of the big questions about who we all are, about friendship and our place in the universe. It’s the sort of book that will be a bouncing off point for lots of discussions – but is presented in an accessible and colourful format. Charlotte Ager’s naïve style of illustration means it will appeal across the very young and the not so young. The bold illustrations offer colour and shade in big pictures. Starting with the big questions – that we are made of the stuff of stars, and that we are tiny in comparison to the universe, it goes on to show we have the means to explore, to be both positive and negative. It shows that though we are a small short-lived speck we have the ability to change the world for the better. There are some glorious illustrations – full of colour, detail and action, as well as others that are more contemplative. A good book to have in your classroom!
We first met Mrs Noah in Mrs Noah’s Pockets whilst the family were all on the Ark. Now the Ark has made land and whilst Noah makes the Ark into a home, Mrs Noah sets about planting a garden in the fresh new earth. Her always deep pockets furnish all the seeds needed for the job, the ark provides the trees they have nurtured along the way and she enlists the children to help her tend the new garden. A deceptively simple story –it is in the illustrations that we see the development of the garden as the pictures move from a dark rocky palette, to a more organised series of garden terraces, with colour gradually growing in each spread as we progress through the book – until at last we have a wonderful explosion of plants and animals for all the birds, bees and humans to share. A wonderful celebration of the joys of planting and growing, I can see it being used to seed discussions around how you might create a garden – in school or at home. Plus, as the publisher points out, it provides a positive way of encouraging discussion around migrants and refugees – as Mrs Noah and her family build a new home in a foreign land. I can see this becoming a firm favourite in classrooms all over the country.
March 2020 Debut of the Month | This debut novel was inspired by the author’s work creating Run the World, an organisation that empowers women and girls from marginalised backgrounds through sport and storytelling and the authenticity of this, at times harrowing story, is palpably evident. As is the skill of the accomplished writing which makes great use of typography and layout to really make every word count. This speeds the reader through the narrative, but it also cuts deep to reveal the emotions experienced by our narrator. Amber Rai is only ‘truly alive’ when running and shows great potential. But her alcoholic, abusive, misogynistic father refuses to allow her on the track. She has seen her older sister Ruby denied university and married off against her will and her downtrodden, abused mother is literally powerless to help, trapped as much by illiteracy and lack of English as the violence of her equally illiterate, unemployed husband. Amber has friends and teachers who believe in her, but she cannot explain what really goes on at home. She is a complex and believable character with very real flaws that she painfully recognises: ‘inflicting pain on others/halves your own hurt’. But the story is cleverly structured on The Anatomy of a Revolution and inspired by her reading about revolutions for history, Amber, Ruby and her mother gradually empower each other to take small steps to freedom. This is an important, rewarding, highly empathetic read which, despite the dark subject matter, offers hope but no simplistic solutions.
Boundlessly energetic Layla is over the moon when she’s offered a scholarship to a fancy school, but this exciting new chapter of her life gets off to the worst possible start when she stands up to a bully, who happens to be the son of a Very Important Person. Since Layla’s wise parents “had taught her to yell in the face of injustice,” she won’t remain silent when subjected to racism and islamophobia (“Get your towelhead face out of our school. In fact, get out of our COUNTRY. You’re not welcome here”), but it’s Layla who ends up being suspended. Never one to quit, cut loose or bow out, Layla bounces back by throwing herself into a high profile inter-school robotics invention competition, with many hilarious and moving true-to-life moments along the way. Throughout I adored Layla’s openness, her aptitude for shrugging off set-backs, taking suggestions on board and embracing change. As the You Must Be Layla title suggests, she’s a one-of-a-kind heroine, and this funny, thought-provoking novel - the first children’s book from inspirational Sudanese-born broadcaster, social advocate and mechanical engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied - is a one-of-a-kind bundle of comedy and compassion.
A gripping historical adventure by a much-loved and award winning author. Soon to be a major motion picture, starring Stranger Things' Noah Schnapp. It is World War II and Jo stumbles on a dangerous secret: Jewish children are being smuggled away from the Nazis, close to his mountain village in Spain. Now, German soldiers have been stationed at the border. Jo must get word to his friends that the children are trapped. The slightest mistake could cost them their lives.
This collaboration, between the first American Olympic medallist to compete wearing a hijab and an award-winning Muslim YA author, is a beautiful story of sisterly love as well as a thoughtful depiction of the significance of wearing the hijab. Expressed in terms of family pride and self determination rather than in terms of faith, makes the message particularly accessible to all young readers regardless of their background. Faizah is excited for her first day of school, with her light up shoes and new backpack, but even more excited for her older sister, Asiya with her brand-new blue hijab. As Faizah walks to the school she admires her sister who looks like ‘a princess’ in her blue head scarf. Their mother has prepared the girls with wise words, which they remember as they encounter different reactions, and these are shown on dreamy spreads of Faiza’s thoughts and their mother’s words. When the kids in the school bully Asiya, she remembers her mother’s advice to not carry hurtful words as “they are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them” The bullies are cleverly depicted as faceless, raceless, anonymous shadows thus avoiding apportioning blame to any one sector. The vivid colour and expressive illustration are just as powerful as words in conveying the passionate message of how to be proud of one’s culture, individuality, and religion and how to stay strong protected by the armour of family love. This is an excellent book about identity and self-confidence for young readers who can see themselves in Asiya or know someone like her and essential for Empathy collections.
Experience 13 special days from cultures around the world! Rhyming text and vibrant illustrations throughout encourages beginning readers, while educational notes at the end brim with facts about the special days for older children to explore. Complete with a calendar to reinforce learning, Let’s Celebrate! makes for a fun and informative companion to the award-winning Barefoot Books Children of the World.
Shortlisted for the Children's Book Award 2020 | Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2020 | This assured and beautifully written debut perfectly captures that awkward phase of growing up when you feel left behind and uncertain who you are. Safiya is obsessed with gaming and Studio Ghibli, feels guilty for choosing to live with her father after her parent’s amicable divorce and feels her ambitious high achieving mother would prefer the more sophisticated and worldly girls at her school. Their relationship is very strained, both are such strong and complex characters, and a particularly bad argument sadly precedes her mother’s hospitalisation. Understandably guilt and anxiety fill her waking moments, and, in her dreams, she finds herself witnessing the turbulent relationship between her mother and grandmother in Kuwait and begins to understand the influences on her mother’s character. The line between these game-like dreams, that are so well evoked, and her daily reality is skilfully blended as Safiya tries to find out more and believes she can find the key to saving her mother. As their back story is gradually revealed, Safiya comes to terms with who she is and can finally understand and accept the truth of her mother’s love. A deeply moving and satisfying coming of age novel that is highly recommended. The Branford Boase judges said : ‘I love the voice, and the story brought me to tears’; ‘Safiya is a very well rounded, developed character’; ‘a really clever idea, and the story is so well told’; ‘she makes the magic credible’; ‘I was so impressed by the way the friendships developed’.
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | The first novel by acclaimed poet Tony Mitton (winner of the CLPE Poetry Award - the only award for published poetry for children in the UK). Potter's Boy is a moving and beautiful story about finding your true path in life. The Branford Boase Judges said : ‘beautiful storytelling’; ‘a slow read for the modern child but one that will draw them in’; ‘uses a particularly rich vocabulary’; poignant and unusual’; ‘I learned something from it’.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | “There are no stupid questions nor any forbidden ones, but there are some questions that have no answers.” So writes Heidi Fried, an Auschwitz survivor, in this wise, personal and deeply humane reflection on one of human history’s most troubling periods. It is marked out by the respect and empathy she shows in her responses to the questions young people ask her. An important book-her message could well help navigate the challenging time we are living through.
October 2018 Book of the Month | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | A heartfelt, hard-hitting, super-readable novella about the life-affirming, life-saving friendship that blossoms between a young teenager and her 59 year-old neighbour. All sweet-hearted Aman wanted was for her dad to stay a little longer, but he died before she had chance to read her special letter to him. While grappling with grief, she’s bullied by a bunch of older kids, but thankfully new neighbour Gurnam intervenes to scare them off. While Aman sees Gurnam as her “personal superhero”, she notices a sadness about him, but he won’t reveal the cause of his pain. The truth is revealed with poignant, page-turning urgency, leading to a shocking finale that sees Aman grasp a second vital chance to read her love-filled letter. There’s so much humanity and soul in this short gem of a story. While the content is YA, this is written for those with a reading age of 8+, in a lucid, gripping style that tells it like it is and gets to the core of the characters’ hearts. I relished every word.
Winner of The Branford Boase Award 2019 | February 2018 Debut of the Month | An important, engaging debut in which a bright British Muslim is drawn down a dark path. Tingling with heart and urgency, and astute on the complexities of radicalisation, this rivetingly authentic read shows that representation really does matter. Fifteen-year-old Muzna has a passionate ambition to become a novelist, but her parents have other plans. Boys, make-up and hair removal are strictly forbidden, and they want her to become a doctor – “#BrownGirlProblems”, as Muzna describes her predicament. When labeled a terrorist by a classmate in her new school, “Guy Candy” Arif sticks up for her, and it’s not long before they strike up a friendship, and more. She starts attending meetings with Arif and his older brother Jameel, and her eyes are opened to the media’s anti-Muslim bias, and to Western demonisation of Islam. The brothers encourage her to pray, and she’s gifted a hijab, which she hides from her parents, since her father insists “it was only the 'ignorant’ who clung to Islamic teachings”. Being sharp-minded and questioning, Muzna is keen to understand different facets of Islam, but she’s conflicted when Jameel says her parents aren’t “real Muslims”, and he can’t be right when he declares “writers of fiction are among the worst of people”, can he? Muzna’s conflicts are sharply evoked, and there are moments that will have you begging her to listen to her friends when they reach out to her. But the truth only fully hits Muzna as time is running out, and she must summon the strength to remain true to the talented, intelligent young woman she is. Inspired by author’s shock at hearing that three British schoolgirls had flown to Syria to join the ‘Islamic State’ in 2015, this is a timely, thought-provoking debut that also packs in powerful universalisms about growing up, falling in love and discovering who you are.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Winner of the Little Rebels Award this is a witty, natural and authentic story of a British Muslim family. The handwritten Wimpy Kid style of presentation makes this hugely accessible and it is genuinely funny, as well as a great example of inclusion.
The majestic story of Christmas, from the Annunciation to the Epiphany, has long inspired great artists. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection is particularly rich in medieval and Renaissance paintings that depict this timeless story. Gathered here are paintings by Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, Hans Memling, and Gerard David, among others, sensitively coupled with excerpts from the King James Bible. The perfect book for the entire family, The Christmas Story is a treasure to be enjoyed year after year.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | There should be more books like this: in bright, appealing illustrations it tells children how people of different faiths cover their heads to show their love for God. Working on the principle that learning about each other makes it easy for us to be more understanding and therefore tolerant, each page features a man, woman or child with a short, friendly line of text to explain who they are and to name their headpiece (phonetic pronunciation is provided too). Amongst others, we’re introduced to a Sikh man in a Turban, a woman in a Tichel and a young boy in a Kippah. Their smiling faces immediately engage our attention making this a great book to encourage dialogue and discussion. ~ Andrea Reece For free colouring sheets, teaching tools and a look inside the book, please visit www.hatsoffaith.com
At last all were gathered inside the ark. It heaved with animals, large and small. Mrs Noah wore a brand-new coat, with a hood and a cape - and very deep pockets. Lots of pockets. When Mr Noah builds the ark, he makes two lists - one for all the animals who will come on board and one for those troublesome creatures he will leave behind. Meanwhile, Mrs Noah gets out her sewing machine and makes a coat with very deep pockets. Lots of pockets.
There’s a sense of kindness and of people coming together in this bright, lively picture book. A young boy – clearly Harris J. in his trademark beanie – shares his umbrella with a stranger in the rain, triggering a torrent of good deeds. On each following page we see small acts of kindness, highlighted against vibrant splashes of sunshiny yellow. Meanwhile, sharp eyed readers will spot in the background people hurrying along with cans of paint; on the last spread we see they have painted a mural across a wall and the final image is of a long chain of people of all sizes and nationalities holding hands in front of it with the words, ‘Always be kind, always remind one another: peace on the Earth every day’. That’s the meaning of Assalamu Alaikum the book tells us, and the warmth and positivity of this message is perfectly conveyed.
Glowing illustrations light up this collection of 8 Jewish folk tales - one for each day of Hanukkah! Retold by rabbi, interfaith leader, wife and mother Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, the stories are accompanied by helpful notes on symbolism and on translations of the Hebrew names. This collection includes the tales Elijah's Wisdom, Challah in the Ark, Clever Rachel and more!
A stunning anniversary edition of John Boyne's powerful classic bestseller, with illustrations from award-winning artist Oliver Jeffers. When Bruno’s father is promoted to a new job, the family have to move from their comfortable home in Berlin to a strange new house in the middle of nowhere. Gone are the neighbours and the friends Bruno used to play with. The only people around are all in the strange fenced-in area which Bruno can just spy from his bedroom window. Who are they and why do they wear striped pyjamas? When Bruno sets off on an Exploration to find out he learns something very shocking which has unexpected and terrible results. Bruno’s childhood experience provides a new way of looking at the horrors of the Holocaust. (12+) ~ Julia Eccleshare
One of our Super Readable Books of the Year 2016 | April 2016 Book of the Month | Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8+ | Tom Palmer’s new story starts on a football pitch and then, via a clever bit of ghost story, gives readers the experience of the skill and bravery required to pilot a Sopwith Camel. Young Jatinder is at a football camp located next to an old airfield used by pilots in World War One. He’s given a book about the fighter pilot Hardit Singh Malik and that night finds himself back in time flying on a reconnaissance mission over Germany. He’s shot down and taken prisoner, then faced with the opportunity to do something very courageous, but very dangerous. Based on the true stories of three airmen - Indian, American and German – this gives readers a sense of what bravery really entails, and puts the spotlight on the extraordinary Malik, the first ever Sikh pilot to fly a plane of war. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+
On a day that didn't seem at all unusual, there came an unusual Man. He looked like any other man, but he was like none who had ever lived before. This Man was God's son. When he spoke, his words made things happen. His words came alive. The story of Jesus is one of the oldest and best-known in human history, and it has been interpreted by countless writers and artists over the last two thousand years. In this beautifully written and illustrated take on the Miracle Man, John Hendrix focuses on the biblical accounts of Jesus's many miracles leading up to his crucifixion. The book includes an author's note and list of Bible stories that inspired this project. Hendrix once again interweaves his handlettering with artwork to create a book readers of any denomination will find special and enlightening...
The amazing story of Malala’s courage and her fight for the education of girls is well known. Here, in her own voice, she tells of her journey from her early days as a clever school girl to her exceptional life as an international speaker on the rights of girls to get an education. Growing up in a village in the Swat valley in Pakistan Malala and her friends faced persecution from Islamic fundamentalists who believed women should not be educated. In 2012, Malala and her two school friends were targeted and shot when travelling home from school one day. Fortunately, Malala and her friends survived. From that day on, Malala campaigned for the rights of all girls to get an education. Hearing her tell her story is inspirational.
February 2015 Book of the Month Of the many stories of the Holocaust, that of the Jews of Riga in Latvia is among the less well known. This book tells their story for young people, clearly and honestly, emphasising its importance and relevance to us all. Discovering that her great-grandmother had come from Riga in the early 1900s inspired Vanessa Curtis to find out what happened to those relatives who stayed: Jewish, their fate was the worst imaginable. She describes those terrible times through the eyes of 15 year old Hanna, a normal, lively teenager, with a handsome boyfriend. Readers will find it easy to identify with Hanna, which makes her account of what happens to her even more affecting. The story ends on a note of hope for Hanna, and is a powerful tribute to all the Latvian victims of the Nazis. ~ Andrea Reece The Earth is Singing is Vanessa’s first historical novel, which she was inspired to write when she discovered her own Jewish Latvian heritage. Vanessa says: 'The story of the Jews of Riga is not widely known. After finding out that my great-grandmother was born there, but came over to England at the turn of the twentieth century, I began to wonder what happened to the Jewish friends and relatives that she had left behind. I visited the Riga Ghetto Museum and saw photographs of many of the thousands of Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis in 1941. Their eyes seemed to be telling me to relate their story, so that is what I did. I am delighted that Usborne have given me the opportunity to bring this story to a wider audience.'
Sixty Bible stories are retold here in easy-to-understand language matched by attractive illustrations. Taken from both the Old and the New Testament some are already very familiar such as the story of Adam and Eve, the story of Joseph and his coat of many colours, the story of how David defeated Goliath and the story of the baby Moses being hidden for safety in the bulrushes. The stories of the birth, life and death of Jesus are also included.
A simply-phrased and evocatively illustrated retelling of the story of the nativity from the moment Mary is told by the angel Gabriel that she is to be the mother of a baby boy. Mary’s doubts and the subsequent story of the birth of the baby in a stable and the worshippers who are led to him by the bright shining star are atmospherically captured in words and pictures.
Thoughtful and deeply moving, this book packs a hard punch. From the moment that his sister Jas disappears, Sat knows that something serious has gone wrong. Accused by her husband of running off with a boyfriend, Jas just vanishes. While his family accept the story and lie low, ‘shamed’ by her behaviour, Sat refuses to believe that his sister would ever do such a thing. Risking his life, Sat’s search for the truth involves uncovering the corruption and violence at the heart of his brother-in-law’s business operations. More importantly, it involves challenging the Sikh community’s frightening view of ‘honour’. Bali Rai writes with enormous conviction and great understanding.
Selected by a distinguished independent panel of experts including our editorial expert, Julia Eccleshare, for Diverse Voices - 50 of the best Children's Books celebrating cultural diversity in the UK. | A joyful evoction of the great Muslim festival of Ramadan and Id for children. Written and illustrated by Muslims, this is a book for all children who celebrate Ramadan and those in the wider communities who want to understand why this is such a special experience for Muslims.
Available in a board book edition! With warmth and humor, Archbishop Tutu distills his philosophy of unity and forgiveness for the very young. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has a vision of God's dream, which he shares here with the youngest of listeners. It involves people who reach out and hold each other's hands, but sometimes get angry and hurt each other -- and say they're sorry and forgive. It's a wish that everyone will see they are brothers and sisters, no matter their way of speaking to God, no matter the size of their nose or the shade of their skin. Aided by vibrant artwork evoking such images as a rainbow and a sharing circle, Tutu offers the essence of his ubuntu philosophy, a wisdom so clear and crystalline that even the smallest child can understand.
This thought-provoking exploration of an important subject covers all the major world religions, as well as some less well-known faiths. Understanding the differences between people’s religious beliefs is now more important than ever. Each religion is brought vividly to life with photographs, detailed illustrations and straightforward, informative text. Includes maps, time chart and glossary.