A selection of books especially selected for children in Year 9 (13 - 14 year olds) of average reading ability for the 2018/19 academic year.
If your child is a competent reader or has read all these titles then try the books from the Year 10 list. Alternatively if these books are a little challenging try books from the Year 8 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.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Author of the Year, British Book Awards 2018 | | More than two decades after Northern Lights the first book of Pullman’s world-famous His Dark Materials trilogy, which has sold more than 17.5 million copies in over 40 languages comes, La Belle Sauvage, the first volume in his 'The Book of Dust' series.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | On the surface, this is a story about a girl who discovers she's a witch, in a world where that is a highly dangerous thing to be. But it's contemporary life that really fascinates Melvin Burgess and this is as much a story of growing up and independence as it is a story of dark magic. It also contains a thoroughly disturbing dissection of coercion and control as central character Bea is manipulated into doing things that cause irrevocable harm to herself and others. The book opens with Bea and her family returning home after a day out. Crossing the moors they run into The Hunt, violent supernatural creatures tracking and attacking other witches. Bea is able to stop them, powerfully summoning help but revealing her supernatural ability at the same time. With the awakening of her witch nature, the world becomes a different place, more beautiful but more frightening as she is surrounded by visions that only she can see. Befriended by other witches she is given a terrible choice: safety and freedom with them means she must leave her own human family for ever. Under pressure from her parents she decides to give up her new powers for a 'normal' life, but is snatched away at the last minute by the wild boy she is beginning to love - is it a rescue, or an abduction? It's typical of Burgess that the book raises so many questions about temptation and individual choice, freedom and responsibility; typical too that the consequences of Bea's decisions are shown to be so painful, and permanent. Powerful, uncompromising reading.
This story begins in a spiritual retreat. 17 year old Nora is there to recover from an accident and promises readers she will describe the chain of events that brought her there. It will, she says, be a true story, before immediately admitting that she hasn’t always told the truth. This is putting it mildly: Nora’s whole life is a series of lies and deceptions. She has a library of stories to explain her father’s death for example, and in an early incident in the story orchestrates the sacking of a young art teacher. A skilful and convincing liar, Nora has always got what pretty much what she wants. When she meets the Ingram family, a theatrical dynasty, the part in a new film seems within her reach. But in Bel Ingram, wild, reckless and ruthless, has Nora finally met her match? Nora is a fascinating character who will have readers completely in thrall, while her ‘true story’ is full of shocks and surprises. Intelligent, gripping, highly original.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | April 2018 Book of the Month | | An utterly absorbing novel based on the real-life phenomenon of a group of Zimbabwean schoolchildren claiming to have experienced an extra-terrestrial encounter. With over fifty children asserting that they saw the same spaceship, and the same evil-eyed aliens, American psychiatrists have come to investigate. It could be a form of mass hysteria, but why are all the accounts and depictions so completely identical? How could so many kids tell the exact same lie for so long, and why would they lie? Alongside being gripped by the uniquely mysterious event at the heart of the novel, I was bowled over by the author’s mastery of multiple narratives. The intertwined lives of six young people affected by the encounter are explored in all their brutal complexities, and the novel’s real-life origins will surely draw in more reluctant readers. Magnetic, haunting, and richly rewarding.
Strong content, written with wit, a compelling read with authentic characters.
March 2018 Debut of the Month | An exceptional fantastical debut that weaves dark magic, powerful female protagonists and West African folklore into a richly rewarding novel, the first in what promises to be a truly epic trilogy if this opening installment is anything to go by. There was a time when Orisha was alive with magic but, under the command of a new king, those with magical gifts are now targets, and the fabulously rebellious, outspoken Zélie has been orphaned. Her heritage is of the Reaper Clan. Her mother was able to summon souls, and now Zélie, who has retained her magic, seeks justice for her mother’s death. Fuelled by thoughts of “the way her corpse hung from that tree” and “the king who took her away”, she’s determined to rise, and nothing will stop her. And so Zélie must seize control of her powers and venture forth to fight the crown prince. Throughout, the world-building and evocation of clan magic is astoundingly detailed, conjured with a vibrant visual sensibility, and Zélie is a one-of-a-kind young woman whose journey exhilarates, astounds and inspires. ~ Joanne Owen
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | February 2018 Book of the Month | This inspirational novel about three young Suffragettes from very different backgrounds is at once a riveting character-driven read, and an outstandingly rich account of British social history between 1914 and 1917. Seventeen-year-old Evelyn is exasperated by the unfairness of a society in which her academically disinterested brother is afforded the expensive privilege of going up to Oxford while her genuine desire to broaden her mind is dismissed as pointless. “These university women lead very sad lives, I'd hoped for better things for you - a husband, and a family, and a home of your own,” her mother poo-poo’s. But, shirking familial disapproval, Evelyn joins the Suffragette movement and finds herself at the heart of a highly-charged rally, with serious repercussions. Then there’s May, a flamboyant fifteen-year-old who revels in being different and is encouraged to do so by her liberal Quaker mother. May is also a passionate Suffragette, and passionate, too, about Nell, a working class girl from Poplar. The flowering of their love and lust is brilliantly portrayed, as is the contrast between their respective backgrounds. Then, the political conflict of WWI heralds personal conflicts for the three young women, not least when Nell’s desire to contribute to the war effort angers pacifist May. The nature and struggles of masculinity are also excellently explored through, for example, Nell’s brother who wrestles with "feeling much less of a man than he should be”. This novel is the perfect tribute to the incredible women who blazed a trail during the early twentieth century, and its inspirational scope and storytelling excellence cannot be praised enough. I loved it.
This inspiring, illuminating, stylishly accessible anthology invites young readers to discover and celebrate phenomenal forebears and contemporary catalysts, while encouraging them to blaze their own inimitable trails. Taking its name from a Nina Simone song, and written as “a love letter to our ancestors, and to the next generation of black changemakers,” this exuberantly illustrated book presents a plethora of outstanding individuals who’ve realised amazing achievements in their respective fields. Among the fifty-two figures we meet are household names from contemporary culture (Michelle and Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé, for example), and hugely important historical heroes and heroines. While some will be familiar – Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Rosa Parks, for example – lesser-known pioneers are also presented, among them Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel in space. In their introduction, the author and illustrator issue an emboldening statement about the importance of representation – “all children deserve to see themselves represented positively in stories”. And, with such a dazzling diversity of talents portrayed here (from writers, musicians, dancers and visual artists, to sports people, scientists and politicians), this book has much to inspire a real range of young readers.
Winner of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award 2018 | The first published collection from Hip Hop poet Karl Nova has a refreshing directness, honesty and authenticity. Many of the poems are drawn from the workshops he does with children and young people as well as from his performances. Notes accompanying the poems give insights into his process and encourage children to believe that they are poets too. The poems capture the rap beat and tone, demonstrating the currency and significance of rap as a form, especially for young people. A book that opens doors.
A powerful contemporary novel set in the shady world of underground cage fighting, from a Carnegie Medal-winning author. After running away to London to escape his mum’s bullying boyfriend, Kai finds himself homeless. He’s on the verge of packing up and leaving the big city when Spartacus turns up scouting for teenagers to join his “Cage Fighters for Freedom” tournament. While their underground tunnel location and identities must remain secret, each fight is broadcast, with proceeds going to a homeless charity and the fighters being given a sum of money to help them get back on their feet once the last match has been fought. Most of the fighters “got along OK”, expect Kai and Leo, between whom there’s immediate friction, largely due to their rivalry over “beautiful, dark-eyed, mysterious Raven”. But this tension turns out to be the least of their problems. When Kai and Raven leave the tunnels on a recce for Spartacus, they spot someone - Bird Girl - spying on the entrance to their secret subterranean world while searching for her missing sister. With an outsider in their midst and heightened risk of exposure to the authorities, tension mounts as the group gears up for the last stages of the tournament. While the teenagers’ cage fighting days are almost over, it looks like their world is about to cave in around them. Gripping, nimbly written and packing a powerful emotional punch, readers’ hearts will surely pound through this novel’s explosive conclusion, and swell with compassion for the teenagers’ troubled backgrounds, and the resilience of their spirits. ~ Joanne Owen
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | August 2016 Book of the Month | Set in a shining future world, where trains rumble not just through towns and countryside but across whole galaxies, Philip Reeve’s new novel drenches its readers with extraordinary scenes, images and ideas. Zen Starling is a petty thief; offered the chance of a brand new life in return for carrying out one small job of course he accepts, and is immediately caught up in a war that could destroy his entire world. Beautifully written, brilliantly inventive, this gripping adventure, a combination of sci-fi utopia, conspiracy thriller and romance, will set hearts racing. Thoughtful readers prepared to take their time will find echoes of many other great works of fiction, all of which add to Railhead’s richness. And who could resist the trains – ‘the old, wise trains of the Network, barracuda-beautiful, dreaming their dreams of speed and distance as they raced from world to world’? It will turn us all into railheads.
Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Set in a near-future version of London, where a drug called Concentr8 has been extensively prescribed to young people diagnosed with ADHD, this is the brilliantly provocative second young adult novel from the bestselling author of Are You Experienced? and New Boy. Against a backdrop of rioting in the capital, a group of socially disaffected friends, led by angry, charismatic Blaze, pull a knife on a man as he leaves work at the Mayor’s office. While the friends wonder why they’ve taken someone hostage, an ambitious journalist investigates whether the withdrawal of Concentr8 might have triggered the rioting. A political scandal unfolds when it emerges that not everyone was medically assessed before being put on the pacifying drug, suggesting that something far more sinister is going on. Told through several authentic first person narratives, and interspersed with revealing excerpts from medical reports, sociological texts and tweets, this gripping, politically-charged novel explores the big issue of how young people get lost and failed by society, and why they might turn to criminal and anti-social behaviour. A fast-paced, thought-provoking rollercoaster of a read.
Winner of the UKLA 2017 Book Award | From the author of Lovereading4kids favourite We Are All Made of Molecules, this is another book that grips from the first chapter, a heart-breaking story that will nonetheless make readers laugh and leave them feeling better about the world. Henry’s life is changed for ever by ‘IT’, a terrible event that we learn about through the journal his psychologist encourages him to keep, and which describes, gradually and in surprising ways, how through new friendships and the Global Wrestling Foundation, he finds ways to cope. Nielsen writes about the heaviest subjects with the lightest of touches: here it’s suicide, bullying, breakdown but so subtly described, the balance between tragedy and humour so carefully managed, that this is a truly uplifting, even happy read.
Winner of the Branford Boase Award 2007. | A superb first novel, beautifully written, deeply moving and full of heartbreak. When Shell Talent’s mother dies everything around her begins to fall to pieces. Tired of looking after her younger brother and sister and bored by the routines of school and church, Shell skips school and hangs around with her friends smoking and cracking jokes and looking for chances that will confirm their growing up. But what follows is not a simple transition into adulthood but the tragedy of Shell’s hidden pregnancy and the stillbirth of her baby. Siobhan Dowd writes without judgement but with enormous sympathy and understanding capturing Shell’s confusion and the hypercritical and chaotic thinking of the small Irish community in which she is growing up.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award and Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016. | Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Year 2015 Guardian Prize winning author Jenny Valentine’s long-awaited new novel is clever, beautifully written, full of ideas. It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Iris: lonely and desperately unhappy, she finds self-expression and release through starting fires. Her vain, shallow mother, one of the least sympathetic fictional characters ever, has always told Iris that her father abandoned them when she was a little girl. This is a lie and he has in fact been searching for his daughter all her life. They are reunited, but only because her father is dying. The weeks they have together are spent learning about each other – they share a love of art for example, something that Iris’s father has been able to indulge. Just as the beauty and truth of her father’s paintings outweigh any monetary value, so Iris’s love and growing understanding transcends their short time together. Daring to examine what is really important, this original novel is full of insight and intelligence.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016. | Fascinating, commanding and stimulating; this work of fiction is steeped in the history of the American school integration struggle in the late 1950’s. The author has clearly done her research and written a provocative and yet somehow irresistibly beautiful novel. Talley picks you up and hurls you down in the middle of the brutal pack mentality, she spins you around, then gently slips hope and love inbetween the clamour and hatred. Sarah and Linda feel substantial and real; their dreams and fears, writhe and pulse from the pages. This is so thought-provoking it almost hurts to read it, yet every word is needed, is necessary and consequently this is a novel that lingers long after you've finished it.
Winner of the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal | What does freedom really mean? Tanya Landman pushes back against all kinds of prejudice in this action-packed, emotionally rich and vividly told story about one girl’s struggle to find out. When Charley is freed from slavery at the end of the Civil War between the Yankees and the Confederates she imagines a new world of unlimited opportunities. Instead, she finds a life that is more dangerous than ever before. Her only way to survive is to disguise herself as a boy and join the army. But the army, like everywhere else, is riddled with prejudice and danger. It is only when Charley is sent to fight against the Apache Indians, another much discriminated against group, that she begins to learn what is could mean to be free.
One of our Books of the Year 2013. Winner of the two most prestigious children's book awards - the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013 and the Children's Costa Award 2012. And Longlisted for the 2013 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize | Sally Gardner tells a story that is rich in drama and ideas as Standish Treadwell, an unlikely hero, takes on the vicious forces of the repressive motherland in a novel set in a bleak world that is redeemed only by the very human qualities of some of the survivors. Standish and his remarkable grandfather keep going, eking out a living after the disappearance of Standish’s parents. Standish struggles at school and is the victim of relentless bullying. But then he finds a friend in the newly arrived Hector. When Hector is taken, the only hope lies in Standish…Luckily, Standish has just the qualities that are needed.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013 | This is one of the most inspiring books for the YA market that we've seen for a while. The quality of the writing is so smooth and the storyline so compelling that you'll find you've got to the end in no time. The relationship between the two main young protagonists in World War Two is brilliantly drawn and the account of one of them following capture by the Gestapo draws the reader in to such a degree that you feel you're right there with her. Don't miss this one.
Shortlisted for the prestigious Sheffield Children's Book Award 2011 | Best-selling author Malorie Blackman has an exceptional ability to see the world from a teenager’s angle. With his stellar A-level results in his hand, Dante has a great future mapped out for himself. But then his ex-girl friend turns up and Dante finds that he is… a dad! Blackman uses her trade mark of twin voices as Dante and his brother Adam unravel the stories from their pasts, their intense feelings for each other and their growing love for the baby. A deeply moving and convincing story which never descends into sentimentality.