Our regular blog on What to Read Now takes on even greater significance in this period of lockdown. Reading is a pastime that is easy to turn to when we’re ensconced indoors, it’s solitary (though if you’d like to discuss books, we also have our book club on Instagram) and it transports you to faraway places, a world beyond your own four walls. It’s a magical way for children to spend their time. So while we don’t know how long we’ll be stuck indoors, we know this won’t be endless, and it’s a chance for children to grow a love of reading that they’ll stick with forever.
The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell-Boyce (suggested for readers 9+)
A unique and vibrant novel that epitomises beautifully how the imagination of a child can run wild.
Two Mongolian nomads, Chingis and his younger brother Nergui, must leave their awe-inspiring homeland behind and begin a new life in Bootle. The boys appoint their new friend Julie to be their personal guide and teach them about the UK, but it’s Julie who becomes the student.
The brothers tell Julie tales of life back home: soaring eagles, courageous horsemen and sublime landscapes dominate their narratives. But that’s not all this book’s about – the boys remain convinced that an evil spirit is following them, which makes a very gripping storyline indeed.
We won’t spoil anything for you but let’s just say this: there’s a shock in store for Julie.
The book is even illustrated with Polaroid photos, creating an air of authenticity that truly brings the tale to life in the eyes of the reader.
Toffee by Sarah Crossan (suggested for readers 13+)
This moving and realistic story will show a child how reading can evoke all sorts of emotions. They’ll be left feeling deeply connected to the main protagonist; it’s almost as if you are facing her struggles with her.
Lost and alone with no home of her own, Alice finds sanctuary when she is taken in by Marla, an elderly woman with dementia, who mistakes her for an old friend: Toffee. Instead of correcting Marla, Alice becomes Toffee in a desperate bid to avoid having to return home to face the wrath of her violent father.
The power of friendship becomes clear as the reader watches Marla and Alice form an unbreakable bond that strengthens them both; bringing a tear to the eye.
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver (suggested for readers 16+)
Forget Frankenstein – here’s a gothic thriller that’ll leave you quaking in your boots. One for the adolescents, this eerie story is stuffed full with all the horrors of a supernatural world.
In the lands of our Edwardian past, Maud, a motherless child, lives an isolated life within the grand walls of the manor house that she and her tyrannical father inhabit.
When Maud unintentionally awakens demonic forces, the apparitions she must face are beyond her most horrifying dreams. Will Maud make it out alive?
We hope you enjoy these brilliant books. Let us know what books you would recommend. If you are having trouble getting hold of books at the moment, don’t forget that libraries have brilliant e-lending services and you can still join your local library online.
By Eleanor Blake