What To Read Now

Children's and YA Book recommendations

What To Read Now

What we’ve been reading and enjoying recently. A huge thank you to guest reviewer, Ava, age 13 from London.

Freeze, by Christ Priestley

Freeze, written and illustrated by Chris Priestley (suggestion for ages (+9), reviewed by Ava.

Maya’s regular English teacher is absent today, and supply Mr Kumar is here to step in. He asks the class to write winter-themed scary stories, and everyone creates some incredibly creepy ideas.

Soon, however, as the stories go on and on, Maya feels that something is wrong. Is she going mad? Even her friends seem to think so.

When new girl Winter stands up to read her story, the room goes quiet. Not even Mr Kumar stirs. That’s when Maya realises – she has to save the day before everybody freezes.

When the temperature falls, the ghosts rise…

I think this book would be 9+, but it could perhaps scare some younger readers.

Empress and Aniya by Candice Carty-Williams (suggestion for ages 13+), reviewed by Alison Palmer.

This is the first YA novel from the bestselling author of Queenie.

What if there were people who actually looked out for you and cared enough to find out why you might be cross and angry about stuff? What if you found your soulmate and things worked out?

This is a brilliant story told with love and humour about two girls thrown together at school who realise they have a bond and a friendship that overrides normal conventions. Empress and Aniya decide on the eve of their shared 16th birthday to cast a spell to switch identities. They discover exactly what it feels like to walk in someone else’s shoes and experience a unique opportunity to see what is really important to each other. 

This book shines a light on the realities of neglect and hunger, both often hidden problems that far too many young people experience. The book makes a powerful case for why greater acknowledgement is needed of how young people are affected and how more discussion and openness could help. Although the book explores difficult issues, above all it is a story of hope, of finding out that nothing is inevitable and that it is possible to change your outcomes. We all need a friend like Aniya.

Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal (suggestion for ages 16+), reviewed by Alison Palmer.

It is senior year and the friendship between Eleanor and Chanel is changing. They have always been inseparable with a clear plan for their futures, but outside factors are changing their view of each other. Cheerleading has always been their thing but in a split second decision made instinctively in the dressing room, just before the first football game of the season, the cheerleaders decide to take the knee.

This is a great story that covers the aftermath of this decision, and it is set in summer 2019 when the decision was deemed controversial. The action revolves around the team, college applications and finding out that taking a stand for what you believe in may not be the easy choice you thought it would be.

The book is written from the viewpoint of both girls, and as the reader, you can see how the decisions they make add to the tension between them – even when they think they are doing the right thing. It is a powerful story of friendship and privilege and fundamentally how you have to make your own way in the world and choose what is right for you.

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