There are big stories and small stories, happy ones and sad, but this month What to Read Now is focused on some of the most important (and award-winning) stories. The chosen three celebrate the unlimited diversity of our world and explore themes of bravery, overcoming obstacles, and standing up for people. These books tell stories about those quieter people, the ones who rarely shout, and they really do offer more than the average read.
The Boy At the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf
( suggested for 9+)
This heartwarming story follows the arrival of a new kid in school. He’s quiet and doesn’t engage with the other children but four of his classmates vow to include him. Ahmet, the boy at the back of the class, has fled from the war in Syria.
Rauf’s poignant tale perfectly demonstrates empathy and inclusion. Different cultures can be hard to understand and sometimes this leads to isolation, but this little book teaches children how to create beautiful lasting friendships despite differences. A worthy award winner and highly recommended.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
(suggested for 13+)
Xiomara is a tough girl, Harlem has taught her to stick up for herself and be sassy. But even tough people have things that make them weak at the knees. She writes a diary of poetry about someone she fancies, her family, religion, her friends, and then is introduced to performing them as slam poetry.
The Poet X is instantly real, the diary style invites you into Xiomara’s world and poetically paints the stories of her life. The book is written in a mixture of poetry and novel writing and we were blown away by it, it’s an instant classic and winner of the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal.
Hold by Michael Donkor
(suggested for 16+)
This teenage awakening novel sees us travel across continents from Ghana to London. Belinda is sent to the capital to take Amma under her wing, and while at first it seems unlikely, a close kinship emerges.
A convincing and beautiful depiction of female angst and friendship, Hold teeters on the edge of sadness, but ultimately is a book full of hope.
By Sarah Coffey