School Reading List Book of the Month

Book of the month – these picks by the School Reading List team are compiled monthly and highlight new releases and editions of picture books, fiction and non-fiction books suitable for children and young adults. For even more suggestions, see our daily new book recommendations on our Facebook page and our Twitter Feed.

For book prices and ordering, click on the cover image. International orders click here

August 2020

Fiction book of the month

Cookie and the Most Annoying Girl in the World by Konnie Huq

A fun and easy to read story about fast-moving friendships. When there are only two tickets to see the hottest concert in town, who will Cookie pick to go with her? The results are surprising. Told through a mixture of sharp and witty prose, stick figure cartoons, emoji sprinkled emails, and rapid dialogue, this story will appeal to both reluctant and confident readers. Your school may run low on squared paper when the addictive drawing style becomes a trend!


Non fiction book of the month

Question Everything by Susan Martineau & Vicky Barker

A stunning and well-constructed book that provides everything a KS2 child needs to know about spotting fake news, discerning fact from fiction or opinion, identifying hyperbole, and being rational about statistics. Not only a good buy for the school library, but this is also an excellent resource for PSHE in years 5&6 and ideal to spark off discussions, independent research, and non-fiction writing.


Picture book of the month

One Day in Wonderland by Kathleen Krull & Júlia Sardà

New in paperback, this beautifully illustrated large-format picture book retells Lewis Carrol’s life through biography, bibliography, and anecdotes – all told using classic wordplay from Jabberwocky and other works. The illustrations are vibrant and compelling. Ideal for children in years 4-6.

July 2020

Fiction book of the month

The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff

An unputdownable story set over the course of a summer where a teenager observes just how much disturbance one family can cause. Sharp, moving and at times brutal – this dramatic coming of age novel is highly recommended for 14-18 year olds. A classic in the making – the perfect YA text to reignite a love of reading with GCSE aged teens.


Non fiction book of the month

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed

Omar Mohamed’s compelling true story of his experiences in Dadaab, a Kenyan refugee camp, told in cartoon style from the point of view of Omar and his brother Hassan as children. A real-page turner – the first-person perspective makes it highly relatable for children in KS2 and ideal to encourage comprehension and discussion with reluctant readers. This book is a great opportunity to help children to understand
human rights, refugee status, and migration. We think this thought-provoking book will be popular with children in years 4-6.


Picture book of the month

A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis

A clever and beautifully realised picture book that presents children aged 4-7 with a word puzzle on each page. Each poetic riddle provokes a child to think, and each picture (and the illustrations provide stunning ideas for KS1 art displays) reveals the word. A great book to read aloud to EYFS and KS1 classes; reading the clue, while covering the picture answer. Highly recommended.


Special mention

How a Unicorn Deals With Loneliness: (It’s Pretty Cool!) by Jhenna Mae Easton and Jon Easton

Many thanks to Jon, dad to 10-year-old Jhenna Mae, who wrote in and let us know about their charming co-written eBook for children aged 4-9. Dealing with themes of feeling isolated, courage in the face of adversity, the importance of keeping mentally and physically healthy, and being resilient, we thought this book fitted in perfectly with the mood of the world at the moment. It’s ideal to read at home and maybe inspire the writing bug in your own child!


June 2020

Fiction book of the month

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll

Addie, an 11-year-old living in Scotland, wants to be seen for who she is and not defined by her autism. When she finds out more about the witch trials that took place hundreds of years before she was born, she sees parallels in the horrors they suffered for their beliefs and the indignities she endures from society in the present day. But can her campaign for a memorial to the witches’ demise win over the locals? A sparkling YA novel that tackles tough and emotive issues with a deft touch.


Non fiction book of the month

Big City Atlas by Maggie Li

Key stage two children will enjoy this illustrated tour of exciting cities around the world, hosted by an enthusiastic penguin. This book is packed with facts, geographical information, cultural anecdotes and key sights. The cities include San Francisco, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dublin, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Rome, Madrid, Cairo, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney and Auckland.


Picture book of the month

The Wordsworths by Mick Manning and Brita Granström

A magnificent adaptation of Dorothy Wordsworth’s diary illustrated with watercolour paintings and evocative cartoon narratives. This book is ideal for KS1 and KS2 children studying Victorian life, female role models, or the Lake District – and a great book to inspire creative writing about nature and landscape in KS2.

May 2020

Fiction book of the month

Last Lesson by James Goodhand

One moment Ollie is popular, outgoing, and a rising star at school. Then, in the blink of an eye, he’s shunned by friends and seemingly everyone’s favourite target. He can’t wait for the end of term – a school day he’s determined to make sure is the very last for some. This shocking page-turner will have KS3 and KS4 pupils gripped until the final page.


Non fiction book of the month

My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice by Patrice Vecchione

This startlingly effective poetry writing manual is especially suitable for secondary aged children. Focusing on channeling emotion, this guide uses anger, frustration, exhilaration and hope to generate writing ideas and inspiration for teens looking to express their thoughts and feelings. A go-to resource book for independent writing projects.


Picture book of the month

Circle by Jeannie Baker

A beautifully realised rhyming story that tells the long and dangerous migration of the Bar-tailed Godwit. Set to stunning artwork that evokes the scale and diversity of landscapes and seascapes across the journey, this book will appeal to KS1 and KS2 teachers looking for topic books to inspire classwork.

April 2020

Fiction book of the month

The Loop by Ben Oliver

A gripping young adult page-turner set in a dystopian world where Luka is facing a death sentence – his sanity preserved only by the prison warden’s books. When events in the outside world change suddenly, Luka is presented with an unexpected and dangerous opportunity to break out and save himself, his family and maybe the whole of society. We think The Loop is spot on for teenage lock-down reading, and will also fly off KS3 and KS4 library shelves when schools return.


Non fiction book of the month

I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast by Michael Holland and Phillip Giordano

A breathtaking illustrated book for children aged 7-12 that looks at how plants affect our lives – from providing raw materials for food, medicine, sport, and music; to ensuring the health of the planet by releasing oxygen, absorbing chemicals and safeguarding the water cycle. Packed with information, I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast will keep KS2 children thoroughly fascinated for weeks.


Picture book of the month

Rain Boy by Dylan Glynn

A clever picture book that uses characters Rain Boy and Sun Kidd to show children how people can be perceived as popular, unpopular, positive or negative. The story encourages children to embrace differences, be inclusive, and empathise with children who find it difficult to fit in. “The brightest colours shine from within” – and this book radiates gorgeous and evocative artwork. Aimed at preschool and younger infants, Rain Boy is equally useful as a PSHE resource for KS2.

March 2020

Fiction book of the month

Talking to the Moon by S.E. Durrant

An outstanding and thought-provoking middle-grade mystery novel about a grandmother suffering from dementia – told from a highly relatable and distinctive viewpoint. Perfect for group and class reading in year six or year seven, and an excellent book to provoke discussion in book clubs. This is a book pupils will remember after reading it.



Non fiction book of the month

In the Sky: Designs Inspired by Nature by Harriet Evans

An inspiring book that shows the relationships between nature and technology, looking at how living creatures have inspired advances in areas such as the design of planes, trains and space flight. A great addition to KS2 libraries and STEM topic book resources.



Picture book of the month

This Book Is Alive! by Justine Avery

One of those books which might go viral in your school. Unique and life-affirming, this is a great book to read with children and look at with a class of 5-8 years olds, and to use as an inspiration for writing with 7-9 years olds.


February 2020

Fiction book of the month

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray

A gripping fantasy thriller packed with drama and unexpected twists. A real page-turner for preteens. We think this book will devour kidlit awards and may well be your eleven year old’s next favourite book. Unusually good, Orphans of the Tide is ideal for year 6-8 libraries and also reluctant readers in years 9 and 10.



Non fiction book of the month

Once Upon a Word: A Word-Origin Dictionary for Kids–Building Vocabulary Through Etymology, Definitions & Stories by Jess Zafarris

An enlightening and interesting exploration of English language word origins. Presented in an engaging and fun way, words such as zombie, gnome and cackle are investigated. Teachers will find the treatment of prefixes, suffixes and dictionary skills far more stimulating than typical literacy resources. Refreshingly different and recommended for upper KS2.



Picture book of the month

Wild Wolf by Fiona French

A magical and captivating story – spellbinding when read aloud – set to absolutely stunning artwork. A great book to share with KS1 and KS2 classes and a useful impetus for wall display ideas, art, PSHE discussions and creative writing.


January 2020

Fiction book of the month

Nothing Ever Happens Here by Sarah Hagger-Holt

A groundbreaking middle-grade / young adult book, told from twelve-year-old Izzy’s point of view – about her family being thrown into the media spotlight after her dad comes out as Danielle, a trans woman – and how it affects her life in Year 8 at school. Ideal for discussion in book clubs.



Non fiction book of the month

Unlocking the Universe by Stephen Hawking and Lucy Hawking

A hefty and impressive tome full of facts about physics, the history of the universe and how the world around us works. This would make an amazing birthday present for older children interested in science.



Picture book of the month

The Moonlight Zoo by Maudie Powell-Tuck and Karl James Mountford

When Eva can’t find her missing cat, she almost gives up hope. But then she finds a magical zoo for lost animals that only exists when the moon is shining. Can she find her cat before daybreak? Very engaging, with stunning illustrations – ideal for early KS1.


December 2019

Fiction book of the month

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

The second of the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy, this book thrusts the reader into a gripping world of power, magic and high stakes brinkmanship. Probably the most exciting and thought-provoking young adult fantasy novel this year.



Non fiction book of the month

The Missing: The True Story of My Family in World War II by Michael Rosen

This moving collection of poems and recollections tells the story of what happened to the relatives of Michael Rosen that went missing during WW2. Powerful and accessible, these accounts will allow pupils to understand and relate to the effects of the Holocaust, and the poems provide opportunities for discussion and deeper thought. This is an important resource for teachers of KS2 and KS3 history. Highly recommended.



Picture book of the month

The Orangutan Who Sang by Jay Vincent and Stew Wright

A charming picture book about Olly, a shy Orangutan who dreams of singing in the school talent show. Beset by shyness, he learns to overcome his fears with the help of jungle friends. With a heart-warming ending, this book is ideal to read with your child or use as a circle-time talking point in PSHE.


November 2019

Fiction book of the month

The Pearl in the Ice by Cathryn Constable

Fantasy, mystery, spies, and lies – there’s a delicious atmosphere of suspicion and deceit in this middle-grade novel. Highly recommended for group reading in years 6-8. Read our full review here.

The Pearl in the Ice by Cathryn Constable

Non fiction book of the month

What Is Politics? Why Should we Care? And Other Big Questions by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young

A book that encourages readers to think about what politics is, how it affects them, and how they can participate. With Brexit, an impending election and youth marches to highlight climate change, this thorough examination of politics – past and present – is ideal for children in upper KS2 and KS3.

What Is Politics? Why Should we Care? And Other Big Questions by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young

Picture book of the month

Three Lost Seeds – Stories of Becoming by Stephie Morton and Nicole Wong

Through a series of visual metaphors that depict seed dispersal in nature, this book explores the difficulties faced by refugee and migrant children. Ideal to read aloud to a class, this book will encourage group discussion.

Three Lost Seeds - Stories of Becoming by Stephie Morton and Nicole Wong

October 2019

Fiction book of the month

The Last Human by Lee Bacon

A captivating combination of STEM, humanity, friendship and morality. This thought-provoking book for 9-12s is perfect for book club discussion and as a class text to promote P4C (Philosophy for Children) in KS2/KS3.

The Last Human by Lee Bacon

Non fiction book of the month

Gut Garden by Katie Brosnan

A vividly illustrated journey through the human digestive system with lots of facts and detail about the good and bad microbes which live inside us. Ideal as a school or class library book to provoke further research and reading.

Gut Garden by Katie Brosnan

Picture book of the month

Refugees by Brian Bilston and José Sanabria

A beautifully illustrated and clever picture book which shows both the reader two sides of a migration and refugee story. This book will challenge perceptions and is ideal as an impetus for discursive writing and also PSHE discussion in upper KS2 and lower KS3. Pupils might find it interesting to compare this book to The Island by Armin Greder.

Refugees by Brian Bilston and José Sanabria

September 2019

Fiction book of the month

Gruffles and the Killer Sheep – Gangster School by Kate Wiseman

With characters such as evil headteacher Dr BL Zeebub and Trickery Hackett, and set in a world of schools for promising criminals, Milly and Charlie are tasked with saving the day and saving the world from killer sheep. Great fun, fast-paced and bound to appeal to reluctant readers in years 5&6. A must-have new book for the school library.

Gruffles and the Killer Sheep - Gangster School by Kate Wiseman

Non fiction book of the month

Mythologica by Dr Stephen P Kershaw

A host of characters from Greek myths leap out of every page in this startlingly vibrant large-format hardback. An astonishing amount of detail adorns each double-page spread, which delves into the lives, stories, facts, and events surrounding each figure. This is the school library equivalent of a statement coffee table centrepiece.

Mythologica by Dr Stephen P Kershaw

Picture book of the month

Little Pearl by Martin Widmark and Emilia Dziubak

A distinctive and unusually imaginative picture book about a small girl who searches for her missing brother and falls into a strange and mysterious underwater world – a world filled with hopes and dangers. Absolutely stunning artwork makes this book ideal for KS2 topics on water and the uplifting and life-affirming ending makes this a useful book to discuss in PSHE.

Little Pearl by Martin Widmark and Emilia Dziubak

August 2019

Fiction book of the month

A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby

This atmospheric and gripping read, set in Kuwait and London, follows Safiya and her mum as they struggle to find common ground as Safiya grows up. When her mum suddenly falls ill, Safiya is drawn into a strange and magical game-like world. Touching and grounded, this novel explores family life, relationships, and loss. Ideal for more advanced Year 6 and KS3 book clubs.

A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby

Non fiction book of the month

Get Your Boots On by Alex White

Written by 16-year-old Alex White, this passionate guide to practical environmentalism offers children and teens easy and cost-effective ways to get involved and enjoy nature. Perfect for the second half of the summer holidays. Great photos and endorsed by numerous wildlife celebrities including Chris Packham, who wrote the foreword.

Get Your Boots On by Alex White

Picture book of the month

Brenda is a Sheep by Morag Hood

A wonderfully sharp and funny take on the wolf in sheep’s clothing tale. With standout woolly jumpers and pointy teeth, Brenda is a cult sheep with a following. But when she plans a big meal with a mint sauce recipe, perhaps not everything is as it seems… Perfect to read with smaller children.

Brenda is a Sheep by Morag Hood

July 2019

Fiction book of the month

The Accidental Rock Star by Tom McLaughlin

When Ollie gets his recorder and keyboard out and starts jamming with Hector, an unlikely hit single results and the duo are catapulted to stardom. But fame isn’t quite what they expected. A funny and engaging book – part of a series – which will appeal to reluctant readers in KS2. Great fun for 10 year olds.

The Accidental Rock Star by Tom McLaughlin

Non fiction book of the month

Ancient Wonders by Iris Volant and Avalon Nuovo

A sumptuous large-format hardback with double page spreads each depicting an ancient wonder of the world. The text is ideal for greater depth in KS2 and this is a model topic book. Stunning and attention-grabbing page designs make this a winner for the school library. The illustrations just glow.

Ancient Wonders by Iris Volant and Avalon Nuovo

Picture book of the month

The Immortal Jellyfish by Sang Miao

A groundbreaking and tender book which treats the subject of grief with a delicate touch. A young boy meets his beloved grandfather in a dream and they embark on a captivating journey which helps to overcome his grief. Each page is filled with uplifting artwork. This would be ideal to read with children aged 5-7, but equally suitable to spark off ideas in art with KS2, or to use as a must-have PSHE topic resource. A simply beautiful book.

The Immortal Jellyfish by Sang Miao

June 2019

Fiction book of the month

Owen and the Soldier by Lisa Thompson

Owen struggles with friendships and often talks to the stone statue of a soldier sat on a park bench. But when the local council decides to get rid of the statue, Owen is forced to take action to save the only person who listens to him. This tender and thought-provoking story by the author of The Goldfish Boy is ideal for reluctant readers aged 9-11 in upper KS2.

Owen and the Soldier by Lisa Thompson

Non fiction book of the month

When We Walked on the Moon by David Long and Sam Kalda

The story of the moon landing missions is told chapter by chapter in a richly illustrated and engaging book for children aged 8-11. With fantastic illustrations, this large-format book is an ideal addition to a KS2 library.

When We Walked on the Moon by David Long and Sam Kalda

Picture book of the month

Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola

A heartwarming story of Rocket, who is always looking to the stars and dreaming, and Jamal who is always looking down and glued to his phone. Rocket tries everything to change her brother’s outlook. Ideal to read to younger children.

Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola

May 2019

Fiction book of the month

The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher

Set in World War 2, Pip Hanway – a mouse – flees from the bombing to search for a new home. No longer able to live in the umbrella shop, the rodent joins a secretive resistance called Noah’s Ark. This is an original take on the WW2 genre, and the ambitious scope and pace will result make this a captivating read for children aged 9-11 in years 4-6.

The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher

Non fiction book of the month

Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay by Alexandra Stewart

A fascinating insight into the story of the ascent and conquest of Everest in 1953. This account is packed with details and evokes the raw emotions and struggles faced by the two mountaineers. Gripping and vibrant illustrations make this a great pick for KS2 libraries.

Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay by Alexandra Stewart

Picture book of the month

Incredible You by Rhys Brisenden and Nathan Reed

A charming message of belief, self-worth and optimism, told in rhyme, pervades this startlingly brightly illustrated picture book for children aged 4-8. Ideally suited for reading to smaller children, this book is also a potential goldmine of ideas for KS1/2 transition, PSHE, art, literacy and wall displays in KS2.

Incredible You by Rhys Brisenden and Nathan Reed

April 2019

Fiction book of the month

Lightning Mary by Anthea Simmons

Mary Anning is the sole survivor of a West Country village lightning strike tragedy in 1800. Determined to find out how she survived and the secrets to life itself, she embarks on a heroic quest to become a geologist and scientist, discovering fossils and dinosaurs. Based on a true tale. An inspirational and life-affirming story which is ideal for children in years 5 and 6.

Lightning Mary by Anthea Simmons

Non fiction book of the month

The Sea: Exploring Our Blue Planet by Miranda Krestovnikoff

A treasure trove of interesting and relevant information about our oceans, peppered with detailed and vibrant illustrations. Perfect for children aged 7-12 and ideal for teaching topics about the ocean, environment, plastics, and conservation. This book would be a worthy addition to any primary school library.

The Sea: Exploring Our Blue Planet by Miranda Krestovnikoff

Picture book of the month

Crescendo by Paola Quintavalle

A touching, moving and sensitive poem on the theme of pregnancy, by Paola Quintavalle, is set to 47 delicate watercolour paintings by Alessandro Sanna in this groundbreaking picture book for children about the journey of early life. A wonderful book to share with your child aged 4+, and also ideal for KS2 PSHE discussions about new siblings and change.

Crescendo by Paola Quintavalle

March 2019

Fiction book of the month

Fing by David Walliams

Myrtle has everything she wants and her parents are determined to ensure she gets a ‘Fing’ – even though they’re not sure what one is. They set off on an unbelievably dangerous journey to find one in this riotously funny story about an evil spoiled child which is bound to appeal to children aged 7-11.

Fing by David Walliams

Non fiction book of the month

The Lost Book of Adventure by Teddy Keen

Presented as a series of notes by an unknown adventurer, this fantastically illustrated book covers first aid, wilderness, survival, treehouses and what to do if you get lost. Perfect for children aged 9-12, junior libraries and topics involving wild places and countryside exploration.

The Lost Book of Adventure by Teddy Keen

Picture book of the month

The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson

The Go-Away bird doesn’t want to play and sends any potential friends away. But, things change when the threatening ‘Get-You’ bird appears and friends seem a good idea after all. Written in rhyming verse, this book is ideal to read together with younger pupils in EYFS or to discuss in PSHE with KS2 children.

The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson

February 2019

Fiction book of the month

The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder

Imagine a world where people can disappear to another place when the clock strikes midnight. That’s where’s Emily goes searching for her parents who are trapped in time. Not only does she have to save her mum and dad, but the fate of both the present and the past are at stake and her only protection is her wits and a hedgehog. Madeleine L’Engle meets Maz Evans meets Ross Welford in this funny science fiction/fantasy story which would be ideal for children in years 5 & 6.

The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder

Non fiction book of the month

Paper World: Planet Earth by Ruth Symons

A beautiful hardback book which lets the reader explore inside the planet Earth using ingenious double-sided folding tabs, elevated pages and cutout sections to create a sense of depth with holes, caves, and caverns, tectonic plates, and hiding places for undersea creatures which a child can peer into. The text is ideal for children in years 4-6 interested in geography. This book would be ideal for topics on ‘our world’.

Paper World: Planet Earth by Ruth Symons

Picture book of the month

Sensational Butterflies by Ben Rothery

A truly awe-inspiring large format 80-page book with jaw-dropping doubled page spreads of spectacularly detailed and vibrant images and labelled diagrams of butterflies. The text will appeal to children in years 2-4 (aged 6-9) and it would make an ideal book for shared reading or a great display book for the school library. It’s not just the butterflies which are sensational, so is this book.

Sensational Butterflies by Ben Rothery

January 2019

Fiction book of the month

The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods by Samuel J Halpin

When Poppy reads a mysterious book left behind by a strange old lady, she uncovers an old village myth about children who turn grey and disappear. When she and her friend Erasmus delve in more detail, she realises the myth might be real and dangerous. An atmospheric and imaginative story, this book will be ideal for Year 5 and Year 6 readers and primary school book clubs.

The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods by Samuel J Halpin

Non fiction book of the month

A Velocity of Being: Letters to A Young Reader by Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick

A highly original idea, this book is a series of open letters to children – each exploring why reading is important to broaden experiences and imagination. Each of the 121 letters is faced by emotive artwork. A who’s who of illustrators and writers, including Marianne Dubuc, Sean Qualls, Oliver Jeffers, Maira Kalman, Mo Willems, Isabelle Arsenault, Chris Ware, Liniers, Shaun Tan, Tomi Ungerer, and Art Spiegelman contributed to this stunning 280-page book. This book is perfect to read and discuss with reluctant readers, and particularly children who like the internet, but don’t yet like reading books.

A Velocity of Being: Letters to A Young Reader by Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick

Picture book of the month

All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell

This vibrant picture book suitable for children aged 5-9 areas of intelligence children often dismiss or don’t consider to be important. The arts, music, creativity, ingenuity and resilience are all touched upon in waves of rhyming pearls of wisdom. Great to read with your child or discuss in PSHE lessons. It’s highly likely every child who reads this book will find something it in that shows they too, are smart.

All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell

Books of the Month Page 2


Why not have a look at our suggested reading lists for children aged 3-16?

Books for EYFS & ReceptionBooks for Year 1Books for Year 2Books for Year 3Books for Year 4Books for Year 5Books for Year 6Books for Year 7Books for Year 8Books for Year 9Books for Year 10Books for Year 11

Please respect copyright and don’t copy or reproduce our reviews. Thanks. This page was last updated on Aug 1, 2020 @ 12:54 pm.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.