February 2023 book club picks

February 2023 book club recommendations

February 2023’s set of recommendations for book clubs features a selection of moving and inspirational fiction and nonfiction books that examine friendship, family, loyalty, love, passion, protecting our lives and protecting the environment. There’s a range of picture books to read and share, funny short chapter books to read aloud and meaty discussion points for book clubs to get their teeth into. February 2023’s picks include titles by Padmacandra, Oliver Jeffers, Emily Dodd, Mượn Thị Văn, Francesca Simon, Gavin Puckett, Sita Brahmachari & Andreas Malm.

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February 2023 book club recommendations

Don’t be Silly by Padmacandra

Bouncy Bo and Little Smudge delight in finding ways to be silly despite the serious grown-ups. But when Bo and Smudge decide to be sensible, roles are reversed with hilarious results. With clever and funny rhymes and fascinating illustrations, this book is bound to be a hit with nursery and infant classes. There’s also a plethora of related resources and activities for teachers on the publisher’s website.

3+ year-olds | Author’s Instagram | Author’s website

Don't be Silly by Padmacandra

I Love You Because I Love You by Mượn Thị Văn, illustrated by Jessica Love

Big bold and colourful illustrations leap from the page in this picture book by the illustrator of Julian is a mermaid. Exploring what connects us all, this text is a visual exposition of the power of family, warmth and love. A joy to read and share with younger children.

3+ year-olds | Author’s Twitter | Author’s website

I Love You Because I Love You by Mượn Thị Văn, illustrated by Jessica Love

Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

Now available in paperback, Oliver Jeffers’ heart-warming gift of words to his young son seeks to explain our world, the universe and how people and families all fit into it. Awe-inspiring illustrations make this a treat to read and share. A modern classic.

3-6 year-olds | Author’s Instagram | Author’s website

Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

Tell Me About … Plants and Human Body by Emily Dodd and Chorkung

Covering the parts of a plant, flowers, seeds, trees, leaves and carnivorous species, each page is packed with eye-catching and vibrant illustrated short bursts of information. We were particularly impressed by the use of National Curriculum science words and terminology and the clarity of the scientific explanations. Promoted as “A first science book for curious minds”, this charming small hardback ticks every box for more able children in KS1. Be sure to check out the other new title in this series: Tell Me About… Human Body as well.

4-8 year-olds | Author’s Twitter | Author’s website

Tell Me About ... Plants and Human Body by Emily Dodd and Chorkung

Blanksy the Street Cat by Gavin Puckett, illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan

When Blanksy the cat starts to paint vibrant street art murals, his friend Pete the busker becomes more and more rich and famous. But, as this cautionary tale tells, there’s more to life than money and fame. Full of warmth, wit and fun, this quirky and original story is great to read-aloud children in years 1&2, and a perfect shorter text for newly independent readers.

5-7 year-olds | Author’s Twitter | Author’s website

Blanksy the Street Cat by Gavin Puckett, illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan

Two Terrible Vikings: Feast with the King by Francesca Simon, illustrated by Steve May

This latest instalment sees nightmare Viking twins Hack and Whack tasked with babysitting Dirty Ulf’s little toddler brother, Fire Hazard. What could possibly go wrong? With rapid dialogue, short chapters and hefty usage of the word ‘bum’, the ‘Terrible Vikings’ series is perfect to read with groups of less confident readers.

5-9 year-olds | Author’s Twitter | Author’s website

Two Terrible Vikings: Feast with the King by Francesca Simon, illustrated by Steve May

Corey’s Rock by Sita Brahmachari, illustrated by Jane Ray

When 10-year-old Isla and her family start life afresh in the Orkney Islands, she finds it hard to adjust to her new surroundings and a world without her brother. A unique and uplifting modern fable told through a combination of short chapters, dialogue and poetry, all adorned throughout by stunningly evocative illustrations by Jane Ray. A treasure to read and behold, Corey’s Rock explores themes of refugees, family and acceptance with great sensitivity. Highly recommended.

9+ year-olds | Author’s Twitter | Author’s website

Corey's Rock by Sita Brahmachari

Fighting in a World on Fire by Andreas Malm

Explaining the history, context and development of climate change, this provocative and insightful book invites students to consider what actions might be effective to safeguard the future of the planet. Exploring the philosophy and practice of protest and radical action, this book will spark debate. Including a raft of writing prompts and discussion questions, Fight In A World On Fire is perfect for secondary school book clubs and is a useful primer for teens interested in climate justice, activism and environmental politics. Read Laurence Inman’s review here.

12+ year-olds | Author’s Wikipedia | Publisher’s website

Fighting in a World on Fire by Andreas Malm

Themed day / social media opportunities for February 2023

These hashtag days might provide current and relevant talking points for secondary-aged pupils aged 13+ in KS3, KS4 and KS5, especially when linked to related literature.

  • February is LGBT+ History Month. The LGBT+ history month website offers a range of free resources for schools across the age ranges, and ‘The Classroom’ also includes literacy-based resources.
  • February 1st is World Read Aloud Day. Scholastic offers a raft of reading-based ideas and resources to help educators celebrate this day.
  • February 5th is National Yorkshire Pudding Day. Why not work this important different gravy culinary treat into your curriculum by writing about the experience, reading stories that feature Yorkshire puddings, hot seating characters that eat such delicacies and using this BBC Good Food recipe or Delia Smith’s excellent video guide?
  • The second week of February is Schools Football Week and also Children’s Mental Health Week. The ESFA features a range of activities and ideas to help schools promote girls’ football.
  • The Children’s Mental Health Week website includes lots of free downloadables for schools to create assemblies, PSHE discussions and fundraising ideas to help promote discussion of better mental health.
  • February 7th is Safer Internet Day. On the organisation’s website, there are plenty of free activities for both primary and secondary schools to build up to the week itself, engage children during the week, and ensure long-term positive outcomes.
  • February 14th is International Book Giving Day. Why not arrange a second-hand school book sale, classroom book swaps, paired peer reading sessions, cross-school library activities or visit your local children’s bookshop on this day?
  • February 15th is World Hippo Day. Celebrate and help protect these amazing creatures from extinction by adopting a rare hippo. Both Marwell Zoo in Hampshire and Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland offer opportunities to adopt a pygmy hippo. Don’t worry, it won’t be delivered to your school. Hopefully…
  • February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day. Including ‘the kindness experience’, ‘become a RAKactivist’, ‘take the workplace challenge’ and ‘kindness in the classroom’. Our favourite acts of kindness at the School Reading List mostly involve cake.

Extension activities:

Other recently released titles to have a look at:

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About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is a highly qualified (BA Hons, PGCE, QTS) children's literature expert and teacher with over 25 years of experience. He has led inset courses, developed curriculum materials, spoken at conferences, advised on longlisting for several international children's literature literature awards and written for educational publishers including contributing to a BETT award-nominated app. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin