July 2022’s set of recommendations for book clubs features eight titles with revealing and intimate portraits of family life, a Victorian-inspired murder mystery, a magical novella exploring loss and inspiration, a follow your own fairytale adventure with endless possibilities, a confidence-building picture book to relieve transition anxiety and teen vegetarian vampire dilemma. July 2022’s picks include titles by Anna Hoghton, Derrick Barnes, Jo Simmons, Katya Balen, Kieran Larwood, Kristina Sigunsdotter, Maisie Chan and Natalia & Lauren O’Hara.
July 2022 book club recommendations
Queen of the Classroom by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton
It’s MJ’s first day at school and she cannot wait to bring her confidence, enthusiasm and positivity to the classroom. A brilliant story to read to children who are about to start a new school, Queen of the Classroom features vibrant and emotive illustrations and diverse characters with real expression in real situations that pupils will relate to. Full of positive values, friendship, and a joy for life it’s a great partner book to King of the Classroom. We particularly loved the colourful and visual illustrations of MJ’s exuberant singing.
Once Upon a Fairytale by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara
In this beautifully realised hardback picture book, the reader chooses a situation, a fairy tale character, a setting, a narrative problem, MacGuffin-like plot devices to collect, a climax and a happy ending. There are so many permutations a whole class of KS1 children will never get bored reading this. And for teachers, Once Upon a Fairytale is perfect for modelling story planning and structure in KS2. Our favourite character was the ‘well-dressed puss’, and it’s always useful to have ‘a hole to vanish things in’! As the book says at the start of the story, ‘The hero of this tale is you.’ If you teach story journeys in KS1 or traditional and fairy tales in lower KS2, this book is an absolute joy to use for ideas. Beautifully illustrated it will inspire not just creative writing, but also artwork and topic work. There’s even a fabulous fairytale-world map to help fire children’s imaginations.
Orla and the Wild Hunt by Anna Hoghton
When Orla and her brother travel to their Gran in Ireland to grieve the recent death of their mother, they soon become drawn into Gran’s world of stories. But it turns out there’s much more to her tales when she goes missing and Orla has to overcome difficult challenges to find her. With an enchanting and clever cover by David Dean, this middle-grade novel is pacey and thought-provoking with crisp dialogue and plenty of impending jeopardies. A richly rewarding read.
Carnival of the Hunted by Kieran Larwood
When the feared Hunter’s Club go after Sideshow acts, Carnival life is suddenly under threat. Will Sheba and Pyewacket be able to survive to solve the mystery? With characterful illustrations by Sam Usher and each page framed by a printed border of heavy Victorian grunge, this tense and exciting mystery exudes an aroma of shadowy intrigue – both figuratively and literally.
Birdsong by Katya Balen
A world of silence shelters Annie from the painful memories of a car accident. Retreating from everyone around her, she misses her love of music and she longs to play her flute. When she meets Noah, he shows her the beautiful birdsong from a hidden blackbird’s nest – but is this newfound hope and inspiration also at risk? Birdsong is a magical and memorable story, full of empathy, warmth, a rollercoaster of emotions and an uplifting ending. Beautifully written, it’s perfect for group reading with readers in upper KS2 and less confident lower KS3 students, or for teachers to read aloud to provoke discussion in KS2 PSHE.
The Secret Life of Cricket Karlsson by Kristina Sigunsdotter
Cricket is 11 and delves into secrets, relationships and mental health in this startlingly fresh novel that will appeal to students in KS3. The part graphic novel, part first-person tween stream of angst is very engaging and relatable. The high contrast cover with dayglo titles and fluorescent green flaps will prove highly eye-catching when displayed in the school library. It’s quite unlike anything else you’ll see or read this year.
Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu by Maisie Chan
When 12-year-old Lizzie’s grandad starts to behave strangely, she doesn’t know what to do. But then she hatches a plan to tap into his past by taking him to Blackpool Tower Ballroom to help him remember his love of dance. Exploring themes of dementia, loss, young carers and Chinese culture, Keep Dancing is an immensely fun read with an uplifting sense of positivity and family spirit. It’s perfect for summer term reading in years 7-9, for KS3 book club discussion, or to read over a holiday weekend.
Author of the award-winning Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths.
The Reluctant Vampire Queen by Jo Simmons
Mo Merrydrew discovers there are certain advantages to being chosen to be a Vampire Queen at the age of 15 – such as getting out of PE and getting together with Luca, a vampire familiar. But she’s less sure about the vegetarian violating blood guzzling. A perfect, uproariously funny summer read, The Reluctant Vampire Queen is the YA book to be seen reading on the beach in 2022. A great fun read for teens.
Themed day / social media opportunities for July 2022
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.
- #NationalMoonDay on July 20th celebrates the Moon landing and inspires us to look up and learn about the moon and its phases. There’s also #SleepUnderTheStarsNight in the following month. There are free resources from the Museum of Flight website. Don’t forget NASA’s stunning website with resources for learning about the phases of the moon and Google’s Earth’s interactive view of the moon.
- #PlasticBagFreeDay takes place on July 3rd and forms part of #PlasticFreeJuly. There’s an official website with lots of free educational ideas and an annual challenge.
- #PicnicMonth takes place each July and #TeddyBearPicnicDay on July 10th may well be of interest to teens with younger siblings. Cedars Bourton has lots of good ideas to celebrate the day.
- #CowAppreciationDay is sadly postponed in 2022, you’ll have to find an udder way to have fun on July 12. Perhaps #PandemoniumDay will suit your school on July 14, especially since it’s nearly the end of term.
- Have a look at our writing competitions for July 2022.
Other recently released titles to have a look at:
- Our latest July 2022 books of the month.
- Our rundown of the best books coming out in summer 2022.
- Our July 2022 books of the day on Twitter.
- Our guide on how to run a school book club, which covers both primary school book clubs and secondary school book clubs.
Click the button below to buy all this month’s recommended book club titles, or class sets of any of these books, from Bookshop.org UK.