July 2023 book club picks

July 2023 book club picks

July 2023’s set of recommendations for book clubs features eight titles that explore compelling themes of loyalty, belonging, heritage, resilience and sharing – through push and pull interaction, thought-provoking illustrations, magical realism and laugh-out-loud humour. July 2023’s picks include titles by David Fenne, Cédric Ramadier, Christiane Dorion and Beverley Young, Swapna Haddow, Alexia Casale, and Anna Waterworth.

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July 2023 book club recommendations

Stuckie Duckie Balloon by HarperCollins Children’s Books

There’s a balloon stuck in one of the trees in the park, but with just one string, how can Bing and Sula both play with it? Perfect for preschool fans of the CBeebies hit Bing, Stuckie Duckie Balloon is a colourful and engaging story that will encourage children to think about taking turns and sharing.

0-3 year-olds | BBC Bing website.

Stuckie Duckie Balloon by HarperCollins Children's Books

What’s That, Jack? by Cédric Ramadier, illustrated by Vincent Bourgeau

When an object falls from the sky with a big ‘Bomph’, Jack and George are fascinated by it. They roll it, follow it, and think deeply about it. Highly imaginative, ‘What’s That, Jack?’ is perfect to discuss with preschool children. Illustrated with a resplendent and vibrant pink throughout, this charming hardback will not go unnoticed!

2-5 year-olds | Author’s website.

What's That, Jack? by Cédric Ramadier, illustrated by Vincent Bourgeau

How the Weather Works by Christiane Dorion and Beverley Young

‘Discover our changing skies and climate’, the strapline reads, and How the Weather Works delivers with a highly engaging and fact-packed format for KS2 children. The water cycle, weather forecasting, extreme weather, climate change and seasons are covered through vibrant colour-filled spreads. Highly recommended for topic work and geography shelves in primary school libraries.

7-9 year-olds | Author’s website.

How the Weather Works by Christiane Dorion and Beverley Young

Dave Pigeon (Kittens!) by Swapna Haddow, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

Mean Cat is acting strangely and Dave the Pigeon and Skipper fear the worst. But an unexpected turn of events and some very cute kittens force them to see cats in a new light. Fast-paced fun and frequent illustrations make this series ideal for less confident readers in lower KS2.

8+ year-olds | Author’s website.

Dave Pigeon (Kittens!) by Swapna Haddow, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

A Head Full of Magic by Sarah Morrell

When Fleur discovers she can talk to animals her powers not only help her to deal with the mean girl at school but create a new and unexpected bond with her West Indian nan. A fascinating blend of cultures, magic, animal worlds and friendships, ‘A Head Full of Magic’ will appeal to imaginative children in upper KS2 looking for a fast-paced and fun read. Read our full review.

8-12 year-olds | Author’s website.

A Head Full of Magic by Sarah Morrell

Sing If You Can’t Dance by Alexia Casale

When Ven’s plans for a great summer and a great life are thrown into jeopardy, nothing will stop her from pursuing her dreams. Exploring disability and resilience through artistic expression, Sing If You Can’t Dance is empowering, genuine and memorable in equal measure. Highly recommended for teens in KS3 and KS4.

12+ year-olds | Author’s Twitter.

Sing If You Can't Dance by Alexia Casale

Overemotional by David Fenne

Stephen Percival’s emotions get the better of him in spectacular and supernatural ways. The unique debut is the ultimate LGBTQI TikTok superhero romcom for Gen Z. With perhaps the most jaw-droppingly startling and OMG-prompting back cover blurb you’ll read this year, Overemotional is a sure-fire summer term secondary school library hit. Not to be missed. Read our full review.

14+ year-olds | Author’s Twitter

Overemotional by David Fenne

The Girl Who Grew Wings by Anna Waterworth

When demons take Sephie to the underworld only her sister Icari can save her and keep her dangerous secret. But she will need to summon courage and fight and act against her nature as a healer to grow wings and fly. Compelling themes of love, loyalty and peril are interwoven with Greek mythology to create a uniquely powerful story. The Girl Who Grew Wings is a stunningly realised fantasy adventure that will keep older teens gripped.

14+ year-olds | Author’s website.

The Girl Who Grew Wings by Anna Waterworth

Themed day / social media opportunities for July 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.

  • #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 back on after grazing in 2022. The steaks are high, so it will behoove your school to amoose your students on July 12. An udderly important event, perhaps we can steer you towards this useful resource.
  • #PandemoniumDay will suit your school on July 14, especially since it’s nearly the end of term.

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

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