June 2022 book club picks

June 2022 book recommendations

June 2022’s set of recommendations for book clubs features eight titles that include a story about the importance of getting someone’s name right, a sensitive picture book about the effects of dementia, a spectacular journal of positive self-reflection, an incredible mystery involving an octopus, a compelling YA dark magic fantasy and a really useful resource for helping younger children deal with change and transition. June 2022’s picks include titles by Charlotte Guillain, Nigel Gray, Bethan Welby, Sarah Horne, Ole Könnecke, The School of Life, Lindsay Galvin, Melissa Albert & Namina Forna.

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June 2022 book club recommendations

We’re Moving by Adam and Charlotte Guillain and Zeynep Ozatalay

Wherever in the world you are, moving is stressful and filled with upheaval and worrying about the unknown. Each spread in this picture book features a highly illustrated scene of a different family moving, with lyrical rhyming text describing their emotions and thoughts. Sensitive and reassuring, the detailed and atmospheric illustrations make this a great book to read and share. ‘We’re moving’ will be a useful resource for discussing change, upheaval, and transition in KS1 and KS2 PSHE.

0-8-year-olds | Video trailer | Author’s Twitter

We're Moving by Adam and Charlotte Guillain and Zeynep Ozatalay

I Am Nefertiti by Annemarie Anang

Nefertiti is excited about joining a band and playing the drums. But when the music teacher decides to shorten her name, she becomes shorter and shorter, shrinking to the point where she almost disappears from view. How will her bandmates bring her back to size? A story about the importance of names, respecting each other and building confidence, the wonderful onomatopoeic language makes this a great story to read aloud to a class or discuss in book clubs; and there’s a lot of potential to use this text as a starting point for music-related descriptive and imaginative writing. It will appeal to drummers everywhere.

3-5-year-olds | Video trailer | Author’s website

I Am Nefertiti by Annemarie Anang

Phyllis and Grace by Nigel Gray and Bethan Welby

With delicate watercolour illustrations, this large-format hardback picture book explores the touching friendship between Grace, a young girl, and  Phyllis the old lady who lives next door. Through gentle dialogue and storyline, the reader finds out that Phyllis is losing her memory. A very sensitive treatment of a difficult subject, this story will help KS1 and KS2 children to understand the changes they see in loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s. Highly recommended, this is a particularly useful book to discuss in primary PSHE lessons and KS1 and KS2 book clubs.

3-9-year-olds | Video reading | Illustrator’s website

Phyllis and Grace by Nigel Gray and Bethan Welby

Panda In The Spotlight by Sarah Horne

When the Panda-Mime stage show becomes a big hit, a Hollywood film adaptation is in the offing. But all the fame and success might disappear if a tenacious reporter discovers that Pudding is a real Panda. What will Pudding and the Campbell family do? With short illustrated chapters, a dialogue-driven storyline and a fast-moving plot, this is a great choice to read aloud in a lower KS2 class or a junior book club. Read our review of the first book in the series – Panda at the Door.

7-9-year-olds | Book extract | Author’s Twitter

Panda In The Spotlight by Sarah Horne

My Friend The Octopus by Lindsay Galvin

It’s 1877 and aquariums are all the rage. When an enormous octopus is delivered to the Brighton aquarium, 12-year-old Vinnie’s life will never be the same again, as she finds out how the amazing creature communicates and a mystery unfolds. Beautifully finished with an eye-catching cover design, intricate flap illustrations and a spine that sparkles, this is a mesmerising middle-grade novel that will leave 9-12-year-olds wanting more.

9-12-year-olds | Book extract | Author’s Twitter

My Friend The Octopus by Lindsay Galvin

The Book of Me – A Children’s Journal of Self-Discovery by The School of Life

This spectacular and inspiring journal invites children to consider and write down exactly what makes them unique, what interests them and what matters to them. Taking “readers on a journey inside themselves”, morality, mental health, body image, friendships, family relationships and aspirations are all explored in a positive and contemplative way. At 184 pages, there’s a colossal amount of thinking to be done – easily enough for long summer holidays – and the reflective and positive nature of this book lends it to a Y6/7 transition project before starting a new school. Or it could be used to as part of a summer reading challenge, and to compare notes in book clubs at the start of next term. Once completed, this journal will become a priceless portal back to that point in the child’s life.

10+ year-olds | Book extract | Author’s Twitter

The Book of Me - A Children's Journal of Self-Discovery by The School of Life

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

Dana’s summer at the age of sixteen turns into a supernatural encounter that will have repercussions a generation later when her daughter Ivy sees and experiences things that cannot be explained. Together, they must face what awaits. Thought-provoking, imaginative and powerful – Our Crooked Hearts features compelling characters that teen readers will root for and situations and choices that readers will pray they will never have to face. A compelling, contemporary and pacey read that makes dark magic very real and present. Ideal for KS4 and sixth form book clubs, this is a novel that will linger in the memory.

13+ year-olds | Book extract | Author’s Twitter

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna

In this, the sequel to The Guilded Ones, there’s a malevolent force threatening Otera, and only Deka’s army can stop it. But the increasingly powerful Deka is facing a crisis of confidence and trust. With a visceral opening, graphic descriptions of war and a fiercely thrilling ending, even the book edges are painted red. Perfect for KS4 and KS5 book clubs, there are plenty of meaty societal and philosophical talking points in Namina Forna’s corrupt and patriarchal fantasy world for teens to discuss and compare to present-day reality.

14+ year-olds | Video trailer | Author’s Twitter

The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna

Themed day / social media opportunities for June 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.

Extension activities:

Other recently released titles to have a look at:

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About Tom Tolkien

Photo of author
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