October 2023’s set of recommendations for book clubs features eight titles to enthral your book club members in the run-up to half term and Halloween. With love stories, secondary school transition drama, family themes, fantasy adventures and magical storytelling, there’s plenty of choice across all age groups. October 2023’s picks include titles by Dhonielle Clayton, Ewa Jozefkowicz, Helen Cooper, Lisa Williamson, Emily Hauser, Nathan Jurevicius, Rina Singh and Dianne Hofmeyr.
October 2023 book club recommendations
Storm Dragon by Dianne Hofmeyr and Carol Thompson
When there’s a storm, grandchild and Grandpa set off for a beach adventure to find the mysterious storm dragon in this heartwarming story of family, excitement and imagination. With powerful panoramic illustrations that evoke the power and allure of weather as a force of nature, Storm Dragon is a wonderful picture book to read aloud and share with EYFS classes.
2+ year olds | Video
Imagine a Garden: Stories of Courage Changing the World by Rina Singh and Hoda Hadadi
Seven powerful stories of courage reframe how we see compassion and understanding in the world around us. Illustrated with inspiring mixed media collages by Hoda Hadadi, each true story is presented as a short poem – ideal to read aloud and discuss. It’s a beautiful hardback to inspire whole school assemblies or biographical writing in KS2, and the author’s notes and backstories to the true events at the end of the book will be particularly useful to teachers.
6-10 year olds | Author’s website
Scarygirl: The Origin Story by Nathan Jurevicius
Abandoned on a mysterious beach, Scarygirl embarks on a quest of discovery to find out who the strange man who appears in her dreams is, and what happened in her past. Alongside Blister the octopus, she faces enigmatic dreams and forest dwellers in a spectacularly realised fantasy world. With powerful and vibrant full-colour illustrations, this compelling wordless picture book is a visual feast. Perfect for less confident readers and imaginative children interested in art and adventure, Scarygirl is highly recommended for KS2 libraries.
8+ year olds | Author’s website
The Memory Thieves (The Marvellers 2) by Dhonielle Clayton
Ella, Brigit, and Jason can’t wait to start their second year at the Arcanum Training Institute. But Ella’s celebrity causes problems, and her return to the Conjure community is met with resistance. As they uncover dangerous secrets about the school’s architect, a mysterious magical illness strikes – and people suspect Ella is the cause. Can they uncover the stolen memories and save themselves before everything descends into chaos? A gripping fantasy adventure. Read our full review.
8+ year olds | Author’s website
The Wolf Twins by Ewa Jozefkowicz
Readers aged 9+ will be drawn into the unique bond and differences between identical twins, Lucy and Alpha. When their parents’ separation uproots them to a forest, their contrasting views on life create tension. The story intertwines family dynamics, conservation, and school experiences, providing a heartfelt narrative about identity and connection. Read our full review of The Wolf Twins.
9+ year olds | Author’s website
The Taming of the Cat by Helen Cooper
Facing Gorgonzola, a cunning and hungry cat, Brie, a mouse, stays alive by spinning a tale that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. Helen Cooper’s masterful storytelling and intricate illustrations create an immersive experience which invites discussions about the power of narratives and unexpected friendships. It’s a captivating and inspirational read that will leave readers thinking about the power and consequences of storytelling. Highly recommended. Read our full review.
9-12 year olds | Author’s website
Bigg School: Best Friends Forever by Lisa Williamson, illustrated by Jess Bradley
Chloe and Evie, inseparable best friends, face a challenging new school year when they realise they have no classes together. As they navigate the tricky transition to secondary school, their close friendship is tested. Lisa Williamson’s insightful portrayal of Year 7 girls’ emotions makes this a valuable read for children dealing with life in a new school. Best Friends Forever will be a thought-provoking book for UKS2 and LKS3 book clubs.
9-12 year olds | Author’s website
Ancient Love Stories by Emily Hauser, illustrated by Sander Berg
Award-winning classicist Emily Hauser presents 11 inclusive tales of fearless queens and besotted emperors, with themes of passion, jealousy, and longing in this eye-catching hardback illustrated by Sander Berg. Including retold versions of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, The Lovers of Pompeii, Zhuo Wenjun and Sima Xiangru, and Sappho, ‘Ancient Love Stories’ shows teens the power of love through classic storytelling. Ideal for secondary school libraries.
12+ year olds | Author’s website
Themed day / social media opportunities for October 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.
- October is Black History Month. There are some invaluable resources from National Geographic Kids for 5-11-year-olds, videos and interactive resources for KS2, KS3 and KS4 from BBC Teach, free lesson plans for secondary schools from Stonewall, a collection of resources from the NEU, and this selection of articles and columns from The Guardian for sixth formers.
- International Walk to School Month takes place in October. There’s a wealth of information on the ‘Living Streets‘ website.
- Also, October-wide is International School Library Month. There are lots of ideas on the IASL website.
- During the first week of October, Dyslexia Awareness Week takes place. The BDA has lots of ideas to help schools get involved on their website.
- World Teachers Day on October 5th is probably best celebrated by giving hardworking staff the day off. But let’s face it, in most schools that will never happen. UNESCO has a history of the event and participation ideas on its website.
- And there’s National Poetry Day on October 5th is “the UK’s biggest mass-participation celebration of poetry”. This year’s theme is ‘The Environment”. There are lots of ideas for schools on the official website, including a trove of resources.
- Word Smile Day on Friday the 6th asks everyone to commit to an act of kindness. For pastoral coordinators concerned about potential smile shaming, the Young Minds website has to useful resources for schools about all forms of body image.
- World Mental Health Day on the 10th of the month is celebrated on the mentalhealth.org.uk website, which features posts to download and free podcasts.
- And finally, there’s Halloween on October 31st. There are some great resources for primary and secondary schools on BBC Teach, and STEM.org.uk has some great ideas for integrating spooky themes into maths and science lessons.
- Have a look at our writing competitions for October 2023.
Other recently released titles to have a look at:
- Our latest October 2023 books of the month.
- Our rundown of the best books coming out in autumn 2023.
- Our October 2023 books of the day on Twitter.
- Our guide on how to run a school book club 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.Buy from UK.Bookshop.Org