The three children’s books I can’t wait to teach

Following on from yesterday’s post about what makes a good teachable children’s book (and of course they don’t all have to be teachable to be enjoyed by children!), here’s my top five I’m itching to get into the classroom.

Long Way Down

I read Jason Reynolds’ Long Way Down as part of the UKLA awards process and was just blown away by it. It definitely encompasses all those things I talked about yesterday – powerful but accessible.

It tells the story of Will, a teenage boy hell bent on repeating the destructive cycle of revenge. But on his way down in the lift from his apartment to going and seeing out his version of justice, he’s visited by what is effectively the ghosts of Christmas past, friends and family who’ve fallen victim to the same cycle and Will has to decide whether he can break it or not.

This is a beautifully written text, but also has a really important message, and for the kids that I teach, who live generally in a fairly small bubble, can really open up their eyes to what other children have to deal with. It’s also a great one to connect with moral messages and even historical ones.

Buy it on Amazon here.

Run Rebel

I’ve just read this as part of this year’s Carnegie selection and my reaction was similar to that as when I read Long Way Down – but perhaps this is even more relevant to the young people I see on a daily basis.

It’s set in an Asian family, where Amber longs to be free but is living under the weight of her family’s disappointment at her gender, and the responsibility of being the only literate English speaker in the family. This deals with some immense themes – gender, relationships, domestic violence, addiction, poverty – but does so in a really accessible but thoughtful way.

The novel uses the poetic form again, but goes beyond that to include dialogue too in a way that makes it seem multi-modal and really new. Loved it!

Available from Amazon here.

Mary’s Monster

This one is a bit different, although is still written in a poetic form (I complain about the number of poetry novels, but it turns out they speak to me more than the others!) – this combines non-fiction, with poetry and beautiful images.

It tells the story of Mary Shelley, using fragments of her own voice, in almost graphic novel form. It’s a fantastically rich resource for the classroom and really offers an in to one of our most famous female classic writers. I’ve always been fascinated by Percy Shelley and reading about him through Mary’s eyes just made that even more interesting. This is a great way to look at biographical form, and also as a way into discussions about Frankenstein too.

Available on Amazon here.

Do you have any favourite children’s books that you think would make a great addition to the classroom?

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