The following article comes from primary English specialist Kate Heap, who shares her top recommendations for new books to share with children in light of World Book Night on the 23rd April.

More time at home means more time to read all of the wonderful children’s books being published in 2020. Here are four fantastic books to entertain and challenge children, teachers and parents alike!

The Girl Who Stole an Elephant

by Nizrana Farook (published by Nosy Crow – January 2020)

In this Robin Hood-style story, an unlikely hero steals from the rich (including the tyrannical king) to help those who are struggling in the community. Is this right? Is this wrong? Will good win in the end?

Chaya, Noor and Neel have to be true to themselves to find the answers. Working together, they struggle against frightening guards, being chased through the jungle and a seemingly unbreakable prison. Along the way, they come across the most beautiful elephant who becomes a special friend. The setting of the Sri Lankan jungle is described in great detail making the reader feel like they are there with the characters, a part of the adventure!

Orphans of the Tide

by Struan Murray (published by Puffin – February 2020)

Surrounded by the sea, “The City” is at the mercy of the tides and the power of the water. As the sea tries to claim it back, the people are faced with an even bigger problem. “The Enemy” – the last of the gods – threatens to return and destroy them all. Leaders in the city (the Inquisitors) will stop at nothing to destroy it and the person who has been chosen as “The Vessel”.

13 year-old Ellie is an orphan trying to make her way in the city. Working as an engineer, she repairs and invents the most exceptional technology. One day, a whale is washed up onto the roof of a building. To the shock of bystanders, Ellie finds a boy inside the whale and rescues him. Immediately, the Inquisitors decide that this boy is “The Vessel”, the person chosen by the Enemy to help him return to power. Deep down, Ellie knows this boy can’t possibly be the Vessel and does all she can to rescue and protect him.

For the remainder of the story, readers journey with Ellie, her best friend Anna, and Seth (the boy from the whale) as they try to escape the Inquisitors and discover truth.

Crater Lake

by Jennifer Killick (Published by Firefly Press – March 2020)

In primary school, Year 6 residential is a rite of passage. Every child waits for this very special adventure with anticipation, excitement and a little bit of fear. There is always a ghost story to go with it – a frightening tale passed on by older children who have been there and lived to tell it.

The story of Crater Lake is the birth of one such tale: a perfect mix of horror and humour designed to make every child waiting for their Year 6 residential feel ever so slightly nervous.

This terror-filled science fiction adventure follows one such Year 6 class on their residential to Crater Lake, a brand new adventure centre. Suddenly, their coach slams to a halt as they come across a strange, blood-covered man in the road. Is he a zombie? Is he an alien? Is he dead? Who is he and what is he trying to tell them? His warnings are garbled and unclear. From that moment on, things don’t seem quite right. Lance and the other children sense something is wrong and this isn’t going to be an ordinary school residential.

Sequin & Stitch

by Laura Dockrill (published by Barrington Stoke – April 2020)

Sequin and Stitch is a wonderfully crafted story of family, dreams and home. It is overflowing with empathy for the struggles and joys faced by so many children.

Nine-year-old Sequin’s mum is her hero and inspiration. She is fiercely loyal to her mum and immensely proud of all she does as a seamstress. Partly inspired by the Grenfell Tower tragedy, readers are taken on an emotional journey with Sequin’s family as they find a way forward together.

Published by Barrington Stoke, this beautiful story has a reading age of 8 but an interest level of 8-12. Laura Dockrill has not shied away from challenging, age-appropriate themes and is respectful of her readers’ ability to deal with issues such as poverty, bullying and loss. This book is sure to help more reluctant readers find their reading spark and get lost in this engaging story, building their confidence with manageable chapters and text.

Watch out for these great books coming soon!

Gargantis by Thomas Taylor (published by Walker Books – May 2020)

The Ghost Garden by Emma Carroll (published by Barrington Stoke – July 2020)

The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethell (published by Usborne – July 2020)


Kate Heap

Kate Heap is an experienced Primary English Consultant from Leeds. She is passionate about helping children to be inspired in their learning through adventure and imagination. Kate is also an author for teachers with her book, Reading the Classics at Key Stage Two, to be published in 2020.

Read more from Kate on her blog, Scope for Imagination, and follow her on Twitter –  @KateHeap1.

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