Let’s get talking…

A few weeks ago I came upon the post Ten texts to get kids talking on the Nerdy Book Club blog and I found myself in quite unfamiliar territory. This is an excellent blog topic but many of the books aren’t well known or even available in the UK, so I thought ‘what are our alternatives?’.

Looking at different themes such as inclusion, death, family, climate change, mental health, identity, gender, etc. these books provide great stories and tools to spark thoughtful discussion both in the classroom or at home.

Please feel free to contribute to this list in the comments below.

Picture Books

THE PROMISE by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin

Discussion topics: Climate change, ecology, conservation

NO MATTER WHAT by Debi Gliori

Discussion topics: Love, family

THE JOURNEY HOME by Frann Preston-Gannon

Discussion topics: Climate change, conservation, extinction

RABBITYNESS by Jo Empson

Discussion topics: Death, grief, creativity


For five and up

BILLS NEW FROCK by Anne Fine

Discussion topics: Gender roles, inclusion

FOLLOWING GRANDFATHER by Rosemary Wells

Discussion topics: Death, grief, family, class

SLEEPOVERS by Jacqueline Wilson

Discussion topics: Cliques, disabilities, friendships

NOT BAD FOR A BAD LAD by Michael Morpurgo

Discussion topics: Labelling, understanding people, encouragement

THE OWL WHO WAS AFRAID OF THE DARK by Jill Tomlinson

Discussion topics: Exploring and overcoming fears


For nine and up

SHADOW by Michael Morpurgo

Discussion topics: War, refugees, tolerance

THE TERRIBLE THING THAT HAPPENED TO BARNABY BROCKET by John Boyne

Discussion topics: Identity, acceptance, family

THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL by Anne Frank

Discussion topics: War, tolerance/intolerance

WONDER by R.J Palacio

Discussion topics: Differences, appearance, tolerance

THE ILLUSTRATED MUM by Jacqueline Wilson

Discussion topics: Mental health, family


For teens and young adults

NOUGHTS AND CROSSES by Malorie Blackman

Discussion topics: Race, class, tolerance/intolerance

PALESTINE by Joe Sacco

Discussion topics: War, intolerance, Israel/Palestine conflict

MAGGOT MOON by Sally Gardner

Discussion Topics: Fascism, government, soviets, freedom

ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY by Mildred D. Taylor

Discussion topics: Race, intolerance, innocence, freedom

MORE THAN THIS by Patrick Ness

Discussion topics: Death, homosexuality, mental illness, reality


Also see: Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne (9+), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (Teen), Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Teen), The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers (Picture Book), The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic (Picture Book), Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen (Picture Book), Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole (Picture Book)

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