At LoveReading4Kids we love books. We adore reading. It's our absolute favourite thing to do. Rain or shine.
Books, books and more books. It's our job to read, review and recommend the very best newly published books for the children in our lives. For the children in your life. And if you're a child, for you!
There's always so much talk about how little coverage is given to children's books in the media. Especially when we consider that in the UK one in every three books bought is a children's book, it's shocking. But don't worry, we are here flying the flag for children's books. And we always will be.
Day in, day out, week in, week out, all year round, it's our job, no it's our honour to curate a list of highly recommended reads for kids, from toddlers to teens. For the avid readers out there who eat books for breakfast and for the children who don't see themselves as a reader yet.
Out of the thousands of books we read every year, these are the cream of the crop, the best of the rest, a collection of books that have really stood out from the crowd for us. For the books that made it onto the list, it's their first outing. Either hardbacks, or a paperback first book. There are some books that have been published in paperback this year, and we have absolutely adored, but they appeared in our 2022 Books of the Year list.
If you are only going to buy a few books this year, pick from this list as they are all stars! If you're looking for a little special something for a Christmas stocking, scroll to your heart's desire below.
2023 has been our first full year of being an online bookstore, and we are absolutely loving it. And so are our thousands of customers and happy schools who partner with us to get free books. So now shouting about books is even more important than ever. You get to gift extra with us; every time you buy a book, you are making a difference. Either to a school close to your heart or a school in real need.
As we read, our Star Books selection grows and this list becomes our Books of the Year. So now we are here, in November of 2023, to again share with you the children's books that have been the stars this year. The twinkliest and brightest of all of the children's books we've consumed.
We must mention the absolute gift of a book Panda's Child. Suitable for 5+ and 7+ readers but will be loved and appreciated by everyone, the book is beautifully packaged and shines with an obvious love and respect for the natural world. This is an exquisite tale of betrayal, bravery, and an unbreakable bond. The magical, powerful story by Jackie Morris, co-creator of The Lost Words, and award-winning illustrator Cathy Fisher, is a book for all ages to treasure.
From the duo behind the award winning and best-selling Kay’s Anatomy and Kay’s Marvellous Medicine we have a debut picturebook that proves they are just as successful at communicating biological facts accurately for three-to five-year-olds, as they are for older readers. In Amy Gets Eaten by Adam Kay and Henry Paker, Amy the tiny sweetcorn hilariously, fearlessly and informatively explores Noah’s digestive system.
Being confirmed admirers of Yaba Badoe’s fiction for older readers, we were thrilled to hear about her first work for younger children, with Joelle Avelino’s beautifully bright, dynamic illustrations promising the perfect feast of words and pictures. As expected, the result certainly lives up to its promise. Set in present-day Notting Hill, Man Man and the Tree of Memories is a bedazzlement of carnival magic, African-Caribbean culture and ancestral connections. Great for 8-12 readers this infectiously exuberant, dazzlingly illustrated tale celebrates carnival magic, ancestral history, freedom, community and family love.
The 9+ age range is absolutely bursting with brilliant books perfect for the middle grade reader. Helen Rutter has a reputation for funny, authentic, touching stories of modern-day young people. Her first book with Barrington Stoke boosts that further with The Piano at the Station, a feel-good read that is full of truth and insight.
Our October Guest Editor Jennifer Killick delivers another tantalisingly terrifying tale in the Dread Wood series called Deadly Deep: with killer dialogue and thrills galore, Dread Wood is just dead good.
Hannah Gold gives us Finding Bear, the unmissable follow-up to the phenomenal bestselling and award-winning The Last Bear. Beautifully illustrated by Levi Pinfold and perfect for readers 8+, the heart-pounding return of Bear in an enthralling Arctic sequel is a stunning story of survival and a heartwarming tale of love that shows us how hope is born from the smallest of beginnings.
Aimed at 9+, 11+ readers but really for absolutely everyone who appreciates a beautiful book, Katherine Rundell, one of the most incredible authors of our time, has created an epic story in Impossible Creatures. It's a triumph. Brimful of ideas, this adventure is set in a world that joyfully and provocatively stretches the imagination as Christopher and Mal, two children with exceptional futures, explore the secret and mysterious world of the Archipelago where mythological creatures, sometimes benign but frequently savage, still live. There's a quotation by Michael Morpurgo on the jacket of Impossible Creatures that reads: “There was Tolkien, there is Pullman and now there is Katherine Rundell.” Need we say more...
Moving to 11+, fans of the unforgettable Boy, Everywhere will be keen to revisit the world of Sami, the refugee from Syria, whose horrific journey before finding a safe home in England and some good friends in Mark and Ali, had us all so gripped. Kicked Out by A.M. Dassu is equally wonderful and a thoroughly important as well as enjoyable read. This book should be in every library and on every bookshelf, a thoroughly rewarding and powerful read.
Graphic novels are a wonderful thing. As well as being a brilliantly unique entertainment medium in their own right, comics and graphic novels are a terrific stepping stone for reluctant readers and the most wonderful way of engaging our non-readers and building their confidence. Some of the examples selected here showcase the true quality and diversity of graphic novels. Special mention must go to the brilliant Stuntboy, In Between Time by Jason Reynolds and Raul the Third. The first in a brand new series, this awesome hi-energy escapade involving escaped iguanas, tricking bullies and overcoming anxiety hits the spot for 8+ year-olds.
Moving upwards in age to 11+, 13+ readers, Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir by Pedro Martin is a glorious graphic novel memoir which reels with road-trip thrills and the magic of family, self-discovery and finding your voice.
Several verse novels appear on this list, a format we absolutely adore here at LoveReading4Kids, a format so accessible and engaging for the most reluctant of readers. Particular mention must go to Matt Goodfellow's The Final Year for 9+ readers and Tia Fisher's Crossing the Line which should be read by every secondary school pupil in the UK.
The Final Year is a moving debut verse novel from acclaimed poet Goodfellow which introduces us to 10- year old Nate, “a week away from the end of Year 5”, showing us his streets, “not a place of labradors and lattes” and his people: brothers Jaxon, Dylan, his Mum, the missing fathers, Auntie San and PS, “ my best mate since I nicked his biscuit at nursery”. Nate tells us about The Beast too, the anger he struggles to keep under control. Highly accessible, lyrical and life affirming, this is must-have novel that will authentically resonate with so many under- represented children and perfectly captures what this crucial transition period feels like. As such, it is a must read for adults as well as the children who will devour it. It will also resonate with children who have made that transition and perhaps help them with their own feelings, as well as encouraging them to write for themselves.
Crossing the Line is an immersive and powerful verse novel about terrifying county lines child exploitation with imaginative use of font and layout, that tells an important story that the author acknowledges is based upon the real experiences of a friend’s son.
It's an absolute corker of a list. Children's publishing is having a moment. And we are delighted to be at the very heart of it. Shouting about children's books from the rooftops. Happy reading, and well done to all of the authors, illustrators, and children's publishers big and small who made it onto this 2023 list. And thank you!