The Must Read Book list is one of our annual selections of the best fiction for primary schools chosen by librarians from the Schools Library Service and primary and secondary schools, and is a suggested list to buy for your school library.
For fiction for years 3 and 4, take a look at our Takeoff! booklist.
The book list represents a selection of the best new fiction first published in paperback within the last year, and covers a diverse range of subjects, genres, authors and interests.
Titles from the 2022 Teen and Primary lists will be chosen for the Tower Hamlets Book Award short list. Don’t forget to register for this event!
Posters for the 2022 booklists will be delivered soon to subscribing schools
Please contact the library for any further information about the book list.
|Listen Layla||Yassmin Abdel-Magied||I am Layla Kareem Abdel-Hafiz Hussein, the greatest Sudanese Australian inventor the world has ever seen. And if they don’t know my name yet, they soon will. Inshallah! Family, friends, home, inventions – there’s a lot to navigate. With big protests looming in Sudan, could Layla save the day with her revolutionary ideas?|
|Jummy at the river school||Adeyinka, Sabine||Jummy has won a place at the River School, the finest girls’ boarding school in Nigeria.
Nothing can dampen her spirits, not even when she learns that her best friend Caro won’t be joining her.By the Shine-Shine River, school is everything Jummy dreamt of, with friendly new girls, midnight feasts and sporting prizes – but when Caro suddenly arrives at the school to work, not to learn, Jummy must bring all her friends together to help.
|The Time Thief||Patience Agbabi||Elle and her Leapling classmates are visiting the Museum of the Past, the Present and the Future. But on the day of the school trip, disaster strikes, and the most unique and valuable piece in the museum, the Infinity-Glass, is stolen! And worse still, Elle’s friend is arrested for the crime!
To prove his innocence Elle must leap back centuries in time, to a London very different from today.
|Princess Sophia Duleep Singh||Ahmed, Sufia||Princess Sophia Duleep Singh – the thrilling story of the princess and suffragette. Born in Britain to Indian and Egyptian parents, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was a prominent suffragette and campaigned for the women’s right to vote.|
|Ruby Ali’s Mission Break Up||Ahmed, Sufia||Ruby Ali’s eighteen-year-old sister Alisha has left the care centre where they live, and Ruby is being sent to live with a new foster family. If she can sabotage life at her new home, she’ll get to go and live with her sister again, right? But mission break up doesn’t go exactly according to plan.|
|The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke||Kirsty Applebaum||Lonny is a lifeling. He has the power to heal any living creature and bring it back from the dead. But he pays a price for this gift – by lengthening the creature’s life, he shortens his own. So Lonny has to be careful, has to stay hidden in the forest. Because if people knew what he could do, Lonny would be left with no life at all…|
|Aarti & the blue gods||Jasbinder Bilan||Aarti has lived on the island with Aunt for as long as she can remember. Like the weather, Aunt rules her world with rare warmth. Aarti’s only comforts are a book of Indian myths full of blue gods, a fox’s friendship, and a toy rabbit she finds in a locked room. Then, she learns Aunt has been feeding her lies.
Fate intervenes when a half-drowned boy washes up on the beach.
|When Secrets Set Sail||Brahmachari, Sita||Usha is devastated when her grandmother Kali Ma passes away. Then straight-talking Imtiaz arrives – her new adoptive sister – and the two girls clash instantly. They both feel lost. That is until Kali Ma’s ghost appears…with a task for them.|
|Count||Melvin Burgess||Brandon is a boaster – he says he is brilliant at lots of things. Then he is challenged to count up to ten million. So Brandon starts: one, two, three . . . and before long he is up to one thousand. But Brandon can’t stop counting. And the higher he counts, the more everyone takes an interest, by the time he gets to one million, he has a manager and a stadium full of fans counting with him. And then strange, impossible things start happening.|
|My big mouth||Camden, Steven||When Dad leaves, ten-year-old Jay has questions.
Where has he gone?
Why did he go?When no one can give Jay the answers he needs, he makes up his own stories, setting off a chain reaction that sees regular old Jay go from just another face in the crowd, to the centre of attention.
|Danny Chung does not do maths||Maisie Chan||Eleven-year-old Danny Chung loves drawing more than anything – certainly more than maths, which, according to his dad and everyone else, is what he is ‘supposed’ to be good at. He also loves having his own room where he can draw in peace, so his life is turned upside down when a surprise that he’s been promised turns out to be his little, wrinkly, ex-maths-champion grandmother from China. What’s worse, Nai Nai has to share his room!|
|Maddy Yip’s Guide to Life||Sue Cheung||Maddy Yip is perfectly happy in life, until she realises that everyone she knows has a talent – except for her! Maddy is determined to change that, with the help of her brothers, bewildered grandad and her best friend Dev. There are disastrous attempts at breakdancing and playing the recorder, revolting cakes, and a magic disappearing trick that ends up with an escaped guinea pig. Will Maddy ever find her true calling?|
|Aru Shah and the City of Gold||Roshani Chokshi||Aru and her sisters–including one who also claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter–must find their mentors Hanuman and Urvashi in Lanka, the city of gold, before war breaks out between the devas and asuras.
Aru has just made a wish on the tree of wshes, but she can’t remember what it was. She’s pretty sure she didn’t wish for a new sister, one who looks strangely familiar and claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter, like her.
|New Kid/ Class Act||Craft, Jerry||Drew Ellis is no stranger to the saying “You have to work twice as hard to be just as good.” His grandmother has reminded him his entire life. But what if he works ten times as hard and still isn’t afforded the same opportunities that his classmates at School take for granted? As the pressures mount, will Drew find a way to bridge the divide so he and his friends can truly accept each other? And most important, will he finally be able to accept himself?|
|The Bear who sailed the world on an Iceberg||Critchley, Emily||Patrick finds a polar bear in his parents’ freezer. How did Monty get there? A huge polar bear who talks like he might have swallowed a dictionary as well as a library – he has read more books than Patrick knew existed -and whose stomach is always rumbling.|
|Me, my Dad and the end of the rainbow||Benjamin Dean||Things aren’t going great for Archie Albright. His dad’s acting weird, his mum too, and all he wants is for everything to go back to normal, to three months before when his parents were happy and still lived together. When Archie sees a colourful, crumpled flyer fall out of Dad’s pocket, he thinks he may have found the answer. Only problem? The answer might just lie at the end of the rainbow, an adventure away. A story of love, family and friendship.|
|When the Sky Falls||Phil Earle||1941. War is raging. And one angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies. There, Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the rundown zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis. As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed.|
|City of rust||Fowler, Gemma||Railey dreams of winning the drone races with her bio-robotic gecko, but when a bounty hunter crashes their race, the pair are forced to flee to the feared Junker clans who mine the rubbish orbiting the Earth. Rescued by a couple of Junker kids, they discover a danger bigger than anything they’d imagined – but can three kids, a gecko and an ancient computer save the world against the huge trash bomb (and its power-crazed creator) threatening to destroy the world?|
|Two sisters : a story of freedom||Kereen Getten||Ruth has always known her half-sister isn’t like her – her almost-white skin means she is allowed certain things that Ruth can only dream of.
Anna wishes she could be braver, like her sister, Ruth. But she has had to live with the fact that the smallest mistake would land not only her in danger, but Ruth and their mother, too.
When Ruth and Anna are shipped off to Master John’s home in London for their safety, it isn’t the haven they imagined. Their differences force them apart. With whispers of freedom on the city’s streets, will Anna find the courage to stand up for Ruth before it’s too late?
|Torn apart: the partition of India, 1947||Swapna Haddow||t’s October 1947 and two young boys find themselves thrown together during the dramatic changes of Partition.
As the new India and Pakistan are born, can the friendship between these two children rise above the tensions between the two countries?When the British announced they would be leaving India, a feeling of hope bubbled up in towns and villages across the country – they would be free to rule themselves at last! But deciding to split the country in two – Partition – would soon mean so much more.
|Rumaysa : a fairytale||Radiya Hafiza||For as long as she can remember Rumaysa has been locked away in her tower, forced to spin straw into gold for the evil Witch, unable to leave. Until one day, after dropping a hijab out of her small tower-window, Rumaysa realizes how she might be able to escape . . .
Join Rumaysa as she adventures through enchanted forests and into dragon’s lairs, discovers her own incredible magical powers and teams up with Cinderayla and Sleeping Sara!
|Harley Hitch and the iron forest||Vashti Hardy||The Iron Forest near Harley’s home is unlike any other – plants and trees grow cogs and hinges and other mechanical parts – and all of Inventia depends on it. So when a strange fungus is discovered, there’s a race to find a solution. Without essential parts for inventions, the town is quickly falling apart…|
|How I saved the world in a week||Polly Ho-Yen||Rule number one: Always be prepared . . .
Billy’s mum isn’t like other mums. All she wants is to teach him the Rules of Survival – how to make fire, build shelter and find food. She likes to test Billy on the rules until one day she goes too far, and Billy is sent to live with a dad he barely knows.
Then the world changes forever as people begin to be infected with a mysterious virus that turns their skin grey. As chaos breaks out, Billy has to flee the city. Suddenly he realises that this is what his mum was preparing him for
|Mayhem Mission||Burhana Islam||Yusuf’s older sister is getting married. He’s ready for the delicious food, the fun with his cousins and the many presents but he s NOT ready to take her place as the responsible one. His only option: cause some chaos and ruin the wedding.|
|Pages & Co.: The Book Smugglers:||Anna James||Milo lives on board the Sesquipedalian, or “Quip” – a magical train that uses the power of imagination to travel through both Story and the real world. The train is owned by Milo’s uncle, Horatio, and Milo has witnessed many of his uncle’s dodgy dealings as a book smuggler trading in rare books.
When Horatio takes on a dangerous new job, he needs the help of Tilly Pages. And Tilly owes Horatio a favour. But when poisoned copies of The Wizard of Oz are sent to Horatio and Tilly’s grandfather, sending them both into deep sleeps, Milo and Tilly find themselves racing against time to save them – and to figure out what is going on.
|Twins||Varian Johnson||Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends. They participate in the same clubs, enjoy the same foods and are partners on all their school projects.
But just before the girls start sixth grade, Francine becomes Fran – a girl who wants to join the chorus, run for class president and dress in fashionable outfits that set her apart from Maureen. The twins are growing apart and there’s nothing Maureen can do to stop it. Are sisters really forever? Or will middle school change things for good?
|The Amazing Edie Eckhart||Rosie Jones||Hello! My name is Edie Eckhart and I’m eleven years old. I’m a little bit different. I have a disability called cerebral palsy, so I talk slowly and fall over a lot. It’s never really bothered me because I’ve never known anything else.
Edie Eckhart is Excited with a capital E to start secondary school with her best friend Oscar. But when she and Oscar are put into different tutor groups on their first day, Edie is devastated.
|The monster maker||Jones, Gareth P||Dr Franklefink’s precious Monster Maker has gone missing and there are lots of suspects! Along with your yeti partner, it’s up to YOU to find the culprit. Should you trail Bramwell Stoker, the terrifying vampire, or Grundle and Grinola, the mischievous goblin twins? Should you follow up a lead about the cunning witches? Or will investigating the doctor’s monstrous son Monty lead you to the thief? Hundreds of paths to choose from and no dead ends.|
|Lightning strike||Tanya Landman||Eliza is angry. Angry that her family never seems to have enough. Angry that conditions at the factory where she and her sister work are so harsh. Angry that no one seems to care. When Eliza speaks out, her words spark fury among the rest of the workers and the flame of rebellion is lit. But what next? Can one girl really inspire an uprising that will change her world?|
|Twitch||Leonard, M G||Twitch has three pet chickens, four pigeons, swallows nesting in his bedroom and a passion for birdwatching. On the first day of the summer holidays, he arrives at his secret hide to find police everywhere: a convicted robber has broken out of prison and is hiding in Aves Wood. Can Twitch use his talents for birdwatching to hunt for the dangerous prisoner and find the missing loot?|
|Kiki Kallira breaks a kingdom||Mandanna, Sangu||Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier. Did she lock the front door? Is there a terrible reason her mum is late? Recently her anxiety has been getting out of control, but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing. Kiki’s sketchbook is full of fantastical doodles of the Hindu myths and legends her mother has told her since she was tiny.
One day, her sketchbook’s calming effect is broken when her mythological characters begin springing to life and Kiki is pulled into the mystical world she drew.
|Jaz Santos vs the world||Priscilla Mante||Olá! I’m Jasmina Santos-Campbell (but you can call me Jaz). You’ve probably heard of me and my football team the Bramrock Stars before. No? Well, you will soon because we’re almost famous!
Forming the Stars was my genius idea – you see I need to prove to Mãe (that’s my mum!) that I’m a football star so she’ll want to come back home.
The idea was the easy part, though. Now I’ve got a team of seven very different girls and we need to work together, to be taken seriously as footballers.
|No man’s land||Joanna Nadin||With far-right Albion on the brink of war with Europe, ten-year-old Alan and his little brother Sam are sent away to safety. Dad tells Alan he has to be brave, like the superheroes he loves, but Alan isn’t too sure. He wants to be wherever Dad is – and anyway, can he really be sure who’s a hero and who’s a villain?|
|The Lion above the door||Onjali Q Rauf||Leo and his best friend Sangeeta are the odd ones out in their school. But as Leo’s dad is always telling him, it’s because they’re special. Only thing is, if they’re so special, how come they never see anyone who looks like them in their school history books?
Then, on a class trip to a nearby cathedral, Leo’s attention is drawn to a large marble slab high above the doors of the hall. Right there, bang in the middle of a list of war heroes, Leo finds himself staring at something incredible: his own name.
|Utterly Dark||Philip Reeve||When Utterly Dark was a baby, she was washed up on the shores of the Autumn Isles and taken in by the Watcher of Wildsea. But everything changes when her guardian suddenly drowns. Now who will keep the Watch, and make sure Wildsea stays safe from the strange forces teeming in the deep ocean around them?|
|The Secret Detectives||Risbridger, Ella||When Isobel Petty is orphaned, she finds herself being taken away from her home in India and sent to live with a distant uncle in England. On board the S.S. Marianna, she witnesses a shocking act – somebody being thrown overboard in the middle in the night. But when the ship’s captain insists that nobody is missing, Isobel and her two new reluctant friends must solve two mysteries|
|How to save the world with a chicken and an egg||Emma Shevah||This story isn’t just about birds. It’s about secrets, the seaside, how seagulls can trick worms into thinking it’s raining.
It’s about mucus, fudge and dogs needing a wide variety of sniffs.
But if you want the simple version, it’s about what happened here last summer. How a girl called Ivy and a boy called Nathaniel solved a mystery and saved the world’s animals: one at a time …
|Nisha’s war||Smith, Dan||Malaya, 1942. Nisha’s home is destroyed by war and she and her mother, Amma, flee to her father’s ancestral house in England, perched on a cliff top on the cold Northern coast.
When Amma falls gravely ill, Nisha is left to face her formidable grandmother alone. Grandmother’s rules are countless, and her Anglo-Indian granddaughter is even forbidden from climbing the old weeping tree.
But when a ghost child beckons Nisha to sit under its boughs, and promises her Amma’s life in return for three truths, its pull proves irresistible …
|Children of the quicksands||Efua Traoré||City girl Simi is sent to stay with her long-lost grandmother in a remote Nigerian village. There’s no TV, internet or phone. Not a single human-made sound can be heard at night, just the noise of birds and animals rustling in the dark forest outside.
Her witchlike grandmother dispenses advice and herbal medicine to the village, but she’s tight lipped about their family history. Something must have happened, but what?
|Dragon legend||Katie Tsang||Billy Chan and his friends are not having a very relaxing summer. Their friend, Dylan, has been kidnapped by the evil Dragon of Death and it’s up to them to travel through time, back to the dangerous Dragon Realm, in order to save him. So begins an epic quest that will take them to the depths of the Frozen Wasteland and the imperial palaces of Ancient China. But can good triumph evil…?|
|The Time Traveller and the Tiger||Tania Unsworth||Elsie is not looking forward to the long summer holiday with her creaky, old Uncle John. But then the unimaginable happens as Time unravels and Elsie tumbles back to 1940s India to meet her Uncle John as a young boy on a tiger hunt. Can Elsie stop him from doing what he’s already told her is a wrong he can never right?|
|The Ash House||Walker, Angharad||A new boy arrives at the Ash House. He can’t remember his name – or why he’s been sent there.
Given the name Sol, and troubled by a mystery pain that no medicine can cure, he joins the gang of children living in the shadows of the secretive house.
Soon, however, there’s more for him to face: the darkness that descends with the arrival of the Doctor …
|The day the screens went blank||Wallace, Danny||When ten-year-old Stella wakes up to discover a world full of BLANK screens, her family, town, and in fact the whole world seems to have been thrown into chaos. And what about poor Grandma who is stranded at the other end of the country?- Along the way Stella and her family discover that being away from screens might not be the WORST THING EVER, and even though they might not be able to rely on technology anymore, they can rely on each other instead.|
|When we got lost in Dreamland||Ross Welford||When eleven-year-old Malky and his younger brother Seb become the owners of a “Dreaminator”, they are thrust into worlds beyond their wildest imagination.
From tree-top flights and Spanish galleons, to thrilling battles and sporting greatness – it seems like nothing is out of reach when you can share a dream with someone else.
But… impossible dreams come with incredible risks, and when Seb won’t wake up and is taken to hospital in a coma, Malky is forced to leave reality behind and undertake a final, terrifying journey to the stone-age to wake his brother…