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Favourite Books of 2019

The Booksfortopics Best of 2019
2019 has been another fantastic year for children's books and this year the choice of 'favourite book' seems harder than ever!


We asked our community of teachers, TAs, authors, librarians and book lovers to nominate their favourite children's books published in 2019. 

This is what they told us... 

The Good Thieves

Katherine Rundell

Nominated by: Jo Clarke (@bookloverjo), School Librarian & blogger at bookloverjo.wordpress.com


Jo says: " A new book by Katherine Rundell is always a joy to behold and ‘The Good Thieves,’ is no exception. Katherine has surpassed my expectations by creating a nail-biting heist that is extraordinarily compelling. Packed with action, thrills, spills and the unexpected it keeps the reader firmly on the edge of their seat. I just adored every page of this gorgeous story. Exquisite characterisation meets sublime storytelling in this spectacular ride of an adventure."

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Land of Roar

Jenny McLachlan & Ben Mantle

Nominated by:  Katie (@wishesandstars), Year 5 Class Teacher and also by Emily Weston (@primaryteachew), Year 6 Teacher & Reading Lead


Katie says: "An instantly gripping adventure where childhood games become reality for two twins. A fantastic portal story where you can't help but be dragged into this magical land of make-believe." 

Emily says: "This book is full of imagination, adventure and excitement! It grips you from the first page to the last and keeps you wanting more...so it’s a good thing there’s a sequel coming!" 

The Girl who Speaks Bear

Sophie Anderson & Kathrin Honesta

Nominated by: Louise Cross (@lcrossreads), teaching assistant in Year 5/6; Nia Talbot (@niatalbot), assistant headteacher; Jo Young, librarian and TA

Louise says: "A beautifully told story of family, friendship and acceptance. Utterly bewitching."

Nia says: "This breath-taking book is full of magic, adventure but, most importantly, the importance of belonging. I love the mythical edge to the story and how it enchants its readers."

Jo says: "A magical story of discovery, friendship and self-discovery. A perfect story for KS2 up. Loved it!"

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Jason Reynolds

Nominated by: Dean Boddington (@misterbodd), Class Teacher


Dean says: "A phenomenal read. I wanted to run down to the book shop buy 180 copies and give them to all the Year 5s and 6s at my school. Why did I love it? Well it’s not your usual rags to riches story - there is so much more to this even though it’s just over 200 pages long. I’d imagine that this will help with its popularity! When you finish it, you know that you’re holding something special in your hands. Throughout the book we see the part of Ghost’s journey; how he makes the wrong choices and the consequences that they bring. You are shouting at him in your head (or out loud if that’s your thing) and you’re waiting for everything to come crashing down. Your heart will leap and be crushed from one page to the next! I have warned you."

North Child

Edith Pattou

Nominated by: Sophie Anderson (@sophieinspace), children's author of The House With Chicken Legs (available here) & The Girl Who Speaks Bear (available here)


Sophie says: "An unforgettable, glittering, epic fairytale that held me and my children entranced as winter closed around us!"

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The Middler

Kirsty Applebaum

Nominated by: Hana Tooke (@hannekewrites), author of upcoming children's book The Unadoptables (available to pre-order here)


Hana says: "A stunning and magical story. A fabulous sequel. Beautifully written, filled with rich and vivid descriptions. Well rounded and engaging characters with a hint of darkness to engage older readers and keep them on their toes. A remarkable piece of writing. Loved it!"

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No Ballet Shoes in Syria

Catherine Bruton

Nominated by: Alison (@booksfortopics), Founder of BooksForTopics and also by Sarah Atherton (@missatherton97), trainee teacher

Alison says: "A gripping and thought-provoking story exploring the experience of an eleven-year-old girl called Aya as she flees conflict in Syria and attempts to seek asylum in the UK. No Ballet Shoes in Syria is an important story that is beautifully told with warmth and compassion. A superb read suitable for upper KS2."

Sarah says: " Absolutely perfect! No more words needed."

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The Creakers (The Musical Edition)

Tom Fletcher & Shane Devries

Nominated by: Lisa Davies (@singinglisajo), Deputy Head 


Lisa  says: "I read this book to the whole school for a half term. When we got to the end of the time, they insisted that I read it for another half term so that they could hear the end. That’s a ringing endorsement from 300 children! They loved the music that came with it as well."

The Wall in the Middle of the Book

Jon Agee

Nominated by: Alison (@booksfortopics), Founder of BooksForTopics


Alison says; "The Wall in the Middle of the Book is a story about overcoming preconceptions and breaking through barriers and divisions between different groups of characters. Jon Agee cleverly uses the ‘gutter’ space that runs down the middle of the picture book spread as the wall between the two opposing sides and the main character is surprised to find that the other side of the wall is a much friendlier place than he imagined. A brilliantly witty book that also gives pause for thought."

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The Umbrella Mouse

Anna Fargher & Sam Usher

Nominated by:  Sarah Salmon (@norfolkbookworm), Library Assistant

Sarah says: "A book given to me by my 9-year-old nephew and one that held him, me (42) and his 70 year-old grandparents gripped! Lots to talk about and brilliantly written."

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A Mouse Called Julian

Joe Todd Stanton

Nominated by:  Paul Watson (@PaulWat5), Teacher


Paul  says: "A sweet tale that has a timeless quality. The mouse in question is introverted and clever yet his world is exposed due to an untimely visitor."

The Titanic Detective Agency

Lindsay Littleson

Nominated by: Barbara Henderson (@scattyscribbler), Drama teacher & children's author of books including including Wilderness Wars (available here)

Barbara says: "A really well-researched and interesting take on the Titanic topic. The key characters are real passengers whose photos are included at the end of the book and Bertha is a heroine everyone will love! Loads of historical detail is cleverly woven in and the publisher's website has teaching resources. Excellent!" 

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She Wolf

Dan Smith

Nominated by: Claire Webb, Year 3 Class Teacher


Claire says: "A book about trusting the unknown, friendship and loyalty; about loss and suspicion. A strong female main character is on a mission to seek the truth and finds herself on the way. This book is full of adventure and suspense and would suit boys and girls alike. Lots of action and tension recreated by the use of wonderful language. A rollercoaster of action and reflection and some unexpected surprises thrown in. I absolutely loved it!!

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Lights on Cotton Rock

David Lichfield

Nominated by: : Melissa Jordan (@melissacreate15), Book seller and Reading Advocate

Melissa says: "Another stunningly illustrated book. For anyone who has ever wondered what may lie beyond earth. I love that the young girl who wishes she could travel with an Alien grows old in the story. Will she get her wish and what might she learn about what makes 'home' special in the process? A book you will want to revisit many times."

Mr Wolf’s Class: Mystery Club

Aron Nels Steinke

Nominated by: Richard Ruddick (@RuddickRichard), Year 5/6 Teacher

Richard says: "A brilliant book that accurately reflects the realities of day to day teaching and learning in a light-hearted but honest manner."

The Dragon in the Library

Louie Stowell & Davide Ortu

Nominated by: Anonymous Community Reviewer


"There are dragons. Wizards. Evil bad guys with bad hair. And at the centre, three kids who are determined to save their local library - and not just because libraries are important! If they don’t, humans might go the way of the dinosaurs! Not only is this a brilliant, funny, enjoyable read - with its reluctant reader main character - it is also excellent at getting reluctant readers reading!"

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The Boy with the Butterfly Mind

Victoria Williamson

Nominated by: Veronica Price (@vonprice), HLTA & part-time librarian

Veronica says: "A beautifully written, perfectly-paced story exploring blended families and the issues arising from living with ADHD. A marvellous book for increasing empathy in upper KS2 and one that should be read by everyone working in a school."

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The Suitcase

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Nominated by: Tanya Efthymiou (@TanyaEfthymiou), Primary School Librarian


Tanya says: "The Suitcase had an immediate impact on some Year 6s in our library, who were moved to perform it, as the various characters, to classes throughout the school. This empathy-building story of the arrival of a refugee is beautiful and accessible. Chris Naylor-Ballesteros' illustrations have the simplicity to appeal to a young audience, but tell a deeper tale in their detail, which the older children recognised and respected."

The Star Outside My Window

Onjali Q Rauf

Nominated by: Tanja Jennings (@WCBLibrary), school librarian

Tanja says: "This beautifully observed book is an emotional rollercoaster that addresses a serious and painful topic in a sensitive way. 10-year-old Aniyah goes on an important journey as she comes to terms with a traumatic family experience that has changed her and her brother’s lives irrevocably. Her story unfolds as she navigates life in a foster home and forms new relationships. Powerful, empathetic, poignant & thought-provoking, this is a life-changing book that immerses the reader from start to finish."

The Girl With the Shark's Teeth

Cerrie Burnell

Nominated by: Anna Tomlinson (@scoutfinch_75), Teaching Assistant/School Librarian

Anna says: "My 12 year old daughter insisted that we vote for this book. Minnow embarks on a magical adventure that challenges everything she thought she knew... and who she thought she was. Thrilling and enchanting! A must read!"

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The Snow Dragon

Abi Elphinstone & Fiona Woodcock

Nominated by: Tami Wylie (@twylie68), Teacher

Tami says: "One of the best picture books I’ve read in a long time! Such a heartwarming message about never giving up on your dreams. Everyone, no matter how small, can have their fondest wish come true!"

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