Our two Heads of English, for both the Prep School and the Senior School, as well as other members of the Teaching Staff, give us their 12 favourite books for children of all ages for the Christmas period, starting with pupils in Reception all the way up to Sixth Form. We’ll be releasing an edition each day so keep an eye out on this page and our social media pages for their best books for this, most wonderful, time of year.
Lucy Manning – Head of English, Framlingham College Prep School
Lucy aims to inspire young people to express themselves through English. She believes books give young people the tools to develop their imagination and help children gain an understanding of different people and cultures.
1) The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas – Year 1 & Reception
Lucy says: “The colour monster is a great picture book to read with young children to explore colours and feelings. Lots of young people might feel quite overwhelmed and confused when experiencing so many different emotions all at once. This book clearly explains what these different emotions feel like and how we can deal with them. The illustrations are just wonderful.”
2) The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers – Year 2
The book is Jeffers’ fourth picture book. If you loved Lost and Found, perhaps his most famous work, you will love this book too. The story is about a little boy who finds an aeroplane and ends up stranded on the moon when it runs out of petrol. The illustrations are magical and it was no surprise that it was shortlisted for the Kate Greenway Medal.
3) I am the Seed that Grew the Tree – The National Trust/F Waters – Year 3
This book has a nature poem for every day of the year. Sometimes when young children read poetry, they like to see pictures to catch their attention. This beautiful collection does just that. I love the fact that you can pick this book up at any time and just read one poem at a time, you can look at the pictures, you can bookmark the pages to revisit later, you can learn some of the poems off by heart. A book to keep on your bookshelf forever.
4) The Train to Impossible Places – P. G. Bell – Year 4
This is a great story to share at bedtime. It is full of magic and mystery, heroes and villains, fantasy and adventure. The main character, Suzy, is a curious, intelligent girl whose life changes when a high-speed train rushes through her living room and she jumps on board. This is a great fantasy story for younger readers before they inevitably challenge themselves to read the longer and more complex Harry Potter stories.
5) Gargantis – Thomas Taylor – Year 5
“As I grew up by the sea,” says Lucy Manning, “I love reading adventure stories about ships and storms and young people battling to save the world.” This book starts with a mysterious find on a beach and the introduction of a sinister figure named ‘Deep Hood’. Herbie Lemon must solve the mystery of who the mysterious find belongs to, whilst fighting off everyone who wants to claim it as theirs. “This is the best story I have read this year!” concludes Mrs Manning.
6) Orphans of the Tide – Struan Murray – Year 6
I have a feeling that Struan Murray is going to become an incredibly popular author, up there with the likes of Anthony Horowitz, Emma Carrol and even J K Rowling,” says Mrs Manning of the author of this entry. Orphans of the Tide is a fast paced, gripping adventure featuring an intriguing character called Ellie who lives in a workshop full of her own creations. The novel begins with a whale being washed up on the beach. Ellie tries to help it, but she finds something mysterious living inside. I read about this book on Twitter and couldn’t wait to read it myself.
7) Can You See Me – Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott – Year 7
Mrs Manning is a huge fan of the book Wonder, by R J Palacio, and was made aware of Can You See Me, a novel which deals with comparable themes. The novel is about a young autistic girl called Tally, who finds the transition to secondary school quite challenging. Mrs Manning says: “There are moments throughout the book when you want to cry because of the horrible way some of the children treat Tally. But, like in Wonder, you are left amazed by the incredible resilience of young people and their open-mindedness. I recommend this book to every parent, teacher and young person who has ever felt out of place.”
8) Echo Mountain – Lauren Wolk – Year 8
Mrs Manning said: “I chose this novel as I have heard so many wonderful things about Lauren Wolk. One of my Year 8 pupils is a huge fan of her works, so I thought I would give her new novel a read. This book is fantastic at helping pupils to understand the Great Depression in America in the 1930s – this will really help those who go on to read Of Mice and Men in Year 9. There are lots of powerful morals to learn from this story and you totally feel for Ellie, the narrator of the story, when she takes so much on her young shoulders.”
9) The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas – Year 9
This young-adult debut novel from Angie Thomas deals with topics very much in the news in 2020. It’s the story of a 16-year-old black girl from a deprived area of the US who attends a school predominantly attended by white affluent pupils. The protagonist, Starr Carter, ends up embroiled in a national news story when she witnesses police brutality against one of her friends first-hand. Head of Sixth Form, Mr Boyd-Williams, said: “The Hate U Give is a gripping story about violence, corruption and fighting for what is right.”
10) The Chocolate War – Robert Cormier – Year 10
This 1974 novel is widely heralded as one of the best young adult novels of all time. The story follows the plight of one student who refuses to conform to the rules and structures of a secret student organisation, which governs the school he attends, behind the scenes. The book deals with mob mentality and the concept of the power of determination among individuals. Deputy Head, Mr Ashton, said: “This is the book that had the biggest impact on me – a boy takes on the system.”
11) Vox – Christina Dalcher – Year 11
This feminist novel looks at the extremes of oppression as a method of inspiring young people into action. The story is of a world where women are tagged with electric-shock bracelets which ensure women of this imagined world keep to the rules, of being restricted to speaking just 100 words per day. The novel is both action-packed and prophetic in its depiction of the triumph of evil if good women do nothing. Housemistress at Pembroke House, Mrs Williams, said: “This book is terrifyingly real. It’s fiction but you can imagine it could happen.”
12) Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh – Sixth Form
Waugh’s most famous novel follows the life of protagonist, Charles Ryder, who has romances with two members of a wealthy English aristocratic family. The book explores themes of nostalgia for English aristocracy with wit and humour and is an undisputed classic. This book is recommended by Mr Goldsmith, Head of English at the Senior School. He said: “Brideshead Revisited is a coming of age story which is by turns poetic, humorous and gripping.”