Children's books set in the North

The Elephant Thief

Northern England is rich in landscape, culture and history – and that has inspired some incredible stories. 

If you live in or are from the North (or just going for your holidays), you may be looking for books set there to share with your child. After all, a familiar location can help them relate to the story and feel a bigger connection.

Here are just a few of our favourites for you to check out.

  • The 1,000-Year-Old Boy

    Author: Ross Welford
    Publisher: Harper Collins
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Alfie Monk looks like any other 11-year old boy. However, as the title suggests, he is actually 1,000-years old. A truly original read, the plot’s twists and turns are anchored by the warmth, courage and humour of its varied characters.

  • The Elephant Thief

    Author: Jane Kerr
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 7+
    Reading age: 10-12

    This is a fast-paced story, based loosely on a man's real-life journey from Edinburgh to Manchester, while riding an elephant – an event that captivated even Queen Victoria.

  • Lifers

    Author: M A Griffin
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 15+
    Reading age: 14+

    Set in a Manchester run by extreme right-wing Neo Conservatives, this novel looks at the possibilities of illegal youth detention and human rights. But Preston will do whatever it takes to get Alice back, even if it means risking his own life.

  • Raining Fire

    Author: Alan Gibbons
    Publisher: Indigo
    Interest age: 14+
    Reading age: 14+

    Ethan hopes to escape his life on an inner-city estate, dominated by gangs. But when his brother is charged with assualt, Ethan finds himself drawn into a dangerous situation.

  • Star by Star

    Author: Sheena Wilkinson
    Publisher: Little Island
    Interest age: 12-16
    Reading age: 12+

    When her mum dies in the 1918 flu epidemic, 15-year-old Stella returns to Northern Ireland to live with an aunt she has never met. The war has ended and women (over the age of 30 with property) are about to vote for the first time. Fascinating and inspiring. 

  • Skellig

    Author: David Almond
    Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
    Interest age: 10+
    Reading age: 11+

    Exploring a ramshackle garage with his new-found friend Mina, Michael discovers a strange, magical creature who needs his help. A contemporary classic. 

  • Abela

    Author: Berlie Doherty
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 10-13
    Reading age: 10+

    When Abela loses her parents and sister to AIDS, she is left in the care of her aging grandmother in their African village. Unbeknowst to her, her selfish Uncle Thomas is hatching a scheme to take her to England.

  • I Never Liked Wednesdays

    Author: Roger McGough Illustrator: Michael Broad
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 7-12
    Reading age: 7

    A hilarious tale about two young boys getting up to mischief and into scrapes in latter-day Liverpool, by the award-winning poet, playwright and author, Roger McGough.

  • The Isobel Journal

    Author: Isobel Harrop
    Publisher: Hot Key
    Interest age: 13+
    Reading age: 12+

    Subtitled ‘Just a Northern Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens’, this beautifully-presented book from 18-year-old debut author Isobel Harrop is a vivid scrapbook of teenage life.

  • Butterfly Grave

    Author: Anne Cassidy
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    Having been separated as young children, Rose and Joshua have recently become close as they try to find out what happened the night their parents disappeared.

  • Eagle of the Ninth

    Author: Rosemary Sutcliff
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Interest age: 10+
    Reading age: 10+

    In AD 117AD, the Ninth Legion marched into the mists of northern Britain... and were never seen again.

  • Counting Stars

    Author: David Almond
    Publisher: Hachette
    Interest age: 11+
    Reading age: 11+

    This evocative collection of short stories gives a clear insight into the experiences which lie behind David Almond's novels.