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World Cancer Day

A Monster Calls

4 February is World Cancer Day, which aims to raise awareness, urge governments to take action, and educate us all about the disease and its impact.

We've put together a booklist for readers aged 9+ full of novels that explore the effects of cancer, so if you and your family want to do some wider reading, take a look at our recommendations below.

  • A Story About Cancer (With a Happy Ending)

    Author: India Desjardins & Marianne Ferrer Translator: Solange Ouellet
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
    Interest age: 10+
    Reading age: 10+

    A girl goes to talk to the doctor about her leukaemia. On the way, she considers how having cancer has affected her life. An affecting and striking illustrated book that charts one girl’s experience of surviving cancer: it’s honest and raw, but hopeful, too.

  • The Boy in the Black Suit

    Author: Jason Reynolds
    Publisher: Faber and Faber
    Interest age: 14+
    Reading age: 14+

    When Matt’s mum tragically dies from cancer, it feels like all the joy is sucked out of his life. Then he meets a girl called Love. This is a profoundly beautiful, open-hearted, funny, tear-jerking, readable and relatable story, which explores grief in the truest sense.

  • Lost

    Author: Eve Ainsworth
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 8+

    Alfie used to be good at football, but now his mother is dead and he no longer has the heart to play. A friendship with troubled Alice helps him cope with grief. A moving, convincing story about the delicate relationships between father, son and friend. 

  • A Good Night for Shooting Zombies

    Author: Jaco Jacobs Translator: Kobus Geldenhuys Illustrator: Jim Tierney
    Publisher: Rock the Boat
    Interest age: 11+
    Reading age: 10-12

    When Martin and his neighbour bond over their love for horror films, he helps him realise his ambition to create a zombie movie. A wonderfully quirky, humorous and heartwarming read, with a compelling plot.

  • We Are All Made of Molecules

    Author: Susin Nielsen
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    High-functioning Stewart is happy at Genius Academy but his life is shattered when his Mum dies from cancer. Ashley is obsessed with her social standing at her own school, devastated by her dad moving out because he's gay.  They become unwilling siblings when their parents start a relationship.

  • Lola Rose

    Author: Jacqueline Wilson Illustrator: Nick Sharratt
    Publisher: Random House
    Interest age: 10+
    Reading age: 9+

    Jacqueline Wilson demonstrates her skill by capturing the experiences of a young carer, fearful about what the cancer will do to her mother.

  • Two Weeks with the Queen

    Author: Morris Gleitzman
    Publisher: Penguin
    Interest age: 11+
    Reading age: 10+

    When his brother becomes seriously ill with leukaemia, Colin is sent to stay with relatives in England. Determined to get the best help possible, he decides to approach the Queen.

  • Artichoke Hearts

    Author: Sita Brahmachari
    Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
    Interest age: 11+
    Reading age: 11+

    This empathetic account of the process of bereavement, a month’s diary, reassures readers that we grow from our experiences, however painful they are.

  • The Look

    Author: Sophia Bennett
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    Ted is an awkward, gangly teenager constantly following in her older sister Ava’s confident footsteps...

  • 32C, That’s Me

    Author: Chris Higgins
    Publisher: Hodder
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 9+

    Jess seems to have it all. She has a gorgeous boyfriend, Muggs, landed the lead in the school play and her best friend Ali will always stick by her. She even gets on well with her older sister! Then her mum is diagnosed with breast cancer and Jess's world is turned upside down.

  • Anthem for Jackson Dawes

    Author: Celia Bryce
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 13+
    Reading age: 13+

    Megan would never have met Jackson Dawes if she hadn't had cancer.  But as the only teenagers on the children's ward, they soon form a powerful and unconventional bond.

  • The Best Medicine

    Author: Christine Hamill
    Publisher: Little Island
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 9+

    Twelve-year old Philip Wright is a comedian in the making. Then one day, he tells his mother a joke, and she breaks down in tears. It's a brave challenge to unite the themes of cancer and comedy - but this is an entertaining and light-hearted read.

  • A Monster Calls

    Author: Patrick Ness From an idea by Siobhan Dowd Illustrator: Jim Kay
    Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
    Interest age: 11+
    Reading age: 10+

    Connor's mum has cancer and life is changing. There is the nightmare, then there is school, where people avoid him, or persecute him. And then there is the immense, mythic Monster.

  • The Fault in Our Stars

    Author: John Green
    Publisher: Penguin Children's Books
    Interest age: 14+
    Reading age: 13+

    John Green tackles the subject of teenage cancer with sensitivity in this witty, life-affirming young adult romance.

  • The Honest Truth

    Author: Dan Gemeinhart
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 10+
    Reading age: 10

    Mark has cancer. He can't bear more doctors, so he runs away with his dog Beau for company.