New children's books we love

Every month, we review dozens of books for children and teenagers. Here are the ones we liked best in October: guaranteed to get your child reading... 

Whether they're a teeny toddler or a very particular teen, this is where you can find your child's next amazing book: just scroll down to find books for a range of ages. 

You can also keep track of the latest titles by looking at our past reading recommendations for:

SeptemberAugustJuly | June | May | April

For ages 0-3 and up

100 First Words: With BIG Flaps to Lift!

Author: Edward Underwood

When toddlers are just starting to talk and learn new words, books like 100 First Words are invaluable. A bright and colourful book that will be a favourite with little ones as they listen to and repeat the words. 

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For ages 3-5 and up

Animal Homes: A Lift the Flap Book of Discovery

Author: Libby Walden Illustrator: Clover Robin

When we’re out and about, we probably walk past all manner of animal homes without even knowing it. A cute and charming board book, perfect for young nature fans at home or at school.

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Akissi: Tales of Mischief

Author: Marguerite Abouet Illustrator: Mathieu Sapin Translator: Judith Taboy and Marie Bédrune

Akissi is a ball of energy who doesn’t know how to stay out of trouble. But she always eventually gets caught! A fun and colourful comic, full of tales of an Ivory Coast neighbourhood.

Read more about Akissi: Tales of Mischief

Kites

Author: Simon Mole Illustrator: Oamul Lu

A gentle story and very pretty book that would make a perfect present for anyone moving house, school, or even job! The text from poet and theatre-maker Simon Mole should be read aloud to fully appreciate the lovely rhythms and phrases.

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Mr Scruff

Author: Simon James

Every other dog and its owner look suspiciously alike. But young Jim picks a dog who looks NOTHING like him. Their names don't even rhyme! A snuggly, cuddly book that inspires a sense of belonging and home, as well as appealing to all young animal lovers. 

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Pick a Pumpkin

Author: Patricia Toht Illustrator: Jarvis

Fans of Jarvis’ gorgeous illustrations won’t be able to resist this seasonal treat that celebrates all things Halloween and plays down the scary side for younger readers. A real treat of a book – as sweet as a toffee apple and as warm as hot chocolate. 

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Red Red Red

Author: Polly Dunbar

This is a funny and relatable picture book about tantrums for parents and carers, who know all too well how little things can escalate – from wanting a biscuit to having a full-scale meltdown. Perfect for little ones who can feel overwhelmed by their emotions. 

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Shadow

Author: Lucy Christopher Illustrator: Anastasia Suvorova

This dark story will appeal to older children who like its atmospheric illustration. It is a good book to share and talk through together, providing an opportunity to discuss stranger danger, loneliness and anxiety.

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The Little Island

Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls Illustrator: Robert Starling

The message here is that compassion for others and strength in togetherness is what makes us thrive. The Little Island may raise as many questions as it answers, but that’s precisely why global ideas should be introduced to children at such a young age.  

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The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh

Author: Supriya Kelkar Illustrator: Alea Marley

This touching picture book explores common themes of everyday insecurities, such as moving home, starting a new school and dealing with change, while sensitively demonstrating the importance of friendship. 

Read more about The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh

There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom

Author: James Sellick with a foreword by Emma Thompson Illustrator: Frann Preston-Gannon

A cute but rather badly behaved little orangutan has appeared in a little girl’s bedroom. Rang-Tan explains that there are humans in her forest, destroying trees. A helpful picture book for introducing this issue to children. 

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For ages 5-8 and up

Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue

Author: Paula Harrison Illustrator: Jenny Lovlie

Kitty’s mum is a superhero with cat powers, and Kitty wants to be just like her. Kitty's night-time adventures feature a cast of lovely cat characters and there's a gentle theme of friendship, bravery and being yourself. 

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Mark and Shark: Detectiving and Stuff

Author: John Dougherty Illustrator: Katie Abey

Mark and his best friend Shark run a detective agency, although they’ve not yet been offered any cases to solve. Luckily, they also deal with ‘stuff’, which Shark prefers, as she’s not very good at detectiving. She often gets the wrong end of the stick and tends to mistake most objects for seals, so tries to eat them.

When Ursula, a large, aggressive polar b…

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Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

Author: Teresa Robeson Illustrator: Rebecca Huang

This fascinating non-fiction picture book explores the life of an inspirational woman who overcame race and gender barriers to become an internationally acclaimed scientist. Straightforwardly and accessibly explained, with distinctive illustrations. 

Read more about Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

Small in the City

Author: Sydney Smith

The streetwise kid telling Sydney Smith’s atmospheric story has some advice for fellow kids negotiating a big, noisy city. A masterpiece of thick, blurry lines and drifting snow, framing a child’s solitary yet celebratory experience of urban life.

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Son of the Circus: A Victorian Story

Author: E L Norry Illustrator: Alette Straathof (cover art)

Twelve-year-old Ted discovers he has roots in the circus and must join his father’s company for the first time to discover his own talent! Great for history buffs and those looking for historical fiction featuring people of colour.

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Strange But True: 10 of the World’s Greatest Mysteries Explained

Author: Kathryn Hulick Illustrator: Gordy Wright

There are many strange mysteries with the reputation of being unexplained. But could a scientific explanation help us understand the seemingly odd? It’s nice to find a book that respects children’s love of the strange and spooky but also looks at other angles.

Read more about Strange But True: 10 of the World’s Greatest Mysteries Explained

The Little Mermaid

Author: Geraldine McCaughrean Illustrator: Laura Barrett

McCaughrean has written an alternative happy ending to Hans Christian Andersen’s tragic and bloody tale, so while this stunningly illustrated version is for the most part faithful, young readers and listeners won’t be too disturbed by Delphine’s story.

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For ages 9-12 and up

Alex Sparrow and the Zumbie Apocalypse

Author: Jennifer Killick

A bonkers story of unlikely superheroes, an evil genius, a zombified keep fit class and a very angry octopus.

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Boy Giant

Author: Sir Michael Morpurgo

Under the masterful pen of Sir Michael Morpurgo, this is an easy and uncomplicated read, and the young reader certainly doesn’t need to know anything about, let alone have read, the original Gulliver’s Travels.

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Charlie Turns Into a T-Rex

Author: Sam Copeland

Charlie is back, and still trying his best to avoid changing into animals. He soon realises that the true power of his abilities is knowing he is surrounded by friends and family who really care about him. Heartwarming and hilarious, this book will bring you so much joy.

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Dr Maggie's Grand Tour of the Solar System

Author: Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock Illustrator: Chelen Écija

Space scientist Dr Maggie invites readers to join her on a grand space tour using their imaginations. This fantastic, imaginative reference book would be a wonderful resource in the classroom and treasured by any young person with an interest in space.

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FloodWorld

Author: Tom Huddleston

When the sea level rose, a wall was built to protect London. Now Kara and Joe are stuck in the middle between the privileged few inside the wall and the ruthless Mariners out on the ocean. An action-packed, edge-of-the-seat thriller with an environmental edge. 

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Kids Fight Plastic

Author: Martin Dorey Illustrator: Tim Weeson

By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Kids Fight Plastic presents powerful facts about how oceans and their inhabitants are suffering from our over-reliance on plastic and features fifty bitesize missions to chomp through, from a #2minutebeachclean to how to fight plastics in lunchboxes.

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My Family and Other Ghosts

Author: Lou Kuenzler Illustrator: Steve Brown

With nail-biting excitement as well as laugh-out-loud moments, children will be queuing up to check in to the haunted hotel, Grave Grange. This spooky story is lots of fun, but is ultimately about family and friends and overcoming fears: children will race through it! 

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Patina

Author: Jason Reynolds

Elite runner Patina is a girl with a lot on her plate and she takes her responsibilities very seriously. The dialogue is crisp, the characters are believable, and it's a beautiful, flawless reading experience that will hook reluctant readers (especially those into sports).

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Pie in the Sky

Author: Remy Lai

Illustrated throughout, this heartfelt story contains so much: a family coping with bereavement, the alienation of moving somewhere new, and what it’s like when you can’t speak the language of the people around you. Lovely and heartfelt.

Read more about Pie in the Sky

Rebel Dogs! Heroic Tales of Trusty Hounds

Author: Kimberlie Hamilton Illustrator: Various

This enjoyable collection of true stories about remarkable dogs from around the world focuses on 30 hounds, each with their own astonishing tale. With an eclectic mix of dog-related facts, trivia, jokes and games and artwork from 17 different illustrators.

Read more about Rebel Dogs! Heroic Tales of Trusty Hounds

Some Places More Than Others

Author: Renée Watson

Amara, in search of her past, heads to New York City to connect with family she has never met. Fixing old wounds is hard: will her father and grandfather ever get on? A warm, positive story with characters who are easy to empathise with. 

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The Switching Hour

Author: Damaris Young

Courage, determination and friendship abound in this spine-tingling fantasy adventure. A gripping read, which will prompt readers to securely lock their doors and windows at night.

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The Velvet Fox

Author: Catherine Fisher

A creepy and unsettling tale of faerie folk, revenge and a sinister soft toy, set in the Victorian era.

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Tunnel of Bones

Author: Victoria Schwab

A claustrophobic, supernatural adventure set in the creepy, underground Catacombs of Paris where the bones (and ghosts?) of hundreds of thousands of long-dead citizens are interred. 

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Under Earth

Author: Ellen Renner

Following on from the final scenes of the first book in the Storm Witch seriesUnder Earth sees Storm learning more about the extent of her powers and how she can harness them to defend the autonomy of her island home. 

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Unleashed

Author: Amy McCulloch

Lacey Chu loves "bakus": robot companion animals that link directly into your brain. But when she discovers that the company who make them want to control the world, she has to fight back.

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For teens (12+)

Somebody Give This Heart a Pen

Author: Sophia Thakur

An internationally acclaimed performance poet and YouTube phenomenon, Thakur writes with passion and conviction about everyday life alongside wider social issues, reminding us that they are intricately linked: the personal is political, after all.

Read more about Somebody Give This Heart a Pen

The Book of Dust 2: The Secret Commonwealth

Author: Philip Pullman Illustrator: Chris Wormell

The Secret Commonwealth is a deeper, darker beast than the previous His Dark Materials trilogy. Some brilliant and excitingly tense set pieces will keep you breathless and with a knot in your stomach – and desperate to know what happens next. 

Read more about The Book of Dust 2: The Secret Commonwealth

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