What to Read After... Jacqueline Wilson

Published on: 19 March 2018 Author: Emily Drabble

We know it's so easy to get attached to a favourite author, and when their books are as good as Jacqueline Wilson's, it's no surprise that some children feel like they'll never find anything they love as much. But we've got some recommendations about great stories they can try next - and we want to hear your ideas too!

Jacqueline Wilson books

Jacqueline Wilson's books all have one delicious thing in common: readers can IMMEDIATELY step directly into someone's else's brain, usually a girl in challenging circumstances (although Jacqueline has written some books narrated by boys, too, notably Biscuit's story in the brilliant Cliffhanger). That addictive first-person narrative gets many readers utterly hooked right from the get go!

Of course, as Jacqueline Wilson has written over 100 books, there are loads to choose from, enough to keep you going for about two or three years -  and we have just heard there will be another Tracy Beaker book published later this year, featuring Tracy all grown up as a single mum and narrated by her daughter Jess.

But eventually there comes a time, usually about the time children are leaving primary school, when they have either read all the books or - dreadful as it is to say it - very slightly outgrown their beloved author. So what can they try next?

Win a copy of The Story of Tracy Beaker - signed by Jacqueline Wilson

Books for younger readers in the middle of extreme Jacqueline Wilson fandom who want to mix it up just a bit

Darcy Burdock

Try Laura Dockrill's Darcy Burdock, which has been dubbed the new Tracy Beaker. The books are the perfect home from home with their sparkling first person narrative. There are currently five books in the series, too, so plenty to get stuck into: Darcy Burdock, Hi So Much, Oh Obviously, Sorry About Me and Angrosaurus Rex.

Our Waterstones Children's Laureate Lauren Child's middle grade Clarice Bean books are also brilliantly relateable - say hello to Clarice Bean, Utterly Me, Clarice Bean Don't Look Now, and Clarice Bean Spells Trouble.

For children who are starting to reach the end of their Jacqueline Wilson obsession (or have read them all!)

Going Home; Sky Hawk; Pig Heart Boy

Go for Cliff McNish's emotional rollercoaster Going Home, which is told from the point of view of a dog called Ralph who has been living unwanted in a dogs' home. Michael Morpurgo's Running Wild is another totally gripping first person narrative, while Gill Lewis is an author you need to check out. These books by Gill are written in the first person, which makes it easy to immediately fall into the story: White Dolphin, Moon Bear, Scarlet Ibis and Sky Hawk.

If you're looking for something else, try Holly Smale's Geek Girl series or Malorie Blackman's fabulous Pig Heart Boy. Or you could just prolong the love - don't forget Jacqueline Wilson's books for slightly older readers that fans may have been a bit young for when they started, including Vicky Angel, Midnight and her more recent suffragette story Opal Plumstead.

For teenagers who never really found anything they liked as much as Jacqueline Wilson and need a kickstart to escape a reading drought

Confessions of a High School Disaster; Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging; Liccle Bit

Some teenagers do go off reading completely when they've finished their favourite books and never seem to find a replacement. Great ideas to get back into the reading habit are Emma Chastain's engrossing and funny Confessions of a High School Disaster and Louise Rennison's truly brilliant Georgia Nicolson series, starting with Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging.

Or for teenagers who enjoyed Tracy Beaker and the real life issues in Jacqueline Wilson's books, head to Alex Wheatle's perfect Crongton series: Liccle Bit, Crongton Knights and Straight Outta Crongton.

Your suggestions

You came up with so many brilliant suggestions for What To Read After Jacqueline Wilson that we were a little overwhelmed! Below is just a selection of your recommendations...

Authors named Cathy, Cath, Cat and Cas

Cathy Cassidy; Cathy Macphail, Cath Howe

Who knew? It turns out that you're in with a good chance of finding a great book if you go for Caths! First up was Cathy Cassidy, who was recommended by @KarenMcCombie ("#gorgeousbooks"), @KS2librarySOS and children's book consultant @Jake_Hope, who suggested she's a great pick for "emotional honesty and friendship" (@LibWithAttitude suggested the Chocolate Box Girls series in particular).

Jake also recommended Cathy Macphail for "grit and grist" and suggested Ella on the Outside by Cath Howe "would make an excellent choice". But if you don't want to commit to a full Cath, may we present Cat Clarke, suggested by @_sunshinebooks?

Or if you want something even more out there name-wise, how about Cas Lester? Her book Do You Speak Chocolate was recommended by @bookloverJo and @jocotterillbook, who described it as "a really wonderful story about friendship across cultural divides". So what's in a name? Quite a lot, it seems...

Go with Jacqueline Wilson's favourites...

Ballet Shoes, The Railway Children, Little Women

If you're hooked on Jacqueline Wilson, it makes sense to try out the books Jacqueline herself loved! That's the approach that @storyvilled took, explaining that her "JW fan" read (and "loved") Ballet Shoes after finding out it was one of Jacqueline's favourites.

Meanwhile, @MaddieFWatson told us, 'I ended up reading a few classics like The Railway Children and Little Women as Jacqueline Wilson mentioned them in her books!' And she's not alone - @_inkworm said, 'Our Jacqueline Wilson addict picked up Little Women last week and loves it.'

Try Jenny McLachlan's books (and Jenny McLachlan's suggestions...)

Jenny McLachlan books

After initially writing this article, we realised we'd left out Jenny McLachlan's Stargazing For Beginners - a bit like a teen version of Jacqueline Wilson's Lily Alone. We weren't the only ones to back Jenny, either - she was also suggested by people like @gemlovesbooks and @bookloverJo, who bigged up the Flirty Dancing series.

It seems like we were on to something, as Jenny got in touch to say, 'One of the reasons I began writing was because my students at the time kept asking me what they could read once they had read all Jacqueline Wilson's books. I'm a big JW fan!'

So what would she suggest? 'Two other writers who focus on "real life", friendships and whose books have a similar warmth to Jacqueline Wilson's are Perdita and Honor Cargill and Katy Birchall,' she tweeted. There you go!

What has worked for actual Jacqueline Wilson fans?

As Jake Hope said, this is "one of the most frequent questions librarians get asked"... so what are the tried and tested answers?

Am I Normal Yet; Super Awkward; Little Bits of Sky; Hope

  • @libthroughthis had a raft of suggestions for teen Jacqueline Wilson fans: Trouble by Non Pratt, The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne, Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman, 7 Days by Eve Ainsworth and We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen.
  • 'My daughter adores Nick Sharratt illustrations,' said @myjackanapes over on Instagram. 'She loves Jacqueline Wilson too, but also Tom Fletcher, and the Witch Wars series [by Sibéal Pounder] and Rowan Oakwing [by E. J. Clarke] has just been a massive hit (she is 8).'
  • @TGSGCIRCLE had just had this very dilemma with a Year 7 student. 'I recommended The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot - she then went on to Super Awkward by Beth Garrod, and anything by Jean Ure.' (Jean was a popular choice - Jake suggested she's great for 'inventive and imaginative use of narrative'.)
  • One very popular recommendation was Jo Cotterill, and her stories had certainly worked for @bookloverJo's girls ('both huge fans of JW'). They also enjoyed Susie Day's books, a suggestion heartily backed up by none other than, erm, Jo Cotterill, who said, 'They are brilliant and I don't know why EVERYONE isn't talking about them.' Another hit with @bookloverJo's girls was S. E. Durrant ('wonderful books'), backed up by Karen McCombie, who suggested Little Bits of Sky: 'As it's about a children's home, this would be a great next read for fans of Tracy Beaker.'
  • @cupofwonderland has been the person trying to move on from Jacqueline Wilson, so we take her suggestions seriously. 'Ally Carter, Rhian Ivory, Maureen Johnson, Dawn O'Porter - all authors I discovered after reading Jacqueline Wilson books,' she said.

The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge

This book received such a strong endorsement from @Clare_Jennifer that we just had to include it! '[It's] brilliant,' she said. 'Albie lost his mum to cancer, he uses quantum physics to try and find her in parallel universes. He becomes a girl in one of them. Popular girls at school - he doesn't like. Lots of heartfelt moments. Page turner!' We're sold.

Other suggestions...

Cow Girl; Casson Family books; Nevermoor

  • @csoundar came out for David Almond's books, picking out Skellig and My Name is Mina as particular highlights.
  • Kate Maryon's books 'cover similarly challenging themes to Jacqueline Wilson's books in a wise and kindly manner', suggested @alibrarylady (describing the stories as 'very readable' and appropriate for readers aged 9+).
  • Karen McCombie's titles were proposed by several readers - so what would she suggest? Among her recommendations was Cowgirl by GR Gemin - 'a great book, full of empathy and warmth' - and she also backed Tamsyn Murray's Completely Cassidy and Secrets of a Second-Hand Heart.
  • When Alex Wheatle talks, we listen (after all, we recommended his books above!) He proposed Patrice Lawrence and Eve Ainsworth, so go go go.
  • @agnesguyonhall suggested Annabel Pitcher 'for the way she deals with serious issues with warmth and humour', and also backed Hilary McKay. That was a very popular choice among you lot, with @jensen_ml and @librarymice both loving the Casson Family series.
  • Sometimes, you just need to keep it simple - like @SamPhillips33 did when recommending Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend. 'This is fab,' Sam explained. What more needs to be said?
  • And @haefoster had a plea for us: 'Don't forget Ally's World! The series that got me through my early teenage years!'

And the wild card recommendation...

Even @Hapfairy herself seemed slightly confused about her suggestion: 'I don't have a clue how to connect the two, but I could never find anything I liked as much as Jacqueline Wilson until I read Terry Pratchett!' she told us. 'It was love at first read...' Hey, if it worked for her, it might work for you, too...

We'd love to keep hearing your suggestions about What To Read After Jacqueline Wilson, so get in touch on Twitter @BookTrust or leave your comments below!

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