Top Texts for February 2024

Rachel has picked a wonderful selection of texts for KS2 & KS3 stages this month


by Katya Balen

Twins Fen and Rey have grown up in the mysterious Light House as two of the many ‘found’ children who live there with their redoubtable carer, Lissa. They are desperate to join the threads of their own story, real or imagined, and are drawn to the mysteries of the wildland which connects them to their lost mother via a charcoal drawing and a fox.

Balen’s latest novel is a hymn to the natural world and the restorative power of childhood imagination. The powerful depiction of sisterhood and survival in the central characters is evoked with care and intensity.

Perfect for years 6, 7 and 8; this is a novel which will speak clearly to young people in search of themselves and their place in the world.

The Drowned Woods

by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Mererid (Mer) is the last living water diviner; a precious commodity and a deadly weapon. Her magic gift is sought after by the powerful, the ruthless and the criminal. Mer must decide who to trust, who to fight and how to love. Will her powers be enough to save a city and wash clean her guilt?

Lloyd-Jones’ beautiful novel, winner of the 2023 Tir na n-Og prize for English language fiction, is part mythology, part fantasy, part romance, part heist. The characters are drawn with conviction and skill, the plot twisting and turning through the distinctively Welsh land and seascapes. Mer is a fantastic female protagonist; fiercely self-reliant, resourceful and powerful. Probably most suitable for years 8 and above, a great read for students who love fantasy and adventure.

Growing up Black in Britian

by Stuart Lawrence

I want young people to see themselves in books in a way that I never did, and, to know that somebody understands. It’s important to me’ Patrice Lawrence (P117).

Dr Stuart Lawrence has compiled the accounts of growing up black in Britain of a variety well known people such as Alison Hammond, Patrice Lawrence, Kye White and Paul Canoville.

The short, reflective vignettes are framed and emboldened by the typographical choice of alternating black on white and white on black text. Each story has something unique to share and illuminate, each short enough to be read aloud in a few minutes, allowing for sharing, discussion and reflection. This would be a great read for anyone from year 6 upwards who is curious about the world around them.

Rachel Ayres

About this month's reviewer

Rachel is a programme leader and facilitator for the OU KS3 Reading Schools Programme and loves nothing more than enthusing about reading with students and colleagues alike. She consults on English and literacy education, early career teaching and online education.