My first #52BooksChallenge Top Picks

Back on January 1st, I decided to sign up to the Goodreads #52BooksChallenge. I do read a fair few books so that I can add them to my school bookshelf (if I haven’t read them they don’t go on), and 52 books, 1 a week, that’s doable I thought.

Roll the on the end of January… I’d read 16 books. 16!


“How? When?” Erm, well, when most people are watching TV or sleeping I guess. But, mainly in the hours when previously I’d have been working towards my HLTA or my Maths Accreditation. I have worked out I’m one of those really irritating people who just need to have something to focus on, and finding new books for my school bookshelf is it.

The February count was 14, and March was 15.

One of the children in one of my book clubs said “You’ll have it completed after 100 days, never mind a year Miss.” They were right. On the 100th day of 2017, I completed my #52BooksChallenge.



“What are you going to do with the rest of the year?” I was asked.

I thought about it, and reset my challenge. I’m going to do it three times. It’s become my #156BooksChallenge.

I was also asked my least favourite question, ever. “Which was you favourite book?”

Here are a few of them:

Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson and Just Call Me Spaghetti Hoop Boy by Lara Williamson make the top for making my cry. Outstanding stories, with brilliant characters. Buy tissues too.

Who Let The Gods Out by Maz Evans and What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible by Ross Welford for making me, literally laugh out loud. Which, is brilliant, unless you happen to be sat next to me when it happened. My laugh makes frogs run for cover and broomsticks hover, allegedly.

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon, The Journey by Francesca Sanna, Running On The Roof Of The World by Jess Butterworth, and Mold and The Poison Plot by Lorraine Gregory for their thought provoking brilliance. These are stories that need to be read and shared widely if we are going to create a better, brighter, kinder future.

The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange, The Boy, The Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods, The Elephant Thief by Judith Kerr and make the top as stories that feel as though they have been around as long as I have. Beautifully written classics in the making.

Beetle Queen by M.G. Leonard, The Nightspinner by Abi Elphinstone, Strange Star by Emma Carroll and Sea by Sarah Driver for pinning me to the edge of my seat from start to finish. All fantastic adventures, that prove you don’t need to be fearless to be brave.

The Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine, Rose Campion And The Stolen Secret by Lyn GardnerMurder in Midwinter by Fleur Hitchcock and Black Cats and Butlers by Janine Beacham are captivating mysteries with plenty of plot twists to keep you guessing until the end.

Jimmy Coates: Killer by Joe Craig and My Brother’s Secret by Dan Smith are action all the way; gripping, compelling dramas that keep up the pace from when they suck you in at the start to when they spit you out at the finish.

And finally, Varjak Paw by S.F. Said for writing a story that has 12 children excited and eager to read, write and learn every morning in key skills.

So… lots of favourites for lots of different reasons. Many of the books mentioned could have sat in more than one category too.

What I do know, is that children’s fiction is in a fantastic place right now. There really is something out there for everyone, whatever your reading preferences might be. From the sublime The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milkwood Hargrave to the ridiculous Aliens From Outer Space by Gareth P Jones there is just oodles of choice. Just do me one favour, #choosebooks.


As author Dan Smith told me (and he’s won two awards so he must be right) “Reading makes you smart!”


I’m just going to take this opportunity to thank all of the wonderful authors, illustrators, editors, publishers and booksellers for creating a wealth of worlds that continue to inspire me to inspire children to read. Thank you!


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