Look Beyond Your World: children's books to help young readers explore experiences beyond their own

Books allow children to see and experience the lives of others. These books will remind children we're not so very different from each other and help build empathy and understanding.

School for Skylarks

by Sam Angus

Book cover for School for Skylarks

It is 1939. When Lyla is evacuated from her home in London to her great-aunt’s enormous house in the West Country due to the breakout of The Second World War. But when the house is suddenly used to accommodate an entire school of evacuated schoolgirls, Lyla’s life changes. For the first time, she is going to school and making friends with girls her own age, and she must find her place in the world surrounded by people with lives very different to her own.

As the war continues on, there’s no time to think about her old life. Instead, Lyla discovers how families are built and that friends come in all shapes and sizes.

Download the discussion notes for School of Skylarks

Coming to England

Book cover for Coming to England

Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left the island paradise of Trinidad to make a new home in London - part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War.

Reunited with their mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first to care about the cold weather and the noise and dirt from the traffic. But, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced. She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else.

Download the discussion notes for Coming to England

Tender Earth

by Sita Brahmachari

Book cover for Tender Earth

This story follows twelve-year-old Laila, the youngest of the Levenson family, as she adjusts to her two older siblings, Mira and Krish, leaving home just as she is starting secondary school. At the same time she seems to be growing apart from her long-time best friend, Kez, who is branching out with her at their new school.

Can the reappearance of Nana Josie’s Protest Book and the spirit it releases in Laila, her friends and her local community, help her find her own voice and discover what she truly believes in?

Download the discussion notes for Tender Earth

The Lotterys Plus One

by Emma Donoghue

Book cover for The Lotterys Plus One

Meet the Lotterys, a unique and diverse family featuring four parents, seven kids and five pets - all living happily together in their big old house, Camelottery. Nine-year-old Sumac is the organizer of the family and is looking forward to a long summer of fun. But when their grumpy and intolerant grandad comes to stay, everything is turned upside down. How will Sumac and her family manage with another person to add to their hectic lives?

Welcome to Nowhere

by Elizabeth Laird

Book cover for Welcome to Nowhere

Twelve-year-old Omar and his brothers and sisters were born and raised in the beautiful and bustling city of Bosra, Syria. Omar doesn’t care about politics, all he wants is to grow up to become a successful businessman who will take the world by storm. But when his clever older brother, Musa, gets mixed up with some young political activists, everything changes...

Before long, bombs are falling, people are dying, and Omar and his family have no choice but to flee their home with only what they can carry. Yet no matter how far they run, the shadow of war follows them until they have no other choice than to attempt the dangerous journey to escape their homeland altogether. But where do you go when you can’t go home?

Download the discussion notes for Welcome to Nowhere

The State of Grace

by Rachael Lucas

Book cover for The State of Grace

'Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.’

Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more. Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own.

928 Miles from Home

by Kim Slater

Book cover for 928 Miles from Home

Fourteen-year-old Calum Brooks has big dreams. One day he’ll escape this boring life and write movies - proper ones, with massive budgets and A-list stars. For now though, he’s stuck coping alone while his dad works away, writing scripts in his head and trying to stay ‘in’ with his gang of mates at school, who don’t like new kids, especially foreign ones.

But when his father invites his new Polish girlfriend and her son, Sergei, to move in, Calum’s life is turned upside down. He’s actually sharing a room with ‘the enemy’. Yet when Calum is knocked down in a hit-and-run and breaks both legs, everything changes.

Trapped at home, Calum and Sergei slowly start to understand each other, and even work together to investigate a series of break-ins at the local community centre. But Calum can’t help feeling that Sergei’s hiding something. Is he really trying to help, or to cover up his own involvement in the crime?