Look Beyond Your World

27 July 2017

By Macmillan Children's Books

Books are windows on the world for children, enabling them to see and experience the lives of others, which may be very different from their own – or surprisingly similar. 

Building empathy and understanding in children has never been more important and we are delighted to present a selection of the very best books on the Macmillan Children's Books list which help to do exactly that.

There are stories of Syrian refugees, of student protestors, of wartime evacuees and economic migrants, of teenagers with autism and families with same-sex parents - many lives are represented here. To help you support conversations around the wide range of experiences, we have provided discussion notes for each book.

School for Skylarks

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.

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Coming to England

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.

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Tender Earth

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?

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The Lotterys Plus One

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?

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Welcome to Nowhere

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?

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The State of Grace

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.

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928 Miles from Home

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?

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Download the discussion notes for 928 Miles from Home