Here are Mentor Education‘s recommended reads for Year 7s as they return to school this September.
Roald Dahl, famous author of so many amazing children’s books – from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to The Twits – never intended to write an autobiography. And the results were anything but straightforward. Indeed, in his introduction to Going Solo, Dahl states: A life is made up of a great amount of small incidents and a small amount of great ones. An autobiography must therefore, unless it is to become tedious, be extremely selective, discarding all the inconsequential incidents in one’s life and concentrating upon those that have remained vivid in the memory.”
Boy, which was published in 1984, contains humorous and revealing anecdotes from Dahl’s early childhood (from summer vacations spent in Norway to the challenges of adolescence at Repton School); whereas Going Solo, which was published in 1986,focuses on some of Dahl’s adult adventures, exploring his time in Tanzania (where he worked for Shell) and his career as an RAF pilot in the Second World War. Both books are a great introduction to autobiography, allowing young readers to get used to a new literary style whilst taking in some valuable information (not only about the author, but also certain periods of British history). Highly recommended reads for all fans of Dahl’s fiction, too!
When Fiver, a young, intuitive rabbit experiences a terrifying vision of his warren’s destruction, he becomes convinced that his family and friends must leave – but the chief rabbit will not permit them to do so. Finally, after much effort, he persuades a small group of rabbits to leave with him. Together they head into the unknown, where they face many challenges – hunted by former friends and new enemies – on their quest to find the perfect home: Watership Down.
This much-lauded adventure and survival tale won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, and has long been considered a classic of children’s literature. Watership Down portrays the beauty and dangers of the Berkshire countryside in a gripping and moving way, as well as evoking complex and epic themes: one of the most challenging yet compelling reads for young bookworms.
The Goldfish Boy is so much more than a captivating mystery. Focusing on the day-to-day activities of 12-year-old Matthew Corbin, who prefers to skip school and instead watch the comings-and-goings of his neighbours, it introduces the reader to the complexities of life with a mental health condition – because Matthew is also grappling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. When a toddler goes missing, Matthew’s condition means he ends up being a unique – and key – witness in the case, due to his highly-honed observation skills. However, participating in the investigation fully presents a big hurdle, as he finds it almost impossible to leave his house. Will Matthew be able to overcome these challenges and help crack the case?
Both a gripping whodunit and an emotional read, The Goldfish Boy depicts the realities of struggling with a mental health condition in a moving way that cannot fail to engage the reader.
In this stunning novel, which has been adapted into both a West End play and a hit film, Michael Morpugo depicts the devastation of the First World War, and the horrors of this epic conflict, in an entirely new way: through the eyes of a young farm horse who is sold to the army at the beginning of the war. Joey, the eponymous war horse, is both courageous and kind; and, through the course of the novel, he touches the lives of soldiers on both sides of the conflict, and experiences compassion and warmth despite the terrible circumstances.
Through his portrayal of Joey and the horse’s journey, Morpurgo offers a unique exploration of bravery in the face of suffering; dignity in extreme circumstances; and the value of kindness and kinship, above all, whilst shining a light on the incredible service provided by these wonderful creatures.