Reading can be a portal to another world, allowing you to access different experiences and get lost in the trials and triumphs of the characters, feeling their emotions, and hearing their thoughts as though they are your own. It can be such a joy to pick any book and enjoy the escapism, but with Fewer than half of people aged 8-18 said they enjoyed reading in a 2022 survey, it seems not everyone shares that enjoyment or has access to variety of books. So, to celebrate World Book Day 2023, we wanted to celebrate reading and offer some book recommendations from our youth theatre members, staff, and trustees in the hope it might inspire folks to fall in love with a book. Feel free to share the recommendations listed within this blog post with the young people in your life.
Our youth theatre members thrive off creating amazing imaginative stories that lift you out of your ordinary routine and transport you somewhere new and extraordinary. So, it comes as no surprise that many of the recommendations from Mortal Fools Youth Theatre members were books that had some fantasy or magical elements, books that present alternative worlds with brilliant and fantastical detailed descriptions and vibrant compelling characters.
Mortal Fools World Book Day Recommendation #1
Who let the gods out? by Maz Evans
The story follows Elliot who despite having a perfect school record is struggling to cope with his mum’s illness and the possibility that they could lose their home. He finds himself in the middle of an event that will turn his world upside down when a shooting star crashes to earth and the goddess Virgo appears. An odd cast of Olympian Gods come together to help Elliot and Virgo navigate their problems and save the world! This is a hilarious adventure story which we are recommending for ages 9+. Our youth theatre particularly enjoyed the character development and seeing how Virgo who sees herself as perfect, interacts with Elliot- who doesn’t agree at all!
“In one sentence you should read this book because it was an enjoyable experience reading and made a wonderful book”- Youth theatre member
If you are finding reading challenging, inaccessible, or simply don’t have time but still want to experience the escapism and fun of a good story, audiobooks and podcasts are a great option and listening to books has many of the same benefits for children and young people as reading.
Mortal Fools World Book Day Recommendation #2
Podcast LeVar Burton Reads
This podcast features a different short story, read for the listener every week. Some of these stories are by well known classic authors such as Shirley Jackson but Burton also champions up and coming authors and this podcast can be a great entry point into reading. Many of these stories have some unique sci fi or magical aspect that enable a bit of bitesized escapism whilst the characters are confronted with issues that feel timeless and relatable. Most of these story’s content is appropriate for all audiences but there are clear content advisories in the episode’s descriptions on Spotify.
LeVar Burton has a wonderful was of embodying the characters when he reads to bring the stories to life. It’s always a relaxing listen.”- Elinor Marketing assistant.
If coming of age stories are more your vibe…..
Mortal Fools World Book Day Recommendation #3
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
This graphic novel, which we are recommending for ages 12+, follows Charlie and Nick, boys in the same school who quickly become close friends. Charlie is openly gay but when he falls hard for Nick he never imagined that he could share his feelings. This story acutely captures the little moments of self-consciousness that are often part of the experience of growing up as LGBTQA+. Oseman writes openly about difficult topics such as bullying and mental health struggles as the characters explore the confusion and excitement of first love. Paired with simple and emotive illustrations these books tell a classic coming of age love story through a queer lens.
“You should read this book because it is a romance about two boys- one is gay, and the other is having a crisis!”- Youth theatre member
any of the book recommendations from our Mortal Fools community explore and platform identities and experiences that are often underrepresented in mainstream media, in a fun and unique way. A 2022 study by the Literacy Trust found “2 in 5 (38.9%) of children and young people say they find it difficult to find books with characters or people like them.” Finding books that reflect the diversity of our society through their characters and show a range of experiences is absolutely vital to increase young people’s confidence as well as their understanding of others.
Mortal Fools World Book Day Recommendation #4
The Secret of Haven Point, by Lisette Auton
This novel, which we are recommending for ages 9+ is told through the eyes of Alpha, and her coastal and underwater escapades at Haven Point. Based on her lived experience, Lisette champions disabled characters and person- and identity-first language. You can feel the sense of family between the community in Haven point, who have found a home with each other. Lisette uses a mix of lyrical and distinctly North-East language, which is rarely seen in books! This book also features gorgeous illustrations by disabled artist Valentina Toro, Northeast creative Gillian Gamble, and Luke Ashforth.
“I think every child deserves to see themselves reflected in the books they read”- Rachel Pattinson Trustee
We hope we have shown a tiny glimmer of the range of different books out there. You can download the full list of recommendations here and feel free to share this list within your network. We encourage anyone to try and find books that you genuinely love and can’t stop thinking about! Be sure to take advantage of the £1 book tokens that are being distributed through schools as part of the World Book Day celebrations. Happy World Book Day!
Do you have any book recommendations that you’d like to share? Share them in the comments!