The best children's books that will make you feel things

Who am I?

My biggest aim as a writer is for my reader to feel something. It could be on a page where they are fighting back the tears or at the end of a chapter where they are gasping at an unexpected plot twist. I think we can sometimes forget how powerful children’s books can be – yes, they can make you cry, laugh, gasp and feel scared! Here are some of my favorites that will make you have all the feelings.


I wrote...

The Light Jar

By Lisa Thompson,

Book cover of The Light Jar

What is my book about?

Nate and his mother are fleeing from a bad situation at home. They hide out in an abandoned, run-down cottage in the middle of a forest and Nate's mother heads off for groceries. She doesn't return. Has she run into trouble, or abandoned him? He is alone and afraid, with the dark – and all his old fears – closing in on him. But comfort can come from the most unexpected of places: like a strange girl trying to solve a treasure hunt, and the reappearance of a friend from his past. Will Nate find the bravery he needs to face down his fears and illuminate his future? From the author of The Goldfish Boy, comes a captivating story of finding the light within.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Charlotte's Web

Lisa Thompson Why did I love this book?

Charlotte’s Web was the first book that made me realize how powerful a book could be, and that was because it made me cry. I was very young at the time, but I remember being so shocked that just a bunch of words on pieces of paper had made me sob! It still makes me cry today. A truly wonderful book.

By E.B. White,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Charlotte's Web as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Puffin Classics: the definitive collection of timeless stories, for every child.

On foggy mornings, Charlotte's web was truly a thing of beauty . Even Lurvy, who wasn't particularly interested in beauty, noticed the web when he came with the pig's breakfast. And then he took another look and he saw something that made him set his pail down. There, in the centre of the web, neatly woven in block letters, was a message. It said: SOME PIG!

This is the story of a little girl named Fern, who loves a little pig named Wilbur - and of Wilbur's dear friend,…


Book cover of The Enemy

Lisa Thompson Why did I love this book?

This book is the first in a series and is aimed at the teenage market, but I defy any adult to read it and not feel a shiver of fear. Everyone over the age of fourteen has succumbed to a deadly zombie virus and the kids have to try and survive. A gripping plot and the writing is heartbreaking, funny, and horrific. 

By Charlie Higson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Enemy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Charlie Higson's The Enemy is the first in a jaw-dropping zombie horror series for teens. Everyone over the age of fourteen has succumbed to a deadly zombie virus and now the kids must keep themselves alive.

When the sickness came, every parent, police officer, politician - every adult fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry.

Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive.

Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways,…


Book cover of October, October

Lisa Thompson Why did I love this book?

October lives in the woods with her father where their lives are surrounded by peace and nature. October’s life sees a drastic change after her father has an accident and needs to go to the hospital.  Suddenly, October finds herself living with her mum in the city. Katya Balen is the most beautiful writer and this book is a literary feast for the soul. 

By Katya Balen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked October, October as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 CILIP CARNEGIE MEDAL Katya Balen's October, October is a very special new addition to the shelf and deserves classic status - Times Children's Book of the Week A classic in the making for anyone who ever longed to be WILD. October and her dad live in the woods. They know the trees and the rocks and the lake and stars like best friends. They live in the woods and they are wild. And that's the way it is. Until the year October turns eleven. That's the year October rescues a baby owl. It's the year Dad…


Book cover of The Snail and the Whale

Lisa Thompson Why did I love this book?

I used to read this book to my children and I think it is one of the most beautiful and lyrical picture books ever written. It’s a story of a snail who hitches a ride on the tail of a whale and then gets the chance to see how amazing the world is. It’s so simple and always brings a tear to my eye.

By Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Snail and the Whale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

"How I long to sail!" said the tiny snail.

The Snail and the Whale is a delightful tale of adventure and friendship by the unparalleled picture book partnership of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, creators of The Gruffalo.

One little snail longs to see the world and hitches a lift on the tail of an enormous whale. Together they go on an amazing journey, past icebergs and volcanoes, sharks and penguins, and the little snail feels so small in the vastness of the world. But when disaster strikes and the whale is beached in a bay, it's the tiny snail's…


Book cover of The Boy at the Back of the Class

Lisa Thompson Why did I love this book?

Nine-year-old Ahmet, a Syrian refugee, has arrived in Mrs. Khan’s classroom after fleeing the horrors of war. One of the things that is so striking about this book is how the children in the story have far more understanding than most adults. It is both funny and heartfelt and is a masterclass in teaching empathy – for the young and the old.

By Onjali Q. Raúf,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy at the Back of the Class as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A World Book Day 2020 Author

WINNER OF THE BLUE PETER BOOK AWARD 2019
WINNER OF THE WATERSTONES CHILDREN'S BOOK PRIZE 2019
SHORTLISTED FOR THE JHALAK PRIZE 2019

Told with heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a child's perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn't always make sense.

There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it.

He's nine years old (just like me), but he's very strange. He…


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From Cells to Ourselves: The Story of Evolution

By Gill Arbuthnott, Chris Nielsen (illustrator),

Book cover of From Cells to Ourselves: The Story of Evolution

Gill Arbuthnott Author Of The Keepers' Daughter

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Who am I?

Author History nut Science nerd Mystery lover Feminist

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What is my book about?

4.5 billion years ago, Earth was forming - but nothing could have survived there…

From Cells to Ourselves is the incredible story of how life on earth started and how it gradually evolved from the first simple cells to the abundance of life around us today. Walk with dinosaurs, analyse fossils, and join Charles Darwin on the voyages that inspired his Theory of Evolution.

Written by Gill Arbuthnott and beautifully illustrated by Christopher Nielsen, From Cells to Ourselves is the story of life itself and the extraordinary creatures that have inhabited our planet.

From Cells to Ourselves: The Story of Evolution

By Gill Arbuthnott, Chris Nielsen (illustrator),

What is this book about?

From the Big Bang to the abundance of life that surrounds us today, this beautiful book - the third by the award-winning duo Gill Arbuthnott and Chris Nielsen - is the story of evolution, from the very first cells to ourselves.

How old exactly is the Earth? How do we know what was here before us? Are we still evolving? From Cells to Ourselves is the story of the beginnings of life around 3.8 billion years ago, to the millions of species alive today, including humans.

Learn about mythology giants who formed the Earth, analyse fossils, walk with the dinosaurs,…


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