Best Books for ages 10-14 #9: ‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ by Michelle Magorian (1981)

Often chosen as a book to study in early-secondary level English, ‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ is the story of Willie Beech, an evacuee who finds himself living with a crusty old man in a country village. The tale of city meets country, and of a shy, mistreated little boy meeting someone set in his ways, is suitable from a young age, but enjoyed just as much by older readers.

Playing out across a backdrop of World War Two, the story is not without its tragedies. There are several moments in the story which might make you cry, but there are also lots of touches of humour and pathos. The characters are well-written and vivid, and the detail of the setting makes it a great immersive read.

Winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, this book is well-recognised as a children’s classic. It was also adapted into a film with John Thaw as Mr Tom himself. One to read alone or as family.

By the same author: ‘Back Home’, ‘Not a Swan’ and more.

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