Literature & global issues

13 June 2013

Reading by Brendan Murphy on

Most of us will be able to recall a story or book that changed our mind, made us think anew or invoked a stronger emotional response than many tragic news stories. Fiction can be a powerful tool for generating understanding, interest and debate.

For this feature we have trawled the internet to find recommendations for books which help with teaching and learning of various global topics; see the list below.

We have also created a spreadsheet of a few books we have read and enjoyed, and which have added to our understanding of the world in some way.

For early years and primary teachers, the books could be used to help students develop their views and opinions on a variety of global topics, to explore their values and to build on their speaking and listening skills. It is also a way to approach topics that may be challenging or upsetting to them, such as war and conflict.

For secondary teachers, these books could be used when tackling challenging or controversial topics in citizenship lessons, in English lessons where literature is being used to teach about global triumphs and problems, and for humanities students who want to further their understanding by reading around topics they have studied in school.

As well as these suggestions, you can browse through our database to find resources tagged English literature/story:

We thought you might enjoy this 2-minute clip of a book being made… an ancient art!

Some useful lists of books created by others

Do you have any favourite works of literature or children’s stories that you’d like to recommend as great ways to explore global issues? Use the comments box below to tell us what has worked for you in class.

The photo at the top of the page is ‘reading’ by Brendan Murphy on Flickr and used under a Creative Commons licence.


  1. jackie Zammit

    Hi. I run a book group for teachers and creative practitioners in Birmingham. We read fiction for KS2/3 on global, development and controversial themes and discuss ways of using them in the classroom. We have been meeting for about 8 years and have a Facebook Page – Book Group in Brum. We will be launching a new website in September and are able to offer workshops on using fiction to raise global issues. If you would like to join us or are looking for more info contact me – Thanks

  2. Moira Jenkins

    Thanks Jackie – I see you also have a book list on your Facebook page with star ratings. Will definitely be interested to see the new website when it’s ready, and you are also welcome to write a blog for us if you have the time. Moira


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