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Best Books for Schools

Best Books for Schools

Best Boosk for Schools

Best Books for Schools from Just Imagine is a leading supplier of quality children's books, providing:

  • Curated titles selected and reviewed by our expert panel of teachers and ibrarians.l
  • Book collections to support reading for pleasure and curriculum topics
  • Quick access to the books in our reading resources: Take One Book and Reading Gladiators™.
  • Flexibility and Choice to select individual titles or our easy purchase packs.

Our virtual door is open. For enquiries and bespoke advice, email


Our story goes back to the 1980s.

Just Imagine's Director, Nikki Gamble, formerly a teacher, university lecturer and independent consultant, had run children's literature courses for many years at Anglia Ruskin University and contributed to courses at UCL, Institute of Education and The University of Cambridge. The advent of the literacy strategy in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to pressure on course leaders to replace children's literature studies with a focus on the mechanics of learning to read. Although teachers and teacher educators knew that reading for pleasure was essential for learning to read, this was not supported by the statuory requirements at that time. (How far things have moved on!)

Exploring Children's Literature

Nikki and a colleague, Sally Yates from Bath Spa University, pushed back against the trend and wrote the first edition of Exploring Children's Literature. The book  was written as a handbook to support colleagues in teacher education with a self-study component to supplement a reduced timetable for children's literature. The book is now in its 4th edition.

Write Away and Read to Inspire

When Nikki took become an independent consultant in 2000, she maintained contact with colleagues in teacher education. For over 10 years she organised Read to Inspire conferences for student teachers in universities across.the UK And ran an annual Write Away conference for in-service teachers at the London Institute of Education.

Just Imagine in Chelmsford

Then, in 2010, Nikki fell in love with  premises in Chelmsford that had come up for lease. The building had an interesting provenance. It was a former servant exchange, and in the nineteenth century a bric-a-brac shop famously selling Nelson's seal. It had been a record shop with a basement coffee bar (that once hosted Jimi Hendrix!) Its latest use had been a television studio (Anglia News) and it still had the 'On Air' lights when we moved in. It offered an opportunity to set down some physical roots and begin to build a wider schools network. We also developd a public facing presence with an independent bookshop.

A home for best books for schools


Several of Nikki's former students found their way back for valued advice, to pick up recommended books for teaching, and many a cup of tea and slice of cake were consumed as relationships were re-established.  

Just Imagine was a vibrant space for anyone with an interest in children's books. Writers and illustrators groups ran alongside book-themed parties, manga sessions and book clubs for preschoolers to teens. It was an exciting time, with monthly meetings to discuss projects and an unforgettable group trip to the Bologna Children's Bookfair.

Providing advice on quality children;s books

New Publications, Teaching Resource  and Training

A growing team, with a broad range of experience in teaching, literacy advising, academic and children's librarianship, Just Imagine entered a new phase, expanding its consultancy and training services for schools and introducing programmes inspired by Nikki's continuing research projects.

A place for writing and illustration

During this period, Nikki worked with Wayne Tennent, David Reedy and Angela Hobsbaum to write the latest edition of Guiding Readers.  The book went on to win the UKLA Academic Book of the Year Award.

Three years were spent working with schools in the London Borough of Richmond on the DfE funded project, 4XR developing a pedaogy to promote excellence in reading in KS2 and KS3. This work formed the base for two new resources that put children's books firmly at the heart of teaching reading.

The first,  Reading Gladiators™ was launched in September 2014. It went on to achieve two finalist awards at BETT and ERA and won the Teach Primary Resource Award in the English and Literacy category in 2018.

The second, Take One Book was launched two years later in 2016.

Reading Gladiators winner of the Teach Primary Award for Literacy

Just Imagine in Langford

By now Just Imagine had outgrown the much-loved premises in Chelmsford. We knew it was time to move when members of the team were working on the doorstep because we had run out of space inside! We took on a beautifully converted barn in the Essex countryside. 

In The Reading Corner Podcast

A former BBC Radio 4 producer, Alison Hughes, enabled the successful podcast series In the Reading Corner to provide an invaluable digital resource for educators and student teachers.  With over 350 episodes In the Reading Corner is a treasure trove of author interviews: well-known names, such as Michael Rosen, Benjamin Zephaniah, Lucy Hawking and Janina Ramirez have all featured as guests.

Developing a Blended Approach to CPD

During the COVID pandemic we took an early decision to offer free CPD to support teachers during lockdown: reading and literacy training.  Out of this expeience we developed a new training platform which offers a blended approach to CPD, using the best of online and face to face experiences

Best Books for Schools - online book supply

Teachers using Best Books For Schools will  enthuse the children, pique their curiosity and ignite their wonder in the world. They will fuel their reading for pleasure and service their development as lifelong learners Our user-friendly interface ensures you are always only a few clicks away from a basket full of special books that will recoup their worth tenfold.