Guidance: About the Year 5 Booklist
Helping children in Year 5 discover a love of reading is most successfully achieved when a wide range of appealing and age-appropriate books are available. Research on reading for pleasure shows that children who choose to read for enjoyment are more likely to achieve higher academic outcomes, to have improved mental health and to gain economic success later in life. What’s more, when children choose to open a book to read, they are able to discover new worlds beyond their own experiences, to learn about different people and to develop critical thinking and crucial empathy skills, as well as advancing their language and vocabulary.
Getting the right book into the right child’s hands at the right time is absolutely key to sparking a love of reading. At the ages of 9 and 10, most children are able to read longer chapter books and handle stories with an increasing complexity of themes. Popular with this age group are thought-provoking books about relevant social issues, as well as laugh-out-loud funny books, graphic novels and non-fiction that covers topics of interest. As well as having a wide range of styles and formats to choose from for independent reading, an essential ingredient in developing a lifelove of books at this age is when adults protect shared reading experiences and continue to read aloud at storytime well beyond the age that children can read for themselves.
With this in mind, we have carefully selected a range of books to help to encourage reading for pleasure in Year 5. Some of the books in the collection are picked especially for making children laugh out loud, like the hilarious Uma and the Answer to Absolutely Everything or Jack Meggit-Phillips’ darkly humoured The Beast and the Bethany. Other stories have been picked especially for readers who appreciate a high image-to-text ratio, like Konnie Huq’s Cookie series or the action-packed Iguana Boy stories, which features lively, comic-style illustrations. Graphic novels are also popular with many children in Year 5, and we recommend trying Mr Wolf’s Class or Roller Girl.
Many children at this age start to enjoy stories that encourage thinking and discussion around social issues. Hannah Gold’s The Last Bear is a beautiful story that highlights the plight of polar bears affected by global warming, and Onjali Q Rauf’s The Night Bus Hero explores the topic of homelessness. Historical fiction also becomes popular around this age, with children able to draw on their increasing knowledge of history from their curriculum learning in Key Stage 2. We recommend Ally Sherrick’s award-winning gunpowder plot story Black Powder, or Emma Carroll’s Secrets of a Sun King, which is set at the time of Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Many children at this age enjoy fantasy stories to spark the imagination. Fantasy adventures like Rumblestar and Dragon Mountain are popular choices, as are stories of adventurous expeditions like Alex Bell’s The Polar Bear Explorers Club. Some stories in the collection explore the themes of technology and innovation, like Vashti Hardy’s wonderful sky ship adventure Brightstorm or Kirsty Applebaum’s Troofriend, a fast-paced read that explores the ethics of artificial intelligence.
If you are looking for classic stories suitable for 9-10 year olds, try The Wolves of Willoughby Chase or The Silver Sword. Popular poetry books to browse for pleasure are included in our Year 5 selection too, like Matt Goodfellow’s Bright Bursts of Colour or A.F. Harrold’s imaginative and slightly bonkers The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice, which is delightfully illustrated in colour by Mini Grey.
Longer reads are not for everyone, and we’ve included a number of shorter texts in the selection too. For children looking for shorter chapter books, try Tom Palmers’s Armistice Runner or David Long’s Tragedy at Sea, both of which are specially formatted to be accessible to dyslexic readers. For recommended picture books suitable for Year 5, we recommend Helen Ward’s Varmints or the inspiring story of Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code.
We’ve also included a super selection of non-fiction to appeal to children in Year 5, from the intriguing exploration of nature-meets-engineering in Invented by Animals, to the inspiring real-life stories in Young, Gifted and Black, to the incredible visual history of Music, which folds out into an impressive 8-foot-long timeline. If you are looking for books themed around a particular topic, head over to our KS2 topic booklists.
Where to purchase:
50 Recommended Reads Year 5 (2021)
Year 5 Checklist (2021)