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Reception: 50 Recommended Reads (2022)

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best books for reception age 4 5

Best Books for Reception (Children Aged 4-5)

We’ve hand-picked a list of 50 recommended books to read with 4- and 5-year-olds. Update your class library or home book collections with our list of best Reception books, covering everything from fashion-conscious flamingoes and super-greedy monsters to dreams of space travel and expeditions into faraway places. Not to mention the odd heroic potato or pancake-making bunny, too…

The Reception year of primary school is an impactful phase in children’s literacy development. Our recommended reading list for reception-aged children includes engaging stories and vibrant illustrations that are sure to capture the hearts and minds of young readers aged 4 and 5. Our mission is to encourage a love of reading in children from an early age, by providing them with stories that will ignite their imagination and foster a lifelong passion for reading. This collection of books has been carefully curated by our team of experts with the help of our Review Panel, who have tried and tested hundreds of titles in their primary school settings to bring you only the best of the best.

Whether you are looking for classic tales, funny read-alouds, new releases or educational reads, we have something to suit every young reader’s interests. Our Reception booklist includes both fiction and non-fiction recommendations to read with children in this age group to develop their vocabulary, comprehension skills and creativity.

So, if you’re a parent or teacher looking for what you should read with reception children, look no further than our list. We understand that choosing the right books for young children can be a daunting task, which is why we have compiled this helpful list of recommended reads to make your job a little bit easier. With our expert recommendations and hand-picked titles, you can be confident that your Reception-aged children will enjoy storytime and develop a lifelong love for books.

As well as the Reception booklist below to browse, we’ve also got a printable poster and downloadable checklist for you, and schools can purchase full sets of the books via Peters.

Scroll down to find more purchasing options and printable resources.

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Our Favourite Picturebooks for Reception

Petr Horacek
Picturebook
Delightful and witty, this is a simple story of mistaken identity! Peter and Paul are the best of friends, but when Peter gets lost in a terrible storm he can't find Paul anywhere. With the help of a big blue whale Puffin Peter sets off to find him. They find all kinds of birds that match Peter's description but none of them is quite like Paul.
Chris Judge
Picturebook
This story follows a young boy who sets about to find his father, an explorer who appears to have gone missing in the North Pole. The boy has to prepare himself for the Arctic terrain by sourcing a map and packing his rucksack with all the things he thinks he might need. A fun and brightly illustrated picture book popular with KS1.
Lindsay Camp
 & Momoko Abe
Picturebook
The perfect picture book for dads at storytime... Luckily for Sam, Dad's home just in time for a bedtime story. But tonight there'll be no aliens or super heroes, instead he'll tell the tale of Papa Penguin, who loves his beautiful boy-chick very much, even when he's not always around.
Pippa Goodhart & Anna Doherty
Picturebook
When Bear and Hare try to reach some juicy pears, they realise they need some help. Hare finds three chairs but is it fair that Hare has two chairs and Bear only one? When they have the same, Hare still can't reach the pears! So a little friend teaches them that fair isn't always everyone getting the same thing....with hilarious results! A beautifully simple picture book that considers, what is fair? The answer is not always as simple as you'd think!
Pippa Goodhart
 & Nick Sharratt
Picturebook
Get pupils choosing, imagining and expressing their own preferences with this massively appealing picture book full of choices. Each double-page spread is themed around a different choice to make and packed with all sorts of possibilities from the tame to the outright wacky; choose furniture for your ideal house, choose a pet (watch out for the dragon) and choose favourite food (the ice cream looks good but I'm not sure about the boar's head!).

Helen Cooper
Picturebook

We can’t get enough of Pumpkin Soup ever since we saw a group of KS1 teachers turn this book into a successful cross-curricular topic. Cat, Duck and Squirrel are friends who live in an old white cabin, making pumpkin soup together every day. One day, the strength of their relationship is put to the test when duck decides to switch roles and what follows is a compassionate adventure about friendship and belonging. We adore the warm, vibrant colours of the illustrations, the rich language and captivating storytelling in this autumn-time classic.

Benji Davies
Picturebook
Meet Tad.She's the smallest tadpole in a big pond, and lives there with all her tadbrothers and tadsisters.Although something else lives there too... BIG BLUB! And when everyone else starts to disappear, Tad starts to wonder if Big Blub will get her too...Or is everyone else going somewhere else; somewhere better? And if so, will Tad ever get there too?A big story about a tiny tadpole - about growing up, branching out, and taking a leap into life.Winner of the 2020 Oscar's Book Prize and from the award-winning creator of The Storm Whale and Granddad's Island, Tad is the perfect story for everyone who's ever grown up, or still has a way to go...
Nick Butterworth
Picturebook
A hilarious story in the 9-million-copy best-selling classic series from highly regarded author Nick Butterworth! The Fox is playing hide-and-seek with Percy and the animals of the park. He's got a great hiding place in Percy's workshop but hasn't noticed that there is a pot of strong glue dangerously close by and soon finds himself in an embarrassingly sticky situation! What can Percy do to help? Includes a surprise fold-out page! Percy and his animal friends have delighted readers around the world for over thirty years!
Julia Donaldson
 & Axel Scheffler
Picturebook
The magical and exciting picture book from the number one bestselling author and illustrator of The Gruffalo, Zog and Stick Man. 'Madam Dragon ran a school, many moons ago. She taught young dragons all the things that dragons need to know. Zog, the biggest dragon, was the keenest one by far. He tried his hardest every day to win a golden star.' Zog is the keenest dragon in school. He's also the most accident-prone, flying into trees and even setting his own wing on fire. Luckily, a mysterious little girl always comes by and patches up his bumps and bruises. But will she be able to help him with his toughest test: capturing a princess? Shiny foil highlights on the cover makes this a special gift for toddlers. A magical picture book about dragons, knights and princesses from the UK's number one picture book author and illustrator. Perfect read-aloud rhyming text and stunning pictures on every page with lots of details to spot. The perfect story for children starting school with bravery, kindness, friendship and perseverance at the heart.
Oliver Jeffers
Picturebook
An inspirational story of a boy who loved the stars so much, he decided to catch one of his very own. The beautifully illustrated, original debut picture book from shining talent Oliver Jeffers.There once was a boy who loved stars so much that he wished he had one of his very own. Every night he watched the stars in the sky from his bedroom window and dreamed of how he could be their friend and how they could play hide-and-go-seek together.So, one day, he decided to set about catching a star of his very own...

Recommended Funny Books for Reception

Rashmi Sirdeshpande
 & Diane Ewen
Picturebook

If a Stegosaurus knew how to do sums – well, what would happen? Maybe she’d learn to code, to invent, to fly to the moon! Perfect for fostering a love of numbers, for use in the classroom or at home, this riotous read shows that the possibilities to where maths can take you are endless…

Kes Grey
 & Jim Field
Picturebook
The laughter never ends with Oi Frog and Friends!Jam-packed with the silliest of animals, this bestselling rhyming story will have the youngest of readers in fits of laughter.Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools and gophers sit on sofas. But Frog does not want to sit on a log. Jam-packed with animals and silliness, this original rhyming story is guaranteed to get children giggling!
Peter Bently
 & Steven Lenton
Picturebook
A brilliantly bonkers story about an octopus who lives on the roof, by two award-winning and bestselling picture book creators.When a giant octopus arrives, the children LOVE their new friend; it makes the perfect slide and is fantastic at football! But some of the grown-ups aren't so pleased. Will they drive it away . . . or will they realise just how helpful an octopus can be?A warm and witty rhyming story about welcoming newcomers. Sunglasses at the ready - this book has zingy fluorescent ink on the cover and inside illustrations.
Swapna Haddow
 & Dapo Adeola
Picturebook
My Mum is a Lioness is the second family-based playful picture book from award-winning author Swapna Haddow and illustrator Dapo Adeola. Filled with giggles and with the theme of family bonds at the heart, this is a roar-some choice for storytime with children aged 3-7 and a well-timed release with Mother's Day coming up next month. The first book in the series - My Dad is a Grizzly Bear - won the 'Best Classroom Read Aloud' category for EYFS in our Books of the Year Awards. This new instalment matches the playfulness and fun of the first, with brightly coloured illustrations providing plenty of visual humour and a bouncy rhythm that makes it well-suited to being read aloud at storytime. The mother in the story has all the qualities of a lioness - she pounces for cuddles, has the proudest roar and gives strong lioness hugs that make everything feel better. It's a joyful ode to the bond between mums and their children, tapping into both humour and sentimentality to make a feel-good story that is sure to raise plenty of smiles on Mother's Day and all year round.
Katie Abey
Picturebook
Choose your favourite vehicle and LET'S GO! Join all the busy animals as they zoom around in every kind of vehicle you can imagine, vibrantly illustrated by the talented Katie Abey. Is that a cheeky monkey flying a plane? And did I see a llama riding a scooter? And there's a whole pack of animals catching that bus. All the animals are on the move in their favourite vehicles, zipping by in their own hilarious way. Travel across airports, race through city streets in fire engines and drive around building sites. Wherever you're going today ... tell us how it should be done! We Catch the Bus invites children to choose their favourite vehicles and how they like to travel over 12 spreads, packed with animals driving cars, buses, diggers, spacecraft, bikes, ships, scooters and more. With interactive speech bubbles and hilarious shout outs, this hilarious follow-up to We Wear Pants and We Eat Bananas is perfect for fans of You Choose and Just Imagine and kids who love to be on the move.

Simon James Green
 & Garry Parsons
Picturebook

Fabulous Frankie is a beautifully told and fabulously illustrated story of acceptance and valuing kindness. All Frankie the flamingo wants is to be fabulous! But he’s literally surrounded by so many fabulous flamingos, so how on earth can he stand out from the crowd? He looks to all the latest fashion accessories to achieve his goal of being truly fabulous, but in the end it is Frankie’s friends who will help him learn that the things that really do make him fabulous are on the inside. This flamboyant tale of kindness and learning to be yourself is filled with stylish illustrations and celebrates the joy of learning to value what’s on the inside.

Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet
Picturebook

This is a tremendously popular story that has now been developed into a series of three books. It tells the funny tale of Supertato, the unlikely superhero who is on a mission to protect the other vegetables from the Evil Pea. A laugh-out-loud story that children want to hear again and again.

Jeanne Willis
 & Jenni Desmond
Picturebook
Blue Monster loves brand new things. A fancy new hat . . . a shiny submarine . . . a fabulous funfair . . . and a paradise island, all of his own. But he's still not happy! What will it take for Blue Monster to realise there are some things that money can't buy?An original, humorous and unforgettable fable from the creators of the award-winning The First Slodge , perfect for introducing little ones to the idea of materialism.
Caryl Hart
 & Bethan Woollvin
Picturebook

This delightful, illustrated adventure is the perfect introduction to the sheer variety of habitats beneath the waves and the different types of oceans and seas around the planet. Little ones are introduced to sea creatures, ocean climates and the importance of caring for our seas through a rhyming story that sees the different oceans gently personified. Fun and original, this is a great choice for curious minds in younger classrooms and was also voted ‘Best Curriculum Support’ in our Teachers’ Favourites awards.

Rachel Bright
 & Jim Field
Picturebook
A bestselling story about confidence, self-esteem, and a shy little mouse who sets out on a journey to find his roar.In a dry dusty place where the sand sparkled gold, stood a mighty flat rock, all craggy and old. And under that rock in a tiny house, lived the littlest, quietest, meekest brown mouse.Fed up of being ignored by the other animals, Mouse wishes he could roar like Lion. But, as he discovers, even the biggest, bossiest people are scared sometimes ... and even the smallest creatures can have the heart of a lion! 

The Best Story Books for Reception

Tegen Evans
 & Paula Bowles
Picturebook
A sweet and funny picture book about friendship - perfect for Pancake Day. Pancake recipe included! It's finally the day of Rabbit's pancake picnic! She's going to make the pancakes all by herself . . . but she can't find her recipe book. Bother! Rabbit decides to try to remember the recipe and adds syrup, strawberries, apples, and lots of other ingredients to the mixture. Her friends try to help, but Rabbit is desperate to make the pancakes on her own. Even when the mixture turns lumpy, sticky and looks, well . . . strange. Is Rabbit's pancake picnic ruined? Perhaps she just needs to accept some help from her kind friends! This beautifully illustrated picture book with its cast of adorable woodland animals combines all the fun of Pancake Day with important messages about knowing when to ask for help and the fun of working together. Children will love the fun counting element, joining in with the repeated phrases, and then making their very own pancakes using the recipe at the end of the book. Every Nosy Crow paperback picture book comes with a free 'Stories Aloud' audio recording - just scan the QR code and listen along!
Joseph Coelho
 & Fiona Lumbers
Picturebook
At the gallery, Luna is transfixed by the famous art, but her classmate Finn doesn't seem to want to be there at all. Finn's family doesn't look like the one in Henry Moore's 'Family Group' sculpture, but then neither does Luna's. Maybe all Finn needs is a friend. Join Luna and Finn at the Art Gallery and step inside famous works of art by Van Gogh, Damien Hirst, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol and many more! Can you spot all the art? Created by award-winning poet Joseph Coelho, this book follows Luna Loves Library Day as an introduction to different types of family.
Sophy Henn
Picturebook
Sometimes you are twinkly and floaty, sometimes you are soft and cuddly. Sometimes you are quiet and gentle, sometimes you are loud and clanky. Whatever you are, let's be proud of you being you! This bright and colourful picture book is a joyful celebration of the uniqueness of each individual. “The trick is not to worry about what you are not. Instead enjoy the things you are and all the brills you've got!”
Michelle Robinson
 & Jez Tuya
Picturebook
From Lollies Award-winning Michelle Robinson comes this busy story based on the tongue-twister, bursting with trucks, doggie drivers and colour! Red Lorry and Yellow Lorry must get to the construction site, but they have a snow-drift, a breakdown and a speeding tractor to contend with along the way... Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry: which one would you drive? Jam-packed with lorries, trucks, cars, motorbikes and all kinds of vehicles!
Claire Cashmore
 & Sharon Davey
Picturebook
Claire Cashmore, MBE and Paralympic gold medallist, was born without a left forearm - but she never let being different stand in the way of her big dreams. Splash is based on Claire's real-life experience: this gold-medal-winning swimmer really was scared of water ... until one day, everything changed!These are Claire's big sisters. They call her Bear and ruffle her hair. And whatever Claire's sisters can do, Claire can do too ...But there is one thing Claire won't do ...The water in the swimming pool makes her feel squirmy inside. Follow her sisters? No thank you! Not today?Can Claire conquer her fears? Can she set foot in the water - and what will happen if she does?

Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
 & Olivia Holden
Non-fiction Picturebook
In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy bestselling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Ernest Shackleton, the fearless Antarctic adventurer. When Ernest Shackleton was young, he longed for a life of adventure. After a career in the Merchant Navy, he joined a landmark expedition to try to reach the South Pole for the first time in history. Although he had to go home early, he never gave up. His own expeditions set new records for the closest anyone had ever been to the South Pole, and he is remembered now as a courageous and inspirational leader. This exciting book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back , including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the intrepid explorer's life.
Smriti Halls
 & David Litchfield
Picturebook
An uplifting, stunningly beautiful book about optimism in the darkest of places. A girl and her companion fox travel together from a place of loss and despair, through uncertain times, towards the hope of colour, light and life. Along the way, they find friends to guide and support them. Together, they build a glorious future and discover there is a way out of the darkness, into the light of the rainbow. A book with immense hope at its heart, this is a positive message for anyone who's ever gone through a tough time.
Maudie Smith
 & Jen Khatun
Picturebook

This colourful picturebook tells us from Jake’s perspective about his creative, recycling, wheelchair-using Mum, who sees the potential in everything whether from a skip or an antique shop. She upcycles her finds to make new things for their home and garden as well as to beautify their community. Sometimes, his Mum’s constant remaking of things causes Jake to worry, but he is soon reassured by his Mum who will always love him however he changes.

We love the environmental message of this book, showing that so much that is discarded can be used again. This would be an excellent book to encourage thinking about recycling and reusing, or to spark ideas for upcycling projects for students to create themselves. The story also features positive representations of wheelcahir users, whose inclusion in the book is not solely or primarily focused on their disability or wheelchair use.

Jake’s concerns about change wil surely resonate with many children as they grow and change throughout their school years, and this book provides a reassuring message about how change and growth are okay and to be embraced. A large, hardback picturebook, with wonderfully colourful illustrations and large writing, this is ideal as a read-to-the-class book or for younger children to enjoy looking at independently.

Rebecca Cobb
Picturebook
A beautifully illustrated, wittily observed picture book about kindness, empathy and friendship from the award-winning Rebecca Cobb.Hello Friend! tells the story of one big-hearted and enthusiastic little girl who is insistent on making friends with a certain little boy. And why wouldn't he want to be friends with her? She's very good at sharing - even if it's a sandwich that he doesn't like. And she's certain that playing outside is their favourite thing to do, even if he is not so sure. But while he doesn't seem keen on many of the things that she loves to do, there is one thing he's very keen on after all . . . being friends.
Sam Broughton
Picturebook
Joe is a boy just like any other, but Joe loves to imagine. Joe lives in a pretty ordinary tower block, in a rather ordinary city. His world is rather grey. However, he spends his time imagining a wonderful world filled with exotic plants and unusual animals. Once day Joe decides to plant a seed on his balcony, he waits and waits but nothing happens! Joe gives up and goes back to his daily life, but one day when he least expects it he spots that the seed has turned into the most beautiful tree. Joe begins caring for the tree and growing lots of other plants on his balcony and soon everyone in the neighbourhood is getting involved. A charming story about the important of nature, teaching us that if we work hard enough our dreams really can come true!

Anna Llenas
Picturebook
A picture book follow-up to The Colour Monster, Anna Llenas's jaw-dropping pop-up book. One day, Colour Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows thim what each feeling means through colour. What is the Colour Monster feeling? And can you help him feel a little less mixed up? A gentle exploration of feelings for young and old alike.
Lucy Farfort, Isabel Otter & Sarah Shaffi
Picturebook
Today we are moving house but my new room is strange and scary. I don't think I'll ever be able to sleep... A gentle first experience story about new beginnings, friendship and finding ways to cope with fear.
Chitra Soundar
 & Frane Lessac
Picturebook
Pattan has an amazing pumpkin... it grows BIGGER than the goats, BIGGER than the elephants, until it is as TALL as the mountains. But can Pattan's pumpkin save his family and all the animals when the storm-clouds burst and the waters rise ?
Alison Green
 & Various
Picturebook

Kind invites us to imagine a world where everyone is kind, and looks at ways we might be able to make that come true. From simple suggestions like giving someone a smile, to creating a kindness jar and sharing toys, we’re reminded that being kind will help make the world a better place. With pictures by 38 top illustrators, this book is a visual feast for the eyes – plus there’s a donation to charity for every copy sold.

Ken Wilson-Max
Picturebook

Astrid has loved space ever since she can remember and wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. Even when her dad gently reminds her of the challenges ahead (eating food out of a tube, getting used to near-zero gravity, sleeping on her own amongst the stars), she is confident – “I can do that!”

This is a story full of tenderness and adventure, with a lovely surprise ending when Astrid and Dad go to pick up Mum from the airbase – where has she been?

This gentle picture book with distinctive earthy illustrations is a lovely read-aloud for Reception/Year 1 with a wonderful inclusive message at its heart, supported by the mini fact-files about female and BAME astronauts at the end.


Classic Picturebooks for Reception

David McKee
Picturebook
Elmer is different. Elmer is patchwork. The grey elephants all love him, but he soon starts to wonder what it would be like to be just the same as them... Full of colour, wisdom and pathos, little readers will love this classic tale at bedtime. Deservedly a modern classic, with over ten million copies of his books sold worldwide, Elmer's subtle message, that it is OK to be different, resonates with children across the world. Elmer the colourful patchwork elephant has been a nursery favourite since 1989.
Alf Proysen
 & Hilda Offen
Short story collection
Mrs Pepperpot has a problem - a huge problem - she shrinks! And when she shrinks she finds herself in all sorts of trouble... Poor Mrs Pepperpot has shrunk again and she's set her heart on going to the bazaar. But with a clever disguise and a cunning plan, she's soon dancing rings around the ladies at the fair! Puss can't wait for Mrs Pepperpot to shrink so she can whisk her away on an adventure. It's a hair-raising journey, but brave Mrs P is soon rewarded with some very special treasure indeed.
Shirley Hughes
Picturebook
When Dave loses his favourite toy, Dogger, he is very sad. But when Dogger turns up on a stall at the garden fete, everything seems all right - until someone else buys him before Dave can get the money!Voted the public's favourite CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal winner, this is a tale to which all children and their parents can relate, brought to life by Olivia Colman's heartwarming reading.
Judith Kerr
Picturebook
The classic picture book story of Sophie and her extraordinary teatime guest has been loved by millions of children since it was first published more than fifty years ago. Now an award-winning animation! The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don't expect to see at the door is a big furry, stripy tiger! This warm and funny picture book story is perfect for reading aloud, or for small children to read to themselves time and again. First published in 1968 and never out of print, it has become a timeless classic enjoyed and beloved by generations of children. The magic begins at teatime!
Jill Murphy
Picturebook
Filled with a little girl's inventive stories, On the Way Home is by Jill Murphy, the author and illustrator of the bestselling Peace at Last and Whatever Next! Claire has hurt her knee so she sets off home to tell her mum all about it. On the way she meets her friends and tells them how the fall happened. But just how did it happen . . .? Was she dropped by a wolf, a slithering snake, an enormous dragon or a hairy gorilla?! On the Way Home is a fantastic journey of the imagination that every small child who tells the occasional tall tale will relate to! A bestselling classic that has been delighting readers for forty years.

Recommended Non-Fiction Books for Reception

Sally Symes & Stephanie Drimmer
 & Kate Slater
Non-fiction
The definitive and stunningly illustrated question and answer book from Britannica, with answers to more than 100 questions that kids really want to know. Why do elephants have trunks? Why are clouds different shapes? Why does popcorn pop? Why does my tummy rumble? Why do we flush the toilet? This magnificent book features chapters on Bugs, Pets, Wild Animals, the Body, Food, Machines and Space and also includes some of the mysteries which experts are still trying to solve! By encouraging children to question how the world works, Britannica First Big Book of Why supports STEAM learning and nurtures enquiring minds. With stunning photography and gorgeous original illustrations by Kate Slater, this is the ultimate gift for kids who need to know WHY.
Jane Wilsher
 & Andres Lozano
Non-fiction
In this eye-catching book, readers can explore the hidden inner workings of machines and inventions, from mundane objects such as toasters and bicycles to cutting edge technologies such as pill-sized medical robots and super-fast maglev trains. Readers use the see-through magic lens to reveal how things work and the elements hidden within machines - everything from wires and pipes to the magnetic and gravitational forces machines rely on to function. Accompanying text explains how these machines function, how they affect our daily lives, and the physical and chemical phenomena that enable them to work.
DK
Non-fiction
A charming children's encyclopedia bursting with facts about the animals of the world!The world is so much bigger than young minds can fathom and there is always more to learn. My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals is a vibrant encyclopedia for curious 5-9 year olds with a unique approach to the subject of animals that takes curious kids on an enjoyable, educational journey of discovery.Mixing beautiful photography with charming illustrations, it's the perfect visual language for young readers, and is packed with light-hearted fun, and fascinating facts. Featuring everything from legends and folklore, world history, and creatures from the land, sea, and skies, this series is bursting with all sorts of subjects that early readers will love!
Hannah Alice
Non-fiction

The Body Book aims to help children aged 4-7 to explore some of the incredible things that our bodies do. This is an engaging non-fiction board book containing see-through acetate pages, allowing an x-ray peek into the human anatomy. Each page covers a different function of the human body, from breathing air and pumping blood to moving around and – yes – making waste. With labelled acetate diagrams of the muscular, skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, excretory and nervous systems, this is a superb first look at human anatomy for young children. The smallest readers will enjoy running their fingers along the acetate diagrams, tracing blood vessels or touching the familiar outlines of the skeleton. Older KS1 children will find plenty of food for thought among the pockets of interesting information that outline the processes of each of the body’s major systems…

William Bee
Non-fiction
Vroom Vroom! Peep Peep! We have blast off! William Bee is back with this bumper book of all his favourite vehicles! Find out all about the weird and wonderful world of trucks, trains, and tractors, as well as aeroplanes, submarines, rockets and more! It features William's turbo-powered high speed truck, his fire truck, his super collection of tractors - from extra-wide to super-small - and his locomotives, as well as his rocket in which he travels to the moon, his super speedy speedboat (which gets stolen by his dog!). Join William, his dog and his gang of unruly traffic cones on a grand tour of the world of transport. And can you spot the toy rabbit hidden on every double page spread? This hardback anthology of three books is the perfect gift for the little transport enthusiast in your life.

Poems and Rhymes for Reception

Matt Goodfellow
 & Krina Patel-Sage
Poetry
"Caterpillar caterpillar caterpillar cake - it's the only thing that my mum can make!"Would you like to eat a caterpillar cake? Join a rocket race into space? See crazy crocodiles at the zany zoo or play with a furry, purry cat? Wherever these 16 fun-filled poems lead you, they will brighten your day.Splashing at the seaside, storytime at school, playing in the bath or riding home on Daddy's shoulders - this brilliant, read-aloud collection for young children has lots to join in with and lots to explore in the brightly coloured illustrations.
James Carter
 & Nicola Colton
Poetry
A collection of sixteen energetic poems and rhymes to ignite the senses, with topics including fireworks, food, dragons and splashy puddles. Colourful illustrations make the book a delight to look at as well as to listen to being read aloud.
Michael Rosen
 & Chris Riddell
Poetry

A collection of Michael Rosen’s poems for very young children, with delightful colour illustrations by Chris Riddell. The poems are accessible and playful, designed to capture elements of life that very small children can relate to; choosing toys, falling into a puddle or waiting for lunchtime to come. A brilliant introduction to poetry that engages young children with rhythmic and playful verses that are easy to join in with and learn by heart. You can see a few examples of the poems here.

Julia Donaldson
 & Nick Sharratt
Picturebook
Whenever I'm tired of being me I swing around like a chimpanzee. Are you tired of being you? Here's a whole bookful of things you can do! There are rhymes to make you wriggle and giggle, shrug and sigh, snap like a crocodile and slither like a snake. Julia Donaldson's verse jumps off the page and Nick Sharratt's snazzy illustrations add to the fun of Wriggle and Roar! . Bright, bold and accessible, these rhymes are packed full of noises and actions, making them perfect for joining in.
Em Lynas
 & Matt Hunt
Picturebook

The Cat And the Rat And The Hat by Em Lynas and Matt Hunt is going to be a firm favourite of mine for reading to KS1 classes! As a cat-owner (slave?) myself, I absolutely love the scene-setting of the cat on the mat, playing and sleeping and dreaming…only to be interrupted by the rat, swanning around in his great big hat. The ensuing tug-of-war fight is brilliantly illustrated, the back-and-forth pictures giving children lots to notice and comment on. This is where the book really comes into its own as both a class read-aloud and a shared-focus – in a class situation you’ll have children taking sides, you could even act it out with props and be completely raucous!


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Guidance: About the Reception Booklist

What should children be reading in Reception?

Sharing books with children in the Early Years provides a gateway into a world of imagination, empathy and delight, as well as being crucial for developing language and literacy skills. Children in Reception will often explore books with their hands and eyes before being able to read the words accurately for themselves, and making available a range of high-quality books with a strong visual interest level is key. Choose stories with bright and bold illustrations, like Super Duper You or How to Catch a Star, as well as books with textures and interesting details for hands and eyes to explore like Luna Loves Art or the interactive visual feast You Choose.

Storytime is a treasured time of day for children of this age. Positive experiences with books for 4 and 5 year olds can lay the foundations for an enjoyment of reading for years to follow. Look for stories with a strong and simple narrative structure and a clear beginning, middle and end to help young children to understand basic story arcs, like the fun search-and-rescue adventure The Great Explorer or the tale of falling out and making up again in Helen Cooper’s classic picturebook Pumpkin Soup.

With these factors in mind, we’ve selected a balanced list of books recommended to read with Reception children. The books on this list are not intended to replace school reading schemes, which are designed specifically for the teaching of phonics and reading. Instead, the books on this list are for additional reading for pleasure with children and, at this age, the books selected here are best shared with an adult reading aloud while enabling the children to look at the words and pictures at the same time – either in a class setting or as a one-to-one storytime. Be sure to introduce books that tempt beginner readers to join in reading some of the words and lines independently or to predict the end of lines through rhymes and repeated sections like Zog or The Cat and The Rat and the Hat . Enjoying the fun of reading these books together will offer enormous encouragement to children making their own steps towards independent reading.

Which books are best for 4 and 5 year olds?

Our list has been handpicked by experts who have specifically looked for the best books for children aged 4 and 5 to reflect their age, developmental stage and interest level. Some of the best stories for this age feature familiar settings and relatable real-life experiences, like the joy of sharing a sandwich or toys with a new friend in Hello, Friend, the sadness of a lost toy in Shirley Hughes’ classic story Dogger or the fun of shared recycling projects My Must-Have Mum. Others invite the imagination to venture a little further afield, like the hilarious giant octopus who lands on a house in Octopus Shocktopus or the tale of a blue monster who is consumed with so much greed that he even eats the sun, in Blue Monster Wants It All.

A number of the stories on our Reception booklist explore the tricky world of learning to get on with others well, like Fair Shares or Rabbit’s Pancake Panic. Others still develop an understanding of different emotions, like Anna Llenas’ hugely popular The Colour Monster. If you are looking for stories from other cultures, try Chitra Soundar’s retelling of an Indian flood story in Pattan’s Pumpkin. We also have an additional list of diverse and inclusive books for EYFS, if you need an even more extensive selection to diversify your library.

We’ve included a handful of true classics on this Reception reading list, featuring stories that have been entertaining children of this age for generations  – such as Judith Kerr’s much-loved The Tiger Who Came to Tea or the delightful tales about Mrs Pepperpot, an intriguing and adventurous old lady who can shrink down to the size of a pepperpot. Other books have been inspired by more recent events, like Rain Before Rainbows, which is a beautifully illustrated exploration of finding optimism in difficult times.

For this age group, tales that rhyme not only make for entertaining storytimes but also form a fundamental part of phonetic development. We recommend the Oi Frog series for a giggle-worthy rhyme time, or James Carter’s out-of-this-world poetry collection Zim Zam Zoom.

What are the best non-fiction books for Reception?

Our list of best books for Reception also includes a range of age-appropriate non-fiction for curious minds, from the ever-popular Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals and STEM-themed Marvellous Machines (complete with magic lens for those who love a closer look at things) to all the excitement of the peek-through pages in The Body Book.

If you are looking for books themed around a particular topic, be sure to check out our EYFS topic booklists.

You can find out more about the process of collating our Recommended Reads booklists here.

Where can I purchase the books on the BooksForTopics Reception booklist?

What other booklists for children in Reception are available?

For teachers and parents looking to diversify their collection of children’s books, our additional special collection of Diverse and Inclusive Books for EYFS, has been specially curated to help you to select books for children that represent a diverse range of characters, cultures and experiences.

For more treasured storytime picturebooks, our EYFS Storytime Favourites list will help you to build a quality story collection that children aged 3 to 5 will ask for over and over again.

At ages 4-5, some children are ready before others for their very first chapter books. We think you’ll find our list of Early Chapter Books useful for intrepid bookworms or more advanced readers in Reception, or for shared reading you might like our list of younger chapter books to read at storytime.

We know how big the step of preparing to start primary school for the first time can feel to some children, and to help school starters to transition into the world of Reception, we’ve also put together a list of children’s books about starting school. You might also want to look ahead to our Recommended Reads for Year 1.

Many young children become fans of the most popular story characters like Supertato and the Gruffalo, and to help with inspiration to find even more story characters to love, parents and teachers might find our Branching Out booklists useful with Books for Fans of Julia Donaldson and Books for Fans of Supertato.

Be sure to check out the BooksForTopics EYFS topic booklists if you are looking for children’s books themed around a particular Reception class topic – whether it’s stories for a curriculum theme like Weather & Seasons or Growing Plants or a book to match a popular interest like books about Dinosaurs or Superhero books for children.

Can I download a printable version of the Reception Booklist?

All of our Year Group Recommended Read lists come with a printable poster and checklist. Schools are very welcome to display the posters or to share the printable resources with their community.

Printable Poster – Best Reception Books PDF

 

Printable Checklist – Best Reception Books PDF

Where can I find recommended read lists for other primary school year groups?

Just like our Reception booklist, we have recommended reading lists for all year groups in primary schools. Our team of experts at BooksForTopics has poured hours of careful work into curating lists of the best books for each primary year group. Each booklist contains 50 recommended reads and includes a printable poster and checklist. Schools can purchase full packs of each Year Group list from our partners at Peters.

Here are the quick links to our other primary school booklists:

You can find out more about the process of collating our Recommended Reads booklists on our blog.

Reception: 50 Recommended Reads (2022)

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Stone Girl Bone Girl

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