Recommended children's booklists sorted by age or topic

Home > Year Group Recommended Reads > Reception: 50 Recommended Reads

Reception: 50 Recommended Reads

Icon Award

Best Books for Reception (Children Aged 4-5)

NEWLY updated – April 2024!

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 the best Reception books, covering everything from rhyming frogs and super-greedy monsters to dreams of space travel and expeditions to faraway places. Not to mention the odd heroic potato or post-delivering penguin, too…

The Reception year of primary school is an important phase in children’s literacy development. Our booklist includes popular Reception stories such as Supertato, Oi Frog and Elmer, as well as some lesser-known storytime delights that we highly recommend, like Snail in Space and Blue Monster Wants it All.

This collection of books has been carefully curated by our team of teachers and children’s reading experts, with the help of our Review Panel members, who have tried and tested hundreds of titles in their primary school settings to bring you only the best of the best.

If you’re a parent or teacher looking for what you should read with Reception children, look no further than our Reception reading list. From classic tales and funny read-alouds to new releases and 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 encourage a love of books and to develop vocabulary, comprehension skills and creativity.

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.


reception recommended reads printable poster 2024

reception recommended reads checklist 2024










Browse the Reception booklist below or scroll down to find more purchasing options and printable resources.

SAVE 20% with Peters

Visit our booklists on Amazon

Support independent bookshops

Favourite Books for Reception

Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet

In every Reception or Infant class, you’ll find fans of Supertato and his hilarious crew of vegetable friends (not forgetting his nemesis, Evil Pea).

Written by husband and wife team Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, the books are enjoyed by readers who like a high dose of action and hilarious characters who mean business.

This is a tremendously popular story that has now been developed into a series of books and a TV show. 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.

Benji Davies

This is the story of Tad, the smallest tadpole among her siblings. Tad desperately tries to keep up with the others, not wanting to get left behind – especially as she has heard that ‘Big Blub’ is lurking in the depths of the water. Over time, Tad watches her siblings grow and change, and eventually make the leap out of the water as they become fully grown frogs. When the time comes for Tad to follow in their path, it will take a heap of courage to embrace the next adventure and leap into life.

This is a vibrantly illustrated nature story by Benji Davies, with plenty to spot and count. A good book for Reception or KS1 about life cycles, growth and change or facing new challenges.

Joseph Coelho
 & Fiona Lumbers

Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho returns with his well-loved character Luna. This time, Luna is exploring the magic of gardening.

Luna is impressed by the community allotment when she visits with her family.  Luna takes time to wonder about each seed she encounters – where in the world it came from and what it will turn into. With the help of Grandpa and Nana from Jamaica, Luna realises that every new seed planted will have its own story to tell.

This is a really beautiful picture book celebrating nature, gardens, community, the interconnectedness of humanity and the importance of stories. Fiona Lumbers’ artwork is stunning, drawing out the elements that most capture a young child’s imagination with an abundance of colour, while also contrasting the vibrancy of the community garden with the grey, surrounding cityscape.

This wonderful picturebook is an essential story for modern classroom and home libraries.

Julia Donaldson
 & Axel Scheffler

A firm favourite in Reception classrooms from national treasure Julia Donaldson. This is the story about a dragon called Zog, who is determined to try his best at dragon school but doesn’t always manage to win the teacher’s gold star. The story shows how perseverance and following dreams can lead to positive outcomes, and that different people’s strengths emerge in different situations.

This is an exciting and original story with a brilliantly strong rhyming structure. Zog is a memorable character and Axel Scheffler’s bright illustrations of the different coloured dragons are a bit hit with young children. A great read-aloud for EYFS and a real modern classic.

Pippa Goodhart
 & Nick Sharratt

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!).

The You Choose series of books have seen enormous popularity and are well-loved by children because of the premise of letting the reader choose items from an appealing illustrated scene on each page. Readers are invited to select their favourite food, destination, clothing, hobby and family from a mix of plausible and not-so-plausible cartoon options, illustrated by the inimitable Nick Sharratt. These engaging books have mileage to be read over and over again, and children love interacting with them together with friends or family as they discuss their choices.

There is nothing that can quite take the place of this fantastically engaging series!

Helen Cooper

We can’t get enough of Pumpkin Soup and it is a real story time favourite for Reception and KS1 children.

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.

Gaia Cornwall

A gorgeous story book for younger children with themes of perseverance and learning not to give up, as well as STEM and engineering. Jabari wishes to make a flying machine that can really soar through the air in the garden. Just like many of the best inventions, it doesn’t work properly on the first attempt and a little trial and error is needed to tweak the design. Jabari is disappointed, but with a bit of encouragement from his family to keep on trying, he soon begins to see success.

Young children will be able to relate to the frustration of models and designs not working properly and the challenge of not giving up. Jabari’s father and sister offer fantastic encouragement and we also see familiar family dynamics as Jabari is not sure that he wants to include his sister in his game, but the teamwork pays off in the end. Jabari becomes a good role model when he adapts the attitude to keep trying to reach his goal, and readers celebrate with him when his success is the fruit of his tenacity.

The book could inspire some STEM-themed projects, research into some of the scientific figures mentioned to simply discussions on the topic of perseverance.

Oliver Jeffers

How to Catch a Star by popular author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers is about a little boy who wants a star of his own and goes on a quest to find one. Star-catching is not as easy as he first thought – he tries climbing a tree, finds a lasso, jumps super high and even asks the bird to help him. Wondering whether it is time to give up, something catches his eye in the shiny reflection of the water and he follows a new lead to find a star of his very own on the sand.

The illustrations capture the determination of the boy as well as the highs and lows of his emotions along the way – the hopeful ambition of pursuing his goal, the sadness of nearly giving up and the sheer joy of fulfilling his dream, even if it is not how he first imagined it to be.

Oliver Jeffers’ books always make for calm story times that tap into positive human values like the joy of friendship, the wonder of the natural world, following dreams and not giving up. Younger children may also sometimes wonder whether stars can (or should) be caught, or perhaps be able to relate to the experience of wanting to collect something really beautiful from the natural world, like a shell, flower or a special stone. The language is short and simple and the pictures are appealing to children aged 4-7. There’s plenty of scope for imagination, discussion and innovation based on the story.

Ed Vere

Looking at the fun, exuberantly coloured monster on the front cover of The Artist, it’s easy to recall countless children concentrating intently on their artwork. That fearless, limitless creativity which can be witnessed in classrooms around the world certainly must have inspired Ed Vere to write his wonderful book!

The book is written about ‘an artist’ and how artists can see the world differently from other people because they take time to really ‘look’. As the story continues, it unpicks how artists work with different materials and media, using their imagination to take them to faraway places or bring them closer to the ones they love.

The artist in this book paints a blank canvas of a town but makes a mistake and loses some of the bravery and creativity it has had; taking advice from a young child to get it back.

As a text to share to support children in regaining some of their bravery around art, it’s a brilliant resource. It also works well as a book for younger readers who are looking at how to use different materials creatively. The illustrations are amazing and would be a brilliant inspiration for class or whole school art projects which focus on creativity and imagination.

Jeanne Willis
 & Jenni Desmond

We love this funny tale of a blue monster who is consumed with so much greed that he even eats the sun. The greed starts in small ways, just wanting a bit more than he is given. It soon balloons as he decides to seek out a new improved version of everything he owns, from toys to cars to families.

Young children who’ve learned to get a bit of a handle on greedy impulses will be entertained by Blue Monster’s outrageous behaviour – and it really is outrageous, as the story escalates in hilariously preposterous ways. They will also feel satisfied with the safe and reassuring resolution, which shows that appreciating the ‘money can’t buy’  things in our lives like family and friends is more fulfilling than material gain.

The illustrations make this fun story really excellent, with paint and crayon pictures that create an instantly relatable appeal and express both the monster’s immaturity and the bright humour of the story. There are loads of fantastic and unusual details to spot and every page feels colourful and exuberant with fun twists, like monster-shaped buildings and funky animals – except for the one dark page when monster’s greed has reached a climax and he has swallowed the sun, sitting in the darkness with a single tear on his cheek. After a little soul searching, a happy and brightly coloured ending is restored.

This is a real winner of a story for Reception children.

Recommended Funny Books for Reception

Katie Abey

A popular transport-themed book with oodles of funny things for children to spot and choose between.

Each page is themed around a different type of transport, from busses and trucks to emergency vehicles and rockets, and displays an array of different cartoon examples, while the reader is asked to choose which one they would ride. Added details make the act of choosing on each page really fun. On the trains page, for example, a steam train is filled with animals eating spaghetti and donuts, while an Elf Express is taking Lego to Santa’s workshop and a slick intercity train driven by a sloth ihas a swimming pool carriage but also a wolf disguised in grandma’s clothing.

Children who like ‘You Choose’ style books will enjoy poring over this over and over again, as will transport lovers and fans of funny animal characters. It’s a great book for getting children talking and interacting, or for poring over independently and spotting something new each time.

Nishani Reed
 & Junissa Bianda

Nabil Steals A Penguin is an absolute hoot for Reception or Infant classes. With rhyming text and lots of action, the story of how Pierre the Penguin falls in love with curry and steals away in Nabil’s rucksack in the hope of a lifetime of delicious food (definitely NO FISH!) will have your little ones giggling (and also hungry).

Nabil’s family is warm and welcoming when Mum finally discovers Pierre in the bath, and they feed up their visitor with joy. The book works well as a class read as there’s plenty you can act out with lots of expression; but the illustrations are great for a shared-focus read with a parent too as there’s lots to see. The colours are vibrant but not overwhelming. I would suggest younger children would borrow this most often from the library, but any primary children just starting French would also find it fun to hear the greetings (and a few “ooh la las!”) in context.

The book comes with the Nosy Crow “Stories Aloud” QR code, so that you can listen along, which is a great bonus.

Michelle Robinson
 & Tor Freeman

This is the story of ten sausages whose plot to escape the frying pan does not go to plan. Children familiar with the rhyme ‘Ten Fat Sausages’ will appreciate the humorous take on the sausages’ fate, knowing that they are meant to go ‘pop’, ‘sizzle’ or ‘bang’ but seeing instead a group of wily sausages who come up with a bid for freedom instead. From incidents with ceiling fans and blenders to encounters with family cats, the sausages’ funny attempts to escape lead to their downfall.

This is a funny counting story for children who can suspend their disbelief and giggle at the silliness of this unlikely rhyming tale. There are plenty of details to spot in the illustrations and the tale will appeal to children with a particular sense of humour and those who enjoy a bit of a ‘silly sausage’ moment.

Kael Tudor
 & Nicola Slater
A silly, funny book from debut author Kael Tudor filled with hilarious and bright illustrations from Nicola Slater, the bestselling illustrator of The Leaf Thief.Welcome to the ice cream shop, where there's a goose line, a moose line and a slightly bossy goose who wants everyone to be in the right line. But it is not as easy as it sounds!This mix-up picture book perfectly captures the chaos of queueing up, and features a fun counting element too. Witty and original first book in a brand-new series. 
M. N. Tahl
 & Mark Chambers

A superhero story with a difference…. and lots of cheesy puns! When Supermouse holds auditions in Mouseopolis for The League of Remarkable Rodents, he isn’t sure he has found the best animals for the job. That is until Mount Fondue explodes and cheese covers the town. With Supermouse facing a cheesy end, the League of Remarkable Rodents zoom to the rescue. Will they save their hero or is he truly “fondoomed”?

This book is full of cheesy puns which are laugh-out-loud funny and make this book an enjoyable read for adults and children. Each page features flaps to lift and holes to see more of the story making it an interactive experience. The story is told through speech bubbles and text and is enhanced by great, brightly-coloured illustrations. With just the right amount of peril for our hero and some daring deeds, this has become a firm favourite already.

Rashmi Sirdeshpande
 & Diane Ewen

Following on from Never Show a T-Rex a Book and Never Teach a Stegosaurus to Do Sums, this latest what-if dinosaur adventure has captured the imaginations of little ones afresh.

The story invites the reader to suppose what could happen if a big fun-loving dinosaur let her artistic side go wild. From crayons and paint to full colour explosions – anything could happen! Young children love the larger-than-life character and can relate to the sheer joyfulness of getting vibrant and messy with art projects. Adults who have ever set foot in an EYFS classroom while the paints are out will find plenty of familiar scenes to smile about too.

Amid the host of dino-themed books available, we especially enjoyed this series. It is refreshing to have a female dinosaur as a lead character, doing something other than marauding after prey!

A super-fun ode to boundless creativity.

Classic Picturebooks for Reception

David McKee

Making his first appearance in 1968, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant has been entertaining young readers for decades and remains one of the most iconic and well-known children’s book characters of all time.

The Elmer stories feature a bright and multicoloured main character who inspires readers to embrace inclusivity, connect with friends and find joy in celebrating difference.

A classic book for Reception and Early Years children.

Alf Proysen
 & Hilda Offen
Short story collection

These classic stories from Norwegian children’s author Alf Prøysen follow the adventures of Mrs Pepperpot, who magically shrinks to the size of a pepper pot at the most inconvenient times. Everyday tasks become big adventures and children love the funny escapades and Mrs Pepperpot’s no-nonsense approach to solving problems.

This illustrated version of a true children’s classic is brilliant for Reception-aged children.

Shirley Hughes

A nostalgia-filled tale that adults love just as much as children, making it an all round winner for read-aloud story times in the Early Years. This classic reading book by beloved children’s author-illustrator Shirley Hughes was voted the public’s favourite CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal winner.

We are very fond of this lost-and-found story, in which Dave accidentally loses his favourite stuffed toy, Dogger. Shortly afterwards, Dogger turns up on a stall at the school fete, but there are a few bumps along the way before the pair are happily reunited.

This is a sincere toy-themed story about a very familiar scenario. Many children (and parents) will know the heartbreak of losing a favourite toy, and hopefully some will also relate to the joy of being reunited! Beautiful written and illustrated, this tender children’s picturebook is a must-read for young children.


Jill Murphy

This is a classic children’s picturebook by Jill Murphy, also known for the Large Family books and the Worst Witch.

Claire’s knee is hurt and raises concern from those she meets on the way home. Flexing her imaginative muscles, Claire offers each friend a different unlikely tale about what happened to her bad knee – from big bad wolves and feisty dragons to hairy gorillas and sneaky snakes.  Reaching the safety of a loving Mum at home, Claire reveals the truth and enjoys some much-needed TLC.

This is the kind of book that gives natural opportunities for imagining extra scenarios to add to Claire’s tall stories about what happened to her knee. The ending is satisfying and we as readers know all along that the kind of attention Claire needs is not the kind that comes from inventing dramatic tales but the good old fashioned attention of a loving carer.

Janet Burroway & John Vernon Lord

How would you solve the problem if 1 million wasps invaded your town? The residents of Itching Down find a creative solution by trying to construct a giant jam sandwich to trap the wasps.

Some of the language and illustrations seem quaint to modern readers, but this adds to the retro charm of the book and the strong rhyming structure carries the story at a great pace. Children love the imaginative efforts of the townspeople (supersize food always seems to capture young children’s imaginations) and the story could lead into a host of creative activities including baking, designing, acting and drawing.

This classic rhyming picturebook and classroom favourite has stood the test of time and is still a big hit in Reception and KS1 classrooms.

Newer Stories for Reception Children

Rachel Bright
 & Nadia Shireen

Gail is determined to get more out of life than the other snails. She’s not content with keeping her foot on the ground, eating greens and growing old; she’s not your average snail, she wants to blaze a different trail. This snail wants to go into space! Accomplishing her ambition will take perseverance and hard work, overcoming last-minute hurdles, but, as Gail shows, if you have a dream anything is possible.

Bold, bright illustrations complement this humorous, rhyming story from two skilled picture book creators, about the power of purpose and persistence, showing that resilience is key to success.

Gail is an endearing snail, standing out from the rest with her leopard print shell. Her character is brought vividly to life with her emotions and thoughts conveyed solely through the illustrations of her eyes, providing a masterclass in how important it is to read the pictures as well as the words. Featuring a sparkling, inviting cover, this is ideal for sharing with Early Years and KS1 children to enjoy and encourage self-belief.

Mariesa Dulak
 & Rebecca Cobb

This is a really good book to read to your little one, or to the whole class. It is written mainly in rhymes and the illustrations bring the story to life. The message about the dad being too busy on his mobile phone to take any notice of his son is also topical. On a train journey to the seaside, the dad and little boy are joined by all sorts of animals that the boy is fascinated by – and the dad does not notice! This leads to a fun adventure with the boy and the tiger. This is a story about connection and imagination, and there’s a message for adults too, here – don’t miss those early years of fun with your child!

For more information and ideas for using the book with children, check out author Mariesa Dulak’s guest post on the BooksForTopics blog.

John Kane
What is black and white? A penguin. What is black and white, and can't fly? Still a penguin.A hilarious, deceptively simple, interactive picture book which plays on a much-loved memory game - brought to life by the award-winning picture book maker John Kane.A master of child-centric humour, John Kane's best-selling series I Say Ooh, You Say Aah won the English Picture Book Awards 4-7 category and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Children's Book of the Year.
Simon Philip
 & Ian Smith

An unusual take on naming animals!

This tale is a hilarious journey through the city to spot llamas. Our guide sadly can’t spot them, despite being right under her nose! Children and adults will love to read through the book – naming the animals that are seen and trying to spot the llamas on the pages.

A great story that’s guaranteed to have EYFS children laughing aloud.

Kirsty Applebaum
 & Sahar Haghgoo
Chapter book

These stories are perfect very first chapter books for young readers. The text is larger and wider spaced than most chapter books and the pages are fully colour-illustrated with a bright and bold palette.

Princess Minna is an adventurous, modern princess who is full of life and keen to use her resourcefulness to help whoever is in need along the way. From dealing with dragons to saving a prince in distress, Minna always has an adventure to tackle head on.

Not short of funny moments, this early chapter book series makes for a highly entertaining reading book for children ready to move on from picturebooks to something short and illustrated with multiple chapters.

Rachael Davis
 & Mike Byrne

A high-energy rhyming book featuring a particularly cute bunny who pays a visit to a new friend. Fans of The Tiger Who Came to Tea or The Lamb Who Came to Dinner will recognise the trope and will be excited to find out what kind of impression the bunny at the door will leave.

There’s a thump on the door and a bunny is there. Bunny is a very happy house guest who loves to eat breakfast, bounce around and sniff out chocolate eggs!

The perfect book for Easter and beyond, capturing the joy of spring, hospitality, unexpected friendships and of course, of chocolate!

Linda Newbery
 & Katie Rewse

“Rubbish? Don’t Throw it Away” is a delightful, innovative book for early years education in the 21st century. It is a wonderful resource to introduce concepts of recycling and sustainability to children. It’s a story that invites young readers to think differently about the ‘stuff’ around them, fostering an early respect for the environment and teaching the value of resourcefulness and creativity.

Linda Newbury’s narrative skillfully introduces young readers to the Dragonflies Nursery, a group of industrious children who brilliantly transform what most consider ‘trash’ into treasured items. The book’s lively prose is peppered with imaginative ideas, showcasing how everyday waste items can be repurposed and brought to life again. It’s a testament to the power of creativity and problem-solving, underpinned by a clear, essential message about recycling and reducing waste.

Katie Rewse’s vibrant illustrations perfectly complement Newbury’s text, adding depth, character, and life to each page. Each illustration is eye-catching and detailed, offering opportunities to explore and engage with the transformation of pine cones into decorative owls or turning old curtains into amazing costumes.

“Rubbish? Don’t Throw it away” is a must-have addition to any preschool library or classroom. Parents and carers, too, will find the book enjoyable and inspirational. It’s not just about telling children what they can do with their ‘rubbish’ – it’s about sparking their imagination to develop their own ideas. It’s about laying the foundation for a generation that sees not waste but potential, reinforcing that every object, no matter how seemingly trivial, has potential value if approached with creativity and ingenuity.

Nature and Outdoor Stories for Reception Children

Julia Donaldson
 & Lydia Monks

A springy rhyming book from super duo Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks (also known for What the Ladybird Heard).

This story book is about a rabbit who loves poetry and rhyme. He feels a lack of belonging with the other rabbits, who are not so delighted by his literary talents. In search of companions who share his passion, he leaves home to look for somewhere he belongs and find a place his poetry might be more appreciated.

Julia Donaldson is renowned for excellent rhyming picture books, so there is something extra pleasing in a book from her that is about rhyme as well as being told in rhyme. Perfectly pitched to support phonics learning as well as being a distinctively illustrated fun animal tale, we found this to be a lovely story for children in the Early Years.

Nathan Bryon
 & Dapo Adeola

Clean Up! is the second picture book from Nathan Byron and Dapo Adeola, and acts as a sequel to their mightily popular debut book Look Up!. The story follows a young girl called Rocket, who goes to visit her Grammy and Grampy in Jamaica. However, when Rocket stumbles upon a baby turtle trapped in some plastic on the beach, she begins to realise how pollution is ruining this once perfect island. Determined to make a change, Rocket sets about on a mission to give the beach a thorough clean up!

This picture book was an absolute pleasure to read and delivered a delightful story with a powerful message to match. As a teacher, I believe this book is deserving of a spot in any school as it offers so much in terms of the themes which link to caring for the environment and encouraging children to take the lead from Rocket in being bringers of change. I love that even the youngest children will see the example Rocket sets and be inspired to act with the same passion and desire as Rocket does to change the world for the better.

The illustrations in this book are fantastic and Adeola does a superb job at making this book so visually enjoyable and bringing the protagonist of Rocket to life. Rocket is a character that will be seen as a role model for readers and her enthusiasm is infectious. I am certain this book will replicate the positive reception that its predecessor Look Up! had, and deservedly so.

Genevieve Aspinall

Percy the Penguin lives in the South Pole and is a post-penguin who runs his own post office, but there is one problem – there is no post to deliver! He keeps busy by cleaning and tidying up his post office, but there is still no post – nobody seems to know where his post office is.

Not wanting to give up his dream, Percy sets himself the challenge of making his post office known and starts his advertising campaign – handing out leaflets and putting up signs. Has his determination worked? Will he ever be a fully functioning post-penguin?

This picture book is all about determination and not giving up on your dreams and goals. It teaches young children that hard work pays off and that you may face hurdles in the pursuit of your goals. The book is full of beautiful and detailed illustrations that add to the story and make it more enjoyable to read through the use of different size fonts and the text in different formats including a letter within the story.

Early Years children will love looking at the illustrations and finding Percy on each page. It is not too long which makes it easier for little ones to remain focused on the story. It would link to some PSHE topics about perseverance and People Who Help Us, and would make a great Reception class storytime read.

Rob Biddulph

Gigantic by Rob Biddulph is a heartwarming tale that casts a vast net, capturing themes of perseverance, friendship, and self-belief in a vibrantly illustrated, marine-filled adventure perfect for the primary classroom.

Biddulph transports the reader into an ocean teeming with life, where we meet our unlikely hero, Gigantic, the smallest blue whale in the stormy Atlantic. Despite his size, Gigantic’s journey is one of might and mettle, where his diminutive stature in the ocean’s vastness doesn’t deter his big-hearted valiance.

The rhythmical prose lends itself beautifully to read-aloud sessions, with the alliterative play and evocative imagery poised to capture children’s imaginations. Biddulph’s illustrations are equally engaging, using a palette that mirrors the stormy yet spirited oceanic setting. Beyond the narrative, the book serves as a springboard for discussions on marine life, ecosystems, and the importance of determination. It illustrates that even the smallest creature has value and strength, a message that resonates with children navigating their place in the world.

‘Gigantic’ aligns well with lessons focused on resilience and teamwork. It also provides ample opportunity for cross-curricular activities, from exploring oceanography in science to creative writing tasks inspired by Gigantic’s aquatic escapades. ‘Gigantic’ is a tale of little fins and a lesson in big hearts and the power of believing in oneself. It’s a testament to the notion that no one is too small to make a difference, making it a standout addition to any educational setting or library.

Ruth Doyle
 & Alexandra Finkeldey

A Horse Called Now is a delightful book perfect for primary school classrooms. This heartwarming story beautifully illustrates the importance of living in the present moment and the power of friendship in overcoming worries. The gorgeous illustrations engage young readers, making the story come alive as they follow Now on a journey to help his friends.

This book provides an excellent opportunity for teachers to discuss themes of friendship, anxiety and empathy with their students. It also encourages children to appreciate the beauty of each moment and to support one another through challenges. A Horse Called Now is sure to captivate young children while imparting meaningful life lessons.

Raahat Kaduji

Flora, the smallest dormouse, ends up discovering the amazing world there is around her when all the other dormice go back to sleep. Her head is full of questions so Flora bravely sets off to explore where she finds the answers…and more, along the way.

This wonderful book offers the reader a little glimpse into the lives of different animals across the seasons and demonstrates the love and friendship of others when it is needed. Through the beautifully detailed illustrations and the simple but informative text, readers can follow Flora as she goes on an adventure and learns more about nature, from tadpoles wiggling in the pond during the spring to squirrels gathering nuts in the autumn. However, as winter arrives, Flora begins to feel sleepy and ends up finding a rather unsafe place to fall asleep. Her new friends rescue her with the help of the other dormice where they see for themselves the world that Flora had talked about in her postcards to them.

I especially like the addition of ‘Flora’s Nature Diary’ at the back of the book which provides interesting facts linked to the animals she encountered on her journey. This heartwarming book is a must for young children and encourages them to learn more about the wildlife around them – a perfect accompaniment to developing knowledge and understanding of the world.

Lily Murray
 & Jenny Lovlie

This is a beautiful book, super for Reception, Y1 and Y2. The story is rhyming and has a good rhythm for reading aloud; I would suggest more to one or a few children as a shared focus with room for discussion of the pictures. The artwork is soft but intricate, full of detail which will stand many re-reads, spotting all the little insects (and a kitten or two!).

It would be absolutely ideal for a small nurture or gardening group, and suitable for a class or school library too. Evie herself is a child many of us will have met before, deeply passionate about her subject and willing to break a few rules out of curiosity! Of course, everything does go a bit wrong when she brings her bug collection into the house, which leads to both tension and humour as her whole family descends for a visit. However, this results in a surprising ally in formidable great-gran, and together they create a wonderful bug hotel. I particularly like the last illustration of Evie as a more grown-up girl exploring the jungle (“Who knows what wonders she may one day find?“) gently encouraging children to stay curious.

There are some simple ideas in the back of the book around insect habitats which could easily be turned into a class project, and a short biography of entomologist Evelyn Cheesman who inspired the story. Observant readers will also note that Evie wears both glasses and what appears to be a hearing aid; it’s good to see this representation without it being the main issue of the book.

Catherine Rayner

Augustus the tiger has lost his smile and he now feels sad. This delightful book follows his journey through different landscapes to find his smile again. He looks everywhere he can think of to find his smile but is initially unsuccessful in his search. Only when he spots his reflection in a rain puddle does Augustus realise that his smile returns whenever he is happy – in this case because he has found happiness looking at the wonderful world around him.

This is a beautifully illustrated picture book with images that capture the emotions of the story and bring them alive for young readers.

Inclusive Stories for Reception Children

Cassie Silva
 & Frances Ives

The loss of hearing strikes such a sad note, but although sadness is eloquently conveyed in both words and pictures, this beautifully inclusive story – of a child, Jacki, and her Mama – resounds with hope.  It is a celebration of a relationship not defined by disability, but by love.  So Jacki learns to listen to the quiet which is slowly enveloping her Mama. She begins to be more alert to rhythm and mood and smell.  Indeed, mother and daughter become atuned to each other in ways they wouldn’t otherwise.

The story shows that deafness does not have to isolate.  It can deepen wonder, inspire mutual respect and be life-enhancing.  (The Author’s Note gives context and encourages readers to learn sign language.)

The clear font and large, expressive illustrations mean that teachers can easily share this with a whole class, either to celebrate diversity or when teaching about acceptance.  Not all children will have encountered hearing impairment, but all will benefit from this new perspective, as well as provided much needed representation for those who live with hearing impairment in the day to day realities.

Highly recommended for the school library and classroom book corners.

Sophy Henn

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 positive message of the book is not to worry about what you are not but to enjoy the things you are and “all the brills you’ve got!”. The illustrations are bright and fun, adding to the celebratory feel of the book.

This is a feel-good book for EYFS class book corners or to support primary pupils with an ‘All About Me’ topic. It encourages children to be confident in who they are and to embrace difference and accept others.

James Catchpole,Lucy Catchpole
 & Karen George

Joe is widely admired for his presence, whether he’s playing on the playground or enjoying a treat – after all, he’s SO AMAZING! Despite his admiration for his athletic friend Simone, Joe constantly receives compliments from onlookers. Wanting to shift the focus to Simone, Joe attempts to blend into the background, only to be mistaken for feeling sorry for himself.

Reluctantly, Joe participates in activities, feeling the pressure to maintain his “Amazing Joe” persona, a struggle that resonates with disabled individuals. As playground visitors gawk and point at his physical disability, Joe becomes exhausted with the attention. Seeking solace, he engages in soccer with a friend and discovers the joy of accomplishment through perseverance.

In this picturebook, the authors skilfully portray strangers’ well-intentioned yet patronizing behaviour through vivid illustrations. The narrative paints a picture of the importance of supportive friendships rather than offering direct strategies for handling uncomfortable interactions. Illustrated with diversity in the character portrayal, the story offers a glimpse into the disability experience.

A. M. Dassu
 & Junissa Bianda
With vivid illustrations and a heartwarming story, this picture book is the perfect Eid gift!It's the evening before Eid, and Hana is helping her mum lay the table. Hana loves the colourful decorations they've arranged around the house! But there is still much to do, so when Hana's mum asks her to get the Eid presents ready to take to Nani's house the next day, Hana is at the ready to help!There's just one problem: where are the Eid presents?With a gentle search-and-find element running alongside the story, this gorgeous picture book is a wonderful introduction to Eid.Written by award-winning author of Boy, Everywhere, AM Dassu and with heartfelt illustrations by Junissa Bianda
Sarthak Sinha
Farah loves mangos! She could eat them all day long and she wouldn't mind living in one either. Every summer when she visits her Grandpa they always pick the ripe fruit from his mango tree. This year, however, the tree is empty! Farah puts her mind to it and decides she will make the tree grow fruit. But perhaps Farah will learn there is more to a mango tree than just the fruit it bears?

Poems and Rhymes for Reception

Simon Mole
 & Matt Hunt
Smile and stomp along with this celebration of all things DINOSAUR, with exuberant poems by a National Poetry Day ambassador and joyful artwork.Welcome to a world where it’s eat or be eaten – depending on how ferocious you are. From T-Rex to Triceratops, Stegosaurus to Velociraptor, meet the most awe-inspiring creatures ever to walk the Earth!Author Simon Mole turns fascinating facts into over 30 poems and fragments, full of humour and heart; Matt Hunt’s magnificent illustrations bring these prehistoric beasts thundering off the page.Here are the dinosaurs in all their larger-than-life glory – and here is a book that children will want to read over and over again.
Kes Grey
 & Jim Field

We’ll never grow tired of this creative tongue-twister series of stories that make for perfect read-it-together books for families and classroom settings – it’s ridiculously good fun that takes ‘the cat sat on a mat’ to a whole new level of hilarity.

The award-winning series includes Oi Frog!, Oi Dog!, Oi Cat!, Oi Duck-billed Platypus! and Oi Puppies!, and each book is based on the premise of instructing a menagerie of animals where to sit, using rhyme (for example, hares sit on chairs and lions sit on irons). The funny interplay between the unconvinced frog (who does not want to sit on a log, by the way), and the experienced mat-sitting cat, is what makes this book such a hoot.

Children in EYFS love this book, which always gets little ones joining in with the wonderfully silly rhymes. It is a good book for Reception phonics learning and also just to read for fun. The illustrations are bright and colourful and it is exactly the kind of go-to story time treat that teachers rely on for guaranteed giggles for classroom story sessions.

Benjamin Zephaniah
 & Nila Aye
Picturebook Poetry

Benjamin Zephaniah had a huge talent for noticing and appreciating his surroundings and using his writing to make them special.

This illustrated poem is a call to appreciate the humble marvels of nature that surround us all – the woodlice, the baby daddy-longlegs, the creepy-crawlies. How easy it is to ignore or look down on what is familiar. Many children want to create settings from rainforests rather than the view from their doorstep; they prefer to describe tigers rather than the squirrels they see every day. However, I love the way this book validates the local and the ordinary and encourages children to observe proudly the small wonders of wherever they live. Even those who don’t have the luxury of a garden will recognise most of the things Zephaniah zooms in on.

I also enjoyed the deceptively simple rhymes that subtly emphasise the humming, the buzzing and the flowering that is all around us all the time. The accompanying illustrations have plenty of details for young children to have fun spotting, and the style does seem to define it as aimed at Nursery, Reception and Year 1 rather than older children.

It would accompany any work on minibeasts beautifully and could lead to both practical investigation of the outdoors and interesting creative work on observational writing, rhyme work, drawing and painting.

Peter Millett
 & Sam Caldwell
All aboard the ship that Jack built for a rollicking picture book adventure.Jack’s ship has set sail with a precious cargo of gold in the hold, but a whole host of thieves are out to snatch it from under his nose. From the squid that opens the lid and the seal that tries to steal, to the cat and the rat and the whale with its splashy tail, Jack really has his hands full.With a joyful, rhyming text full of super-catchy repeated lines, this cumulative tale builds and builds to an epic crescendo. Told by Peter Millett and brought to life by Sam Caldwell, bestselling illustrator of Buster Books' popular picture book Sheldon's New Shell, this picture book voyage is one readers will want to take again and again.

Recommended Non-Fiction Books for Reception

Dr Roopa Farooki
 & Viola Wang
A new series on a hugely popular topic – the human body! First up, award-winning writer Dr Roopa Farooki explores the wonderful workings of the BRAIN.Every second of every day, something is happening in every tiny bit of your body, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet... And if you think of your body as a machine, your BRAIN would be the control room – with billions of buttons for all kinds of incredibly important jobs.With words by medical doctor and writer of acclaimed memoir Everything Is True, Roopa Farooki, and pictures by award-winning artist Viola Wang, this book explores how different bits of the brain work and (just as importantly) how they work TOGETHER... As well as sharing handy tips for looking after your brain!
Sally Symes & Stephanie Drimmer
 & Kate Slater

We are big fans of non-fiction books that get the level right for younger children, and this is an absolute gem!

Each page is themed around a ‘why’ question, and answers the questions in an encyclopaedia style format, with small chunks of text, images and large, clear photographs. We love the child-friendly language, the dip-in-dip-out nature of the book and the fun questions that will really appeal to curious little ones (such as ‘Why does popcorn pop?’, ‘Why does an octopus have suckers?’ and ‘Why do astronauts wear suits?’).

This book would make an excellent gift for a young child or a popular browsing choice in Reception classroom reading corners.


We highly recommend DK’s ‘My Very Important Encyclopedia’ series, which also features volumes on dinosaurs, oceans and sport. It is not easy to find comprehensive non-fiction books that are suitable for the younger age range, but the spacious pages, simplified text and high ratio of images (both photographs and illustrations) make this is a brilliant choice for Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 children.

Each page features a different animal, giving information in simple language with bright colours, speech bubbles and text boxes to break up the information into bite size chunks.  It feels like a real encyclopedia but is perfectly pitched for the youngest readers without having any overwhelming chunks of text or overly complicated diagrams.

This absolutely super young non-fiction series and will become a go-to for animal-loving children who are curious to learn more.

William Bee

Children who love vehicles will adore Wonderful World of Things That Go.

With diagram-style illustrations of trucks, trains, boats, planes, tractors and farm machines, there are plenty of transport-themed facts to consider. Each page is adorned with cute cartoon animals and traffic cone characters who add to the fun of the book.

This information book for younger children helps readers to consider the purpose of each type of machine, including what jobs they help to do and what the essential parts of each moving machine are. The short sentences on each page give the information in a matter-of-fact way so as not to overwhelm young learners, while the pictures offer plenty to spot and discuss.

A winner of a non-fiction book on a very popular topic among children in their younger school years.

Libby Walden
 & Ekaterina Trukhan

This book is a fantastic resource with something in it for all primary-school-aged children. The topics are varied – from telling the children what a body is and naming parts of the body, to specific chapters on the heart, lungs, five senses etc. The book is aimed at children from 4+ and would suit this age group well.

Many of the pages contain technical vocabulary but are aimed at Reception and KS1. The explanations and text are very clear but there is also a further level of detail to explore for those children who are interested in science or the human body, or for older children who will still get something from the book.

The illustrations in the book are simple and very effective. They are clearly labelled and easy for children to understand. All in all, this book is perfect for a classroom non-fiction collection.

SAVE 20% with Peters

Visit our booklists on Amazon

Support independent bookshops

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.

The best books for children in Reception include stories with bright and bold illustrations, like Super Duper You or How to Catch a Star, as well as books with interesting details to pore over like Luna Loves Gardening or the interactive visual feast You Choose.

Storytime is a treasured time of day for children of this age. 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 growth and new life adventure in Tad 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 chosen to foster a love of books and to develop reading for pleasure and can be enjoyed as part of shared storytimes with adults.

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 Oi Frog!. 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 Reception reading 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 ups and downs of finding a lost toy in Dogger, the ordeal of a grazed knee in Jill Murphy’s classic story On the Way Home or the fun of shared junk modelling projects Rubbish? Don’t throw it Away!. Others invite the imagination to venture a little further afield, like the intergalactic adventures of Snail in Space or the tale of a blue monster who is so consumed with 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 care for the planet and its people, like Clean Up! or You’re So Amazing. Others still are about overcoming challenges, like Jabari Tries. If you are looking for inclusive stories, try Can You Find My Eid Presents? or the story of hearing loss in Listening to the Quiet. 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 the much-loved The Giant Jam Sandwich or the delightful tales of Mrs Pepperpot, an intriguing and adventurous old lady who can shrink down to the size of a pepperpot. Other books have been very recently published, such as John Kane’s What is Black and White? or the bright and uplifting The Bunny Who Came for Breakfast.

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 Simon Mole’s very enjoyable dino-themed poetry collection A First Book of Dinosaurs.

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 First Big Book of Why to the transport-themed William Bee’s Wonderful World of Things That Go! or basic human biology primer Wise About My Body.

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

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 even 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 Reads 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

reception recommended reads printable poster 2024


Printable Checklist – Best Reception Books PDF

reception recommended reads checklist 2024

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:


Booklists you might also like...

Reception: 50 Recommended Reads

Related Resources

Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
[["Printable Reception Poster","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/recreads2024-poster-reception-768x543.png","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/Reception-Recommended-Reads-Poster-2024.pdf"],["Printable Reception Checklist","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/recreads2024-checklist-reception-768x543.png","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/Reception-Recommended-Reads-Checklist-2024.pdf"],["Purchase School Reception BookPack","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/Reception-Recommended-Reads-Peters-2024.png","https:\/\/\/book-page\/9789990211382"],["Purchase Individual Reception Books","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/reception-books-2024.png","https:\/\/\/lists\/best-books-for-reception-recommended-reads"]]

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your Review

Stone Girl Bone Girl


Year group(s) the book is most suitable for:

Year group(s) the book is most suitable for:

Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

Would you recommend the book for use in primary schools?


Curriculum links (if relevant)

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Any other comments

Any other comments