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 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 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 Squishy McFluff. 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 finding a lost toy in The Lost Property Office, the ordeal of a grazed knee in Jill Murphy’s classic story On the Way Home 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 Emily Coxhead’s hugely popular Find Your Happy. 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
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: